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Feature: The Argument Against Creative Conservatism

In the latest installment of his long-running Persuasive Games column on Gamasutra, academic and developer Ian Bogost addresses the "uncomfortable" claim that the
In the latest installment of his long-running Persuasive Games column on Gamasutra, academic and developer Ian Bogost addresses the "uncomfortable" claim that the game industry's history is an aberration. "Every now and then someone objects to game design methods by arguing against 'historical aberrance.' This line of reasoning claims that a particular trend is undesirable on the grounds that it is new and abnormal, unshared by historical precedent. Let me share two examples," Bogost writes. He cites two notable game designers to illustrate his point. "First, a few years ago Raph Koster invoked this argument about single player games. As Koster put it, 'the entire video game industry's history thus far has been an aberration. It has been a mutant monster only made possible by unconnected computers. ... Historically speaking, single-player games are indeed an aberration.' "And second, just recently Daniel Cook made the same argument about narrative games. Says Cook, 'I deeply doubt that the best use of games is to tell stories. Narrative games are a historical anomaly. Multiplayer systems of economics, social grouping, and related culture are the past and present trend.'" Bogost explains, "I cite these designers not to start a debate about these two charged topics, but because their claims make me uncomfortable. The argument from historical aberrance seems like a very curious one to make about almost anything, let alone a category of creativity." The full feature delves into why he thinks this is so -- using games such as Heavy Rain and Jason Rohrer's Sleep is Death to examine the issue. The full feature article, Persuasive Games: From Aberrance to Aesthetics, is live now on Gamasutra.

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