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Feature: 'Revenge Of The Highbrow Games'

For today's feature, The Designer's Notebook author Ernest Adams responds to the wealth
September 29, 2006
For today's feature, The Designer's Notebook author Ernest Adams responds to the wealth of feedback submitted by Gamasutra's readers after publication of last month's popular "Where's Our Merchant Ivory?" feature by further examining what a "highbrow game" might be by looking at the types of existing games suggested as highbrow in response to his feature, and categorizing the types of audiences a "highbrow game" might best be geared toward. Said Adams on the feedback received from his original feature: "One of the more enjoyable things about writing this column is seeing what kind of responses I get, and after last month’s edition (“Where’s Our Merchant Ivory?”) boy, did I get responses. The topic was “highbrow games,” and I said I thought we didn’t have any yet. To explain what a highbrow game might be, I used an analogy from filmmaking. The Merchant Ivory production company makes what I think of as highbrow films – rich, nuanced works dedicated to exploring ideas and relationships among people. The difference between high culture and popular culture, I claimed, is that high culture refuses to compromise its standards for the sake of a larger audience. Apart from the Merchant Ivory analogy, I deliberately left the definition of “highbrow” rather vague, partly because I wanted to see what interpretation my readers would put on it. What I’m going to do now, after taking a look at some of the points of view I heard, is to continue exploring the question of what a highbrow game is and who its potential audience might be." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the topic, including more on the possibilities of serious simulations, thematically innovative games, and interactive fiction as "highbrow games" (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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