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Feature: 'Why We Need More Boring Games'

In this latest exclusive Gamasutra feature, Persuasive Games founding partner Ian Bogost argues that what the industry needs right now is "games that would demystify the
In this latest exclusive Gamasutra feature, Georgia Institute of Technology assistant professor and Persuasive Games founding partner Ian Bogost argues that what the industry needs right now is "games that would demystify the medium", citing clothing designer Marc Ecko's "insightful and ironic" observations, and examining how this applies to the serious games market. In this excerpt, Bogost tackles Nintendo's highly successful Brain Age franchise as an example of gaming for the masses that, while not a game in the more traditional sense, still “satisfies a mundane need for personal upkeep”: “But why is Brain Age a success of this kind? It’s certainly a very different kind of game from Halo or even Miyamoto’s own Zelda series, games that allow the player to inhabit complex fantasy worlds. Instead, much of Brain Age’s success seems to come precisely from the ordinariness of its demands. It is a game of chores, really, not of challenges. Games like speed arithmetic and number tracing actually become maddeningly dull after only a short time, but many players persist because they want to have the sensation of keeping their minds sharp. We use Brain Age like we might use an exercise video, or a bathroom book of aphorisms, or a low-carb cookbook. Whether or not the game really contributes to long-term mental health is irrelevant; it makes people feel as though they are improving their long term mental health.” You can now read the complete feature, which includes more from Bogost on the topic of serious games, as well as the larger gaming market, to which he suggests that we “should want games to be more boring” so that the ones that are not stand out and get noticed (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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