18 April 2011

The Performance of Play - by Jason VandenBerghe

      Posted 04/10/11 11:28:00 am  

One of my great regrets from this year's GDC was that I missed Brian Moriarty's talk.

Do you know Brian Moriarty?  Some do.  In certain circles, he's something of a god - or, perhaps, a demi-god, representing vast power as part of the wider (GDC) pantheon.  Brian wrote games for INFOCOM in the dark ages (Wishbringer? If you played INFOCOM games, you know what I'm talking about), and is currently teaching game design students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

He's also one of the best speakers the game industry has to offer.  And, this year, he gave his first presentation in 10 years.

I'm not clear on why he hasn't been speaking.  However, as far as why he stopped not-talking, the nature of what he had to say made pretty clear why he had re-emerged from his dark hole to shout words at the sky.  His talk was called "An Apology For Roger Ebert" - which, I thought, was a joke.

I mean, Ebert became The Devil Himself when he said publicly (and repeatedly) that games cannot be art.  Or, rather, Art.

A joke, then, I thought, surely.  An apology for this man from Moriarty himself?  Impossible.

No, friends.  One of the greatest minds of our idiom has publicly, vigorously, and eloquently made a plain-facts argument that games are not 'art', and that Ebert may be right that they never can be.

Oh, the horror.

My colleagues in the industry fall into two categories at this point: people who think he's wrong, and people who don't give one fuck what that old fart thinks.

Naturally, I had to develop an opinion.  But... while I was at the GDC this year, I missed the presentation.

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