Genre and Games
First of all it’s kind of hard to find games that, if they were books, wouldn’t be shelved under the label of “genre” which is typically seen as cliched adolescent power fantasy, as opposed to literature, which is beautifully written and meticulously crafted adolescent power fantasy (I am kidding slightly but the two books I have read more than any other are: the book about is a subtle science fiction metaphor for the author’s penis, and the literary novel about the author’s penis that is literally his penis). I’m being unfair to literature, but literature has in return often been unfair, privileging a narrow microcosm of the human experience (working class struggle, upper-middle class ennui). Not that sentence quality doesn’t matter in literature (unlike games) but genre does too.
Genre dominance in games is monotonous, which is bad but not really genre’s fault. Believe me, literary fiction has not solved this problem either. The narrow band of human experience (reaching out and touching someone with your gun) is a problem too, but again it’s not unique to video games. For every bald space marine glaring at you from gamestop’s preorder selection, there is an 800 page novel by an academic on his third divorce experiencing existential angst about a self-insert academic on his third divorce experiencing existential angst.
Well it’s hard to say video games are on same level as literature as the inability to write a sentence is pretty gosh damn bad. As Tim Rogers frequently mentions, it might be a good idea for a game designer to read a book, or even more than one book, at some point in their life. Still, some of our more fundamental problems aren’t really going to be solved by just not writing about aliens.