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Syndicate & the Need for Critical Theory in Gaming

Posted 05-05-2010 at 09:56 PM by Anenome

(original here)

Phoenix1985Wasn't one of the original developers of Syndicate working on the new title for a while before leaving, saying the company had no idea what made the original game good and had taken it all in the entirely wrong direction?
That's a very interesting phenomena, isn't it?

The company has no idea what made the game good.
What a statement!

You play the game, you know it's good, but you have no idea why. Really?

I think this reflects how young the game industry is, and the solution will be in the form of an expanded technical vocabulary among game creators. There exists facets of gameplay that we do not yet have words for.

Because these facets haven't been isolated critically and labeled they appear to be invisible.

There was a time when much the same was true in novel writing, but the critical theory of literature has caught up with the writing and it can now explain a text fairly well, can explain what's going on underneath the hood to achieve what's being done.

We need something like the ability to "close-read" a game, to play it in slow motion and define what pleases, define how certain effects on the player can be created and replicated.

To speak to this game, Syndicate, if they had no idea what made the two original games good, the best solution would be to simply make a game in the exact same vein as the first two: isometric polygonal perspective, updated graphics, four agents performing missions. I'd play that in a heartbeat.

At that point you need a new writer, and you need to give the executive a storyline alongside his agents (he was largely invisible throughout the first two), and then you'd have something special.
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