What do video games leave out?

Randy Smith’s talk last night, Games are Art (and what to do about it), at Postmortem triggered a few thoughts I wanted to throw out there briefly. Here’s the first one:

In exploring the nature of art and different art forms, Randy looked to McCloud’s Understanding Comics to identify “closure” (the interstitial space between frames) as a unique feature of the comic medium. He then posed the question of what made video games unique. It struck me that what each medium can be defined by what each one leaves out; for example, comic books’ closures leave out what is between the frames – that is for the reader to fill in. Performance media cannot convey inner lives the way literature can (Wonder Years style voiceovers notwithstanding); it’s for the actors to interpret that inner life and for the audience to infer it from their performances. Literature, for its part, leaves to the imagination how its characters look or sound, which generates that little bit of shock when a book is translated to film. (Harry Potter provides a great example: the movies’ cast probably overrides the books’ illustrations probably overrides Rowling’s text).

So my question is: what do video games leave out for the player to fill in? Or better: what is best for video games to leave out?

One thought on “What do video games leave out?

  1. For most video games, there is always something that makes the player aware it is a game. Be it the menus, the invisible walls, or any indication it is a game.

    It is up to the player to fill in any aspect of the gameworld that the designers didn’t create. You see a far away location in the world but can’t go there; the player has to assume that the place exists (their character can go there) even when the programmers didn’t make anything.

    The player has to fill in any inconsistencies in the game’s story just like novels.

    The best thing for video games to leave out is realistic brutality, sexual deviance, and any disturbing scenes. There is no need for these things because the more real looking the games become, these sights can affect the psyche. In the future, watching a character die in the game will be so realistic, it would be just like seeing the person die in real life.

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