Games As Junk Food

4 12 2007

Jonathan Blow, Developer of Braid, was widely reported in the past few days as describing games as junk food:

“MMOs have empty gameplay but keep players hooked with constant fake rewards. Would players still play our games if we removed these scheduled rewards?”

“Rewards can be like food, nutritionally beneficial, or like drugs, artificial. We overuse drugs because we don’t understand food.

“In pursuing ever more players the games industry exploits them in an unethical way. We don’t see it as unethical, though, because we refuse to stop and think about what we are doing.”

Blow, who believes that the medium is set to play a major role in shaping culture as the games industry grows in influence, said games need to teach the correct lessons.

“All games teach, and if games are going to be a foundation of human thought the question we have to ask is what they will teach the audience.”

He’s made a post about it on his own blog, stating that the context he said those words in is important. You can download audio of the entire talk along with slides there:

I gave a lecture on November 27th at the Montreal International Games Summit; this lecture was highly critical of current game design practice. It’s about what I think is wrong with the intentions designers have when they set out to create a game, and points out that, as games are played by more people, this will become increasingly societally damaging. It also holds some suggestions about how to create games that are deeper and more meaningful, rather than being throw-away entertainment.

CC licensed image by flickr user awrose.

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