A mysterious disembodied voice has commented on my Tragic Gaming post with something a bit too substantive for me to respond to in the comments box, so I’m going to do it here. Besides, it gives me more time to make up for… time.
As far as defining a tragedy goes, whatever definition you choose to give it seems fine and well. However, we have to remember that everyone is going to experience things differently in relation to their own history and the story’s intrinsic relevance to their lives either past, present, or hopes of the future. As such, a tragedy for one could be…well possibly satire for another? In some sense at least, if they’d experienced the same thing perhaps? All I’m trying to say is it isn’t something we can exactly nail to the wall. It is the custard pie effect of definitions.
Same goes for Video Games, not every game has a specific goal, objective, or in some case a set structure or rules. I would like to think that some games are made just to be played, and not to be rewarded for that play. Harvest Moon comes to mind, a game that in most incarnations can go on forever just farming. Your reward? Money to buy more crops and house extensions, extensions that are either for the most part useless or allow for more game-play options. Sure, they’re rewards, but then you still don’t necessarily have an end.
Maybe now the case isn’t as much as it was back in the day, when after finally defeating Bowser and finding the freaking Princess, we get nothing. That was then. Now we’ve come to expect more. Games have grown in scope and have become more challenging than ever because we have the capability and because we want to experience all they have to offer.
Games have changed, but I don’t think they’re more challenging. Heard of Contra? We see new games now that make use of greater physics and memory. Look at the expanse of Grand Theft Auto! Nintendo is making new “games” with new interfaces. Some of which I think cease to be “video games.” Like the new Wii Music (even Mr. Miyamoto agrees). Doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
As far as tragic gaming goes…it’s not like we have a bunch of Shakespeare’s programming and designing them. The attitude of the companies is make the gamer happy, make some money, make more games for the happy gamer. The few companies that take an artistic approach to gaming sometimes succeed in creating something new, exciting, hopefully different, but it’s not what the consumer is used too.