Yesterday I talked a little about how games, much like art: draw from and are sometimes inspired by real life events, whether they be benign or controversial ones. But likewise, games in turn often inspire the communities they generate, sometimes to levels that end in the production of a high calibre game that can be directly traced back to the experience that someone had with a title at one point.
Now, we’ve all read or seen some of the bad (intentionally or otherwise) fan fiction out there. Stuff like Doom: Repercussions of Evil and Half-Life Full Life Consequences. But there’s a lot of fiction that gets generated for plenty of games. I’ve seen plenty of stuff written, even about fighting games where the backstory is generally just a minimalist reason to beat the shit out of other dudes. People write interactions between the characters, flesh out the past and present. Some even insert their own ideas in the form of their own characters (whether this is a good thing is neither here nor there, and is decidedly NOT the topic of this discussion). The point I’m trying to make here is that these people have found inspiration from games - enough to want to interject and interpret them in their own ways. Not every example will be good, but everything has to start somewhere, and who knows how many writers might have started off putting a pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard to talk about Kingdom Hearts or even Grand Theft Auto.
That’s hardly the end of it though. I can’t help but wonder how many future game designers might have been crafted, taking their first steps in terms of world building by using things like the level editors in flash games or console titles like Little Big Planet or the like. Perhaps the want to see something that they’ve personally crafted propels them to strive for greater and greater heights, to learn how to create without a system there to hold their hands, thus they start learning the proper coding, and before you know it they’re creating their first rudimentary flash games and from there full levels for titles that you may some day play and enjoy.
It’s not even just a good experience that can spur creative heights. Although I’m sure that few would admit it, there’s probably more than a handful of developers and producers out there that got their start after playing something truly awful. It’s rather common to spout off “Even I could do better than that!” but something made these people take it to heart, and they did end up doing better. I know it’s hypothetical, but I do feel that at least some games have been middle fingers from people saying “Hey industry, look at what I did! Blew your crappy game out of the water, that’s what!” and made themselves a AAA quality title while they were doing it, too.
The ultimate point I’m reaching here is that people have said that one of the principle features of good art is the fact that it can likewise inspire creation in and of itself - something that games have also been doing for years - from every piece of fan fiction or character that a person thinks would be awesome in a game they love, to every user generated level. Hell, this blog you’re reading now reached its genesis because I love games and want to be able to make that love into something more. Sometimes the things bred are forgettable or ultimately mediocre, but it is as such with everything. Still, once in a while, when the stars are right, you get something that is on par with, or can even surpass that which inspired it. Games are no exception to this, and never have been.
I feel that I should conclude by saying that I know that what I’ve talked about this week has been more than a little esoteric, but you know what, so is the definition of art (when a definition can even be given). Instead of talking about games that are extremely aesthetically pleasing, or games that are considered good candidates because they fall well off the beaten path, I hoped to show that even the most mainstream of titles have quantities that can ultimately define them as art, even only if in parts and not the whole.