Max Payne opens on friday

Max Payne

So Max Payne opens on cinemas on friday in Norway, and I bought a ticket (of course). I live a couple of hundred meters away from the largest THX cinema in the world, and it’ll be the perfect place to see it.

I’ve never ever before been looking forward to a movie based on a game license, but this time around I cant wait to see it. Let’s just hope it’s good, and doesn’t stray too far away from the games. The trailer suggests that they did find the right atmosphere, but also that they might have included a story element that doesn’t belong (the valkyries).

In the games Valkyrie was a drug, but in the trailer they are mythological creatures, which has worried fans. I still think – and hope – that it just portrays what’s going on in Max’s head, a symbol of the effects of the drug or something similar.

Yes, I do realize I sound like a fanboy.

Half-Life 2: Episode 3 will star…

SPOILER ALERT (Half-Life 2: Episode 2)!

Kikizo has published an interview with Valve’s Doug Lombardi, where he gives a small hint about Episode 3.

Kikizo: When are we going to start to hear about Episode Three? Because the gaps seem to be quite long based on the first couple of episodes.
Lombardi: Yeah, the next time you play as Gordon will be longer than the distance between HL2 to Ep1, and Ep1 to Ep2.
Kikizo: Won’t you announce or show anything on Episode 3 this year?
Lombardi: We may at the very end of the year.

It seems like he’s saying that we won’t play Gordon this time around. Rock Paper Shotgun suggests that we might play Dog (Alyx’s robot pet), but it seems to me like it’ll be Alyx herself.

As you know, (and if you don’t, here comes the spoiler) Episode 2 ended with Alyx’s father getting killed before her eyes. I predict that Episode 3 will be a dark tale of Alyx’s revenge.

And I look forward to it.

Through the noise

Here comes a new batch of articles, blog posts and rants that survived through the noise of the tubes.

It’s not a game

Games

Moving pictures, or the motion picture, was invented in the second half of the 19th century. Since then we’ve gotten as diverse uses of this technology as movies, sitcoms, debates, news shows etc. Even though the underlaying technology is the same, we’d never dream of using one word to describe all these very different expressions.

Interactive entertainment was invented during the 20th century. As the decades have passed, the medium has evolved into many different forms. We have multiplayer action titles, interactive dramas, puzzles, family games, etc. Even though the underlaying technology is the same, we’d never dream of using one word to… wait a minute!

When the industry was young and not as multifaceted, the word “games” sufficed. But I think we’ve gotten to a point now where we have outgrown the term. No longer are “gamers” unified by a nerdy fascination for the medium itself, with all its products. We’ve opened the flood gates to new audiences, all expecting very different things.

Just like someone who watched every episode of Friends doesn’t necessarily wait for Michael Moore’s next documentary, someone who followed Zoë’s journey in Dreamfall might not want to sit down with a plastic toy guitar to play Guitar Hero. With such a diverse medium as interactive entertainment has become, the term “games” fails in actually describing what it encompasses, and becomes a blunt tool for both professionals and consumers.

Isn’t it also the case that many titles defined as games simply aren’t? While I’ll happily call Buzz and Peggle games, I’m less sure about titles like Fahrenheit or Call of Duty 4. Are they games, or are they something more? Let’s try to come up with a definition.

“A game is an entertaining activity performed according to a set of rules to reach a goal.”

In CoD4, when I’m fighting in the streets of a middle eastern city to save a friend from a downed Black Hawk helicopter, that’s an experience. Yes, it has rules, but they are transparent and recieve very little focus from me. They are simply there to generate the experience, enabling the interactive narrative which I am exploring.

Game? I think not.

More importantly, I fear that the term “games” limit the designers and directors of the industry. The traditional meaning of the word, and all the baggage it carries since Pong, probably makes it harder for visionary ideas to break through. Our legacy controls the expectations of consumers, the demands of publishers and the work of designers.

So if you’re ever in a discussion about game design and are confronted with “that’s not what games are about”, just answer “exactly”.