My brother has been studying idealism
, and one of the concepts he's derived is that of the "value", which is an aspiration, a goal, or a desire which fulfills some want. For example, a want might be hunger, a value might be to eat, and the making of a sandwich would be a fulfillment of that value.
One of the things he and I recently explored in conversation involved the identification of the absolute
, for a given value. For example, "body building" might be a value, and one could identify the exact, absolute attributes which would define the theoretically perfect body build: maybe it would be a combination of the perfect, sculpted shape for each muscle group, combined with the attitudes and mentality of the body builder.
The extent to which a person fulfills their potential as an individual human being is the extent towards which they get as close as possible towards chosen values. It doesn't make sense for someone who is crippled and in a wheel chair to pursue the value of body building, because not only do they have no chance of coming close to the ideal, but it has the opportunity cost
of taking them away from other values, in which they perhaps could approach the absolute.
It reminds me of a "Strengths Finder" book
and corresponding test they handed out at work. The concept is to identify your natural strengths and develop those, versus wasting time on things you'll never be very good at. The test told me to focus on excelling and maximizing my potential in analytics and intellectualism, instead of obsessing over and wasting time and money on dancing, for instance-- which made and makes sense considering my figurative "two left feet".
This relates to video games, and how to evaluate them properly.
Movies are excellent at telling short stories in a dramatic way, using moving imagery. Paintings are excellent at putting immense amounts of thought-provoking concepts into dense, still
imagery. Novels are excellent at telling long stories, which require a lot of discourse to fully develop characters and ideas. Each of those media are well suited to pursuing their respective absolute forms.
Video games, by contrast, are a hopelessly watered down amalgamation of all of the above. Logically, they can never approach the absolute movie standard without actually becoming a movie; they can never approach the standard of a painting without becoming one; and, likewise, they can never achieve the depth of character of a novel, without becoming a novel.
Thus, it makes no sense
for a video game creator to try to make a game like a movie, a painting, or a novel. It would be like me spending my entire two left-footed existence painfully and hopelessly trying to become a terrible professional dancer, versus an excellent professional software developer. The video game maker is wasting his time; if he wants to make a film, then go make a film!
The absolute in video games comes from the four-pronged combination of elements which conspire to make the medium unique. These prongs are: logically nuanced gameplay (think "Chess"), inspiring and evocative art work, catchy and memorable computer-generated music, and the pushing of the target hardware to its absolute limit.
The extent towards which a game pursues the ultimate in this four-pronged value is the extent towards which it is objectively a good game. And the extent which it deviates by trying to hopelessly impersonate some other
medium is the extent to which it destroys itself by lost opportunity cost.