Saturday, July 01, 2006

As promised, here is my description of the:

"If You've Worked In Hollywood May I Shake Hands With Your Wanger" game job ad

[...] and must have experience working with weally important Hollywood people.
(Ooh you’ve worked on such-and-such a film? Wow. Would you mind introducing me to your cock? I’m such a big fan.)

We’ve discussed how Australians will cross the road to tell you that they’re "world class". But we haven’t yet called this phenomenon by it’s rightful name, and this name is cultural cringe.

Even the big names of the game industry are prone to cringe like over-sexed 10 year old Angelina Jolie boy-fans when it comes to all things Hollwood. They declare that they love the film industry so much they want to marry it and have its babies. In fact, they literally do want to do this, and they call it “media convergence”. But does being fucked up the arse make a baby? A mere child of 2 could point to the scientific unfeasability of this.

Noteworthy film industry hacks, well-intentioned but clearly mind-curdled with self-importance, are also lining up to join this interdisciplinary love-in. With the usefulness of Bono's contribution to a World Trade Organisation meeting, they gallantly offer to cancel their appointments for the afternoon and put themselves to the task of single-handedly rescuing the game medium from itself with a life-saving injection of “storytelling”.

(I've always suspected that games such as, say, Counterstrike or Nintendogs or saturday morning football could be greatly improved with nuanced characterisation, a solid narrative arc and some well placed flash frames but sadly I've never had a film producer on hand to legitimise my views. Such wasted talent...)

The reaction of gamers and game developers is mixed. Some appear to meet these overtures with ungracious derision, while others merely check themselves to see whether they have any other orifices available for rent.

Meanwhile, game industry executives with one eye on their sobering quarterly financial results and the other on somebody else’s money frot themselves in Angelina Jolie fan-boy-like pre-ejaculatory desperation over the idea of “media convergence”. And what they seem to mean here is primarily a marriage of the film medium and the game medium. Why film and games, you might ask? Why not a convergence of games with other emerging media such as online communities, lifestyle software, broadband mobile phone content or even instant messaging for argument's sake? (Just pulling things out of my arse here but it isn't hard to use one's imagination.) And why do games have more common with film as compared with say, television?

Surely, you cynically ask, there must be more to the convergence of media forms than adoption of shared Fordist production practices, cross-marketing opportunities (''I think what is going on is that everyone has realized that we are going after the same target audience" oh put the champagne glass down and let someone call you a taxi you silly tart), and copy-cat financing models? Surely not. And it can’t merely be that some gullible nimwad saw a bit of high res animation and fancy lighting in yet another game based on a film license but this time accompanied by a pompous press release and said to himself “ooh this game looks so realistic it could almost be, like, a film. Look mum, games have finally converged with films!!!"

(Ooooh the real world looks so realistic it could be, like, a film. This means, this means...that the real world has finally converged with film! Well fuck me. Somebody get Jean Baudrillard on the line.)

And I saw the Virgin Mary in a skybox texture once, but enough about me.

Basing a mighty idea like “convergence” on the criteria I mentioned above would be, like, so shallow. If they’re going to toss around a multi-syllabic word like “convergence” there must be something awfully clever behind the idea that we haven’t been told about. But then how can we expect these historic innovators, these visionary thinkers, to explain it to you and I - the mere faceless employees on the sweaty production line of their industrial-light-and-magic/smoke-and-mirrors media revolution.

We clearly haven’t thought through the historical genealogy of games and the formal aspects of the game medium, not to mention the broader aesthetics of interaction and engagement in the way that highly paid corporate executive officers have. There are myriad weighty theoretical questions to consider. Does my branding strategy synergise with your medium term mindshare target?, for instance. (I bet you never thought of that. There, you see!)

All in all, it is surely safest for game developers to leave the details of convergeonomics in the hands of these MBA-wielding hard-hitters, those responsible for past convergence successes such as that between high school cafeterias and fast food chains. These are, after all, the same experts who are versed in the semiotic subtleties of the reasoning behind the why the convergence of Coca-cola with McDonald’s, and wherefore the pairing of Pepsi with KFC.

And this brings us to a further revelation. If you think about it, the evolution of modern media towards this earth-trembling moment of convergence has been clearly visible, and driven by advances in culture and technology:

* First, Hollywood’s blockbuster movies converge with McDonald’s Happy Meals in the late 70s (or whenever).

* Then we see plastic Hollywood Blockbuster movies! character figurines converging their way into happy meal boxes a decade later, made possible with access to cheap Haitian child labour.

* And finally, virtual 3D animated versions of Hollywood’s Blockbuster Movies!!!! Happy Meal figurines converge on videogames themselves.

In a world of media commodities that all look like Jerry Bruckenheimer films, taste like Big Macs and smell like filthy lucre, surely it doesn’t take a marketing executive armed with a copy of The Beginner's Guide To Post-Modernism to see the crushing need to converge all of them into one big homogenised chimera of tasty and compelling fun-tainment. I for one will certainly be crying on cue "at Level 17" once this thing called Convergence is achieved.

In fact I have no doubt that I will be welcoming this breathtaking vision of the future with the same tearful fervour with which I greeted Bruno Bonnell’s forward-thinking ideas for a future Atari that publishes one-play games on cardboard cartridges and sells them in shoe stores (Australian Game Developers’ Conference, 2001).

Sorry for sounding like a cynic but- nah I'm not sorry am I.

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At 2:04 am, Blogger the rantolotl said...

Like every other situation in life, what you need is a large, and elabroate trap.


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