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Essay About TRON The Film And Games

By TronFAQ on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 6:22 PM
I've been saving some items for slow news periods, as we seem to be in right now. This is one of those items. A very interesting essay about TRON the film and its games.

A number of passages within the article really struck me, because they echo similar thoughts that I have, on the same issues. Particularly when it comes to video games.

Video games, too, were more futuristic in the early '80s than they are now. Looking at the popular games of today, one says "oh, look, football" or "oh, look, crime." A movie based on the modern video game aesthetic would look like an hour and a half of ESPN, or in the case of the crime games, an hour and a half of... well, I guess that'd be ESPN again. Right now we're in an unfortunate phase in which game designers aim for photorealism but fall short: it's the worst of both worlds, as the results are both unconvincing and ugly. But when I was a kid, game designers knew very well that they didn't have a prayer of achieving photorealism and so didn't try. If today's games try to crawl as far as they can into the "representation" corner of Scott McCloud's famous pyramid, 1980s games staked out their territory over on the right, on the "iconic" side, and in the case of works like Qix and Tempest and Vectron, up into the realm of abstraction as well. McCloud points out that iconic forms can be much more involving than more realistic ones, and that was certainly my experience: I spent much of my youth in the cool, clean, colorful world of pixels and vectors. So Tron's geometric citadels and abstract landscapes felt like home to me.

This is exactly why I feel such a connection to TRON and TRON 2.0, and what I believe is wrong with the video game industry today. It's become all about graphic realism at the expense of everything else. What's wrong with playing a game that isn't ultra-realistic? Maybe we could all use a little more abstraction, and not less? More games should take us away from the real world for a time. Not attempt to be an exact mirror of it.

I'm not saying realism in games should go away. Rather, that this obsession with improving graphics needs to relax a bit, with both developers and consumers. Focus some more on those little things called story and gameplay, that are being reduced to almost an afterthought during game development.

It seems the author got his wish, by the way. He wanted to see Discs of TRON on a console, and now we've got it.

Special thanks goes out to 9VoltChicken for pointing me to this essay.
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1 comment so far.

  1. Anonymous May 29, 2007 1:11 AM
    I can just totally agree. Games these days are looking great, no doubt. But they aren't demanding anything from you, especially not to use your own imgination and phantasy. These days you are not living your own ideas, your just living the ideas of some others, and how do you want to develop yourself and your talents with no ideas or phantasy, hum?

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