What videogames lack: Deeper Intent

Tonight a watched a fantastic documentary called Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, and it was a true emotional roller-coaster ride. The film is a about a film-maker starting to make a movie in memory of his murdered friend, when some unexpected developments ensues. It is an experience, straight from reality, that swings you between laughter and heartbreaking despair. I urge you all to see it.

The reason why I want to bring this up, is because this movie has something that video games lack: it has been made with the intent to share something deep and meaningful. It is has not been made to create a fun experience or for commercial gain. It has been made from love and with a very serious goal in mind. The passion that was put into this movies seeps through every frame and it really brings the movie home. Kurt Kuenne, the maker of the film, has something he is truly emotional about and pulls no punches in driving that point home.

This sort of thing just isn’t found in games. Almost all games start as some kind mechanic, which is then iterated until fun enough, and anything resembling a deeper meaning is slapped on afterwards. Sure, there are games like Shadow of Colossus, that strive toward creating a battle with gigantic creatures, or Everyday the same dream, which quite obviously go beyond its low-level mechanics. But these still lack the kind of emotional investment that is seen other media. I understand a film like Dear Zachary gets a lot of emotional weight from being a true story, but that is not the point. What I am after is the motivation that drove its creation, the passion behind making it and uncompromising attitude in the way which the meaning is brought forward.

The motivation I am looking for does not need to be the gut-wrenchingly sad story that Dear Zachary tells. It can be whatever emotional experience that lies the creator close at heart. Sad, funny, beautiful, aweinspiring, interesting, disturbing, educational, it does not matter. As along as the end goal is not just to give the player a fun past time, it is a step in the right direction. Screw developments in storytelling techniques, writing, facial animations, full body input, etc. When games are a made with only a fraction of the passion that went into Dear Zachary, the videogame medium is on the path towards true greatness.

(For those interested, two more posts discussing similar themes are found here and here).