Nolan Bushnell, the man that essentially created the video game industry (which automatically makes him my lord and savior) had some harsh words to say about the current state of video gaming in an interview with Electronic Design.
“Video games today are a race to the bottom. They are pure, unadulterated trash and I’m sad for that,” says Bushnell.
Now, let’s forget that this man single-handedly destroyed the video game industry right after he created it with a plethora of sub-par Atari games. I mean, there’s a dump solely dedicated to letting E.T. cartridges get the much-needed suntan that they deserve.
And let’s forget the fact that Bushnell has been out of the video game business ever since he created Chuck E. Cheese, a restaurant that just screams “pedophile hangout”. Let’s just forget about all that, in an attempt to understand what he truly means.
A lot of websites are basically painting this quote as saying the quality of most games made today are complete shit. While I neither agree nor disagree with that statement, I do think the quote was taken slightly out of context.
It’s not the quality of games that he’s referring to, but rather the type. This situation is easily summed up by what Bushnell is currently doing, a gaming/dining project titled uWink. Based in Woodland Hills, California, uWink “is an entertainment dining experience where people can play tabletop games, interact, and enjoy tasty, reasonably priced meals.” It’s a group-oriented traditional gaming experience, basically. People coming together to have fun.
Bushnell has come to a point where he considers a “game” to be more than what we’ve been privy to recently in the video game industry. The idea of a game now, especially the “video” type, seem to encompass playing alone in the pursuit of murder. Which is true, we tend to kill in seclusion more than rolling dice with your friend or sibling in a game of Monopoly. He may not be considering the murder part the real problem, but he’s probably hinting around that it’s a tired convention at this point.
The man has a solid point. His quote may seem like it’s from some old Grandpa that continually says his day was better than ours, but if you read into the situation more, he’s hitting the nail of the head. Video games are becoming unbalanced at this point, and we need to broaden the very definition of them to come out ahead. Some will say casual gaming, and to a smaller extent the Wii, has already done that, but I don’t think he sees it being enough. Maybe that’s what uWink is all about.
Anyone disagree with him? Does the advent of Xbox Live and PSN make his statement unjustified, or is that again, not enough?