Grandmothers are Cooler than Trolls is
game-specific: a firmly first-person musing over
The Sims by Gonzalo Frasca, author of the videogame theory weblog Ludology.org. The Sims, a game
simulating American suburban life, has proven the
most ready product for review
by lay writers, i.e., people who do not
care to dwell in the largely teenage, male tribe of hyperactive modern
electronic entertainment consumers. Talking about The Sims is a
great chance to begin the activity of making game theory real. So
many people have played The Sims, or seen it, that if a very
specific type of examination were undertaken, people could relate
first-hand to the terms used and ideas expressed. This essay is more
off-the-cuff than that ideal, perhaps intended as a "keepin'-it-real"
counter-balance to the airy theory present in the other articles.
Game-curious academics are a young audience, just discovering their
pride in, and preference for, electronic entertainment. While the GameStudies
audience will likely grow as the journal matures, game players and
developers currently comprise the journal's most natural
audience. Game-developer Chris Hecker says about GameStudies: "What we really need is not
endless debates about whether games can tell stories, but some
thoughtful study, analysis, and taxonomy of the language of gameplay
as it currently stands. Film has its cuts, tracking shots, closeups,
etc. Prose has its structures. What are they for games, and what
functions do they serve?"
Game players can be a tough crowd.
During the USC games conference in January 2001, there was an uneasy
exchange as a noted modern narrative theorist was questioned dramatically by audience members: had she
actually played games, or just watched them being played?
Academic writers about games open themselves up to criticism
from an audience often hostile to serious academia. I count myself as a game player
(with an objective intent), and my urge is to ask these writers to delve deeper and more broadly into
game history (at ClassicGaming and Home of the Underdogs for example, you
can download the play-full roots of today's touted titles). These GameStudies folks
will make more promising contributions if we can
convince them to waste more of their time with games and less with books.