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Jaffe: Call developers out on artistic pretension

Monday, 14th March 2011 05:23 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Twisted Metal and God of War designer David Jaffe has said developers, gamers and especially games journalists should stop pandering to gaming’s artistic pretensions, so the industry is forced to “shit or get off the pot”.

“These are all surface elements that – while challenging as anything else in games to produce well – do not speak to the maturation of the medium one iota,” Jaffe wrote in a blog post, speaking of mature themes and post-modern aesthetics.

“I’m tired of seeing gamers – and game journalists especially – falling for this. Game journalists of all people need to be calling us developers out on our smoke and mirrors bullshit.

“If we really want to get to the top of the mountain we have to be honest about the current state of the ‘art’. Just because your game wears the trappings of relevancy does not make it relevant.”

Jaffe explained that giving gamers and developers an unrealistic sense of the medium’s achievement is like telling a child their art couldn’t be improved – encouraging complacency.

“The very nature of something being artistic and important means that – except in rare cases – its power is evident without anyone having to tell you that it is,” he added.

“And the sooner the people who write about games for a living start reporting on this angle of the story, the sooner us developers will be forced to shit or get off the pot.”

Responding to comments, Jaffe went on to explain his chain of thought.

“Tell us game makers we’ve arrived and before you know it, we’ll think we really have (some of us already do),” he said.

“As will the fans and the press. But we really haven’t arrived at all and it all just seems like this bullshit, backroom, secret-handshake kind of club where we tell the press how important and meaningful we’ve become in order to stroke our own egos, and then the press (SOME, certainly not all) goes off and writes about how important games have become in order to convince themselves they are doing important work and not ‘just’ writing about the number of guns in the latest shooter or the size of the levels in a hit game’s expansion pak (sic).”

Thanks, PS Beyond.

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13 Comments

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  1. redisdrunk

    Pot callin’ kettle. How’re you doing? Good? Good to hear it. Pretentious club at six o’ clock? See you there, buddy.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Gekidami

    ^ How so? Got any examples?

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Kerplunk

    I’m inclined to agree with #2. Jaffe, whilst outspoken (usually through his own personal blog rather than as a company rep) isn’t known for banging that ‘games are art’ drum. His portfolio doesn’t suggest he’s ever argued that point in favour of his own projects either – though his cancelled project might have gone that way.

    I expect there’ll be lots of quick reaction to this soundbite but its worthy of proper consideration.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DeathJynx

    I think he is spot on.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Telepathic.Geometry

    Maybe HIS games aren’t art, but that doesn’t mean that other devs can’t aspire to it. I tend to like Jaffe, but in this case I think he’s mouthin’ off a wee bit too much. There are a few games out there which are nothing less than art in my book. Simple as.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Freek

    He’s not against the aspiration, he’s against pretending that they have already achieved it. He feels that’s holding the industrie back from genuinely moving forward.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. KAP

    Bottomline is: Jaffe is a god.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Telepathic.Geometry

    Haven’t they? It’s not like Art is that fucking divine that it doesn’t happen every day. I drew a picture, there, it’s art. Who decides what isn’t art? I don’t know, but it isn’t fucking Jaffe’s place to say whether his contemporaries have managed it or not. That’s really rude.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Freek

    That’s sort of the point, art doesn’t really happen every day. Just drawing a picture isn’t enough. Art is more complicated then that, but he’s not defining it. His point is that it takes effort to achieve that. And without motivation it won’t happen.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Telepathic.Geometry

    The Mona Lisa doesn’t happen every day, but art absolutely does. If you see the concept art they throw away when developing games, it’s amazing. Real talent, art and imagination.

    If devs were getting their knobs polished all the time about how artful their games were, I’d say Jaffe has a point, but they’re not. Most people refuse to recognise games as a medium even capable of art. Who’s getting all this praise that Jaffe disapproves of then?

    #10 3 years ago
  11. ManuOtaku

    If i need to blame someone, it will be us the consumers, not the devs or the press, us the gamers,take for instance artistic graphics games like muramasa,little king story, odin sphere, folklore,wind waker, killer seven, Ico, etc, are most of the time, being ignored by the so “called Hardcore” crow, because they are not gears, god of war, halo and the likes, therefore heavy artistic games, tend to fade away because of this, games like wind waker that try something new to an stablished franchise, was criticize by many mayor outlets for being to kiddy, not realistic enough,and so they won making this game approach his fate in the end, which was not sold to many copies (for a zelda game of course), and neither do did the previous mentioned games.

    Story Wise is happening the same thing, Games Like Mass Effect, Dragon Age are being streamline on all fronts even in its story, for a more action oriented stories, that of course will guarantee a lots of sold games.

    Therefore in the end i think, if videogames doesnt evolve, is because of our fault, the gamers, because we always trying to find the next god of war, halo, zelda, gears, etc, but god forbid for any mayor change (artistically speaking in all fronts graphic/story/gameplay), because it will bring all the fans to start making flames, just lets see how good EL SHADDAI will do against the so called “hardcore” games, i will get it not matter what, as i will get L.A noire,zelda Skysword, Battlefield 3,etc and all the mayor “hardcore” games for that matter too, because i know i will be supporting something different even if it is not my cup of tee, i know that maybe if it sells well enough, maybe we will be getting a more polished version of el shadai 2, but if we dont support innovation artistically or not, well we dont be getting this kind of games, the so called risky games, we only be getting the true, tested and guarantee money makers, even if they are clones with one another.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Zana

    Developers who are making games that could be considered art usually don’t want to admit they do (i.e. Fumito Ueda) whereas developers who do mindless, blockbuster games tend to think they’re it (first example that comes to mind is the intellectual masturbation that surrounded the uncovering of Gears of War 3′s cover “art”).

    #12 3 years ago
  13. ninjanutta

    blah.blah.blah…in a nutshell,hes telling the truth.grease the fuckin media palm and your game gets a good write up.end of story,he just tried to be slightly diplomatic.Art has fuck all to do with it.prince of persia in the cell shaded graphic was a masterpeice in the eye of an artist.it got slated for it,the game was lovely to watch on a good tv.

    #13 3 years ago