May 20, 2009
Games, Architecture, the Good Stuff
BLDGBLOG’s interview with Jim Rossignol has got my brain a-sparking. Rossignol wrote a book called The Gaming Life that I now want to get; it’s a tour of gaming cultures in London, Seoul, and Reykjavik.
Lots to recommend in the interview (it’s long) but here’s a nugget that I liked. Why doesn’t game development seem to have the same fast-paced froth as, say, open-source web stuff? Well…
Rossignol: At the last game developers conference in San Francisco, one of my colleagues said to me that perhaps what was most interesting were all the ideas that were walking around inside the heads of the developers — the ideas that they wouldn’t talk about, or stuff they kept secret because it was too good and too commercially important for their companies. It did make me wonder whether the fact that games are so commercial stunts their futurology — after all, if game developers were given free rein to be pure creatives, I think there would be a massive exchange of ideas. This kind of accelerated avalanche of development could come out of there being no limits on sharing ideas. It makes it very difficult for game designers to get the ideas they need to make games better — because they’re going to be protected, or hidden, or otherwise held back by commercial concern.
Hmm… ideas too valuable to share. At this week’s Long Now lecture, I heard Paul Romer talk about the incredible economic benefits of, er, sharing ideas. This strikes me as an interesting challenge, especially because games — more than, say, movies or books — can scaffold off of each other so effectively, both in terms of tech tools and play mechanics.
Here’s one other bit, really just an aside, from Geoff that I liked. Not related to games at all. He’s working at an architect’s office in London, and…
At one point, I found a bunch of tapes that were nothing but surveillance footage taken inside Wembley Stadium. It was unlabeled, black and white footage of people milling about outside the bathrooms, near the ticket gate, and so on — and my initial thought was actually that some sort of crime must have taken place. There had been a stabbing, or a riot — and, I thought, maybe even someone here at Foster & Partners had been involved. That’s why we had the tapes. Then again, that’s how it always is with surveillance tapes: you’re always waiting for something to happen on them. All CCTV footage of road traffic, for instance, looks like CCTV footage taken right before an accident.
Wow. That is a novelist-caliber insight. “All CCTV footage of road traffic, for instance, looks like CCTV footage taken right before an accident.” Unpack that. It’s like five dimensions of Our Modern Situation compressed into an evocative visual metaphor. This is the kinda stuff you get reading BLDGBLOG.