Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Simple(ish) Response to the Founding Question of Electronic Arts

There are some things that are best expressed through the visual image; I am certain this is one of them.
Electronic Arts, back in the 1980's, set forth to answer the question, "Can a computer make you cry?"
Refenced again and again throughout the industry as an inspirational, as well as a humorously ironic quote, it has come to evolve into a more specific form in the game development circles.

"Can a game make you cry?"

And so, there have been many attempts since the question has been posed to prove that indeed yes, they can. It has been a race to discover "the Citizen Kane of games" (puke). Or, rather more honestly, to show the world that games are just as respectable a human construction as the other art forms.

Developers waiting to create the first game that drives human emotion so deep as to bring forth tears, behold! The answer does not lie in the next big cinematic science fiction RPG. No, the answer is to be found in these images:

There are going to be perfectly valid examples in folk games, board games, and even some multiplayer video games as well. Tears of victory; tears of defeat. Tears of shame; tears of relief. In my experience playing competitive sports, I will vouch for the fact that crying is not an uncommon emotional response to the results of a game.

To answer the original question, "Can a computer make you cry?", it is important to remember that crying is an emotionally response, and that emotion is unique to humans and an other instances of natural life. Will someday that human element be brought in effectively enough into the systems, the AI and the representative imagery of a video game in order to allow these emotional responses to come solely from the interactive aspects of a single player experience? Maybe; give it another twenty years. Can emotions be brought forth from allowing the human element to be better expressed and shared in networked electronic game play? Yes; however, the technology for such is not yet here.

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