Following the blogging Orthodoxy series, I’m thinking about writing a series on video game culture. No, not the perennial and unresolvable “Can Video Games be Art?”, but rather whether video games be expected to deliver complicated moral messages. This question was renewed in my mind this week by the release of a trailer for a video game based on the works of Franz Kafka:
Leaving aside the rather ingenious coloring and visual design that the developers chose, I was immediately stuck by the utter futility of trying to communicate Franz Kafka’s take on existential doom by having players solve puzzles. Indeed, the sensation you get at the end of “A Hunger Artist” or “Metamorphosis” is the exact opposite of the sensation one gets from seeing a really vexing puzzle finally brought to completion. Perhaps the game could end by having players attempt to solve a byzantine but still ultimately intractable riddle?
Not to say that existentialism can’t properly be communicated through games (really is there anything more Sisyphean than Tetris? Not to mention the very fatalistic SkiFree) But there does seem to be a limitation in video games that makes the medium very resistant to communicating concepts of dis-empowerment. Needles to say, I don’t imagine playing the Kafka video game is going be a near experience to reading The Castle