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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nolan Continues His Rant

GameTap called for some clarification, and Nolan continued bashing the industry he helped spawn:

GameTap: So why do you think it got picked up so widely?

Nolan Bushnell: What I have consistently been concerned about is sort of the repetition and the lack of innovation. Innovation is one of those things that I value very highly, and I just find that as much as I applaud the beautiful, fantastic production guys of Halo 3, it’s really Doom 1 in different clothing. Clothing or not, the clothing is nicer, but the game is the same. And so is it an economic success to do Halo 3? Absolutely. Is the network connecting architecture fantastic? Yes, it’s wonderful. Is there real innovation? Not a lot.

And then, I’ve been for a long time extremely critical of the Grand Theft Auto series, which, to me, really, and they can say it’s R-rated and what have you. But the reality is kids play that game, and it really not only doesn’t teach you anything [of value], it teaches you the wrong things. It values antisocial behavior, and God knows we’ve got a certain amount of problem with that in the United States or in the world today. I just feel like, you know, these things that you can make a buck on should be chastised.

I think that there’s a time that people shouldn’t keep their mouths shut about stuff that’s really sh--ty.
-- Kill the Editors!

That last line seems to ring a little hypocritical to me. Nolan lumps praise for pretty much any game with a physical movement component (DDR, Guitar Hero) and complains that editors kill all the good ideas.

I'm certainly one to argue that the mainstream of the gaming industry does not breed innovation, but I'm also realistic enough to know that some of it just the nature of business - risk versus reward. Things have changed a bit since Nolan sold Atari.

And for someone who wants to get a lot of press bitching about things, I don't see what old Nolan is doing to innovate himself. Putting Pong into a kiosk at a dinner table isn't exactly revolution in design.

His hate for GTA highlights a huge flaw with this argument. GTA did manage to innovate - its one of the reasons for its success. But because he doesn't like the subject material, he wants it to go away.

Look - if movies, television, books, comics or virtually any medium out there followed Nolan's critique that if it can possibly get into a child's hands then it should be child friendly, art would be a pretty boring landscape. This "games are all kid's play" attitude might have fit in the Atari 2600 age - but not anymore.

For someone who is complaining an awful lot about innovation, the real problems seems to be that Nolan can't keep up with the times.


Troy Goodfellow said...

This is another Chris Crawford moment - giant game brain from the past comes out to complain about the industry because it's not full of the things he is interested in. For Crawford it's all about stories and emotions, for Bushnell apparently it's about new types of input.

Josh said...

Totally - I was thinking the same. And I want to give the old man props, but he is making it harder and harder.

At the end of the day, though, the only real solution to a lack of innovation, imo, is try solving the problem directly and do it yourself. Ranting against it won't help.

Deacon said...

He should know better than thinking games are for kids, anyway. Before home consoles took off most games were played in universities or bars. Not exactly the most kid-friendly places.

He's also got the 'innovate' bug. It's an empty term. It doesn't mean anything, really. Motion controls aren't about innovation (since they've been done), but more about implementation. The Wiimote's just a more comfortable, more responsive powerglove.

I guarantee he won't come up with some crazy never-before-seen input. Maybe he'll implement something spectacular, but he could get off his high horse, especially since his big idea seems to be a classier arcade or (gasp) networked board games (I'm assuming he hasn't seen Catan or Carcassone on Xbox Live).

Josh said...

Yeah - in his trashing of the industry and poking at guys like Rockstar (gee, original) - he ignores huge regions of the gaming sphere: XBLA, indie games on Steam ... heck even Sony Home would seem to merit a spot on his list.

No no, DDR and Guitar Hero. Sorry, DDR might have sufficed as innovation when it arrived in 1998 - but we're a good decade later now and it pretty much just clones itself now.

And I love me Guitar Hero, but it is still just Amp'd with a fancy controller.

Meanwhile, he brings us trivia games in bars. Right, like that's new.