More Achievements

Pursuant to my last post, I present a discussion of the Naughty Dog recent gaming release, The Last of Us.


A zombie story, the game has gotten great reviews. I anticipate gaming it someday, or spectating while someone else plays. Naughty Dog makes top-flight entertainment, whether you experience it first hand or second.

The discussion part of this whole thing is a result of this blog post, which fired off a lot of my synapses. I don’t agree with some of the claims made in the post, but I won’t address them because the commenters do a good job of rebuttal. I specifically want to focus on how these ideas relate to Achievements, my new miracle cure for what ails the world.

Monty objects to a scripted game that has you play the climax build-up, and then pauses your role so that the game can show a cut-scene coup de grace. I would say that this format bugs Monty mostly because it’s a hybrid of movie-watching and gaming. My opinion is that this is the synthesis we need. Now that we’ve had a taste of gaming, a taste of the achievement dopamine possible at the climax of a story, we can’t go back to just passively watching anymore.

Different people get the dopamine from different gaming genres. For me, it’s RPG. For Ace, in the comments he makes clear a disdain for anything RPG.  His rush comes from other genres. As developers understand the synthesis, I believe they will make different versions of the game/movie mix. Naughty Dog just happens to be the first and most successful so far, partly because they’ve taken the most common denominator in what they’ve produced. Their shooter/action-adventure/character-driven game touches on all the bases without necessarily hitting anyone’s sweet spot. Their games have all the story Enneagram any movie has, though, and they deliver a beautiful package.

To get to the future I want, everyone has to realize that “game” and “movie” are not distinct categories anymore. They blur and share, more so with each day. We need the juice now, and a plain movie doesn’t deliver it. This is part of what I meant when I said that Spielberg and Lucas don’t understand gaming culture and therefore don’t understand where moviemaking must trend. A blockbuster is the closest the thing to a game that a gamer can find in the movie theater. We’ve all gamed the boss-battle moment, and bring that muscle memory (and dopamine injection) to our viewing. Movies that only engage the mind are last-century. They are for old guys.

I can taste what’s coming and it’s delicious. This post is just the beginning of that exploration. I hope you’ll join me in speculating what the future holds, and how our gaming experiences are changing how we interact with entertainment today.


1 Comment

  1. I agree with you, of course, over Monty. The old argument about “what is and isn’t a game” always fills me with resentment and boredom. I deduced a long time ago that the term “video game” really doesn’t have any one meaning, so I apply it to just about anything that vaguely resembles one.

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