GIVE THANKS, FINALE
Yeah, yeah, we’re closer to Christmas now than Turkey Day, but whatever. Thankfulness never goes out of style, and since this series was my idea, I better bring my dish to the table.
Hope you brought an appetite, Schmamers, because I’m thankful for quite a bit.
In fact, my thankfulness is….endless.
Film as an entertainment medium started somewhere around the late 1880s. It was a slow, and difficult ascent to the top for cinematic art, as the technology was testy, the distribution dodgy, and the artists head-to-toe green. Baby steps followed tremendous tumbles, but progress happened none the less. Slowly, but ever surely.
Eventually motion pictures hit the mainstream, and the world hasn’t looked back since. Art has been blessed by dozens of auteurs and innovators from Kaufman to Chayefsky, Pixar to Paramount, Smith to Spielberg, and the so many frames of film in between. It’s a rich history, and its flavors reach deeper and deeper as the cameras of time roll along.
It’s fascinating to know that most of film’s baby pictures are gone. Film preservation was hardly as revered as it is nowadays, and early movies shot on cheap-as-can be film stock were lost to fires, poor storage, or simply dissolved to become artistic dust in the wind. A vast percentage of the movies from the first thirty-plus years of film are simply gone. Something like 90% I do believe, but don’t quote me. Either way, it’s an unhealable hurt.
But still, film survived, and we’re all free to see the newest outing from artists as varied as Scorcese and Perry, and the technology and means to make movies grows ever more democratized.
So…what the hell am I talking about?
Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.
This Schmanksgiving I am most thankful for the future.
In the grand scheme of things, think of where video games are on the artistic timeline. Let’s say that the true modern gaming movement started in the BEST YEAR EVER TO BE BORN: 1985 with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (in the US, anyway, but hey, this series is dedicated to OUR holiday.) That makes video games not even thirty years old.
We’ve barely learned to speak.
As gamers we are at, arguably, the most exciting time in gaming history. We are not walking the streets of ancient cities, or poring through dusty texts. We are laying the foundations of gaming’s civilization. We are at the framing of gaming’s constitution, we’re penning the Bible, we are the people that generations of gamers from here on out will look back on and revere. And that’s a pretty goddamn fancy-fine feeling.
But still more exciting is the openness of opportunity. In the early days of film there were a handful of true artists: Chaplin, Keaton, (total douche, but absolute innovator) Griffith. Right now we’ve got a strong handful: Levine, Molyneux, Kojima, Miyamoto, and others. A respectable number, but still, if you think about it, so few.
In comparison to film, we still don’t have a Wells. Or an Allen. No Kubrick. Ditto Gondry. Hell, we don’t even have Uwe Boll (though several are trying with all their might.) We still have so much ground to cover, so many lands to map, so many paths to connect.
When I think about the future of gaming…I can’t stop thinking about it. The possibilities breed possibilities. We all laughed at that part in The Cable Guy when Jim Carrey said we’d be able to play Mortal Kombat with our friend in Vietnam. Vietnam? I can play against a dude in Antarctica
I know there’s still going to be so much stumbling, so many missteps, and plenty of problems. But that’s what happens to all great art. It goes beyond simple craftsmanship and becomes an entity, one completely unpredictable and unwieldy.
And that’s what makes it all so wonderfully, so totally, so awesomely exciting. And Schmamers, I mean truly awesome. I am in awe.
I cannot believe we live in such incredible times. It reminds me of something Carl Sagan once said, “ How lucky we are to live in this time, the first moment in human history when we are, in fact, visiting other worlds.”
Schmamers, we’ve barely begun exploring Mario’s galaxy. Our fantasy is far from final. Our art and our love that we all had a hand in midwifing is alive, kicking, screaming, and hungry for adventure.
And it has its whole life ahead of it.