Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Unappreciated Effort of "A Crew of Thousands"

            The selection of reading entitled “Work” got me thinking about how extensive the world of each video game is. Not just the world contained within the video game itself, but the world of work involved in creating the video game is extremely sprawling. Talking about all of the “testers, producers, distributors, attorneys, accountants, reviewers, salespeople/proprietors, advertisers, and manufacturers” (84) made me consider how little stock I take in looking at the names of the people involved in making the game when I beat the game, or when the credits preface the game. Even if I did consider each and every name of the credits, I would still have no mental image of what the real human being looked like or the kind/amount of effort that individual put towards the completion of a single video game. Jacky showed me a video where two game reviewers talk to a game tester about putting in 80-100 work weeks just playing individual parts of games trying to work out each and every possible glitch, and must do it again every time a newer version reaches them. This happens with every single game, no matter how mediocre or unprofitable, and these insanely dedicated testers are extremely lucky to be even mentioned on the credits of a game. Just the unfairness takes me aback, but no real solution comes to mind for the problem. Who actually pays any attention to credits? The real-life work comes to mind last when a person is trying to finish a quest or adventure or shooting an onslaught of enemy soldiers within a video game. Why would you? All that does is solidify the player within the real world, and isn’t one of the points of a video game to escape the confines of reality?
            I also thought about credit scenes within video games. The first one that I pictured in my mind’s eye was the credits for Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64, where the credits are viewed through a type of square that aims, and the player can shoot the hundreds of names soaring away. ( Clever and interactive, this does not really make the player particularly involved in thoughts about the creators of the game because the option exists where a button can be pressed and the names fly by at super speed, and the names are completely unreadable. There is an option to disregard the creators! Disregard all of the hard work put in by possibly thousands of people, and it bothers me a little. Not enough to do anything about it, but hey, I root for the underdog. In Super Monkey Ball 2 for the Gamecube, once a set of platforms is completed, the monkeyball is dropped at the front of a seemingly never ending hallway. As the player moves the monkeyball forward, names of designers and developers and other workers appear overhead; the letters then fall onto the ground in front of the monkeyball, and the player must avoid the letters and collect bananas, otherwise a set number of bananas will disappear from the player’s collection when the monkeyball makes contact with a letter. ( veritable mini-game contained within the credits of people who worked on the game, the option is again given to skip the thing entirely, not giving the people who applied an unknown amount of effort an instant of thought or appreciation. Talk about not satisfying for the people who created the game! The most recognition they’ll get is if their mother, father, brother, sister, friend, or even the individual him/herself play the game and wait until their name appears on the credits. Working on video games is definitely not a job for a dedicated someone who craves recognition for their individual effort. 
            A different, positive spin on the credit scene is the Introduction world in Little Big Planet. As a sassy, British narrator man talks the player through the basic controls needed to move around and customize the player’s sack person used to traverse the worlds of platforms, the player progresses through a world of pictures of real-life individuals with ascribed first names, workers of the company Media Molecule, the head developing company of LBP. According to Wikipedia, though, there are five other developing companies. While it is a cool way to give credit to a handful of folks who worked on LBP, only first names? Of people from one of six developing companies? Again, it is shown how little credit is given to the people who dedicated hundreds of workdays toward creating a game. 

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