We are so busy looking for the Citizen Kane of Games, I don’t think we’d see it if it came right up to us.
I watched Citizen Kane a few nights ago because my girlfriend and friends had not seen it. Unlike many ‘classics’, I totally agree that it is one of the best films ever made. But if it was reviewed like games are reviewed today, I think it wouldn’t be as admired. It starts slow, repeats sections, has some odd transitions (the parrot!), and since it doesn’t progress linearly some may find it hard to follow. Plus if you take it as a send-up of Hearst it is extremely heavy-handed. It also has no violence, explosions or dick/fart jokes – the holy trinity of game features.
Passage could very well be the Citizen Kane of games. But everyone is looking for the $300 million blockbuster to transform the industry. Gamers need to be coddled by public affirmation that what they like is correct. But Kane was not a huge raging success until decades after release. Citizen Kane was a box-office failure (of sorts). The public hated it. Many walked out. I think if we feel a need to belong in the Big Boys Club by means of latching onto movie milestones, you won’t find Citizen Kane in your Half-Lifes, Metal Gears, Marios, Zeldas or Halos.
But I don’t think we really need a Citizen Kane. We won’t know what that milestone is where gaming becomes significant enough that designers are as respected as directors and playing games isn’t ridiculed as a worthwhile pastime (because those two achievements are really what we are looking for, right?) until decades after the fact.