Pale, Withdrawn, Molelike

The New Yorker just did a profile of Cliff Bleszinski.

Let me repeat myself: The New Yorker, which I may remind you is a serious publication, has done a profile of someone who likes to go by “Dude Huge”. I don’t mean to hate, I’m just jealous. The article is insightful and well-written.

But it trumpets up game design into something much more glamorous than it is for this particular designer,  because profiling the “rock star” of the game design world gives this impression that we are all the result of an extended Revenge of the Nerds epilogue where we all drive Ferraris, hang out with celebrities and pose for photos in elaborate costumes.

From the article:

[T]he photographs of him on his MySpace page alongside the splatter-film director Eli Roth and the porn stars Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy—qualifies him as exceptional in an industry that is, as he says, widely assumed to be a preserve inhabited by pale, withdrawn, molelike creatures. There is some truth to this stereotype: most game designers are not like CliffyB.

But my main problem is that the media takes Gears of War so seriously. It’s the same unintelligent male adolescent power fantasy that we see over and over and over again. Yet it’s considered the hallmark of our industry? I’m no Braid indie-gamer wonk, but even though Iron Man made a killing at the box-office, we don’t see hero worship of Jon Favreau. He isn’t in the pantheon of directors that we venerate as the gifted industry-definers.

There are designers pushing the industry forward, even if their games aren’t as popular. Look at David Cage at Quantic Dream. Look at Kim Swift at Valve. Look at Keita Takahashi. I’d like to read about them. Cliff, while putting out a game that was extremely commercially successful, really just hit the nerd lottery by attaching to the right company at the right time. I don’t mean to denigrate his work. It’s not that it is bad by any sense of the word. It’s just… standard.

The writer of the article seems almost surprised that Bleszinski doesn’t drag his knuckles on the floor as he walks. He referenced the overrated indie comedy Garden State in one of his levels? How literate! Puke.

And I’m certainly not of the class of game designer that I want to see profiled either. I make sports games, which are, in a way, the same adolescent power fantasy of which I grow tired.

Plus, I am boring. I went to college. I drive a Civic.

The article does make the most poignant observation about game designers that can be made and which pretty much invalidates any articles about rockstar game designers:

[M]odern game design is too complex and collaborative for any individual to feel proprietary about his own ideas.

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