The Great American Game?

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#51 Posted by csl316 (8935 posts) -

The X's in your post coupled with America led me to this conclusion: I should watch American History X again.

Online
#52 Posted by Raven10 (1845 posts) -

@PandaBear: We are both aware those games aren't made in America and said as much already. I already apologized for thinking that Rockstar North was American. I knew that Take Two was an American company so I just assumed Rockstar was too. That doesn't mean I think every Western game is made in America or that I think everything is about the American way of life. For many American artists, especially literary artists, there is a drive to make The Great American Novel (or play or poem or what have you). These works of art were very intentionally meant to be about the American way of life. I think of all the answers so far, Bioshock probably best fits the mold, but I just don't see any game being the Great American Game yet.

#53 Posted by Raven10 (1845 posts) -

@mellotronrules said:

@Zella said:

@HisDudeness said:

Bioshock.

This. It was made by an American company(well the first and Infinite are), both praises and mocks american culture, and is also a really good game.

You could also say Call of Duty as a franchise could be the Great American Game due to how it represents many aspects of american culture such as the glorification of guns and war(not unique to the US at all but still), capitalism, mass consumerism, extremely devise in peoples opinions on it, trend setting, etc.

Also this is actually an interesting topic so seeing it devolve into what 'Merica is and arguing about R* being Scottish is disappointing.

bioshock is an interesting case, but it feels more like a 'america as it could have been if libertarians ruled the country.' so i'd argue it's almost like a bizarro america. i'm really interested to see what the tone of the new one is like.

and as far as cod goes- you're right, it might be an very accurate snapshot of american interests and cultural norms. but i don't know if i'd say it qualifies as 'great'- those narratives are far too fucked up to be considered excellent writing. you could say the same for mcdonalds- it's probably the most 'american' of restaurants (in terms of what represents)- that doesn't mean it's the greatest of cuisine that america has to offer. that's whole hog BBQ and apple pie, god damn it!

First off, thanks all three of you. I thought it was an interesting topic and happened to pick a bad example but I'm glad I could get some people to discuss it. As far as Bioshock goes, I'll agree that Bioshock doesn't represent America, but what America could have been in a libertarian society. It does feature aspects of capitalism and the American Dream, but I don't think it really captures America and the people of America. I'll be interested in seeing how Infinite goes as it is if anything even more related to the American Dream and American Ambition than the original game.

I'll also agree on Call of Duty. Being an example of American Culture is only one half of the equation. It also has to be a great story which COD definitely isn't. Transformers says a lot about American culture as well. But no one would say Transformers was great in any sense of the word (unless you were talking about special effects).

#54 Posted by hoossy (936 posts) -

Isn't Call of Duty the 'great American game'.... at least when it comes to our Foreign policies and general 'city on a hill' disposition.

#55 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

This whole concept seems stupid and pointless. I will never understand this apparent desire to prefix everything with "American", which seems to be so blind in its usage, that sometimes it prefixes things that are not even American.

#56 Posted by Dagbiker (6978 posts) -

The Most American Game = Super Mario Bros.

Mario is no longer normal sized, he is Super Sized. Also he is so lazy he doesn't even finish spelling Brothers. Also hes a plumber, trying to bang a milf.

#57 Posted by baconbits33 (1156 posts) -

@mandude said:

This whole concept seems stupid and pointless. I will never understand this apparent desire to prefix everything with "American", which seems to be so blind in its usage, that sometimes it prefixes things that are not even American.

I disagree, my senior year in High School we learned all about British Arts, and French Arts. We read and watched specific books, and movies that throughout the years random ass scholars have said defined those nations and the people within them. Hell, even at the German School in South Korea my friend identified specific books and movies that he described as "art that defined America". This practice isn't uncommon at all, it's actually a way for people to find things to identify with.

The OP made a mistake and assumed that Rockstar was an American company. Cool, he admitted his mistake, drive on.

#58 Posted by mandude (2669 posts) -

@baconbits33 said:

@mandude said:

This whole concept seems stupid and pointless. I will never understand this apparent desire to prefix everything with "American", which seems to be so blind in its usage, that sometimes it prefixes things that are not even American.

I disagree, my senior year in High School we learned all about British Arts, and French Arts. We read and watched specific books, and movies that throughout the years random ass scholars have said defined those nations and the people within them. Hell, even at the German School in South Korea my friend identified specific books and movies that he described as "art that defined America". This practice isn't uncommon at all, it's actually a way for people to find things to identify with.

The OP made a mistake and assumed that Rockstar was an American company. Cool, he admitted his mistake, drive on.

In the line of study, I can totally understand it's utilisation, but in common day-to-day life, it still seems to come up frequently. I'm talking about shop names like Cash America Pawn, Sleep Country USA, Mattress Depot USA. Foods like American Home Fries. In restaurants, I commonly see stuff like Fettucine Alfredo and other similar things under the "American Cuisine" section. I saw, on another forum, a thread in which someone proposed a discussion around the idea that The Lord of the Rings might have been a social commentary on the Iraq War. What surprised me even more, though, was when people joined in, as though the idea wasn't completely silly from the outset.

I think this self obsession can be damaging to a point, especially when one starts using it to slant everything in their direction.

I'm not deriding him for his mistake, but rather trying to understand the contributing factors as to why these mistakes are made. I apologise for being a bit harsh, though.

#59 Edited by Raven10 (1845 posts) -

@hoossy: It also has to be a great game. Being defining of American culture and society is only half the equation. Call of Duty is known for its MP. The single player is fun for what it is, but it isn't great game design and the story and design in and of themselves don't present something inherently American or of high quality. I think if you want to talk about war dramas I would think something like The Hurt Locker would be more what I would be looking for. There needs, in my opinion at least, to be a personal, human element to the story and game that defines the view of a specific American. Call of Duty is too general to really tell the personal story that I think defines the best works of fiction. And as a game I just can't get behind the idea of Call of Duty being a good enough game to be called a Great anything.

@mandude said:

@baconbits33 said:

@mandude said:

This whole concept seems stupid and pointless. I will never understand this apparent desire to prefix everything with "American", which seems to be so blind in its usage, that sometimes it prefixes things that are not even American.

I disagree, my senior year in High School we learned all about British Arts, and French Arts. We read and watched specific books, and movies that throughout the years random ass scholars have said defined those nations and the people within them. Hell, even at the German School in South Korea my friend identified specific books and movies that he described as "art that defined America". This practice isn't uncommon at all, it's actually a way for people to find things to identify with.

The OP made a mistake and assumed that Rockstar was an American company. Cool, he admitted his mistake, drive on.

In the line of study, I can totally understand it's utilisation, but in common day-to-day life, it still seems to come up frequently. I'm talking about shop names like Cash America Pawn, Sleep Country USA, Mattress Depot USA. Foods like American Home Fries. In restaurants, I commonly see stuff like Fettucine Alfredo and other similar things under the "American Cuisine" section. I saw, on another forum, a thread in which someone proposed a discussion around the idea that The Lord of the Rings might have been a social commentary on the Iraq War. What surprised me even more, though, was when people joined in, as though the idea wasn't completely silly from the outset.

I think this self obsession can be damaging to a point, especially when one starts using it to slant everything in their direction.

I'm not deriding him for his mistake, but rather trying to understand the contributing factors as to why these mistakes are made. I apologise for being a bit harsh, though.

I think people are looking at it from the wrong direction. I thought Rockstar North was in the US. I didn't just presume. I just remembered incorrectly. As for the term itself, its origin comes from 19th century literature when scholars wanted to name American works that were as high of quality as the great works that defined other nations. Since then in various artistic fields you'll find a drive among students to create the Next Great American X. I went to an art school and this was the dream of a lot of students, especially when writing was involved. Movies, plays, poetry, anything in which you could tell the story of America, there was a drive to create that great thing. I don't think there is anything wrong in having some national pride. There are so many great works of art spanning the centuries that America didn't exist that it is I think a fair thing to want to create something as great as the Greek Tragedies or Shakespearean Sonnets of past times. It doesn't mean that you don't appreciate the work of other nations, the term if anything is based in the desire to try to be as good as other nations. For many peoples it is easy to say that X,Y, and Z define what it means to be us. These peoples have been around for thousands of years. What it means to be American is much less defined and is something people constantly try to argue over, and the goal of creating The Great American work is to capture the essence of American culture at any given moment. It's less about defining the exact goals of every last person, and more about defining the mood and tone of the times. What I was trying to talk about was a game that was both of extremely high quality, and also perfectly encapsulated a period of America through a personal tale that could in a sense be generalized to define the average feeling of an American at the time and what their goals and thoughts would be.

EDIT: Also while this may not be a scholarly situation, there are few places in the world that have as much collective game knowledge as these forums and where opinions on the matter are so strong. Outside of writing an article for Gamasutra I can't think of a much better place to discuss the matter. The average game design professor or scholar has very little experience actually playing games so while I could argue with an academic about certain things, as far as actually naming a specific game, I can't think of any place much better than here.

#60 Posted by mellotronrules (1217 posts) -

@mandude said:

@baconbits33 said:

@mandude said:

This whole concept seems stupid and pointless. I will never understand this apparent desire to prefix everything with "American", which seems to be so blind in its usage, that sometimes it prefixes things that are not even American.

I disagree, my senior year in High School we learned all about British Arts, and French Arts. We read and watched specific books, and movies that throughout the years random ass scholars have said defined those nations and the people within them. Hell, even at the German School in South Korea my friend identified specific books and movies that he described as "art that defined America". This practice isn't uncommon at all, it's actually a way for people to find things to identify with.

The OP made a mistake and assumed that Rockstar was an American company. Cool, he admitted his mistake, drive on.

In the line of study, I can totally understand it's utilisation, but in common day-to-day life, it still seems to come up frequently. I'm talking about shop names like Cash America Pawn, Sleep Country USA, Mattress Depot USA. Foods like American Home Fries. In restaurants, I commonly see stuff like Fettucine Alfredo and other similar things under the "American Cuisine" section. I saw, on another forum, a thread in which someone proposed a discussion around the idea that The Lord of the Rings might have been a social commentary on the Iraq War. What surprised me even more, though, was when people joined in, as though the idea wasn't completely silly from the outset.

I think this self obsession can be damaging to a point, especially when one starts using it to slant everything in their direction.

I'm not deriding him for his mistake, but rather trying to understand the contributing factors as to why these mistakes are made. I apologise for being a bit harsh, though.

i agree with your sentiment, but that's not what the OP's getting at. what you're referring to is co-opting nationalism for personal benefit- be it a mattress store, a restaurant, or even political rhetoric (see ANY speech from this election season). that is reprehensible. as the OP mentioned above, he's referring to a common thread in pop culture media- the concept of a creative work doing it's best to capture what it is or feels like to be an american in a particular era. grapes of wrath, to kill a mockingbird, catcher in the rye- these aren't representative of 'fuck yeah america!' moments, or works that sought to capture the public's affections through patriotism. oftentimes it's the opposite. sorta like 'born in the usa' by springsteen- the irony of that tune is that it's often misused to evoke patriotism, when in fact it's all about how fucked the country was after vietnam.

#61 Posted by Fjordson (2449 posts) -

This is slightly tangential, but still valuable to the topic at hand I think.

Lazlow Jones co-writes with Dan Houser almost all of the satirical things in R* games. The fake radio commercials, the DJ banter, the talk radio stations, the fake TV shows, the fake internet, pedestrian dialogue, etc. He's a comedian and radio host and is pretty damn funny. He's been a radio DJ in some form or another for every 3D GTA game as well.

This is a presentation on the American media and pop culture and about what he and R* aim to do with their games. It's quite fascinating and really communicates something that I love so much about their work - beginning is here, worth watching the whole thing

#62 Edited by ninnanuam (284 posts) -

RDR is a homage to westerns and comes really close to perfect in that regard. GTA's are great games but only vice city really comes close to a coherent narrative, but its not saying anything new, 4 and San Andreas are far too bloated, great games, played them all but they try to do too many things. ................................................................................................ but I think Fallout NV comes closest to encapsulating many more uniquely American concepts and the feeling of Americana, admittedly I only lived in the USA for 5 years........................................................................................................................................ I think open worlds can be a blessing and a curse, I think they add to immersion and a sense of place which can only help. Linear games, to me at least feel far more staged and gamey than open worlds However developers of open world fall into the trap of trying to have a story to encompass all the areas of the vast worlds they create and all the systems they build, I want the systems and the world but I don't want the bloat.................................... Hell I can't edit this to have paragraphs fuck, sorry everyone

#63 Posted by mosespippy (4282 posts) -

The great American game should be a 4X game. Explore, exploit, expand and exterminate is America if you ask me.

#64 Posted by RazielCuts (2972 posts) -

'The Great American Thread'

#65 Posted by s10129107 (1184 posts) -

ummmmmmm.... I don't see it.

#66 Posted by Abendlaender (2832 posts) -

Wouldn't "The Great American Game" be like a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor? Those seem pretty american to me (whatever the hell that even means, I dunno....I'm sorry)

#67 Posted by Dagbiker (6978 posts) -

Monoply - The only great american game, you start with a windfall inheritance that means nothing because you didn't earn it yourself. Then you spend it on a bunch of hotels that you never care about until someone else has them. You make shady deals. You go to jail, but never see the inside of a court room, or ever get charged with a crime. And if you start loosing you quit.

#68 Posted by dropabombonit (1492 posts) -

The Great American Game will be made by the Brits

#69 Posted by Blimble (302 posts) -

@Dagbiker: Also you start hating everyone around you and something is likely to be thrown at someone else's head

#70 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

@Raven10 said:

@Tylea002: I would agree with you in the case of the PS2 GTA games, but I think GTA4 took a more serious approach and Red Dead Redemption was definitely not a parody. And Rockstar North is not located in Scotland...

I walk past their offices every single day. They are most definitely situated in Scotland.

#71 Posted by Bollard (5660 posts) -

@Tylea002 said:

They will never make the great american game, for those games are made in Scotland (mostly, now, with the whole shared development), and are a parody of America's self serious vision of itself.

The great American delusion right here.

#72 Posted by haggis (1677 posts) -

Rockstar already made the "Great American Game." It was Red Dead Redemption. (I see now that others have said this, so at least I know I'm not crazy.) Anyway, the whole idea of a "great American" anything is sort of silly. Most of the contenders for the "Great American Novel" or "Great American Film" haven't been seen or read by the vast majority of Americans, so I wonder what that even really means. The US used to have a more monolithic culture than it does now--the idea of universal appeal, or even universal aspiration is long gone. Best just to make a great game, and forget about it trying to embody some universal cultural expression that probably doesn't exist, if it ever did.

How's that for some Giant Bomb cynicism? Probably not snarky enough.

#73 Posted by Zripwud (247 posts) -

@DoctorWelch said:

I'm the Citizen Kane of saying I want the Citizen Kane of games.

You sir, are a scholar.

#74 Posted by buzz_killington (3532 posts) -

@Tylea002 said:

They will never make the great american game, for those games are made in Scotland (mostly, now, with the whole shared development), and are a parody of America's self serious vision of itself.

That's true, but the main creative forces, the Houser brothers, are Americans.

#75 Posted by sarge1445 (676 posts) -

@Raven10 said:

@GERALTITUDE: I'll just add that it also generally deals with success and failure in the American economic system. It also generally focuses on whether or not that success can lead to happiness and fulfillment or if the American Dream offers only the illusion of success. The Great Gatsby is the ultimate Great American X. It is pretty inarguable. The Death of a Salesman is also pretty much the inarguable example for a play. Movies and games are less firm. Citizen Kane is probably the best example in film (again I'll throw my money in for There Will Be Blood) and my question was really, do you think a company can create the great American game?

GTA 4

#76 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

@buzz_killington said:

@Tylea002 said:

They will never make the great american game, for those games are made in Scotland (mostly, now, with the whole shared development), and are a parody of America's self serious vision of itself.

That's true, but the main creative forces, the Houser brothers, are Americans.

Are you trolling or just stupid?

Dan Houser (born 1974 in London) is an English video game producer and vice president (along with his brother Sam) of creativity for Rockstar Games. As well as producing video games, Houser has written every Grand Theft Auto game sinceLondon, 1969 with the exception of Grand Theft Auto Advance. He is also the head writer for Rockstar Games, being the lead for Bully, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3.

#77 Posted by granderojo (1792 posts) -

Everyone has mentioned here that GTA V can't be the 'Great American Video game' because the creators of the game are by in large not American.

This is true, but aside from that, even if they were 100% full blooded Americans, there are other overqualified. Yes, usually the medium in the Great American context is a social commentary, and GTA definitely has that but to my knowledge, no Great American Novel has ever been a parodying something else. In case of Huckleberry Finn and all Great American Novels, they create a new form of novel which format is then copied in other works due to it's popularity.

You could argue that as a game, GTA has done this to the open world genre, but in terms of story, it is decidedly so not pushing the envelope. Just ask how many sweat pop culture references were in the second trailer to realize, how many wink and nods they are making to 'established' fiction.

To be a great american anything, you not only have to be popular, made by an American, but you have to change the format fundamentally to want to be copied by others. GTA has consistently pushed the game aspect forward, but in GTA IV as a test case, they have failed to step out the realm of parody. When they did last in a big way they fell on their face with that Niko Bellic being inconsistent.

So there are many disqualifications for this on GTA aside from the 'Made in America' tag. Something like Half Life 2, Tony Hawk 3, or Halo that changed an entire genre would be candidates for Great American Video games because they are largely American devs with lots of Americans working on them. All three changed their specific subgenre's significantly and ushered in a lot of copy-cats.

#78 Posted by fraser (478 posts) -

I'm finding it difficult to decipher between people who genuinely didn't know Rockstar North was based in Scotland and some serious trolls.

As depressing as this situation is, Rockstar's ridiculous secrecy act doesn't help at all. Rab Florence wrote a pretty interesting article about it before his shit hit the fan.

#79 Posted by Breadfan (6590 posts) -

Don't be silly. Bad Dudes is the Great American Game.

#80 Posted by mellotronrules (1217 posts) -

@mosespippy said:

The great American game should be a 4X game. Explore, exploit, expand and exterminate is America if you ask me.

haha, i like the cut of your jib.

regarding the topic though- i think we need to make a distinction between games that capture the 'american dream' as it once existed or a particular point in american history (red dead), and games that capture the CURRENT spirit of the times. if we're talking about the latter (as i believe we are), i don't think any games fit the bill. i'd go so far as to say that's the next great frontier for games as a medium- i don't think any developer (as yet) has had the stones to make a game that paints a truly accurate picture of america- one that factors in political division and economic strife. i think this largely stems from the fact games largely exist as pure entertainment- vehicles for empowerment and escapism. but plenty of great works of realistic fiction, be it film, books, or music- have presented stories that don't offer empowerment, solutions for problems, or a sense of satisfaction. the first game that manages to do that i think will be a lot closer to encompassing the 'american experience' than anything else currently available.

#81 Posted by jillsandwich (762 posts) -

Does it really have to be made in America to be the great American game?

Also, if you want to campaign for any PTA movie to be the Great American Movie and whatnot, I'm right there with you.

#82 Posted by Gets2much (2 posts) -

Well if its a parody its a damn good one. Its a good reflection of what we all think mostly. Im pretty sure the world knows America better than most Americans. But thats another story for another time. Anyways "Western" games started gaming and now its just falling into suit again. After Atari the East dominated until X-box and Halo. It showed the world Western games are solid. Now with the lack of orginal eastern titles. And when i mean orginal i mean every japanese character pretty much looks the same but with different hair or a boob size difference. So in turn GTA and Rockstar make damn good games. And as a American i approve and laugh at all the parodies. "If you can't find humor in yourself you have no buiness laughing at other."

- This Guy

#83 Posted by BBQBram (2256 posts) -

@Napalm said:

@Azteck said:

This is incredibly embarrassing.

I was going to say...

And I'm pretty sure, one-hundred percent in fact, that, "The Great American _______" was some shit you made up, because I've never heard that.

You are absolutely sure a term doesn't exist, because you have never heard of it?

Thanks, haven't had a laugh like that in a while! Not only because a quick google search would prove you wrong, but the very lack of logic displayed is staggering - from now on when I learn something new I'll go "No. You're lying because I have no context."

Are people this stupid?

#84 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

Most video games as they exist today are so absurd that I would be embarrassed to have a title like that attached to one. The medium has a bit to grow before I would feel comfortable with there being a "Great American Game."

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