I think, sometimes — perhaps too often — about Versailles. It was by all accounts, staggering: all of the richest people in France staying in one of the world’s grandest palaces eating and drinking themselves into a stupor at the feet of Louis XIV while the country fought and starved. It was, and remains, a symbol of the purity of excess: a grand, insane bacchanal that seemed to aspire to nothing less than oblivion. Of course, there were good political reasons for the thing that was Versailles to exist as well (keep the nobles drunk enough that they neither notice or care that you’ve become an absolute monarch), but the main takeaway is this: one of the most powerful men in the world used the resources of his nation to throw the bitchingest party on Earth.
This week, I’m thinking about Versailles because of Burning Man.
We imagine, for a second, that we are writing a movie script.This script features an international technology company run by a pair of charismatic billionaires. It’s omnipresent and yet difficult to define, with deep pockets and huge, high-profile projects that seem to bear only a passing resemblance to actual revenue streams. Most of these projects involve eerily sophisticated methods of finding out as much as possible about everyone on Earth. In recent months, this company has made headlines buying drones, home monitoring software, artificial intelligence, and a firm that makes military robots.
Question: You are a writer, tasked with analyzing popular culture for the purposes of edification, attention and profit. You’re going about your business, which likely consists of lamenting the lack of innovation in your chosen field. All of a sudden, something actually unexpected happens. A new genre emerges, instantly capturing the attention of audiences around the world with a basic structure that represents a radical departure from most everything on the market. What do you do?
The answer, of course, is to dismiss it as anathema, a dangerous threat to all that is good in the world and a pathetic diversion of the unwashed masses. Tried and true.
That’s what the world of traditional videogame journalism has decided to do regarding free-to-play mobile games, which happen to include some of the most popular games on Earth, enjoyed by millions.
Here are a few things that are true about the DICE Awards, held last week in Las Vegas and promoted as “The Oscars of Video Games.”
One of the nominees for “Best Online Game” was essentially non-functional months after its release. In that category, the broken game was one of only two nominees actually released this year—the winner was four years old.
The winner for “Best RPG” was released in 2013, and it was largely agreed to be just okay. There is an award given for “Best Downloadable Game,” a category which makes no sense in an era when literally every game can and is downloaded.