Randy Smith’s talk last night, Games are Art (and what to do about it), at Postmortem triggered a few thoughts I wanted to throw out there briefly. Here’s the first one:
In exploring the nature of art and different art forms, Randy looked to McCloud’s Understanding Comics to identify “closure” (the interstitial space between frames) as a unique feature of the comic medium. He then posed the question of what made video games unique. It struck me that what each medium can be defined by what each one leaves out; for example, comic books’ closures leave out what is between the frames – that is for the reader to fill in. Performance media cannot convey inner lives the way literature can (Wonder Years style voiceovers notwithstanding); it’s for the actors to interpret that inner life and for the audience to infer it from their performances. Literature, for its part, leaves to the imagination how its characters look or sound, which generates that little bit of shock when a book is translated to film. (Harry Potter provides a great example: the movies’ cast probably overrides the books’ illustrations probably overrides Rowling’s text).
So my question is: what do video games leave out for the player to fill in? Or better: what is best for video games to leave out?