I Got Yer Smart Games Right Here

Taylor Clark’s recent Atlantic essay quotes the somewhat annoying Jonathan Blow (of Braid fame) saying

There's no nice way to say this, but it needs to be said: video games, with very few exceptions, are dumb. And they’re not just dumb in the gleeful, winking way that a big Hollywood movie is dumb; they’re dumb in the puerile, excruciatingly serious way that a grown man in latex elf ears reciting an epic poem about Gandalf is dumb.


Brainy Gamer would like to differ. Here's their catalog of 365 smart games.

  1. Here’s a follow-up/clarification by Taylor Clark.

    I have to say I’m not convinced, and I suspect he’s got some fairly ironic blinders on: he acknowledges that not all games are dumb, but it looks like he hasn’t come to the realization that the ‘dumb’ games are the ones that he, himself, is compelled to play all the time. (Otherwise the article still doesn’t make much sense to me.)

    From a separate angle of critique, here’s a response from a 10 year veteran of a handful of those big budget ‘dumb’ games. The pull-quote: “when you are a writer, every problem looks like a writing problem.”

  2. Seems like he lacks self-awareness or this is some sort self-promotion by appeal to elitism. “Most games are dumb – not dumb by the gold standard of media dumbness but worse! Buy my games.” Puerile and excruciatingly serious sound like apt descriptors of Blow’s comments here and they don’t even have the shimmer of joyfully vicarious role fulfillment as the dude with the ears and the poem.

    “…the only reason that I’m rich is because somebody typed a number into my bank account.”

    …am I being trolled?

  3. I had my own reaction to Blow here.

    In a way the most interesting entries in Brainy Gamer’s list are those where someone tries to justify a ‘dumb’ game. They’re not always convincing, but I think it shows that these games touch people somehow. Which is art, after all.

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