How videogames look to your mom

Someone asked Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway to judge the GameCity prize for videogames. She agreed, as a way to get in touch with her sons. She found the experience of playing videogames for the first time frustrating and baffling. Her experience playing Fez:

This was developed by a young man in Elvis Costello spectacles who spent five years ignoring his girlfriend in order to make a game that is supposed to make us nostalgic for the early computer games we played (or not) as kids.

It’s all about a blobby character in a fez hat who climbs up buildings; it looks pretty and, best of all, I could do it, just about. In my judge’s notebook, I wrote: “Surprisingly enjoyable. Great colours. Like the weird music,” but then ran out of things to say.

This may be part of the reason there is so little cultural discussion of video games: there simply isn’t much to talk about. Fez is pretty and ingenious but it’s not exactly Proust. It’s not even JK Rowling.

Her experience leaves me wondering how many others feel the same about games. The player participation aspect of storytelling is essential to how games interact with narrative, but there are still some people who, not being experienced in playing or criticizing games, are at a loss to find their value.