This week is a Between the Lines first as we as we explore the philosophy of an award winning video game with Neil Druckmann.
Neil is the Creative Director of the acclaimed video game, The Last of Us. He, along with director Bruce Straley, created a game that set a new standard for the genre. From its cinematic beauty to its moral and philosophical content, it rivals many works of literature and film.
I decided to have Neil on the show at the insistence of my son. Both my boys, now men, and daughter-in-law, are serious gamers. I may be prejudiced but they all turned out wonderful and are major contributors to our society. In fact, many of their friends are major video gamers and they too are model citizens that all would be proud to know.
From the beginning of recorded history every new media was lambasted. Socrates never wrote anything down and criticized Plato because he believed the written word would diminish the need for memorizing and thinking. The Guttenberg Press was condemned because penmanship would no longer be held in such high esteem. From radio to film to television and now to the internet and video games, all new forms of conveying ideas are often thought to lead to the fall of civilization.
But, as with all the previous forms of media and communications, things did not get worse, in fact, they always improved.
Video games will not be the exception to the rule. Certainly, there are games that offer very little, just as there are lousy books, movies, and television. However, great literature is still produced, wonderfully enlightening films are made, and many believe we are in a “New Golden Age” of television. The same holds true for video games.
The Last of Us may be on the cutting edge of this new way of expression, but as certain as Plato did not weaken our ability to think, video games may just end up enlightening many generations in ways still unimagined.
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