[OPINION] Response to George Lucas' view on video games

May 28, 2013
In response to George Lucas’ comments regarding the inability of a video game to engage the player, presumably in the same sense that a film can.

***Spoiler Alert: The Last Of Us***

Like most, if not all of you, I was shocked and outraged when I read the headline generalizing Lucas’ point of view regarding storytelling in video games. He is surrounded in the ubiquity of his ignorance as to what video games have become. Quite frankly, I would argue the exact opposite of his point. Picking up the controller connects you to a world in a way that film never can.

To be fair, I love movies. But as I’m getting older, I’m only 27 mind you, I’m finding myself more and more disappointed by what Hollywood is churning out. As we watch film, we are at the mercy of the director, actors, etc. Which would be fine if they really cared about the art form; if every decision in a movie, from actors to story, wasn't made for the sole purpose of making the most money. To be honest, we are at the mercy of developers and game directors as well, but there is a difference.

The majority of all story based games are linear, even the sandbox ones. You can choose the order in which to do missions, but eventually everyone ends up at the same ending; or relatively the same ending, maybe with different colors. But I heard somewhere, some time ago, that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And that, is where Lucas seems to have the wrong idea of what it means to “play” a game. He seems to be under the impression that watching something unfold is paramount in having an emotional reaction to it.

In my entire gaming life, I've never thought of it as watching. I didn't see Mario rescue Princess Peach, I did that. I punched out Mike Tyson, I infiltrated Shadow Moses, I discovered Shambhala, I gave my life to keep Clementine safe, and I couldn't bring myself to sacrifice Ellie, regardless of the cost to mankind. The point is, games, unlike film, have the unique ability to transport the gamer not just into the world of the game, but into the shoes of the character. Only the most talented of film makers can make me care about a character in two hours, and even then, the connection is frail. But when a game is done well, when you spend eight, ten, fifteen, or twenty hours taming the Wild West Marston style, or trying to rescue your son Shaun, when you reach the dramatic conclusion, it means that much more. Think about it for a moment. When you tell your friends about what happened in a movie, you speak in the third person; “he dies at the end.” But what happens when you talk about a game you just beat? I killed Zeus, I’m the one who was on my knees tapping triangle, doing everything I could to will Snake on. It was me.

I understand where Lucas is coming from. As a film maker he has a bias towards his medium. But to say that there is a disconnect between game player and game character, that the heart turns off when the controller is picked up, is completely false. It’s disappointing to hear people like Lucas speak disparagingly about games, or to hear a senator tell me how games are giving me an uncontrollable urge to kill someone, when these people have never picked up a controller in their lives. To George Lucas, and all other non-believers, all I can say is, “Try it.” And to the rest of us, to my fellow survivors of the fallout, to my Grove Street Family, paperboys, kombatants, soldiers, slayers, and saviors of the universe, cheers.


Super Elite
Dec 30, 2007
Since I saw there are spoilers regarding last of us, I haven't played it all the way thru, so I can't read it. But I will be adding it to the contest. Congrats, it seems you'll be the last to make the cut off!