December 21, 2003

Form Ahead of Content

by Andrew Stern · , 6:43 am

A NYTimes magazine cover story about the interactive entertainment industry, profiling the CEO of Atari, ends with the author’s account of reluctantly picking up the gamepad and giving Max Payne a try.

The whole scenario strikes me (especially after he dies a few more times) as silly and ponderous and overly bloodthirsty, and yet there’s something there — a curious tension between control and no-control — that seems worth feeling solely on the grounds that, over a lifetime of novels and plays and movies and songs and paintings, I’ve never felt it before. The form is miles ahead of the content, and as long as the gold rush is on, it’ll probably stay that way. But, as in the first days of television or radio or the movies, the form is the whole thrill, and it’s more than thrill enough.

Is the thrill still enough? Some of us would disagree.

One Response to “Form Ahead of Content”

  1. andrew Says:

    Greg Costikyan weighs in with an extended reaction to the piece.

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