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Revenge Of The Highbrow Games 90

simoniker writes "In the follow-up to last month's popular 'Where's Our Merchant Ivory?' feature, The Designer's Notebook author Ernest Adams responds to the wealth of feedback submitted by further examining what a 'Highbrow Game' might be, and categorizing the potential audience for such a product." From the article: "Several people pointed out that much of what we see as high culture achieved that status because it's old. Longevity imbues a work of art with respectability regardless of its original purpose — and of course, time tends to weed out the inferior works. For every Mozart there are dozens of classical composers who went to their graves and are forgotten."
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Revenge Of The Highbrow Games

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  • by MiceHead ( 723398 ) * on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:02PM (#16248543) Homepage
    "Great Works" in video games will come about as a result of natural evolution in game design. Right now, we're strongly focused on visual aesthetics -- we haven't yet achieved photorealism, so every step towards that is exciting. (That's not to diminish the importance of gameplay -- but I liked UT2004 over UT because it was prettier, for one.) But once we achieve that goal, gamers will say, "hey, it's time for something new." Designers will likely branch out and try to create interesting games in other ways -- compelling unrealistic/surrealistic aesthetics; new and interesting modes of gameplay; and (why not?) attention to "serious subject matter with cultural implications."

    But I don't think we're through with the "flash" phase yet. Photorealism is still new and interesting to most of us -- and players still buy games for their graphical splendor. Once that stops happening, developers will really start experimenting -- after all, how else are we going to get your money?

    (BTW, did anyone see Ernest Adams talk in Worcester yesterday? I missed it, but it must have been great.) _______________________________
    Dejobaan Games [dejobaan.com] - Bringing you quality video games for over 75 years.
    Indie Superstar [indiesuperstar.com] - A video webcast bringing you news about games you won't hear about in mainstream media.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      . . .players still buy games for their graphical splendor.

      Perfectly achievable with art. In fact, my personal opinion is that the modding community has deteriorated the graphical splendor of my favorite game by persuing photorealism.

      KFG
    • but I liked UT2004 over UT because it was prettier, for one.

      Onslaught mode was also a big driver of UT2004.. It was the only mode I played that game in, except for some single-player to calibrate my controls.

      ObTopic: What would make a video game "highbrow"? A RPG based on Hamlet or Midsummer Night's Dream? (Those could actually be pretty fun..) Perhaps Infocom games such as A Mind Forever Voyaging [wikipedia.org]?

      IMHO the closest to "highbrow" out there these days are Bioware's RPGs (KOTOR, Jade Empire), but it may ver
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pNutz ( 45478 )
        KOTOR and Jade Empire?

        That's our highbrow? That's pulp. They're both fun games, but one has an anime-level of maturity and the other is, well, Star Wars.

        it may very well be that there's no such thing as a "highbrow" game, and the closest gaming will get would be "art house".

        Arthouse is good. I'd settle with arthouse for now. Unfortunately, most games don't want to persue anything that might force players to think too much, make decisions that will have any lasting effect on the gameworld (Oblivion, et al.),
        • by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          There's no Miramax/Lion's Gate level of big-studio-arthouse.

          Then who made Darwinia? Your gripes seem to be well answered in the adventure game genre. Did you even play Indigo Prophecy? That game was better than most movies.
          • Most movies aren't highbrow, either. Intellectually, Indigo Prophecies could be compared to a clever murder mystery or suspense movie, but I wouldn't call The Usual Suspects highbrow.
  • Personally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:15PM (#16248767) Journal
    I'd consider all the hardcore flight sims & turn-by-turn strategy games to be the equivalent of 'highbrow' gaming.

    It isn't for everyone.
    It isn't light weight.
    You have to invest a lot of time/money/mental energy
    etc

    OTOH, you can claim that they're very narrow niches... but that is what 'highbrow' stuff is nowadays. Though normally something has to be expensive to create exclusivity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daniil ( 775990 )
      'Highbrow' doesn't only mean that you have to put a lot into something. You would also have to be rewarded accordingly and get something 'bigger' or 'higher' out of it. Flight sims and TBS-s aren't really 'highbrow' -- they simply lack the depth you would expect from something belonging to the 'high' culture. They don't really challenge your understanding of the world; on the contrary, they tend to reinforce your assumptions of it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
        You seem to be equating "highbrow" with "meaningful"

        Guess what, "high" culture doesn't have to be meaningful, merely exclusive.

        Once something hits mainstream culture, it is no longer highbrow.
        It is mainstream.
        Really, that's the easiest way to differentiate.
      • A perfume made by some famous clothing designer chick might be "highbrow" and still smell like ass. Whereas any perfume from, say, Rosie O'Donnell would be lowbrow even if it was the best thing you ever smelled. In other words, it's purely a matter of social perception.
        • by antic ( 29198 )
          I disagree. That designer perfume would be highbrow is it required a certain nose to appreciate its complexity.

          Rosie's perfume would be lowbrow is it was appreciated by a common nose with no training in subtle odours.
        • A perfume may be upscale or tony or whatever, but highbrow?
    • That's pretty much what I was going to post. Video games shouldn't always be compared to books and films so rigorously.
  • Highbrow games? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daniil ( 775990 ) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:17PM (#16248795) Journal
    Isn't this an oxymoron? 'Highbrow' all but screams "serious" to me, but a game taken seriously is no longer a game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Perseid ( 660451 )
      Well, opera is considered 'highbrow' music, but it is still considered entertainment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      'Highbrow' all but screams "serious" to me, but a game taken seriously is no longer a game.

      I think chess falls squarely into the category of highbrow gaming. It is taken extremely seriously by many players, yet still considered to be a game. I'd say Go also fits the criteria, along with card games such as bridge, cribbage, even poker.

      As far as computer gaming, the only ones I can think of are the Civilization games. "Highbrow" games, to me, seem to be restricted to strategy games. There are some FPSs th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As far as computer gaming, the only ones I can think of are the Civilization games.

        I would also consider the Europa Universalis [paradoxplaza.com] series and Victoria [paradoxplaza.com] to be 'Highbrow'. Pretty much any game with a steep learning curve that's geared towards an educated mature player.

    • Chess?
      • by daniil ( 775990 )
        I don't see why chess should be a 'highbrow' game. In fact (and perhaps I should have been more clear about this), I don't think such distinctions should be applied to games at all. Anyone can play them; you don't need to be educated to play a game. Anyone can play and enjoy chess (I learned to play it when I was 5 or 6; I might not be a good player, but I still enjoy playing it). The game itself isn't difficult (it has very few rules). Beating the other player is difficult -- especially if that player is g
        • Most (English speaking) people can read any book written in plain English. That doesn't mean a book written in plain English can't be highbrow, and will be fully understood by its readers.

          You can play chess whatever your skill level, but it takes a great deal of thought and reason to be able to win it. This is in contrast with a game based upon luck or reflexes.

    • Highbrow humor is not serious. Have you ever heard of highbrow humor? If it screams serious to you then I think you are misunderstanding the word. Highbrow means intelligent. Intelligent can still be funny and fun. Lowbrow humor is aimed at the least intelligent people, everyone can laugh at a fart. It doesn't take much thought. Highbrow humor might not be funny to less intelligent people. Or some may take longer to get the joke. Sometimes humor is so highbrow it is over my head, meaning I am not smart enou
    • Chess is just a game, yet it is still looked at with highbrow status, because it's not for every one and requires a lot of mental strain to play.
    • Isn't this an oxymoron? 'Highbrow' all but screams "serious" to me, but a game taken seriously is no longer a game.

      Chess? [wikipedia.org] Go? [wikipedia.org]

      What these games have in common is that they are abstract strategy games, zero sum, played under perfect information. Luck plays no part, nor does memory; nothing is random or chance. These are games - but they are very serious, highbrow games.

  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:20PM (#16248831)
    A "highbrow" game may not have the lasting power of a piece of classical music. Furthermore, can a game not be highbrow but still have longevity? I'd argue that Ms. Pacman will have longevity. I'd wager that 200 years from now, there will be as many Ms Pacman fans as there are currently fans of any popular piece of classical music. Is Ms. Pacman highbrow? Hardly.
    • by brkello ( 642429 )
      Uhh, I'd take that wager. In 200 years there would still be Ms. Pacman fans? Come on now. Games haven't matured far enough for them to be lasting. Classical music (arguably) hit it's peak. We don't listen to cave people grunting and hitting on drums. Once a game moves society as a whole..then maybe we might have classical games. Until then, Pacman will drift in to obscurity.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:30PM (#16249007)
    I think defining a highbrow game would be easy if you compare it to highbrow books:
    1) Does it mostly appeal to people with graduate degrees (especially to the point where the feel compelled to write papers about it)?
    2) Do players of the game look down on all other gamers? Do other gamers feel like players of the game are priggish nutjobs?
    3) Does it sell at WalMart, Target, Toys R Us? (If so, it's automatically disqualified.)

    I can think of examples of games that meet one of the three qualifiers (#1: text-based Adventure, #2 Eve Online, #3 lots), but I can't seem to think of a single game that meets all three.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Chess.
    • by E-Rock ( 84950 )
      They sell Chess sets at WalMart, Target and ToysRUs and that has to be the perfect eaxmple of a higbrow game. WalMart and Target also sell Opera and Classical CDs, that doesn't diminish from them at all.

      Not that you necessarily were, don't be such a snob. It doesn't have to be scarce (usually artifically) and expensive (see last) to be special.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iocat ( 572367 )
      I think the term you're looking at to satisfy #1, #2, and #3 is "interactive fiction." Players of pedantic text adventures may not look down on others, but I assure you, connoisseurs of interactive fiction, of the literary type produced by Adam Cadre [adamcadre.ac], Emily Short [mindspring.com], and Zarf [eblong.com], among others, most likely look down on all other "gamers," and are probably scorned in kind by WoW players! And not nobody is selling IF at Wal-Mart...
    • Oh come on, clearly text adventures/interactive fiction fit all three. Not for sale anywhere, disproportionately academic base, and, well, I can look down on you if you wish...
      • text adventures/interactive fiction fit all three. Not for sale anywhere, disproportionately academic base, and, well, I can look down on you if you wish...
        ...but the academic goofballs who still play these things are usually too easy-going to look down on anyone (think of the professors from Ghostbusters or the tweedy guy who always smells like weed), so I can't say they fit #2.
    • i don't know that i can fully agree with your three points that signify a "highbrow game."

      1) one doesn't need a graduate degree to appreciate chess, othello, abalone, etc. i think you were mostly leaning towards the player being intelligent, thinking in three-dimensions and thinking further ahead? (speaking of which, has anyone played "space chess"? it looks really interesting)
      2) i think this is fairly valid; i find myself looking down at people who don't understand games from #1 - particularly if it's some

      • Myst.
        Not sure that works either. The only people I knew who played that were a single mom and her junior high school age daughter.
        • Well, I wasn't going to support my nomination since I just assumed that everyone was familiar with the franchise.

          from Wikipedia:

          "Myst has sold over 6 million copies and held the title of best-selling computer game of all time throughout much of the 1990s before being overtaken by The Sims"

          "it was also intensively criticised, mostly around the lack of "action" in the game, leading some to claim the game is boring ... [but] which those who like the game would claim is the main point."

          To address the great+ gra
          • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

            1) it largely appeals to geeks who are fond of the subtle and contemplative play style, and also literary types who appreciate the biblical themes.

            2) Myst players look down on players of games which resort to such crass mechanics as 'action' and 'excitement', and particularly those who look up the solutions to puzzles on the internet

            I find that Myst was rather slow for an IF (e.g. the tram maze which you had to use twice.) While this could be a side effect of wanting action, it's rather a tiredness of "gri

            • Oh yeah, I agree totally. The tram really sucked. You're right that you shouldn't have to slow down for the interface, the important bit is solving the problem. Just off the top of my head I'd say that the puzzle interfaces got better in the later games, but I haven't played any for a while so I could be wrong.
    • From the article, he mentions that adventure/interactive fiction "clearly doesn't belong", but I believe it does. Perhaps not oddball games such as the Lucasarts adventures, but I honestly believe interactive fiction is as "highbrow" as its going to get. I think no game typifies this more than The Longest Journey [wikipedia.org], the precursor to Dreamfall. The Longest Journey is a intellectualy engaging interactive fiction combining an interesting story with extensive characterization. It may involve fantasy, but more
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:39PM (#16249179) Journal
    Previously, I complained that he left the definition of "highbrow" totally underspecified. I am amused to see this quote:
    Apart from the Merchant Ivory analogy, I deliberately left the definition of "highbrow" rather vague, partly because I wanted to see what interpretation my readers would put on it.
    A valid idea, but he should have said he was using a vague definition up-front. (I do it often myself, so I know it can be done without also destroying the ability to make a point.)

    Here, I'm going to grump a little about another underlying assumption this guy seems to be taking axiomatically, which is that there are no games that have been high-brow yet. Be sure you understand what an "axiom" is: It is something you take as given to be true and bend the rest of your argument around. Axioms can not really be "wrong". The question is, does the implications of the axiom correspond to the real world in a useful or enlightening way?

    My problem with taking this axiomatically is I think it sort of ends up begging the question he's trying to pose. If he actually took the time to formulate a definition of "high-brow", he could almost certainly find a game that matched the definition, which would wreck his point. Odds are, it would be one of the games he mentioned. Instead, he seems to simply take it as given that there have been no truly high-brow games.

    I'm not certain that this "highbrow" adjective he's trying to develop is a useful distinction. (Note: The entire purpose of an adjective is to provide a useful distinction, between the nouns that possess the distinction and those that don't, with the obvious extension into fuzzy logic.) It splits the set of all of the thousands of existing games into two sets: "Lowbrow", containing all of them, and "highbrow", containing none of them. At the moment, this is the very definition of a useless adjective, and if nothing has met his bar yet (with the possible exception of a currently-unattainable technology component), nothing is going to.

    (Note: While he doesn't state that he is using this axiom, I infer it from the previous paragraph; the best way to explain his tossing out every game in existence is that he axiomatically assumed none of them meet the bar. He claims it's because we're not there yet; I'm disputing this claim and claiming he stacked the deck from the get-go.)
    • It seems to me that phrasing the question such that we are referring to "highbrow" games is an intentional mask to the real question: "Are there any games that are also works of art?" By talking about "highbrow" games instead of "artistic" games we can avoid the bad connotations that "art" has swirling around it. But it is also a tad dishonest.

      The ambiguity of whether something is art or not plagues every genre. The author here is excluding every game that might be art (but also might not be) with th

  • From TFA:

    The real question is, are there any games whose level of cultural acceptance as an elite form approaches that of other media?

    No. Games are simply not generally accepted as being culture. They are, in certain circles, and they'll become more and more accepted as being culture as more and more people play them (because, I think, it's only a question of age), but today? No, today there is no cultural acceptance similar to other genres. We will have achieved this acceptance when, next to reading Shak

    • I had to play the Oregon Trail in my education about 20 years ago... does that count?
      • That's actually an good question, but I'd say no. You weren't tasked to play Oregon Trail because of its inherent "gameness," it's because it depicted a true event/time/place that you were studying anyway. Your teacher could have had you watch a video about the Oregon Trail, and for a lot of students that probably would have been enough to learn what it was all about, but he/she probably thought a game would be more engaging (and it was for me; I loved Oregon Trail). But as far as cultural worth from pur
    • I think that you are right to a degree. I believe that the part of the picture that you are missing is the fact that there is no significant 40+ age group of gamers. It is my belief that as the average age of gamers increases, acceptance of video games as a part of culture will increase. I will also say that there are distinct communities, within the gaming community that, in comparing themselves to other groups, or the community at large, consider themselves 'Highbrow'.

      There is also a present-day example
    • by crossmr ( 957846 )
      Which is how something like Lawn Bowling gets labelled a sport so long ago. The rich wanted to play it, and sport sounds better than game.
  • by zoftie ( 195518 )
    ... "Smart people, who enjoy using their minds when they play. These are the people who appreciate the serious simulations. If intelligence were the sole criterion, it would make all puzzle games highbrow; but they have to be aesthetically appealing or innovative as well." ...

    Nothing like a serious frag session smashing the bits out of your opponenets after day's sitting around coding. As intellectually devoid as possible. People's preferences do not lie with their capacities or relics of their own past. ie
  • by jesup ( 8690 ) * <randellslashdot@ ... g minus math_god> on Friday September 29, 2006 @03:45PM (#16250223) Homepage
    Chris Crawford tried for a "highbrow" commercial game with "Balance of Power" [peachpit.com] in 1984-1986, an "Un-war" game about thermonuclear cold (and hot) war. He wrote a book about it later, and this experience lead to the founding of the first (that I know of) newsletter for computer game designers, and then to the founding of the Computer Game Developer's Conference, still running today.
  • It seems like a lot of people in this conversation and the one last month are taking this very personally. Last month there was widespread backlash against all things "highbrow". While some of the comments were valid, it seemed to get so emotional that I can only imagine that some people felt insulted by the implication that the games they liked were "lowbrow". I suppose I understand the feeling, but it seemed to lead away from discussing some of the more interesting aspects of the topic. Highbrow can c
  • Which can predict the future rather than just simulate the past. Economically, militarily, socially. That would be a masterpiece.

     
  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:28PM (#16250975) Homepage
    I guess im just a low rent gamer, if I had to define HighBrow gaming I would describe it as gaming were fun takes a backseat to realisim. I can remember back in the early days of gaming I had a friend who was the "Highbrow" sort, he would spend hours and hours playing "Reach For the Stars" getting angry at his computer and spouting on and on about how such and such political this and money that. I on the other hand became totally obsessed with a game called "Star Control" his was all about managing resources and mine was about pretending your Han Solo smuggling, making contact and usually battling it out Omega Race style (ships movement was based on inertia, a bit confusing for newbies but great fun once you learned how to bank and drift). He nearly had ulcers over his game which he declared as vastly superior, mine just brings back warm smiles. In his later divorce, part of the Irreconcilable differences defined in the proceeding was his unhealthy obsession with his games. I think in way turn based strategy for him was a way to feel that he was in control of something, in real life he was low rank grunt who was usually in trouble more than not.

    I have a friend now that is obsessed with Flight Sims, he has a special chair, dual thrustmaster controllers and pedals, a triple monitor display and half the time he is nutty enough to wear a flight jacket while playing. I think he is half insane but he enjoys it. I think the bottom line is how you approach gaming it you obsess to the point were its a tedious job then you need to get out and get a life. If you look at it as a hobby and remember its supposed to be fun I dont see any problems.

    • by Briareos ( 21163 )
      If you're talking about Star Control, why not add a link to it [sourceforge.net] as well? :)

      np: Sly & Robbie ft. Wyclef Jean & Bounty Killer - Bounce (Rhythm Doubles)
  • Will Wright's Spore ( http://spore.ea.com/ [ea.com] ) looks like a decent step in the direction of "highbrow". There's a definite potential for deep intellectual stimulation, you could have a serious discussion about the philosophical implications and themes, and it appears it will be a master work of video game art.
  • by jchenx ( 267053 ) on Friday September 29, 2006 @05:18PM (#16251909) Journal
    I'd have to say that I agree with much of his article. Most of the titles and genres that people suggested are games I would agree aren't highbrow. But I think some games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus sure come close. Yet, the author disagrees because it includes gameplay ...

    From the article:
    Games that were visually or thematically innovative. By far the most frequently mentioned games were Myst, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. Other examples included Rez, American McGee's Alice, the Oddworld series, Grim Fandango and Bad Mojo (a third-person crawler; you play the role of a cockroach). I'm all for more of this, no question. Whether or not an innovative game is highbrow depends partially on the extent to which it avoids clichés of the medium. ICO was beautiful, unusual, and moving, but it still involved an awful lot of running, climbing, and whacking things with a stick.

    That last sentence bothers me. Running, climbing, and "whacking things" is general requirement for many games. That's what makes it interactive entertainment. Is it a cliché of the medium? Sure, but frankly, there's a lot of clichés that even highbrow movies and literature have as well. You could argue there are always "wasted" and "throwaway" scenes and passages, although some may argue that those are just elements of the medium.

    • Personally, I would say that games' current fixation on combat is what's really holding them back from becoming a respected and respectable art form. I'm not going to lie, I can't think of many better options for making compelling gameplay. The game industry is still fairly young, and changing something as important as gameplay is extremely risky. Imagine what it was like making a film in the 1920's; movies had no gaurantee that they would be able to turm a profit, and as a result most movies were comedies
    • by Profound ( 50789 )
      >> Running, climbing, and "whacking things" is general requirement for many games. That's what makes it interactive entertainment.

      There are plenty of ways you can interact with other humans. You can talk, touch, build things together, make love, share experiences, etc. Of all the things you can do, hitting them with a stick/shooting them with a gun is perhaps not the most highbrow and fulfilling, but it seem to be the one most simulated in computer games.

      • There are plenty of ways you can interact with other humans. You can talk, touch, build things together, make love, share experiences, etc. Of all the things you can do, hitting them with a stick/shooting them with a gun is perhaps not the most highbrow and fulfilling, but it seem to be the one most simulated in computer games.

        There are a ton of games with all the things you suggested (well, except the "make love" part, good luck getting through the ESRB with that), especially in many RPGs. By the end of so

  • "High brow" games already exist, they are the classic games that are referenced and well-loved in the gaming culture. Think of the combat system in TIE Fighter, the great level design in the quake series, the graphic design in Super Mario Brothers, the critical success of the multilayer in Battlefield 1942 and Tribes, or the amusing antics of Sam and Max. All of these games are "high brow" within the game industry; they innovated concepts or established their genre.

    There are plenty of ways to criticall
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ectal ( 949842 )
      Great point! And let's not forget a nod to Marathon, perhaps the first FPS with a truly excellent and well-constructed storyline.
  • To be "highbrow" or a classic, the game must have layers of appreciation. Insert oblig. onion reference here.
    1) The action itself
    2) References to other things in the pop-culture
    3) References to things in current events
    4) References to real history
    5) A statement about something - even if it is trivial
    6) Engaging characters

    Start counting how many games have these elements and then you will have a real list.
    • To be "highbrow" or a classic, the game must have layers of appreciation. Insert oblig. onion reference here.

      1) The action itself
      2) References to other things in the pop-culture
      3) References to things in current events
      4) References to real history
      5) A statement about something - even if it is trivial
      6) Engaging characters

      Start counting how many games have these elements and then you will have a real list.
      ---
      Off the top of my head:

      Star Ocean: Til the End of time
      Final Fantasy IV to VII
      StarCraft
    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

      3) References to things in current events
      4) References to real history

      This usually results in something anacronistic [netfunny.com]. Games are not always intended to be set in the "real world", and are free to use any world they want to - for example, they can have Hillary Clinton win the 2001 general US election.

      The issues with stories that clamp themselves to the "real world" is that they don't factor in future events. For example, Star Trek II had Khan leave Earth sometime in 1980 or 1990, using technology that was e

  • Am I really the only one who doesn't get why the King's Quest games would be not merely not highbrow, but "laughingly inappropriate" suggestions?
    • Well, I'd say that putting King's Quest in the same category as Bach or Mark Twain is laughable. It's a great game, with a classic story, but it completely lacks the complexity necessary to be highbrow.
      • A true point, but the standards in games -- so far -- are lower. There aren't any 'highbrow' games yet, if 'highbrow' means 'rival of Macbeth'... I was thinking almost exclusively of KQ6, in fairness -- a game which I think is worthy of considerable recognition, for sheer atmosphere if nothing else. Of course, whether quality of technique makes something qualify as "highbrow" is a subject that can be (that *is*, correction) discussed interminably with neither a meaningful conclusion nor productive results..
        • You're totally right, we can debate whether "games are art" until we turn blue in the face, but the best thing to do is to... well, make games and judge them afterwards. Speaking of which, I'm going to go play Company of Heroes now... if kick-assery isn't a good subsitute for intellectualism, then I don't know what is ;)
  • How about A Tale in the Desert [wikipedia.org]?

    It's pretty much a game created by academics, played by academics, so as to have something to write graduate theses in video game studies about.
  • The Myst series, anyone?
  • How about Simcity? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by arcite ( 661011 )
    Easy to play, difficult to master. Also, it doesn't really end...it can evolve. This is especially true with the latest Simcity, where you can virutally recreate any city in the world down to the finest detail, its art.

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