I’ve recently had the chance to play a fair chunk of the new Star Wars MMO, more so than I’d care to admit, less so than I care to like. But, reflexively, I look back at our readings about Aesthetics and the lack of definition and have found myself left with a bad taste in my mouth. For those unaware, the gaming community has always made a push for more, bigger, or better. And by this, I mean not only in the gameplay and interaction, but also in the image quality. As Leo mentioned in retro gaming, we very quickly moved from Atari games to 8-bit, to 16, to 32, to 64 bit. We went from simple 3D shapes on rendered backgrounds, to poorly made 3D, to the hyper-realistic high definition, photo-realistic qualities we have in games today. It’s a fair assessment to say games will one day give movies a run for their money as the new household activity as they converge in quality as well.

Yes, this ignores any deviation to this model so far, but it leads to my point.

Meanwhile, as this push to the HD moves forward, we’ve seen deviation. Games which say, might not push for graphical prowess, but rather for “aesthetic.” And by this, I say skeptically, because I feel as a whole that the market has pushed this word to a marketing sense (and assuming we keep aesthetic positive, suggesting something is beautiful).  I feel as this push forward, in the gaming community, aesthetic has become synonymous for “lacking power.” It’s not high-definition, or realistic. It’s aesthetically pleasing. Like everyone should know what that means. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that they’re to invoke distinct styles.  Styles that usually hang around longer than their realistic game counterparts.

We see this in World of Warcraft. We see this in Zelda. Okami, and Minecraft. Games that don’t push the limits of the technology that they’re using, at least in a graphical sense.  And once again, we’ve added the new Star Wars MMO to the mix. One I’ve greatly enjoyed, usually due to this use of “aesthetic.”

Where I deviate is in the thinking that for the gaming community, aesthetics are not talked about in games like Heavy Rain, or dead space. We talk about how shockingly realistic they are, whether or not it outputs to 1080p, how bloom affects the overall settings, what settings on your graphics card will make the best experience for you. And by all accounts, these are all questions involving an aesthetic experience. But, we don’t talk about it in the same way. As I’ve worked towards, “aesthetics” in video games has become a buzz word, a marketing tool to key people to enjoy a game despite obvious shortcomings to the standard that has been created.

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