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Feature: Can a game where Wario writes sonnets prove games are art and fix microtransactions?


This interview has been edited to fit (extremely roughly, so please don’t check) iambic pentameter. Alice Bell has never interviewed Nate Crowley before.

ACT VII SCENE I

ALICE: I saw some post online that said that the 

Iliad and the Odyssey are fun 

If you imagine Homer a GM 

And all the men and women merely players.

NATE: That’s super fucking true! That has to be 

A thing in the tradition of epics. 

You’ve got to forget bits and make it up. 

These days we haven’t got the earlier ones, 

So whole bits where Homer was winging it

Will seem like they were always the story.

ALICE: Like Achilles is a player going 

‘I want to attack the river’ and so

Homer is like, ‘You cannot attack it.’ 

And then Achilles rolls a nat 20. 

NATE: See Homer as an MMO dev team.

There’s nerf patches and out of control buffs. 

I think it’s Book Five of the Iliad,

The Trojans, they’re like just going berserk 

And wailing on the Greeks, and so the gods, 

Who are just like the dev team avatars, 

Give a massive buff to Diomedes.

He just Hulks out and rips the heads off loads

Of Trojans for eight pages, and then he

Calms down again when things have levelled out 

And they bring in the post patch nerfs. So there. 

Games are art. The conversation’s over. 

God of War screenshots Mar 2018
God of War is at least kind of related to Greek gods, right?

ALICE: If you can read classical art as games

There’s no reason to not do the reverse.

NATE: I guess it goes back to divergence from 

Convention in the reason to play games.

My int’rest at the moment is in games 

That simulate the grind of history.

ALICE: I’d like them more if they went all the way,

And just said ‘You are not special, at all.’

If every day you just got up and you

Had to farm for cabbages or something,

And hope that bandits didn’t kill you all, 

And that was the whole game. And then you died.

NATE: Aw yeah! Just ‘Feudal Scum Simulator’ 

And there’d be quite a lot of reward there. 

Because in the trad sandbox RPG, 

Hunting is like walking through a small zoo 

With a machine gun, mowing them all down,

Then finding out a taxidermist with 

More money than he has sense in his head

Will pay you infinitely for boar scrotes. 

It’s quite nice to have to struggle over 

The simplest of things. There you go, that’s art.