There have been many posts written by people searching for the “Citizen Kane” of video games, some masterpiece that will bring artistic acceptance* to the entire medium. There have been many responses, from the knee-jerk to the articulate, but Sean Sands has finally written a response that I can agree with. In So Long Orson Wells, Sands says, “I didn’t really want to play the Mona Lisa anyway. I have a better question – Where is video gaming’s Chess?” (emphasis added)
However engaging a movie or a painting can be, it doesn’t depend on interaction. Though Sands defends himself from accusations of Chess snobbery, it is reasonably accepted that Chess is one of the most perfect games ever invented. A child can learn it, but a lifetime can be spent in search of mastery—no video game is so finely balanced. Chess is the standard to which games should be held, not a narrative, cinematic experience like “Citizen Kane.” I don’t mean to fall into the Narratology vs Ludology war, I just believe we should celebrate games for those elements that make them unique—and which make them last.