“- no controls – automatic save
– audio on/off switch
– time moves forward
– things grow and things die
– nature expresses itself”
Those are the words taken by the developers themselves from the game’s Steam page. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I don’t at all mind doing a recap. Mountain is a self-proclaimed video game that was released on Steam a few days back. What is it? In the words of TotalBiscuit: “It’s fucking nothing!” (with further exclamation marks). Essentially, it’s an art piece. It’s a 3D model of a procedurally generated mountain with weathers and objects, where you can view it from many angles and distance. That’s it. That’s actually it. There’s nothing more to it.
There has been quite a bit of controversy, or discussion, surrounding its release on Steam. Let’s take it slow.
Firstly, this is not a game. I’ve argued for Gone Home being a game before (even though it was a terrible game with a terrible narrative). I’ve argued for Dear Esther being a game before (another terrible game, but at least this one was interesting). They have player interaction, and controls, even though it might be 100% linear and restrictive. They were made as interactive platforms to tell a story, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Gone Home simply had a terrible story. Dear Esther simply refused to be anything more than a movie experience. However, they were definitely games.
When it comes to Mountain though, there’s actually no difference between it and a 3D art piece. It’s not something that uses the interactive platform that video games are. It’s, by all definition, not a video game. Some games journalists think Mountain is a good game. Games journalism is a joke, and not just the ones that disagree with me. It’s a joke because they are never held to professional standards of ethics and conduct. For people dealing with the biggest entertainment industry, they surely are terrible at it. There are individuals out there who does the thing they should (properly disclose deals, avoiding click-bait titles etc.), and they are adequately respected. The majority of the rest, however, does not. No one should pay attention to those people, because they do not have an obligation to put the consumers first (which you are).
Regardless, I don’t dislike it. For a 3D art piece, it’s certainly not bad. I bought it, and it was fun. I don’t even mind it being on Steam, as games hadn’t been the solely sold product on this platform for a long time now. It’s a nice little screen saver to some and a godly view to others. All is well. I dislike it being marketed as a game, something it clearly isn’t, but whatever. I also am completely aware I put this under the Games section, but you’ll just have to figure that one out for yourself.
What I do have a problem with, is how when this thing comes out, I get people coming out of the woodwork saying Mountain is something that ‘redefines genres’, or “refusing to fit into preexisting categories’, or it’s ‘artistic vision’ of some sort. It’s all bullshit. Mountain is called a 3D animation, and a pretty good one. People with this high-brow attitude can’t even be bothered to put up a good excuse for themselves. Besides, if anything, this blog has long since established that video games are art, and just because things are art doesn’t automatically make them good. A lot of people just want to argue in circles. What I want is to see just how deep the hole games journalists dig for themselves will be.
And also drink tea, but that’s a given.