Over on his blog, Steve Gaynor recaps the problems of games today (big budgets forcing products to be “same-old same-old” with more glitz than before), and has a suggestion: noir.

Noir as in “film noir”. Steve believes that designers should consider “downsizing”, and get away from the “big spectacle” games. Bring gameplay to a more “human”, or maybe “real world” level, where players aren’t just mowing down orcs and saving the world all the time. Provide the game quivalent of the B movie.

Well, he may have a point there. Yet I don’t know if noir is really a good example for designers to follow. I’ve seen some noir films and read some noir novels.

And there’s one thing you can be sure of in all of them: the protagonists (there are no heroes) always come to a sorry end. They’re either dead or heading off to the slammer.

The one noir game I can recall was Black Dahlia. In that one, if you did the “right” thing at the end, you were arrested for murder. Not the sort of resolution that appeals to me.

While I agree that “slimming down” games and looking for new directions are worthwhile pursuits, I’m not sure that noir is the direction to go in. I prefer upbeat endings myself.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of misery out there in the real world. One reason many of us play games is to get away from that for awhile. Why bring it into games? I doubt a lot of gamers (except maybe Vagabond ;) would go for that.

But you know, I wouldn’t mind a good game in black and white. No one’s done that since the early days of wire-frame graphics on the 8-bit computers. This could be done much better now.

It’s a strange thing, but those old films in b&w have always seemed more real to me than the ones in color. I’ve never been able to figure out why, but it’s so. Not just noir, either. Something for designers to think about. In the meantime, I have a world to save…

Noir In Games on Steve Gaynor’s blog