There, I said it. We've all been thinking it, but people just keep telling us that these games like Braid or Dear Esther are these wonderful stories told through a unique medium or whatever the fuck they go on about, but it's a load of shit.
I want to be clear though, I'm not talking about those low-budget games made in order to be fun to play, those are fine. I've played and enjoyed many of them. I mean the games that are "artistic". The games where it's the story or simply the "experience" that's supposed to be the draw.
See, you can never ask "What is the purpose of this 'experience'?" it's about the journey. A shallow, pointless journey, for people whose cultural experience centres on video games and who don't have the exposure to actual art to be able to tell the difference between good art and pseudo-intellectual bullshit.
It's fine to like things that are not good art, of course. I'm a fan of professional wrestling and Days of Our Lives. They're not good art, but they're entertaining, and that's really all they set out to be and no one thinks they're any more than that. At least, I hope nobody does.
But when you see a supposed game where the only interaction comes from clicking on various objects and seeing them do arbitrary things with no apparent purpose, well, that's a sure sign that someone's trying to do art.
And the defenders will throw up every argument they can think of to invalidate criticism. You only played for an hour? Well, you need to finish it to appreciate it. You finished it and still didn't see the point? Well, I guess you just aren't smart enough to get it then. No, of course I can't explain the point to you, you're clearly not going to understand (or the less confrontational variant, "I guess this just isn't for you then.")
But those people have been tricked. It's not that they're seeing more than you, they just gave it more meaning. But that meaning wasn't inherent to the game, it came from them. In solving some ridiculously dumb puzzle they invested time and effort into it, so when the payoff is some trite observation or bland truism, they ascribe it more depth than it deserves.
Compare these games to books or movies and they reveal themselves for the utter wastes of time that they are. I've mentioned Home before, and it's a perfect example. The writer clearly thinks he has a compelling story, so much so that he doesn't need to bother making the game any fun to actually play, and a bunch of idiots are willing to validate his delusions.
You see the same thing happen with self-published books and internet videos. And there's definitely a market for this sort of bullshit, but don't worry if you're not part of it. It just means you have taste.