One thing has always struck me when talking to other people. For whatever reason, way too many of them seem to think that the word "weird" is some sort of insult. If you call a movie or a book or a video game weird, it means that you didn't like it. That it somehow did not meet expectations or was poorly executed. That somehow, being different was bad.

Why is that?

Why do we consider "weird" to be a bad thing? As far as I'm concerned, to call something strange or bizarre or weird is a great compliment. Put succinctly, any idiot can create something boring and conventional and normal. Weird takes talent.

Look at video games. Time and time again, the games that move the medium forward are also the strangest. Ask any gamer worth his salt (what does that expression mean?) what games could be represented as art and he'll pick the weird ones. When you ask for the most artistic games, most people don't go to Call of Duty or Battlefield (the conventional stuff). I'm not saying those games aren't art, just that they're less artistic.

It's a whole lot easier to make the case for the weird games. Braid, Limbo, Heavy Rain, and Shadow of the Colossus are all commonly cited as games that aim for something greater than simple entertainment. Guess what? They're all pretty weird. Braid has you playing as a guy called Tim who can't get over his ex. Limbo puts you in the shoes of a shadow... kid... thing... in search of his sister. These are all games pretty far removed from the usual "kill bad guys and level up" template.

That's the real point here. Calling a game bizarre or strange should not be considered a negative comment. It should be considered a great compliment. Strange works of art are usually the ones that push the art form forward.

Of course, you could make an easy argument against this idea with one word: Japan. There are plenty of nonsensical anime games imported from our Eastern gaming cousins. These oddities are not necessarily "good." I don't know of anyone who wants to make the case for the dating sim game Magical Date as some great work of art. See, I'm already doing the work of the commenters. Chris, take the day off.

This was probably the safest picture I found of Japan.

My original point holds true for books as well. I've been reading a lot on my iPad recently. The last really good book I read was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's a superb work that deserves much more praise than this blog has room for. It's an incredibly strange book. There's almost no dialogue. There's only two characters who do nothing but travel for most of the story. They meet no one, they talk to no one, nothing happens. It's pretty weird.

And yet, The Road is extremely impressive, precisely because it is so different. I've never read anything like it. That's cool. I read a lot of stuff, and nothing comes close to The Road. That, in my mind, makes it worth reading. Any idiot can write a generic thriller about spies finding a secret government conspiracy. I've read plenty of those books before. However, to craft a bleak tale about a father and son wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland... now that's something special.

If you want to think of it in clichés, weirdness provides the variety that is the spice of life. Without odd books or games, we'd be stuck with the same old stuff. Can you imagine a world where every book is a generic spy novel or every game is a crappy first person shooter? It would be boring. Weird stuff shakes things up, makes life interesting again. Without the weird, you're just floating along in a sea of bland.

So shake the boat. Play something weird, Try Limbo or Braid. Instead of buying a boring safe game, play something out of the box. You'll either enjoy the change or appreciate the normal stuff even more. Either way, it's a win. Try something weird. Read The Road. It's worth it, I promise.

What about you? Do you try to find weird or different games?