Considering this is the Home Theater Forum, I think it’s safe to assume that most of us here prefer to watch movies in their original aspect ratios. In most cases, this means viewing a film in a widescreen format with black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Although the picture doesn’t fill up the entirety of the screen, we recognize two very important facts. First, viewing movies in widescreen saves us from pan & scan hack jobs that can remove up to one-third of the picture. We see the whole movie, and we don’t miss out on any of its visuals. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we realize that tampering with the aspect ratio undermines the artistic intent of the filmmakers. We know that the director and cinematographer strive to craft film’s composition, and we want to preserve their efforts as much as possible when viewing their work at home. So too, do videogame developers work long hours to create the visuals for their games. Just as you can’t have a movie without pictures, you can’t play a videogame without, well, video! Characters are modeled a certain way; detailed landscapes arise from the nothingness of the virtual world, and today’s highly advanced consoles and PCs can add in layers upon layers of atmospheric effects to heighten the sense of reality (or non-reality if they so choose). Graphics have reached the point of fine art in some instances. It’s not hard to appreciate what we see. Therefore, I find it somewhat disheartening to see so many gamers here tampering with the visuals of games through the use of stretch modes on 16:9 TVs. Worse yet, no one seems to care. Many even regard the practice as inevitable. I hate reading something along the lines of, “No 16:9 mode in that game? We’ll just have to stretch it then!” If you’re only objective is to fill up your widescreen TV, then fine. I guess I assumed that we had all moved past the desire to fill up our TVs with picture. Have we no respect for the efforts of the developers to create beautiful-looking games? Do we justify the practice of distorting their work by saying that games are less of an art form than film? If we all believed that, I could not call any one of us a true gamer. As an owner of a 16:9 TV, I understand the frustration many feel upon learning that a highly anticipated game does not support a 16:9 mode. I’m also not suggesting that developers need not worry about including such an option with their games. I’ve played several 16:9 titles on my home theater and I tell you, it’s a thing of beauty, especially the game supports 480p (or 720p for some Xbox games). I want to see more 16:9 games as much as anybody. In the meantime, the majority of videogames do not support 16:9, and like it or not, we have to live with it. For me, that means playing these games in 4:3 mode with gray bars on the side and a pair of mattes covering them. It may not be exactly what I want, but I’ll take that any day over squishing Mario down into an even shorter, fatter, Italian plumber. If we want to truly appreciate a game, we must play games as the developers intended, just as we should view films the way their directors intended. Discuss.