Are games moving forwards or backwards?

September 13, 2010, Author: Jacob Saylor

When you look at the gaming industry now, you see a lot of things: Amazing consoles, high definition, and games that are generally considered ‘better’. The further these games come, the more marketable they start to be.  That 15 second clip you saw on TV is probably going to affect your decision on buying the game. This makes developers and publishers want to cater to their envisioned audience. That means they aren’t going to create anything strikingly new or innovative without a reason to do so. Someone in the room says “Guns! Let’s do guns!”, they become the hallmark of ‘next-gen gaming’. This takes a large portion out of the creation process that should always be taken from the ground up. I think that somewhere along the way, a lot of us gamers lost sight of why we actually played video games. I know that I haven’t played a game 5 times over since ‘Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal’.

Alot of you may think that I am spouting nonsense without the proper means to back it up. Well, sitting atop the Hilton at E3, I had the pleasure of talking to both Jorge Hauan (Associate Producer at Zombie Studios) and Jamie Firth (Producer at Ignition Entertainment). We actually discussed this same topic, and quoting Jamie: “I think it’s the Indie developers who are really in it for the love.” From where I stand now, I couldn’t agree more. We’ve seen ‘Flower’, and many other wonderful ideas that would otherwise never be acted upon. However, this article is not to bash on developers. I love each and every one of them for making games.

This is Mr. Jamie Firth from Ignition Entertainment (On the Right) ...I failed to picture Jorge. I feel terribly now.

This brings us to the real problem: ourselves! Our culture has become so fixated on guns, great graphics, and blood that we’ve lost track of the reasons we played games. There has always been blood and guts in video games, but there are games out there that to it to an inordinate level. Maybe being restricted technologically, games don’t have as much of the content that 10 years ago, would have seen gruesome. When ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ came out, it was like Elvis’s dance moves. People were shocked at both the blood and guns…Even more so by the blatant use of a swastika on more than one occasion. I’m not saying we need to stop putting this content into video games, I’m just saying that we should look at how far we’ve gone in just a few years, and look at where we are going.

Continuing…And I’m going to sound like a broken record; But what are we teaching our youth? Furthermore, what are we subconsciously instilling in ourselves? There is no scientific evidence that proves video games can increase violent tendencies in a person, but there also isn’t any evidence that proves they don’t. It isn’t a problem that is prevalent in today’s adult society, but one that will show its fangs in the coming generations. I know for many of us, this was the reason we started playing video games. However, for many of us it wasn’t. In any case, I’m going off point. Violence is necessary in video games, I suppose. Violence in leaps and bounds like we are seeing today  is not.

One of the better examples.

I was once opposed to the new motion controls coming out from Sony and Microsoft, but now I see a glimmer of hope for this predicament – I see variety! Sure, we will see more of the same; But we will also see more games of different genres! The possibilities for big companies like these are almost endless. Maybe we will see games that if not impossible without ‘Move’ or ‘Kinect’ will be much more viable an option. This is just the beginning of a whole era of motion control and 3D. It’s practically The Renaissance for gaming in 2010! So many doors have been opened, it’s hard for companies not to step through some of them!

In conclusion, I’d just like to say; I very rarely get the same feeling I used to when playing a video game. It feels more mainstream, generic, and stereotypical than ever when I put most games into my consoles. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but with a dash of daring creativity or innovation, these games could be so much more. The industry is reaching a point in its life where it has to decide where it is going to go. Whether it will continue on this path, no one knows for sure. I can say in opinion though, that there is just something that feels very manufactured (More than normally…) about today’s games. To put my finger on this would be like asking me to find a needle in a haystack. I can’t find it, but maybe I can point us in the right direction with what I’ve typed here. There are definitely different avenues to success, and more than just 3D or motion control.