A 15-year-old critique of the game industry that's still relevant today

GamaSutra - Like most people who write about digital entertainment, I get a blizzard of press releases every month from game developers. The releases usually go something like this.

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Agent_hitman1989d ago

Sometimes I can't help but to think if this kind of news is still pertinent to Gaming website like this.. Just sayin.

-Gespenst-1989d ago (Edited 1989d ago )

Part 1.

As if it was written yesterday.

Games are still as conservative as ever. It's about playing to trends instead of challenging people and attempting to broaden people's minds. Its about profit and returns, not about sharing unique and memorable experiences. They "advertise" these games like they're "the next big thing" but they're invariably more of the same- more games that appeal to the closed-minded who don't like to be challenged.

Not only that, but hardware is still as big a fascination as ever. Which isn't conducive to good game design. There are SNES games that I prefer much more to most games out these days, and I'm not even from the SNES era, so it's not a case of rose-tinted glasses. The juvenile, fetishized fascination with technology needs to stop- it's just as bad as car modding communities. All these things enable are better and better graphics and performance, which mean nothing, and are all surface appearance, if the game doesn't play well or challenge the player, and doesn't have something interesting to say.

It's why I admire Final Fantasy XIII. I know it was divisive, but it was so different to rpgs as we'd known them before. It was streamlined, story-driven, everything went by in a blur as you desperately ran from fate. It had a potent and emotional narrative helped greatly by the pacing and the structure of the game. It was a risky endeavor in such a conservative and money hungry, cynical market that doesn't care about experiences, only profits. And it didn't pay off. Gamers are just as conservative- they wanted classic rpgs, change unnerved them. I'd say the strong female protagonist didn't help, regardless of how brave and progressive such an inclusion was.

Since then, Square-Enix have been carefully crawling back to tradition, and XIII-2 began to resemble previous FF games slightly, but I hope they don't come all the way back. I love their older stuff to bits, and the remakes are lovely reminders of the glory of those games, but you can't rest on your laurels. Their prime directive should be delivering innovative and challenging experiences- not because gamers are owed these things- games, films, music- all these things are luxuries. But at the very least art and entertainment shouldn't cynically deceive us with advertising practices and highly conservative products. It's already beginning to produce (or maybe it did long ago) militant conservatism in the gaming community across many topics.

Hicken1989d ago

Somebody who gets it when it comes to XIII.

And the industry, too, I might add. For the most part, anyway. Bubbles up.

-Gespenst-1988d ago

Thanks very much man, nice to not get a barrage of hate from n4g for once!

-Gespenst-1989d ago

Part 2.

What gamers fail to realise- and invariably buy into- time and time again, is that advertisment doesn't have your best interests at heart. It is a fundamentally narcisstic practice that highlights, by the logic of the capitalist system, ONLY the "good" parts of what its advertising, and gamers fall for it every time- in fact decieve themselves that such things these adverts are telling are true, perhaps out of secret buyer's remorse, and perhaps out of social fear- a fear that goes something like "well that advertisement said this was the best things ever, but I secretly don't like it that much, is there something wrong with me? Best just deceive myself that I like this sh!t like all the others".

Games continue to be made according to antiquated ideas of what games are- i.e. a game has to have a health bar, a game has to be violent, a game has to have sexy women, a game has to have no subtlety. But this is all nonsense, and is bringing creative stagnation upon the industry, and taking the tastes of its fans with it- generating what is quite frankly, one of the worst communities across the arts and entertainment media. Not to mention how they treat themes of mortality, sexuality, and race / ethnicity.

I'll admit that games are still young- the juvenile fans and games reflect this- but we have to try harder to make this medium grow the hell up.