Disney. Disney, Disney, Disney.
In case you didn't know, Disney announced that LucasArts will be shut down in favour of moving from a development model to a licensing model. A few people have been saying that this is a good thing because LucasArts hasn't exactly been putting out quality stuff for awhile, and more are saying it's a bad thing chiefly because of Star Wars 1313 and how good of a game it looked to be. Regardless of your opinion of this situation, it is just another example of what gaming has become. The press release that Disney released explaining their decision was riddled with typical corporate B.S. and it's the same all over the place.
Many don't believe that gaming has reached the same plateau as Movies, Music, or Literature but I say those people couldn't be more incorrect. When I look at gaming today, I see the same problems that exist in the other 3 mediums. Fat, bloated corporations diluting and distilling every facet of the creative art process until all that remains are statistics and numbers. Is it any wonder we see too much of the same tired old thing. *cough*shooters*cough*
Another indication of gaming becoming too big is that there are ever increasing numbers of gaming's own versions of lobbyists, both in a positive aspect and a negative aspect. Everyone has an opinion on how politically correct games should be and even a blind person could see that everyone's wishes conflict with everyone else's. Everyone thinks they should be represented in games, and everyone thinks they have some entitlement to be offended if their particular viewpoint is not represented or is not represented in the way THEY want it to be. Now I'm not saying that that includes fan opinion on the direction of a game, I'm talking about all the different special interest groups that talk loud and draw a crowd so that games will be made specifically to cater to them.
Don't misunderstand me though, I know that gaming has always been a business, but you can't deny that the business of gaming today is vastly different and far more anti-consumer than it was in the "Golden Age" of gaming where companies like Nintendo and Sega fought tooth and nail to gain our business. They used quality, substance, and unique ideas. Nowadays, as soon as one idea seems to take off and sell 6 million games, endless clones are made to try and capitalize on that idea in the vain hope that lighting will continuously strike in the same place many times over.
So we look to the next generation of consoles and we see that the rumours fly of continued anti-consumer approaches. Profit first, consumer trust second. Social gaming first, unique ideas second. DRM, studio closures fuelled by corporate bottom lines. Worthwhile risks never being taken. Gaming continuing to move further away from deep gameplay or story in favour of visuals.
Then of course there's the indie scene. Some would say it's the last bastion of hope because corporate policies don't have much of an effect there. That's true to some degree, but do you think it will always be like that? I personally don't know.
I know this blog seems very cynical, and no doubt people will comment with the obvious "it's a business and they have to make money" mentality. That's fine, but what I'm saying is that there is a difference between wanting to make money, and wanting to make it so bad that you ruin everything in the process. In the part of developers and publishers, sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk so that you stand out and get the attention of paying costumers. In the part of gamers, we all need to stop caring about how realistic a game looks and seek out deeper experiences. Graphics are the most superficial aspect of gaming and the only aspect of it that has a finite limit. It is these converging attitudes that lead to the dilution of the medium, and unless we want another game crash to occur then we all need to change our attitudes.