Gaming Like A Sir: Games Are For Stupid People, Not Us
Blessed are the morons, for they will inherit the earth
We are not the majority, it is a frightening thought – all the interactions we have, all the people we come in contact with and all the hours we spend jacked into the web; we are only a small part of the world. Sometimes we forget that, at least I do.
How come, despite internet-wide uproar, very little seems to change within the industry? Why is it only rarely that a petition or community action has any effect on companies? Because despite the hundreds of thousands of voices all crying in unison – it is still not enough to warrant action. We, the people who frequent gaming websites and who read gaming news, we are not the target audience. A weird feeling, but take it from a left-handed, curly haired, blue-eyed, Jewish vegetarian – I know what it’s like to not be the target audience. The trailers we see and the press-releases we devour seem to target us, in fact some of these bits of marketing ARE designed for us, but that doesn’t change that the games are not.
The ultimate goal of pretty much any developer is to make mountains of money, with the least amount of effort. That means Call of Duty. COD is the ultimate product, in almost any industry. As a guy studying a nice, juicy business degree (with five years of economics education) I can claim to at least understand the basics of how this stuff works. It’s not difficult, hang in there. What makes COD the ultimate product? It’s a protected brand, making it a de facto monopoly. The games are blisteringly quick to make, requiring little to no work beyond improving features and some newish assets. The games are cheap to fund as a result, I know the budget is far from small but in terms of the return on investment, it’s a pittance. And finally we have that the target audience are basically sheep. I refuse to use the word sheeple because these people are not like sheep, they ARE sheep.
Give me a well-trained Collie and I’ll herd them into a coral for you. Now before I get ahead of myself, I need to make something clear – I do not hate these people. I have no right to hate them and neither do you. Nothing they do is malicious and what three or four thoughts they have each day are not focused on the games they play. You don’t hate a baboon for stealing, you just lock your doors and windows.
The point is that even though we can’t hate them, we can learn to defend against the evil hordes. Likewise, we can’t hate the mega-publishers despite their repeated raping of our favourite franchises. They are not demons or monsters, at least for the most part, they are just fuelled by money.
Business is not complicated; companies do what earns them the most money. Simple, easy, horrifying. There are occasions, that occur quite frequently, when a company’s actions actually seem evil. Not just profiteering or heartless, but actually mean. I’m not going to mention EA by name because frankly, I could single them out but this is an industry-wide problem.
Well this is mightily depressing, the picture I’ve painted so far is one where we have no control over what gets produced since we’re not the target audience and where publishers wouldn’t deign to so much as spit on us because we are still the minority. Frankly we’re the third wheel, the retards and the money suckers are kind enough to let us watch awkwardly and participate a little, but we should really be looking for our love elsewhere.
There is plenty of love to be had from the indie market, sadly though as soon as anything truly outstanding is produced, it normally gets snatched up by some omnom publisher who ruins its integrity.
I don’t have much of a point today, it’s just an observation. I was thinking one day, why I’m so dissatisfied with a lot of sequels these days and this sort of explains a lot. Then another much more hopeful idea sprouted. How come films manage to produce some genuinely fantastic material without too much producer intervention? Sure there are always going to be the COD-esque type of film, but these seem to actually be doing worse these days. Look at something like the Avengers which grossed grossly (fun wordplay is fun) and in comparison the crappier movies bombed.
It shows some hope, maybe people are smartening a little. What is most evident though, is the difference in the production of movies compared with the development of games. Plainly said, for reasons too numerous to list, films allow for the creative control of an individual far more than a game does.
Plainly said, a small excellent group of people can be the deciding factor in its success. Whereas looking at games, although there are a definite few powerhouse personalities out there, it is much more entangled for the work of the individual to shine through. Games are far more fragile, if one component is subpar or lacking, the entire experience can be ruined. Especially on the technical side.
The huge technical barrier to entry is the leading reason behind the rapeification of our most beloved franchises. When the people with the money, rather than the people with talent, make the final say in a creative project, I cannot see the creative flame surviving.
One day, when gaming engines and technology have become standardised – we may see the rise of gaming’s superstar celebrities; the people whose presence and weight of opinion could be of so much value as to outstrip the publishers’ deep pockets.
Look at the Dark Knight Rises and Christopher Nolan (the director\writer\producer of the trilogy). Here is a man who is not only wealthy and talented enough, but seriously powerful enough to make films the way he wants to. He is a rare example but there are many more. We have the beginnings of this in gaming – there are definitely some name brands out there, but sadly none powerful enough to demand artistic integrity.
The day is fast approaching when the perfect artistic world I speak of will be a reality. The rise of the indie market is the fledgling beginning of this. These are the people that will change the industry by shedding the shackles of the publisher. Already now they are rising and soon they will compete with the megacorporation and his evil.
I have a dream that one day the publisher will lie broken on the ground. I have a dream that the artist might one day work and share his gift without the man in his suit stopping him. I have dreamt of a time when the minds and imaginations of the artists will be his only limitation. I dream of a place where exclusivity is dead and there is freedom.
I dream of a holy place where humanity is left to explore itself without greed and evil finding its way in.
I have a dream today.