Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mass Producing Creativity

As the gaming industry completes its move into corporate adolescence, changes are being made almost as fast as players can adapt. From online computer-run board games to the fact that Wizards of the Coast was able to buy TSR in 1997 after only seven years in business (and four years after the release of Magic the Gathering). Moore’s Law seems as relevant to the gaming world today as it was intended for technology back in 1965.

The ambiguous transactions between what gamers want and what games are offered for our consumption seems to growing, but whether that growth is creating a rift or a bridge is up for debate.

With the same apprehension I feel every time a TGIF opens next to a mom-and-pop restaurant, I wonder what the future holds as games become profit-driven corporate products. I am a pure believer in the free-market, and have no qualms with capitalism compared to the alternatives. I understand that the mom-and-pop restaurant will be driven out of business, not by fraud, but because the majority of Americans like TGIF. The idea of not making Madden 2058 because it is not original and offers nothing new is utopian at best, illogical at worst. I do not oppose the creation of best selling games for profit, what I fear is the rising cost of game creation in all forms will stifle creativity, or perhaps not stifle it as much as alter it.

Changing story lines, adding undeveloped features, adding or removing content at the last minute, all in the name of focus groups and target audiences is a natural process of corporate creativity. The problem is that games are much more vulnerable to these last minute changes than traditional entertainment. A slight change made to a board game to lower the age bracket might mean simplifying the major game mechanic, and render the game all but useless. Or it might catapult that game into history by expanding the audience. What intrigues me is not what is ‘right’, but rather how are developers going to tackle the problem of creativity vs. productivity?

1 comment:

Marguerita said...

It seems as if creativity is not the main focus of any game. The main focus is if they will be able to meet a quota or make a certain profit.

I like the simplier games like Sonic and Donkey Kong because they were simple and did not require so much tutoring to learn. The new games now invlove too many controls, moves, levels, and other things I feel take away from the game. I might be wrong, but after the Playstation, I have not found a video game that is interesting. I still have a gameboy and play Pacman.

It reminds me why video games were made: To bring fun into homes.