I firmly believe that for a while, game development was an art form. However, after gaining popularity and becoming more accessible to the public, I think it has evolved into a cash cow and is losing the artistic value it once had. Additionally, I think the role social media plays in the development process has created this horrific cycle of disappointment that has lowered the quality of gaming in general. That’s not to say that we do not have games today that will hold true through the tests of time. I am coming more from the stance that previously, developers used to have more time to really knead their games into something beautiful, as opposed to the exhaustive release schedule we have in current times.
Instant Communication and Why It Is Creating A Monster
The prevalence of social media and the ability to instantly communicate with game developers, in theory, sounds like a fabulous idea. You log-in, write your opinion, and then send it off in hopes that they will read it and make some kind of adjustment in their next game. I think this idea is a little idealistic though, because in reality what happens is a bunch of inarticulate people start throwing their opinions around and making threats to impact the business of game developers, thus inspiring change for all the wrong reasons.
When you have this platform that enables consumer pressure, the natural progression of development gets thrown off. Game studios have to now push products out before they are ready, constantly make changes, and try to appease an audience that will never be happy. Player A wants a better online multiplayer experience, where as Player B wants less multiplayer and more depth to single player adventures. The developers have to decide a way to foster one over the other, or try to do both, while simultaneously hearing millions of other opinions on what they should change. In the end, they shit out a product that is incomplete, full of cliched character tropes, and probably has gamebreaking glitches riddled throughout it’s coding. No one is happy with this, so they return back to complaining, thus looping the cycle of disappointment.
In order to combat this, developers have been desperately trying to recover by spitting out remakes and remasters of the classics, because those seem to be the ideal games that everyone references. No one liked Resident Evil 6 because it wasn’t Resident Evil 4, but looking back to Resident Evil 4, a lot of people complained about that entry because it changed the style from the original. However, this is a false cure, as it creates another problem that drags gaming back into this cycle of disappointment. People are tired of remakes. How many versions of the same game can we play before we get tired of it? Staying on Resident Evil and taking only into consideration the first game, we have had RE1, RE1: Dual Shock, RE1 Remake, and most recently, RE1 Remake Remastered. Do we really need four iterations of the same game? No. So the complaints start again because gamers want new material. See? It’s a cycle and no one is ever happy.
What can we do to fight this?
Well, my advice to the players is to shut the hell up. No, seriously. Give the developers a break. They are spitting out games at a higher capacity than ever before and all you can do is complain? Be grateful that you have a game to play and learn how to be happy with what is given to you instead of being entitled and demanding a perfectly tailored experience for yourself. If you can’t enjoy what has been given to you, then move on to something else. It is not the responsibility of the producers to make you happy. That is your own job. It is their job to provide you with a platform in which you can try to find that happiness. If it’s not there, then it’s not there. If you do happen to be one of the people who are grateful for games, express yourself. Tweet at developers, leave comments, and express your gratitude and show them you value their work. Support indie developers. Be the change you want to see in the world!
As for the developers, ignore the haters, stop focusing on money and start focusing on the art. Games were more enjoyable back in the day because each one felt unique and had a charisma of it’s own. Bring back the creative and intuitive ideas that shaped generations of gamers and stop giving in to the pressure of this new, entitled playerbase. Take back the power you once had and use it to create unique experiences, instead of just carbon copying your own or competitor’s titles. You’ve got it in you, so take the risk.
Thanks for reading!
*Quick note, this focuses on gaming but can really be applied to all media. Think about it.