Originality in gaming still exists, at least to a crazy person
This is an article I wrote a while ago. Go ahead and talk about it, give me feedback about my article and shit like that. It's all appreciated.
Editor's Note: I've added some pictures.
Dora the Complainer
Gamers like to complain. A lot. One of the most common complaints gamers have, is about the lack of 'original ideas'. I disagree with this, quite a bit in fact. Not only that, but I also believe that originality is something we will see a lot more in the future. I see the points of the common complainer, however. The boring sea of World-War 2 shooters quickly turned into a boring sea of modern war-shooters and, weirdly enough, they still sell like that inherently creepy Pony-sex-doll in a Brony-convention. "Everything is brown!" they scream. "Everything has forced multiplayer" they scream. This is what many gamers like to do. BioShock 2 had forced multiplayer, so every game has forced multiplayer. Gears of War 3 was brown, so every game is brown. According to these people every game is also a first person shooter with massive amounts of pointless sex.
I do, however, see how one could come into such a conclusion. There is no ignoring the numbers. Modern Warfare 3 sold 6.5 million copies in the U.S. and UK alone and grossed $400 million, making it the biggest entertainment launch of all time. Battlefield 3 sold 5 million copies in its first week of release. It's easy to see how a studio would think that this is the way of the future and that their "Grey War-Shooter: Revengfulnessatation" will undoubtedly bless the studio with miraculous riches. The stronger than stone presence of these games have farted out a big grey cloud of uncertainty that has been hanging above us for a good 5 years or so. From the depths of this cloud gamers condemn the supposed lack of originality. This metaphorical cloud is ruining video games for people who say that unoriginality is ruining video games. That makes sense, sort of. While any game that even has the color brown or includes shooting is automatically unoriginal shit, every game that dodges that cloud goes ignored and unnoticed by the complaining masses. That's why people come into such harsh solutions, but you are really here to read why they shouldn't, aren't you?
Western World Problems
I have never heard any Asian person complain about this. This proves the fact that the western consumers are often just hypocrites. As much as they whine and complain about the colors or material included in the new Call of Duty-title, they still wind up buying it. It's pretty clear that if every person who is even remotely concerned about the unoriginality of modern games would also ignore all the unoriginal games, Modern Warfare wouldn't sell 6.5 million copies. You know how most video game magazines have the top 10 best selling games of the month-list? Have you noticed how in Europe, Scandinavia and the Americas the list always looks the same: Free-roaming-game, shooting-game, sports-game, repeat. People buy those games while complaining how every game is either a free-roaming-, shooting- or a sports-game. Then, when you look at the Japanese list, whoa! Doesn't that look different? Oddball fighters, arcade-games that defy all genres, RPGs about the weirdest things, COLORS! Katamari Damacy, Tales Of-games, Monster Hunter were all the best selling games of their time in Japan. Would a Western gamer buy a game where you roll stuff into a ball until it becomes a planet?
They need the Call of Duty-audience to prove the Western gaming masses that originality is out there. Now, would the normal Call of Duty-gamer ever even touch a Katamari game? I would have to speculate that most of them wouldn't. This is a problem that cannot be fixed. We can only show the complainers these games to prove them wrong, but the numbers are still out there. The shooters still dominate the Western market and unfortunately they will, until Activision and EA decide to do something else with their money. That creates the problem of localization. Westerners don't buy Japanese games, Japan stops bringing them over. That sucks. The only solution I can see for the dominating stance of the shooter-genre in the West, is bringing all of their weird, corky and interesting Eastern titles over here. But that is a risk no company can afford to take. There would be bankruptcy, loss of jobs, death, destruction and apocalypse. It's a shitty gift that just keeps on giving. The less people care about weird and original Japanese titles, the less of them are going to be brought over here. "Vote with your wallet" is the only advice that can be given here. Original games are not dead; they are just hiding, in Japan.
This is an easy one, and the clear answer to everything. If an original game isn't hiding in Japan, it's hiding in the indie-circles. Seriously, if you think there are not enough original games and you are not following the indie-scene, you are not right in the head. The recent rise of indie games has been one of the best things to have ever happened to the industry. Games made with small budgets and in free time assure both a low price and an experimental outlook on gaming. These kinds of games can take risks, because if they fail, it doesn't cost the developers millions of dollars or tons of people their jobs. Of course, the small budgets mean that you have to be careful with them. Be sure you are not investing in a piece of dog shit, cheap or not. But that's true with all consuming.
You just need to keep reading blogs and news to keep up with all the games that are not released on Steam, XBLA, PSN or other digital sources, but are just hidden in the jungles of the internet. This basically means that if you are, after reading this article, still complaining about the lack of originality, you are simply not looking hard enough. Amazing games like Lone Survivor or Dwarf Fortress are just simply not played by the general public, because they don't have the kind of marketing AAA-titles have. You know, those brown, shooting-type AAA-titles. Original games are not dead; they are just hiding, on the internet.
Oswald the original
In conclusion, original games may be harder to find than the newest trendy shooter, but they are still there. They are still there by the thousands. And there are going to be thousands more. Few days ago Dice came out and said that the modern-time shooter is getting old. When the second biggest shooter-developer says it's time for a change, it's definitely time for a change. This doesn't mean we start seeing a lot more original titles, it just means that soon enough we will see one that will do the same thing to gaming Modern Warfare did in 2007. There are original games released all the time, you just have to pay attention.
The fact that more and more people want original games is a good thing though, since that means these kinds of video games get more recognition. Bastion and Minecraft were huge titles and very successful. Braid, Super Meat Boy and Fez had an entire feature length film made about them! They are not that hard to find anymore, and the rise of digital distribution services will make sure that it will be even easier in the future. If Ouya will be as successful as I hope it will, the whole way we look at video games -and the originality of them- could change forever. Original games exist and are often cheaper and better than boring AAA-titles. This will be even more apparent in the close future. So the next time someone complains about the lack of originality in gaming, you can hit him over the head with an iPad.
True originality is actually rather difficult to pull off.
As a vocal minority, they tend to be connotated with the majority.
And I do agree. A lot of the time, it does have to do with some bit of conformism.
Mass Effect is a stealth dating sim, prepping Western audiences for more dating sims. Sinister EA strikes again!
That's awesome if my article gave food for thought! Even if it's disagreeing, please give me a heads up when you get it up! I'd love to read it! :)
I was originally going to react to this post in a comment, but it's become so lengthy that I feel like I need to review and edit it and post it as a blog in response to this one.
Even though I massively disagree with you on that front, I have to mention that I only brought Fez up to tell you that a feature length film was made about it.
Fez is not Original, At all.
I agree with huge chunks of your blog, but the unfortunate fact of the matter is, that people who say that gaming is becoming a sea of shooters and bland identical games are a vocal minority. Every single one of my friends play call of duty on a regular basis, and to them it ins't stale or overdone. They deeply enjoy and don't want change. So, for that reason, I'm nearly forced to buy the game and play, just for the point of interaction. But when I try to introduce them to anything else, especially Eastern games, they look in disgust at the cluster fuck of everything weird in the game. It's strange to them. If a game doesn't make sense, it makes them loose interest. You can't explain that's its original and unique, because it's so odd. Call of Duty and Battlefield will keep selling like crazy for that simple reason. It sells because it's exactly what people expect, a big, explosion ridden shooter that everyone plays. It's conformist, I know, but it's the way things are right now. Honestly it's sad, but it is true that there still are unique and fun games out there, but you need to expect that some of them will be overlooked, and it's up to us to play and support these games. Edit: Also, check out spec ops. I fucking swear, the story is goddamn amazing, but the gameplay is well, there isn't any other way to describe it, bland and stale lol.
I hate Call of Duty (and other military based FPS games) not because of the games themselves, but because of the people who obsess over them.
I personally hate big dull AAA brown/gray and indie games. Bobby Kotick's greedy and Phil Fish is pretentious, but they're both evil.
Can't we have games that weren't conceived by suit wearing fatties and hipsters? If I ever made a game, it will not be indie because "indie" no longer means "independent" but rather "micro-budget artsy game that it's developers believes will revolutionize the gaming industry but will just end up too big for it's shoes."
I would like to see Toshihiro Nagoshi punch Phil Fish in the face.
I personally love the AAA titles. They just work for me usually. I don't know why anybody complains though. There's plenty of crazy new stuff out there. I've played some cool Indie stuff and some less popular titles that blew my socks off. Sometimes I think people complain just cuz their favorite game or genre of game isn't popular or sometimes just for the the sake of complainin'. I say screw 'em if they can't find something better to do than to complain.
Ya you are right that, every medium is going to have its share of knock-offs that come from mainstream success. For me its just sad that gaming has come into the attention of the world outside gamers, and the one of the main themes is immature FPS' that focus on simulating War. Call me a cynical but that just seems childish for a medium that can offer truly interactive experiences.
And I was intrigued by spec ops, maybe I'll check it out. Thanks!
No, I don't hold such a position haha.
But yeah, I live in the US but I'm an area with a very high Asian population and for the most part, either we have our own distinct tastes or we play what everyone else plays and just enjoy it without complaining about it. Even when I lived in Europe, the Asian people there (mainly Filipinos) weren't that opinionated towards videogames.
It's good that you do research first rather than making blind assumptions. I remember the amount of research I had to do when I made my topic on video game rip offs to ensure that I didn't post anything incorrect.
Hope to hear more from you!
Well, thanks a lot for your thoughts. While it might be true that the Shooter-fad might do some bad for the industry, if we get rid of it, it will be literally be the first time in video game history that has happened. That bad has always existed: 70's-early 80's it was short one-screen arcade games. Copies of Pac Man and especially Space Invaders. late 80's-90's it was mascot platformers. While Sonic and Mario had the ball (Like CoD and BF today), the majority of the industry was littered with both good and bad games like Aero the Acrobat, Bubsy, Banjo-Kazooie etc. Just like today we have your Medal of Honors and Homefronts. Late 90's to early 2000's were the Doom-type shooters like Duke Nukem and Quake. Then came the original CoD and MoH and it was pretty much 8 years of WWII.
As for AAA-shooters that are true art, I haven't played it myself YET, but it's certainly on my list: I have heard amazing things about how Spec Ops: The Line is built, even though it looks like the most generic shit-fest ever. Here is some hyping-links: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=16769 http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=16818
I agree with your arguments that indie games and japanese franchises are far and beyond as far as content goes, however I disagree that there is nothing to be concerned about or that complaining isn't warranted.
For me the problem is not that you can't find original games, It's quite easy if you look for a few minutes as you pointed out. The problem is two-fold: 1. The time and money used to make FPS Brownfests could be used to make deeper, more innovative titles (this is admitably a taste issue) and 2. The current FPS samie shooters are just bad for the medium, as the masses who don't know anything about games percieve a whole bunch of people who play call of duty online.
To the first point, I believe that games have the potential to be art, and thus far I have yet to play a military mainstream AAA FPS that truly invigorates the feeling that I get from a game like Shadow of the Collusus. Doesn't mean COD and its genre aren't well made/fun ect., I just don't get a full gaming experience. Again this is a personal taste, but I feel like alot of gamers share this feeling. To the second, It kills me when I'm in a social situation and don't want to talk about games because the medium isn't accepted widely. FPS and simulation sports don't do anything truly innovative, so the medium as a whole stagnates, staying as just a time-waster in the eyes of the masses, rather than showing an ability to convey a powerfull experience.
And that's why people complain, not that they don't enjoy COD and buy it anyway, but because they enjoy COD but either see how it stagnates the industry, or want some different as well. In addition, I'd bet that most of the gamers that buy COD and the like don't complain because they simply play COD and the like, and that's OK. Its just a vocal minority.
Where you may be right is that complaining isn't the answer, it just sucks. Great read though, I'm procrastinating my exam studies and this was very thought provoking :)
Were you the editor of my article? Super suprised to find it on the front page! Thank you, whoever made my Article a bit more bearable for the eyes!
Thank you so much for your nice words! I was a bit scared of what Asians might think of my rather blatant claims. Or even Americans. I am neither, and I think I did go a bit far with this write, when it comes to assumptions. But I appreciate that at least you tell me that I was correct. At least with that assumption.
I do research everything I say, but with claims like "According to these people" and "They need" I have to take a jump. Sometimes I land, sometimes I don't. The dangers of video game journalism.
Excellent article, it is irritating hearing so many gamers whine and complain about lack or originality or creativity and when a game that is original and creative comes out, they're the first ones to tear it apart.
And you are right, I barely hear this sort of complaining from Asians (being Asian myself) and for me, I find the idea of complaining tiresome, if there's something I don't like, I don't support it, simple as that.
Jokes on me then haha ^_^
Being from Finland myself, I can assure you that at least he Finnish video game magazines list the Scandinavian sales separately, as well as the UK.
Thanks for the kind words, man. I really appreciate it.
Very good blog and i agree original games are still there. Btw Scandinaiva is Europe it 's not it's own region :) Or maybe they just have it as a salething.