The games industry has been in a miniature renaissance lately. With game developer tools becoming more numerous and easier to use, the Indie game scene has skyrocketed into a frontier genre; exploring areas and themes that are too risky for big companies.
On the other side of the industry, ‘Jump and wave’ games for the Kinect and PlayStation Move are re-defining what it means to be a game. Many scoff and dismiss these next steps in the game industry as inferior and not ‘real’ games. While I am not a huge fan of some of the games being created, this elitist attitude could be detrimental to the renaissance.
…replicated games turn into a genre…
The games industry has its own version of Darwinism. If a game works well it generates more sales, other companies see these profits and try to replicate it. Eventually, these replicated games turn into a genre and ten years ago we were stuck with a small but profitable number of genres because big companies were not willing to take risks.
However, in this Indie renaissance, exciting and new innovations are being rapidly formed. Minecraft, for example, is a humble building block game released in 2009 by one man. Today, it has over fourteen million registered users and the profits have been used to hire more people and set up a company. In 2009, one might argue that something with hardly any rules and no structure where you build whatever you like is better suited to the living room than the computer. Yet the consumers paid and the registrations grew and now Minecraft is starting to be ported and replicated by other companies.
…it is not nature that determines which games thrive…
Ultimately, it is not nature that determines which games thrive and which games crumble and whither, but the consumers. Unfortunately, when new and different things are created, human nature tries to compare them to previous efforts. Sometimes new ideas can be dismissed as ridiculous or wrong if it does not conform to the ways of before.
We cannot let this happen to the video game industry. Great games such as Minecraft, Braid, Limbo, Dear Esther and Garry’s Mod would not have happened if people had not widened their tastes (and wallets) and supported the Indie development scene. Yes, the games industry is in a renaissance, but it can quickly be quelled by people wanting the same as before.
…ridiculous to try to limit its capacity for growth…
The definition of ‘video game’ is currently in an incredible position. If any definition should be given to it, it should be that the word ‘video game’ is dynamic and constantly evolving. The games industry is so young and can expand into so many different areas that it seems ridiculous to try to limit its capacity for growth with a static definition. A game can mean so many things to different people that one definition will eventually be impossible.
If the video game industry is to dominate the market in the coming years, then it seems fitting that its product is the first definition that has the capacity to evolve with the market. Yet it can only do this with an open-minded public. For those willing to scratch through the surface of the gaming market: under the Call of Duties and Gears of Wars lie the true heart of the industry, constantly pumping and pushing forward, but dependant on our support.
Images courtesy of Minecraft, Braid, Limbo, Dear Esther and Garry’s Mod