The Infancy of The Video Game Medium - Part I

The Infancy of The Video Game Medium - Part I

I've been reflecting on how the video game medium, despite its growth, is still in its infancy. While I remain hopeful, there's also a part of me that's deeply concerned.

For example, looking back at the pioneering 3D era of the late '90s and early 2000s, it's clear that this was a time of bold experimentation in gaming. Platforms like the PlayStation 1 and 2, Sega, and PC were home to a vast array of innovative titles. This era thrived on creativity because the gaming industry hadn't yet settled into a rigid mold. Games were profitable, but not overly dominated by corporate interests.

However, the current landscape, which I've termed a 'corporate hellhole,' seems to be stifling this innovative spirit. The recent Game Awards show highlighted this problem for me. Many of the showcased games, despite their commercial success, seemed to follow a repetitive formula focused more on mindless engagement — shooting with colourful guns, building base as if all games were trying to be everything at once — rather than offering unique experiences or realizing creative visions.

I don't really care if I sound like an angry old guy, I'm just tired. Oh art this art that, I don't care about art art art... I only care about having more breathing room for different, non-conventional games.

The industry also seems to be perpetuating a narrow 'gamer' identity, which both shapes and is shaped by public perception. This cyclical nature simplifies marketing for companies, as they can more easily sell their flashy, mainstream games. This contrasts with the film industry, where despite the prevalence of blockbuster franchises, there's still room for auteur-driven projects and diverse storytelling. I'm concerned that this corporate influence in gaming could suffocate the creative space necessary for artists to truly explore and innovate within this medium.

While I acknowledge that my perspective might not be entirely accurate, I can't help but express my longing for more originality in gaming. I hope indie developers and artists from outside the traditional gaming sphere can find their place in this industry, bringing fresh, innovative ideas. The over-reliance on repetitive themes like combat and warfare is becoming tiresome. The industry needs to embrace a wider range of concepts and narratives. Otherwise, we risk letting the gaming world become monopolized by formulaic 'popcorn' titles, potentially leading to a stagnation reminiscent of the 1983 video game crash.

I'm hopeful about small teams and solo game designers.