Note: This piece is a direct response to Rob Faraldi’s Gaming: A Stagnant Puddle of Mediocrity.
Rob’s desperate cry for innovation is heard in every corner of the gaming world. The sign of new intellectual properties is a positive one, not one of an industry refusing to change. There’s a key point here that Rob brings out, but fails to make his point on accurately:
This industry has been around less then four decades and it’s already drowning in a stagnant puddle of mediocrity
It’s been drowning in that same puddle since they began. Pong was copied so many times by so many different knock-off companies, collectors are still trying to sort through the real and fake ones. Pac-Man rips were constant, Space Invaders would have been better off never being made, and Mario has been challenged by more human-like animals bouncing off each others heads since the NES days than we can ever count. When the general gaming populace is tired of something, the developers move on.
Lack of innovation is nothing new. The start of new IPs is a sign of a slowly turning shift towards new content. You can’t expect to walk into an EB tomorrow and see 100 games that are completely different from each other. There’s a bigger hurdle to face, and that’s getting the mass public to buy into things they don’t see as familiar.
With the world’s biggest games publisher pushing new titles, it’s forcing a general gaming populace into trying something new. That’s what we need to get them familiar with (and get them as far away as possible from): game titles they already know. Once the transition is complete, we have an audience outside of the die-hard followers willing to accept something different, even better than slipping out obscure things like Okami.
New interfaces like the DS and the Revo… err, Wii, are great. As of now, without a transition, people won’t know what hit them. The DS still has face buttons and a d-pad. Most games rely on those because trying to shock an audience with anything else is financial suicide. Innovative titles are slowly bringing with them mass acceptance. That’s how it needs to be done.
We’ve always seen this style of getting the public into trying something new. Even we, as hardcore gamers, have gone through this. Back in 1995 when the Playstation first hit, could you imagine being handed Halo with its dual analog controls and being asked to play through even a single level? Of course not, and that’s why we went through Doom into something like Turok and then into Halo.
Game design itself has been training us through progression, just like the slow inflation of new IPs will slowly move the wider audience towards picking up something they’ve never heard of. The DS signals innovation to come while still offering gameplay experiences we’re all familiar with. However, there’s nothing wrong with multiple Burnout sequels until that happens, and the journalists out there have no reason to dismiss a game like that because it offers more of the same.