June 25, 2012
Evolving with the games industry
I was trying to find videos of Linkin Park’s new album Living Things on YouTube on the way to work today and stumbled across something that caught my eye, and intelligent YouTube comment. I don’t remember it word for word, I was driving and should be focused on the road shame on me, but it went something like this; There is a need for evolution, the band won’t sound like they did 10 years ago because that is not who they are today. They would not be around today if they stayed the same; bands that don’t evolved typically get left by the wayside and never recover. I will admit being an avid Linkin Park fan, seeing them plenty of times in concert and buying every album on day one, that their past two albums were not exactly Grammy winners, nor where they what they had produced in the early 2000’s. But they were stepping stones and evolution to find one’s self, to create, from what I have heard of it so far, a culmination of 10 years worth of evolution into something I am rather liking. But what really hit me about this comment is that the same could be said about the games industry and gamers themselves.
I have come in contact with people and have had friends that won’t play Mario unless it’s on a NES or Super Mario World on the SNES, and deem today’s titles like the Galaxy’s as inferior because they are not “Old School” (I loathe this term with all of my being) or not challenging or use modern consoles so they are deemed un-cool, basically what I consider a gaming hipster. I really feel sad for these people. Yes, the Games Industry is in a bit of a creative loll but to call the Galaxy games inferior by any means is an accusation that I can’t take lightly. What if Mario never made the jump to 3D? What if Mario never sat the voluptuous plumber backside in a go-kart? What if Mario never made his Paper Debut? I am just using Mario as an example, since his 8-Bit platforming days he has been several games that range from RPG’s to racers, to sports titles and beyond, though some outings have been better than others Nintendo has tried to extend and evolve the Mario Franchise. These people also need to play the Mario Galaxies as well. I feel like Miyamoto and his team have learned what makes Mario fantastic and evolved it into gaming nirvana. Outside of the hub world, Mario Galaxy is as perfect as a game could be. Yes, there will always be small bugs or minor problems, they were made by humans and thus flawed, but from a creative standpoint and just the joy of playing that game is rivaled by no other.
Evolving is one aspect Nintendo has that I have complete admiration for. Every time the Big N goes to the console drawing board whether it be home or handheld they are always in the mind set of – here is the wheel, were are not satisfied with the wheel, how can we reinvent the wheel? It has shown, say what you will about the Wii and the monumental piles of shovelware out there for it, but has it not changed the face of the industry? Hasn’t both Microsoft and Sony tried copying the Wii’s success with motion control? Sony and Microsoft have brought their fare share of evolving the consoles themselves as well. Did I think back in 1991 that I would be playing a console that had a built in hard drive or have a game media capable of holding 50GB worth of information? My first laptop I purchased in 2002 had a 25GB hard drive; I paid $1200 for the stupid thing.
Evolution has also produced some formalities that have not exactly been kind to the industry and is simply a byproduct of growing as rapidly as the industry has. Quick Time Events or QTE’s are often replaced sections that could not be designed properly or sections that the development team had neither the time nor the money to produce. There are the exceptions, they work in the God of War series, but titles like Spider-Man 3 they were an excuse for a short development cycle. Another byproduct is the two year or yearly cycle which has seen mixed results. Ever since the early 90’s Madden football and several other EA Sports titles have seen yearly titles; while some years have seen vast improvements, others have seen declines in quality and have even seen cancelation (NBA Elites inevitable cancelation last year). Also with this cycle has seen countless sequels and very few new IP’s in the past few years (I am steering clear of the Call of Duty effect that’s a Pandora’s Box all in itself).
The thought of the evolution of this industry has always been at the forefront of my mind. Every E3, Tokyo Game Show, Gamescom, even that terrible excuse for an awards show, the Spike VGA’s; I look for new IP’s new innovations, new ways that will make my gaming experience the best it possibly can be, sequels are exciting if they grow and bring more to the table than its predecessor. The industry has grown and evolved from Ralph Baer’s “Brown Box” to multi-core processor behemoths sitting below our T.V.’s and there is no reason to stop now. There will always be a place for console, handheld, PC, and casual phone/tablet gaming; the industry is big enough for all to coexist and grow together. As a gamer we need to me excepting of this change and welcome the unexpected. Will the WiiU marry console and tablet gaming and bring something entirely new? What will Microsoft and Sony bring out next? How far will PC graphics cards be able to produce before the PC visuals rival real life? Will Angry Birds ever go away? All we can do is enjoy the ride, sit back and watch the spectacle of growth and evolution. I still find it incredibly weird that this idea for an article would generate from a place I never associate with logical thought.