With the sun now gone to sleep beyond the horizon, on your stroll home you discover that the local mall's doors are still open wide, letting out the flourencent light indicating activity from within. A gush of wind from between those two steel frames, plastered with ads for furniture and chinese massages, waltzes across your face as you decide, on a whim, to follow your curiosity and look inside.
Upon entering, you notice an unusually large and rowdy crowd outside your local game store. You tap the shoulder of one of now seemingly hundred in attendance. "Excuse me" you inquire, "What exactly is going on?". As the man turns around, you quickly realise that is in fact a teenage boy complete with pimples and long fringe. "It's the Call of Duty Black Ops II midnight lauch dude, haha".
These events fascinate me. What exactly makes people so passionate about a game about shooting and exploding things. Why is Halo and Call of Duty such worldwide phenomena that eclipse the likes of arguably more interesting, innovative games?
I've looked closer at this. Some interviews with the crowd at the EB games midnight launch for Black Ops 2 tells me that gamers like the characters, they like the zombie mode, they like the awesomeness and they think that its like the best game in the world, and that they are looking forward to skipping school the next day to complete the entire game.
Now, this is weird to me, because those are things that are pretty unnattached to what you'd call "game design", per se. Awesomeness and characters like Master Chief seem to stem from more age old concepts like story and art than interactivity.I look upon the gaming landscape and wonder whether, as an aspiring game designer, I would look to impress the rowdy group in from the the EB store, to do my own thing that is to create games that, without sounding pretentious, "push the boundaries of games into uncharted territory, or do I attempt to do both?
It depends on what I want of course, but that leads me to a decision that I will have to make at some point. Do I make games because of the art, or do I make games because I want to entertain and liven up the lives of as many people as possible? Both I think are noble aspirations.
I preface this by saying that I don't think that Halo and Call Of Duty are bad games, but they aren't special anymore. Halo and Call of Duty's basic blueprint has existed since its first title back a zillion years ago, improvements to the graphics engine, the movement mechanics and story telling are all well and good, but still, the fundemental game idea runs through all of them. It's not surprising because it's a sequel, you should expect no less, but it is concerning that the majority of gamers of the world ONLY play those titles.
When I make a game, I really want to be proud of it and what it does, but what if the only people to appreciate it are the small enthusiastic gamers who scour game sires and forums?
I look to inspiration from games like Journey. I don't know how well it sold, I hope ALOT. It's the type of game that makes me have faith that my interesting game that doesn't focus on killing and cool characters can make an impact, both for the artform and in the marketplace. I think ultimately I will want to try and master a balance between the two points, to make a game to appeals to the gaming consciousness and does something new and exciting with interactivity.
Maybe there can be a way to make my new exciting idea the new great thing that millions of people flock to, the difficulty then I guess would be to not instinctively sequelize the thing. Oh these conundrums.
The problem only is a reality if I am a game designer great enough to even come up ideas that push boundaries and attract those millions, of course. For now it remains an interesting hypothetical.