Lately in the gaming industry,there's a sentiment that's becoming more common amongst developers,publishers and gamers and that sentiment is that originality in video gaming has died in place of generic FPSes.From Pokemon Black/White director Junichi Masuda commenting that the homogenity of gaming is worrying to several videos on YouTube ranting about the death of creativity for the sake of military shooters,more and more people are saying that soon,all of gaming will be a big gray sludge because no-one's doing anything new anymore.
You may think that I agree with this but I actually don't;if anything,I think originality has a better chance in the industry today than it's had in a long time.I'll get to why I think originality can succeed today later on but I need to explain my thoughts on originality in gaming first and how I came to the conclusion I'll mention later on.
I started thinking about originality while browsing my YouTube inbox and was reading messages.One of the messages was from a YouTube reviewer named gexup and I remember asking him something along the lines of what he thought of gaming today and one thing he said in the reply that stood out to me was ''To be quite honnest, I am disappointed with this gen's console because they really lack creativity, originality, and awesomeness compared to the last gen before it (GC, PS2, Xbox).''
And this got me thinking about the state of the industry and how it seems that it's nothing but FPSes all over.But when I think about it,it's not true.The truth is originality is still around in gaming today;you just have to look hard for it.And the here's the thing;it's always been like this in gaming,hell every form of media.
Back in the 90's,games like Rocket:Robot on Wheels and Mystical Ninja starring Goemon on the N64 sold poorly because everyone was buying the latest Mario or movie tie-in.In the early 80's,the now critically-acclaimed Vectrex was buried under all the Atari 2600/Intellivision rip-offs.If you want a more recent example,does anyone remember how horribly Beyond Good and Evil and XIII sold in November 2003?
Anyway,my point is that original games will always get buried under the more popular games,no matter what generation it is or whatever circumstances have occured to change the industry.However,why do so many people think everything's just bland nowadays? It may be a side-effect of nostalgia,if you ask me.You see,most of us become more cynical about the way the world works in certain areas while believing that everything was much better when we were younger.This applies to all aspects of life and it affects gaming in particular.
We all believe that originality couldn't have been in a better state only a few years ago when really it was probably just the same as it is now except the most popular genre at the moment has changed.People only seem to think that things have become worse due to the increasing exposure of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield and seem to think that those are the only games anyone makes nowadays when really,the military shooters take up about 5% of the hundreds of games developed and released per year.
If you still don't believe,let me show you 15 original games from this generation:
-Darksiders:Wrath of War
-El Shaddai:Ascension of the Metatron
-Enslaved:Oddysey to the West
-Rythym Thief and the Emperor's Treasure
-Prince of Perisa 2008
And that's just a small fraction of the hundreds of original,creative games seen in the industry today.
But before I continue,what is 'originality' to begin with in terms of gaming? I've asked a few people this and the answer varies from person to person.Some say simply not trying to copy the success of another popular game(several SM64 clones say hi) while others think it only matters when it relates to how a developer makes a game and how it appears in a game.It's rather hard to explain and everyone's welcome to their own view on it.In fact tell me what you think originality is since there's no real objective answer in this case.
However,if you do believe that nothing is original anymore in gaming,there's one big reason for this:every gamer on the planet.Not the ''casual'' gamers like most would believe but the ''hardcore'' gamers.Tell me,how many original games have you bought on launch day? I imagine the number for most of you would be quite small,me included.I bought games like Sonic Generations and DBZ:Ultimate Tenkaichi on launch day because I love those franchises.I didn't buy Enslaved:Oddysey to the West or Bayonetta when they first came out because,while I was interested in them,I wasn't sure if they were going to be any good.
We might think that we always bought creative,interesting games like Psychonauts or Okami when they came out but it's likely that we just bought the latest game in a long-running franchise or games based on cartoons we loved watching as kids.We can rant all we like about the state of the industry but it doesn't matter if we do what's most important and speak with our wallets.If you truly want original games to survive,you have to buy original games when they come out instead of waiting until the price comes down.I understand that many don't have the money to afford both original and franchise games so whenever you have to decide between the two,consider this;which will keep selling copies when you don't buy it?
Finally,I'm now going to explain why I think originality has a better chance today in gaming than it's had in a long time with 3 words:digital downloadable services.Look up the best selling games on XBLA or PSN and see how many of them are original titles.The number in this case is quite huge with games like Journey,Limbo,Braid and so forth frequently breaking records for the best selling game on their service.This is because the games are much cheaper and they are shared equally amongst the franchise games instead of being outweighed by the franchises(as is the case with mose game shops).
Development costs are lower and publishers don't take as big of a risk as they would if they were making retail titles so they have more confidence in their products.Original,creative games finally have the chance to shine unlike before and don't run the risk of ruining their developers.
Maybe things will get worse,maybe better for originality in the gaming industry in a few years from now but I believe that originality hasn't had a better time in the limelight in video gaming.Thanks for reading.