Friday, 14 October 2011

Unburning the Bridge - Animosity Between Game Makers and Game Players Needs to Stop

Why is it that when we should be going forward hand in hand, that we're instead at each other's throats. The industry and gamers need to learn to get along, and for more reasons than you might think.


I’m not sure exactly when it happened, or even if I’m exaggerating this point in my mind more than anything else. The thing is though as some of my entries this past week have seemingly proven there is a disconnect between the people that make games and the people who play them.

And by disconnect I mean that at the worst of times we seem to outright hate each other.

I’ll grant you that when I was ten I wasn’t paying a hell of a lot of attention, but it seems that in these past few years in particular that there’s been an ever growing rift between the people that provide our entertainment and we who are entertained. Gamers are quick to anger when promises of content, release dates, and teased opportunities that never developed are dangled in front of them. Likewise, companies seem to be viewing the very people that ultimately fund them as enemies: trying to undermine user rights (see Sony and EA’s EULA) or making life difficult because they don’t want the secondhand market to exist (again see Sony, and I expect a lot of other companies to follow suit as well).

But, it wasn't always like this. For example:

Remember this bad boy? If you're old enough you probably do, and you also probably remember at least a little of what it meant. Just in case though, and to jog your memory: "This seal is your assurance that NINTENDO has approved and guaranteed the quality of this product."

To me, and to a lot of other people, that seal meant that you knew that what you were buying wasn't some shitty knock-off, or shovelware. That you were guaranteed some fun when you bought this product. But eventually that seal disappeared, turned into a product of a seemingly bygone era. The thing is, in this age more than ever, we need something like this back. And that's hardly all.

I recently read this article on Top Tier Tactics that talked about some of the cost that the industry inflicted upon itself trying to push out titles to satisfy gamers. Countless manhours resulting studios closing after pushing out one title, and people going without seeing their families and friends for god knows how long. What point does this have? Well, it's rather simple:

We only tend to see the end result of the work that these people put out. Sure, we hear about a big new title on the way, we see trailers and pictures and are teased with features. But even when we're told that a game has a staff of hundreds, maybe thousands, all of them working past the brink in some cases, we simply shrug, because to us it just remains an abstract.

The industry needs to become more open, it needs to show gamers just how much work, effort, and yes, blood, goes into what amounts to a couple dozen hours of entertainment for us. They need to invite us in, and we, in turn, must be willing to see what they're showing us. To rehash a comment that I made on that Top Tier article, I think that there needs to be a documentary about a game going through development. Even if they only focused on one department it would be hugely illustrating as to the real effort that goes into making what we often take for granted.

I'm not suggesting that random people be allowed to wander around the building or anything, but showing the people the where and the how will help open their eyes, make them a little more sympathetic, and also get people interested in carrying on the legacy of video game creation. After all how many people currently working in the industry right now used to be (or rather still are) gamers themselves? The people that make the games don't just appear out of nowhere, they are us, one way or another. That's why it's time to bury the hatchet, and make things better and more open for everyone.

2 comments:

  1. The documentary has to show all the work that goes into a game, and then the game gets cancelled right before going gold, just to drive the point home that not all games get made, and even still, tons of work go into them. Case in point: Mega Man Legends 3.

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  2. Re: MML3. When the game was canceled, fans turned ugly, many acting like horrendous human beings. Children. Undisciplined children that real children would raise an eyebrow at.

    I've no doubt a dev or two other than Capcom raised their eyebrow and figured that was a good reason NOT to ever let fans look at the development process.

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