Where is the creativity?
When I was a child I fell in love with gaming; it took me to worlds where I was able to explore magic and experience the wonders of exploration, suspense, and it put the responsibility of any outcome directly in my hands. As I grew I kept playing because that sense of discovery never left me. Growing meant growing bored with things, but when I felt that happen I always discovered something new, fresh, and captivating to replenish my love with games. Even when I was skeptical there was always something I had to look forward to but unfortunately I fear I am losing faith in console gaming.
The offerings from our publishers have reached stagnation and gamers have either grown complacent with what is offered to them or have just moved on from gaming all together. Yes, the technological applications of modern gaming have reached a point that was unthinkable when we were still playing games with characters modeled with pixels. Yes, controls have improved to the point where any game with poor mechanics is possibly artistic (Deadly Premonition, looking at you). And yes, games are offering sound quality so good you can tell where enemies are simply by the sound of their footsteps walking through the sand.
That is undeniably amazing, but despite offering beautiful, polished products, robust (let us be honest, most are not robust but rather tacked-on) online components, and marketing budgets capable of competing with Michael Bay movies, I feel that the triple-A budget studios have forgotten how to offer older gamers anything enticing. This is a shame because on paper every box that is required to be ticked to make a game desirable is ticked with one exception.
We need to return to an era where we are not blown away by visuals but blown away by the games themselves. Each generation gamers have been presented with titles that could not be put down. Whether it is games like Super Mario World or Goldeneye 64 that redefined their respective genres, or games that gave us elaborate stories like Earthbound or Final Fantasy 7, or just games that were for one reason or another, memorable, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. These games brought something new to the table we call gaming and have changed the way I view things forever. In my eyes, the last games to achieve such a feat were the immensely popular Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which remains a bad word in some parts of the internet, and Super Mario Galaxy, which got a sequel but remains to be topped.
I understand that it is just the beginning of this current console generation; it started just a little over a year ago, but games like Mario Galaxy and Call of Duty 4 were released in November of 2007. For me it has been nearly 7 years since I have had an experience that defined anything from the “Triple-A” space.
Have games been good? Of course. Have games been great? Absolutely. I have enjoyed a plethora of games since the fall of 2007, but the problem is that most games since then have started to melt together leaving releases to feel more like the same instead of each case being a new adventure.
Gaming is a realm where I’ve counted on being entertained for the better part of 25 years. What scares me is that I can say with absolute certainty that I am starting to get bored with gaming because releases are becoming so flat. The “Triple-A” space does take some blame in this. There have been reports where developers have had problems simply doing things like getting women on the front of box art because certain individuals feel it would lower sales, but gamers take some blame in this too.
Video games are a space where creativity is supposed to be met with praise and adoration; instead gamers face creativity with mediocre sales and a quick trip to the bargain bin. Games like Zack and Wiki, Valkyria Chronicles, Bayonetta, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, and Mad World to name a few, and even games whose predecessors enjoyed cult acclaim went completely overlooked. The only way any of these games ever achieved even moderate popularity when someone would come and shine a proverbial light in the face of the gaming public. Let us not forget the “hardcore crowd” which has come to feed and relish in this era of sequels where seldom are new characters, stories, and scenery embraced.
What we need is for game creators to be able to use creativity and courage alongside their modern tools and ingenuity. It is time for someone to do something that may change the status quo. They may do something as great as change gaming forever, or they make just make the game that gives one aging gamer the will to keep playing.
So what do you think? Has gaming gotten stale and why? Sound off below.