Video game industry
Some people suspect that if they know too much about a subject, they won't be able to enjoy it anymore. Let's call it the Critic's Curse: because they have analysed so much, they will find fault in everything and enjoy nothing.
Of course, there are the people that argue that this also applies to game design, as outlined by Josh Foreman in a blog post over at Gamasutra:
I’ve been interested by a pattern that I’ve noticed on Gamasutra and a few other game design related sites. Almost every time an article or blog is posted that gets into the psychology of gaming and game design there will be a comment or two along the lines of:
“You can’t turn art into a system of numbers and metrics! You are killing the FUN in games when you analyze them like this! Don’t deconstruct the magic that makes games what they are!”
He argues that this might be partially right, but more importantly that the medium of games is currently just in its infancy (or adolescence at best). It is trying to catch up to other media that have a long been established:
We are still working too hard at mimicking other mediums like film, but at the same time starting to pull away and define our own personality. This is a time for introspection.
We’ve been on the playground for a long time now. We’ve outgrown out our magical imagination world, and I think it’s time to leave Peter Pan behind and grow up. But that doesn’t mean we have to ignore Lewis’ warnings.
One of the reasons why getting into game design right now is so interesting is the fact that part of the business, of the creative process and of the production is still forming – and in a constant state of flux.
While on one hand, game production teams have grown larger in order to produce even more content (after all, many AAA titles boast to have 50+ hours playtime – which is 25 times as much as a normal action film), other people reduced their teams and are producing awesome games with teams of three or four people.
Jason Schreier over at Wired's Game|Life argues as well that games need auteurs: a single person with a vision for a game, as opposed to "design by committee":
Most games, like most movies, are a massive undertaking involving the work of hundreds of people. But many films — the best, some would argue — are driven by the central creative direction of a single auteur. No matter how many other people work on a project, auteur theory holds that it is possible for a single, strong creative vision to shine through. Bringing such a dynamic to videogames could result in stronger stories, more compelling gameplay — and fewer artistic and commercial failures that result from that well-established enemy of the creative process, design by committee.
And, which is even better, the industry is slowly adapting that as well.
John Lanchester argues in this essay that the production of games has become so expensive, the democratic effect is vanishing – quite in contrast to the rest of media, where the internet made it simpler and cheaper to produce for.
One of the problems is that the new consoles are difficult and expensive to create games for: no one can create a game for the PS3 or Xbox 360 without access to significant amounts of capital. The next generation of consoles is a long way away, and this will likely be even more the case by the time they’ve grown up. As the tools of filmmaking have got cheaper, those for game making have got more expensive; this might mean that the game industry never gets to move on from the need to create blockbuster equivalents. Already the industry suffers from an excessive proliferation of sequels – always a sign that the moneymen are in charge. Games do a good job of competing with blockbusters, but it would be a pity if that was the summit of their artistic development.
I don't think I agree with this. There have been many initiatives to get young, designers to work for those consoles. Also, I think there is a certain backlash: the more big studios are out there, the more independent developers have a reason to produce a counter-culture. The current economic crisis that is also affecting the game industry is definitely helping in this cause: since game designers are laid off, they might form their own small development studios.
After all, games just don't have the pedigree yet, compared to other media. It is still something in search of its own form.