We currently live in an age where Video Games have become a transcendent form of multimedia. From the days of Home Pong back in 1975 to the Playstation 4, Video Games have become integrated into the entertainment industry. The reason for this is because of the amount of creativity game designers have exhibited with their vast worlds and wonderful landscapes. But even more so, it is because of the stories being told by video games evolving beyond anything most motion pictures could ever tell. But if this is the case, why does it seem we like we are living in an era of remasters and re-releases?
Allow me to digress for a moment by saying that there is nothing wrong with remasters and re-releases. A lot of the games that have recently received the Next Gen treatment look absolutely stunning in comparison to their original versions. Also, reliving the wonders of games like Shadow Complex (which recently received a remastered version) reminds you of just how amazing they were during your first play through. I would never knock the prospect of replaying so many stories and reliving memories from gaming's past via a new piece of hardware. Still, it seems as if these practices are becoming a creative crutch.
Shadow Complex Remastered (Screenshot Courtesy of videogamer.com)
Let's take a moment to look back to the seventh generation of gaming consoles. Original stories were vast ocean of possibilities despite if they were coming from new IPs or already existing ones. We saw the Master Chief end his campaign against the Covenant. We dove deep into the reaches of insanity by exploring the mind of Alan Wake. We became morally conflicted as we traveled across the galaxy in the universe of Mass Effect. There was so much originality oozing from game studios! Now, we are receiving an influx of remasters and stereotypical military shooters.
After E3 2014, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Nintendo's mascot, Mario) spoke out about the mind-numbing amount of bloody shooters which dominated the press conferences that year. "To some, it might have seemed as though there wasn't a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry."
Mario Creator, Shigeru Miyamoto (Courtesy of wiiudaily.com)
Was Miyamoto correct? Is the lack of creativity attributed to creative immaturity? It is true that despite the home console market being eight generations in, video games is still a very young industry as a whole. But given some of the strong showings of 2015, one could argue that this couldn't possibly be the case. The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt, which received several Game of the Year awards, had one of the most compelling stories of this current console generation. Clearly, developers are capable of giving us new and engaging plots to sink our teeth into. So, what's stopping them?
In an article from theguardian.com, Holly Nielson said something that rings true to the current state of the industry from my personal opinion. "Creativity begins with how we feel and how we see and present ourselves as people. This industry isn“t just dressing identically, it draws its inspiration from the same music, movies and books. This homogeneity leads to staid ideas." This begs me to ask the question, has the gaming industry stopped feeling as a whole?
What happened to games which made you invoke a certain emotion? What happened to worlds and plots which prompted you to become emotionally invested in the characters? Has the industry stopped caring about the creative aspects of the industry? I don't think that's the case. I feel like this might be a horrible case of writer's block. Besides, there are plenty of games coming this year that will test the limits of the imagination.
The gaming industry as a whole must, in lamens terms, get their sugar together. We are soon to enter the four year of the current console generation. It's time to give us the glorious worlds and plots that engulfed us during the previous generation. It can be done. They just need,..a little imagination.