Call me a curmudgeon, but a fair portion of what has caught my eye in gaming media lately has been negative.  Let’s start with this happy fellow, Keita Takahashi.  “At E3 I saw people putting on speeches but I thought the future seemed a bit dark.”  That’s almost as bad as Cracked.com’s over-the-top analysis of the unveiling of Kinect.  E3 did feel pretty dull from my perspective.  The forthcoming Nintendo games will be fun, but that’s like a shot of morphine taking you back to fun times past.  Yes, they will be in 3D, but does that really change anything about the games themselves?  Something you imagined being true before (objects on the screen exist in three dimensional space) is just made more obvious.  It’s novel, and novelty evaporates quickly.

You eyeing my lemon drink?

Then of course there was the Gamasutra piece: “Is the Game Industry a Happy Place?”  It’s easy to look at someone like Keita Takahashi, or Chris Crawford, and say that while they may have had some good games, they weren’t meant to be in the world of modern video game production.  Keita enjoys designing children’s playgrounds, and Chris lives in the world that might be, occasionally venturing back in to the spotlight to tell the industry that they are doing it wrong.

I don’t think that the city is expanding much; mostly, it’s just building higher and higher, doing the same old stuff over and over, better and better, but without any real creative expansion. Yes, there are plenty of people slowly pushing outward, but their efforts are still limited by their own mental blinders. So long as you think in terms of games, you just keep repeating the same old mistakes.

But then, do we see many game designers in the industry that have enjoyed what they’ve been doing, or are satisfied with the final products?  When they do come up with something good, the publisher makes sure it gets milked for all it’s worth before letting that designer go on to new projects.  And we’re still assuming that they even get to do what they want with a game in the first place.

But 2007 was a year when the top sellers on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 included Halo 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed and Madden NFL — and the conclusion Activision took from that was that there was no room on the market for games starring a female main character. Another former employee with knowledge of the situation explains: “We were all on board, and then Activision killed it, said they don’t do female characters because they don’t sell.”
“Activision gave us specific direction to lose the chick,” says the other source plainly.

And of course, Jim Sterling is here to remind us that we as gamers aren’t exactly helping either.

So just a few thoughts for this lovely Sunday morning.  I think I’ll build my fortress in Minecraft and wait out the next gaming crash.  To end on a more positive note, check out Zombie Estate and Hurdle Turtle.  Both are $1 and are a load of fun.  And remember: DOOOOM.  I needed to get that out of my system.


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