Respecting Artwork vs Demanding Products in the Gaming Industry

Jul
30

Respecting Artwork vs Demanding Products in the Gaming Industry

There are countless things that go into creating within the video game industry. Hardware, software, console design, game design, and personal ideas, energy, and imagination are just a few. As it isn’t exactly an easy process to design and construct something, we have to understand that the creators usually dive into it with an idea of the finished product they’re aiming for. For some, that’s a free smartphone game that will entertain users for a few minutes and bring in ad revenue. For others, that’s putting an imaginary world from inside their heads into the form of a video game so that other people can experience a very personal and inspired game. But some gamers seem to forget all of that rather easily and expect developers and creators to cater to them almost personally, and there is a lot wrong with that. That shows problems of egocentricity, arrogance, and ignorance, to name a few. The real problem, however, is the disservice and disrespect to the game creators themselves and the products they are working so hard to make.

Here’s what initially got me thinking about this topic. The comment below was on a video about multiplayer in No Man’s Sky, a game created by Sean Murray that, while it theoretically supports multiplayer, never expects you to find even a single other player because it drops everyone into different parts of a universe. There are potentially billions of planets between players which makes finding one another virtually impossible, given that there is no way to join up with friends in the game menus. So in the comment, one player expresses his frustration with the lack of genuine supported multiplayer:

artwork product comment1

 

Let’s stop right there. This player, who likely harbored others’ sentiments if the “likes” on his comment are any indication, simply does not understand Murray’s vision for No Man’s Sky. Murray himself spoke of the sentiments he hopes for players to experience in the game, particularly a feeling of how small we are in such a vast and infinite universe. So, comments like the one above are a reflection of the notion that many players expect to be catered to. This is tantamount to walking into an art show and promptly telling the artist that the paintings or photographs aren’t what you personally wanted, a scenario which should be quite obviously ridiculous. And yet, many people feel justified in their frustration while critiquing video game creators.

Other commenters on the video had similar thoughts to share:

artwork product comment2

Here is another strong case for disrespect and ignorance towards the game. It would seem the commenter feels “forced” into experiencing the feelings of vastness that Murray has mentioned in the past, and that such things will ruin the game. I would opt to say that, if you want multiplayer space exploration, this game is not what you want. Instead, many seem to think the solution is to force things to change to their will, which is absurd (although developers have caved to this before, and it can be disheartening).

Seeing that Murray’s goal is not to cater to the market, it must actually be to bring his own ideas to fruition through creating his own video game, something that must feel immensely satisfying and takes a mountain of time and effort. Contrary to what players like these may think, maybe Sean Murray didn’t make a game to create “what consumers want,” like the second comment suggests. As I mentioned earlier, I would argue that most video game creators sit down at the drawing table with their own idea in mind, not particularly what consumers are looking for. Consumers are undoubtedly a factor, because someone needs to buy the fruit of their labor, but they are not the “point” of building something. To sell or share a game with the people is different from trying to appease them.

Let’s look to Nintendo for a few other examples. To me and to many, Nintendo is the grandfather of originality. This is what makes them so successful in their own ways. Sometimes their quirkiness doesn’t pan out so well, but more often than not their creativity blows us away. I could give a thousand examples from Nintendo, but let’s focus on just a few. Take the Mario or Zelda franchises first. No one expected these games when their debut titles blessed the industry forever. No one knew how much they wanted the original Super Mario Bros. before they played it, but they wanted it desperately, and rightly so. Same with Zelda, and even if you haven’t played the very first installment, perhaps it was a Link to the Past or the great Ocarina of Time that opened your eyes to the franchise’s beauty. Can we honestly say that if these games were simply trying to emulate the success of Pong or Pac-Man that they would have found their monumental success? Of course not. If they had been built purely to sell, however, maybe emulation wouldn’t have been a terrible idea for a quick buck, but it would not have made Nintendo famous.

Modern day, the same point can be proven with Nintendo’s NX, granted we don’t yet know how well it’s going to pan out. This snippet from an article on the hardware prowess of the upcoming console shows this “we want you to be something other than yourself” mentality (not from the author, but the ideas presented):

artwork product comment3

There are undoubtedly a lot of Nintendo fans looking for graphical power on par with the other modern consoles, but I have to wonder that, if graphics is what these players are most concerned with, why don’t they just get a PS4 or an Xbox One? Nintendo has never been on top of the high-powered-hardware game, so why should we expect them to change that now? If you want incredible graphics, Nintendo doesn’t need to change their console, you just need to get the console that already fits your criteria. If Nintendo were actually playing the “make what the consumer wants” game, they would no longer be Nintendo. Simple as that.

I could give lots of other examples of this that are jumping to my attention, but we’ll stick with these for now.

Video games are like movies in that they border a line between artwork and product. The creators create the art, but on the receiving end we consume. The vital thing we have to remember is that neither of these industries is customer service. Nintendo doesn’t exist to make a console or game you ask them for personally any more than No Man’s Sky owes you multiplayer. These things, although interactive, are created as pieces of interactive art. If you’ve ever been to an art gallery, you likely know that it’s essential to view exhibits and works with an open mind if you hope to gain any kind of understanding and appreciation for them. And so, I urge you, the players, to treat the video games you play in your home with the same respect you would give a beautifully painted canvas in a gallery, or a film in a theater. Above all, respect the decisions of the artists who develop for the video game industry, as they are the people who give us these wonderful works to enjoy.

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