Is Innovation Going The Way Of The Dodo?

I like to think that I’m a laid-back kinda guy. Worlds going to war? Ah well. Massive job losses across every industry? It’ll all work out in the end. My mother died? Ah, I never really liked her anyway. However, there is one, small, almost insignificant matter that really has the power to inflict annoyance rashes all over my pasty body. Let me try and explain. My shrink said it would help.

Some gamers, mostly laughed upon by the ‘elite’ games players, are of the opinion that graphics are the most important aspect of games. This is obviously sheer idiocy. Graphics are merely a means to an end, a way for the developer to immerse the gamer into the gameplay. As vital a job that is, if there is no game-play to be immersed in, then no matter how shiny the graphics are, the experience will be immensely unsatisfying. Anybody who’s played Uplink will understand the great joy of functional graphics and remarkable gameplay.

But this is all been discussed to death before, and doesn’t really interest me. Anyone who wants to be obsessed by the flashy-flash-flash of his or her TV screen is welcome to it. The thing that annoys me is hypocrisy. Notably, the hypocrisy of the ‘elite’ gamer, who probably reads EDGE religiously. They pour boiling pots of scorn upon the pretty pictures obsession of the ‘casual’ gamer, while at the same time, declaring “originality” as the be-all and end-all of good games. “Why can’t games be original, like they were in my youth?” cry the multitudes. This infuriates me. The fact that games are better than they have ever been, more immersive, more mind-blowingly playable than they have ever been before is ignored.

The easiest way to understand would be to use the only other media plagued by mildly informed critics moaning about the ‘sequel’ problem, as an example. And to be fair, they have a good point. This Summer’s line-up of sequel’s instil terror and loathing into every film fan’s (which I am, by the way) heart. Return of Superman, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, Die Hard 4…..blah, blah, blah. But here is the crucial point. The difference between the cinema industry and the games industry. The reason why film sequels are deplorable, and games sequels are often encouraging. Now, think back five years. There’s one factor that links all films sequels. That is….they’re absolutely terrible. There’s no rule that says sequels must be only worthy to scrape excrement from my tired and loose bowels. It’s just a coincidence. We have learnt to be wary, because we have been disappointed so many times.

But when it comes to games, why do some people have a vendetta against games that have continued to improve, albeit improving on a previous game? It’s not like the games are repeating exactly what has come before. Each one makes a valiant effort to improve, to continue upward on the ladder of gaming. A good game is still a good game. Originality is a good thing, but not the only thing. Originality for the sake of originality is totally pointless, and almost certainly won’t re-salt in a very pleasurable gaming experience. Or, in other words, it just won’t be fun. And that’s why I play games, for fun. Whether it’s the fun of Colin McRae and its adrenaline-fuelled high, or the fun of Baldur’s Gate or Deus Ex and their complex involving plots, or even the fun of having my mind excruciatingly twisted by the angry falling blocks of Mr. Driller.

Really, I don’t care what you think the most important aspect of a game is. Originality, graphics, it’s all fair enough. But when you hypocritically scorn other people’s views. Then, I get angry. And insult your mother, ho!