Considerations and reflections on today’s games

By March 19, 2021Games
What do they give to players? Are they just meant to make money?

Hel­lo my friends!
In this blog post I would like to take the time to make a con­sid­er­a­tion on the today’s game mar­ket and design: how are they designed and what is pur­pose of most of them?

The imme­di­ate answer to this is prob­a­bly: “To make mon­ey”.
But is it real­ly just this? Or is there more?
This is ques­tion I ask myself many times as a game devel­op­er and design­er since as an answer it always seemed very flat and mean­ing­less in the end. Sure­ly this kind of dis­course can take a deep social/philosofical turn, but I think there could be sim­pler answers.

Game com­pa­nies’ goal in gen­er­al is sure­ly just to sell more copies of their game in order to sus­tain them­selves and make prof­it.

Their goal is to get big­ger and big­ger, mak­ing “big­ger games” in order to make more mon­ey to make even more big­ger games. But does it make sense in the end? Or is it just a dog chas­ing its own tail?
Com­pa­nies that have passed their size lim­it (of prof­it) tend to expand into oth­er fields since they have so much sur­plus bud­get that they don’t even know what to do with it (an exam­ple is Google expand­ing in the gam­ing mar­ket with Sta­dia).

But tak­ing the exam­ple of Google, in the case they squash all the com­pe­ti­tion in the gam­ing field with their prod­uct and ideas what’s left? Just more money?

I think it does­n’t make much sense in the long run.
Com­pe­ti­tion is some­thing that I per­son­al­ly think can also be pos­i­tive and lead com­pa­nies to give their best (but also addi­tion­al stress) as long as they don’t anni­hi­late the oppos­ing com­pa­nies.
This sure­ly can push the tech­nol­o­gy, lead­ing the mar­ket to pro­duce visu­al­ly stun­ning prod­ucts that would nev­er have seen the light otherwise.

Visu­al­ly (and audi­bly) sure­ly progress has been made, but is this the right path? Do games nowa­days are so much dif­fer­ent from the games of the past?
Per­son­al­ly I think today’s games don’t con­vey or teach some­thing real­ly mean­ing­ful and do not yet ful­ly exploit the poten­tial of the medium.

Most of triple A games tend to be lin­ear sto­ries with cutscenes get­ting clos­er and clos­er to the world of cin­e­ma with­out real­ly being able to find its own lan­guage, nor even approach­ing remote­ly to the great cin­e­mato­graph­ic mas­ter­pieces such as Ser­gio Leone or Fellini’s movies to name a few.

Prob­a­bly indie games hav­ing less costs and being able to risk more, tend to explore this medi­um much more deeply.

With this sen­tence I don’t mean to despise triple A games (I still like to play them), but I real­ly would like to see more exper­i­men­ta­tion and not just games that tend to copy each other.

These games don’t real­ly make gamers think or give them pro­found teach­ings (oth­er than thoughts on how the plot will con­tin­ue).
Small­er games like UNDERTALE tend to explore much more this con­cept, and this is also linked to the fact that the devel­op­er’s goal (toby­fox) was­n’t to make mil­lions out of the game. His main objec­tive was to cre­ate some­thing unique and some­thing nev­er seen before with a sim­ple idea:

With real moral choic­es that final­ly make the play­er think, these are prob­a­bly the games that can lead to the path of pure game design.

I think that in order to cre­ate tru­ly excep­tion­al games, devel­op­ers need to look at oth­er fields: not only Cin­e­matog­ra­phy, but even Art, Music, Pho­tog­ra­phy, Phi­los­o­phy and all aspects of life that can be stud­ied.

After all even Nin­ten­do affirms that when try­ing to search for the best game design­ers, they tend not hire gamers–12

This is because gamers tend to take inspi­ra­tion from oth­er games they played rather than from their oth­er life expe­ri­ences, and this is some­thing that we try to achieve too as a small game devel­op­ment com­pa­ny.

Even recent Nin­ten­do best­sellers such as “Super Mario Odyssey” and “The Leg­end of Zel­da: Breath of the Wild” have been laud­ed for being exam­ples of the com­pa­ny’s will­ing­ness to take risks with even its most impor­tant franchises. 

Of course there are many oth­er exam­ples to study, for exam­ple cash grabs games like Fort­nite or Can­dy Crush are designed by armies of psy­chol­o­gists in order to study the bet­ter way to keep the play­ers glued to the game.

This brings the ques­tion I made at the begin­ning of the post: even if these games made 10x more mon­ey then Breath of the Wild, does it real­ly make these games more suc­cess­ful? or do we have to con­sid­er oth­er fac­tors to mea­sure the suc­cess of a game?

here some links that I took the inspi­ra­tion by to write this blog post! I hope you liked it :)