In this present time, this particular year 2015, I’m taking the time to number how many genres of videogames are. The task is rather easy; I just look out Steam tags and… I’m screwed. Apparently there are thousands. Steam handles the regular ones: FPS, TPS, RTS, RPG, MMO and MMORPG. You know. But now you have “Survival Horror”, genre popularized by hits like ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Silent Hill’. And Indie Platformers with puzzles like ‘Fez’ or ‘Braid’ or a personal favorite ‘Canyon Capers’ (yummmm). Is Indie a ‘genre’ on its own? Why the procedure of development or finance becomes a genre itself?
It doesn’t. As before, we must take a look to the film industry and its relationship with the gaming industry.
There lies innovation
Hollywood delivered a way of producing movies for the sole purpose of selling tickets. The big producing companies meddle with the creation of the film and that involves even changing the finale if the pre-screenings weren’t of the like of the general audience. Actors, directors, everything can change if that means that a movie will get top box-office. That’s why the ending of ‘Blade Runner’ got an awful voiceover that completely ruins the climax. Because some producer thought that Ridley Scott directed a movie that was far too complex. And that one is just a single example. So, directors and writers that want to engage in darker tones or simply different tones, just resign the big money and finance themselves or via small producing companies that aren’t afraid of the risk. Sometimes it works, others it doesn’t. When it works, it’s groundbreaking. When it doesn’t, it’s just another movie. The downside is scarce. The money spent is not that much, so the disgust for the failure is just because your art wasn’t enjoyed by those the movie was heading for to. Now, when a huge Hollywood tank fails… careers end, people lose their jobs and becomes the joke of the month, and even the industry itself might collapse (check ‘The Heaven’s Gate’).
Gaming industry doesn’t work precisely that way but patterns repeat. Indie developers are –at the most- programmers and designers who didn’t get to the important companies or abandoned them after the disilussion. Large companies like EA, Activision, and Ubisoft work on tight schedules and people who gets in the game industry are there for the fun (mostly). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying developers are lazy bums. I’m saying that creativity does not work by the clock, and Indie Gaming World is much more open-minded and cohesive that huge studios that work like any other company.
Again, when a huge company delivers an excellent game, this one makes billions. That is the upside. Rockstar is one of those gaming corporations that takes their time to develop a videogame. And it shows. Every GTA is a milestone. On the other side, Activision and his Call of Duty saga is way over his bedtime. Every year, a new installment hits the shelves and its like is the same game over and over. Graphics are improved. Sound effects sound extremely real. Voice acting, gameplay. Everything is superb. But it’s just the same than every time before. Oh, and they focus in multiplayer, so spending 70 US$ in the single player campaign is like hitting your balls with a jackhammer and enjoy in it. Because, not everyone in the world owns a good internet connection, so you are giving away a lot of cash for basically a game you played before (a number of times) for a couple of hours of fun and a lot of hours of lag.
The future of gaming industry is very much in hands of indie developers with time, brains, ingenuity and skill to perform and develop games that dazzle our senses and our nerve cells. Indie it is just a genre? I don’t think so. Indie is a WAY to CREATE detached of every need of the industry that tends to devour anything that resembles originality on their way to selling. There is nothing wrong in success. But what about success based on quality? On evolution?
There are lots of games out there. I dare to say millions. They don’t have the structure nor the finance of the tanks. Neither a bike… still a mechanical wonder.