Musings Of A Mad Hatter: Innovation For What?
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, my little corner hole of the internet. You see, I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. Throughout my entire gaming career I’ve possibly played thousands of games. Some were shit, some were great and some made me proud to choose this wonderful hobby. You’re probably thinking: Jebus Carrots stop talking about yourself and get on with the damn column. You’re rather cruel if you think that, but okay I get your point. Let’s tackle this thing out there called “innovation”.
Quickly, think of at least five games that were truly innovating. Time’s up. Nobody said it had to be fair. My point is that modern games nowadays can’t really be innovating even if they tried. Think about it. The games we have today are basically things that are ripping off the games of old just with a better coat of paint and some new things. So why is every body crying for innovation? Because they’re bored? Because they have nothing better to do? Because they want something different? That last point made the most sense.
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We, as gamers, want something different every time we play a game and that’s reasonable I believe, but where is the hypothetical line? Imagine a scenario with me. A restaurant that just opened promises that every meal will be different every day. That means that the entire menu has to be changed every morning just to have something different available throughout the day. How long do you think the restaurant will last before it runs out of ideas? I’m guessing not that long because come on, you only get a few varieties of a hamburger. The point of the scenario is that no matter how hard you try to be different that you would almost always run out of ideas.
But innovation can happen in less frequent bursts. You can rather change your menu every 6 months to keep things fresh and you’ll survive just fine. How does this all relate to games? I’ll tell you how. Gamers always hammer on about innovation. They almost demand it from every game that gets released and that’s next to impossible to achieve. Not every game company has the creative resources to pull off miracles with every game they release and that’s okay. A game can still be fun even if it’s doing things that have been done before. Just look at Sleeping Dogs. The concept of open-world crime games has been done to exhaustion, but Sleeping Dogs managed to be amazingly fun and it hardly did anything different. All it did was give us an interesting location and some new characters. And that’s fine.
I’m not saying that innovation should be forgotten completely. I recently finished Black Ops II (On Veteran first time) and I was pleasantly surprised at how it did things differently to the other titles in the franchise. A breath of fresh air if you will. That’s the type of innovation that I want. Not something that changes the entire game’s mechanics, but rather something different to the norm. The same can be said for genres that are tired and burned out. All you need is something a bit different and a breath of fresh air. You don’t need to rewrite The Da Vinci Code upside down while holding a hamster in Satan’s bathroom. Just do something different and cool and I’ll be happy.
If you expect every game you play to be innovating then you’re basically ruining it for yourself. You’re taking all the fun out of games by expecting the impossible and making yourself jaded and miserable in the process. If a game is innovating then that’s awesome, but if it’s not then try and enjoy it as much as possible.