Abyssal Pixels: Has Gaming Reached A Limit?
In the olden days of NES and 8-bit graphics there was always room for improvement. Graphics could be better, different gameplay mechanics could be used and new ideas were always abundant. As gaming grew, it evolved along with it giving us various genres and gameplay mechanics that covered almost all bases. But have we reached a limit to what can be done? It’s certainly a strange question to ask because we have grown so used to having innovative games and new ideas thrown into our direction. Recently I have observed that we don’t really have any new ideas, just rehashed formulas and things that are done slightly different.
Again, in the olden days a genre such as FPS blew everyone away when it first got introduced. This was something new and paved the way for many other games to get developed using the same idea. What we see today is almost an oversaturation of this with hundreds upon hundreds of FPS games releasing with various degrees of quality. The majority of these games fail to be anything special and just stick to an already established pattern while playing it ridiculously safe with its gameplay. There’s no variation or break from the formula to be found. Some games do flirt with the idea with new mechanics that change things up a bit, but in the end it’s just the same old song an dance.
This doesn’t only apply to the FPS genre, but every other genre out there. When’s the last time you saw something completely new that hasn’t been done before? A game that released that introduced its very own unique genre? There might be one or two that I don’t know about, but those might be fringe games that have hardly done well. This is the point I’m trying to make: we have sort of reached the limit to what we can do with games. Graphics can’t really be improved by that much anymore because we already have amazing looking games. Every new idea or innovative gameplay mechanic has already been thought up. What do we do now?
The answer is simple, really. Use what we already have and make the best of it. A good example I can give that pulls this off well is BioShock Infinite. Nothing about the game is “new” or hasn’t been done before and the graphics are only slightly above average, but what the game has done has given us an extremely good story and a world we just want to get lost in. It used the tools it had and made a masterpiece with them. It used established ideas and merged them into something that will be memorable for years to come. That’s what games need to do in the future.
These concerns I have about the limits of gaming have been put into my head with the recent next-gen console announcements where I couldn’t really see anything new waiting for us anymore as opposed to this generation where so many new ideas got introduced and then subsequently ripped off by a slew of other games. These days we only ever see sequels such as last year when every noticeable game that we played ended with the number 3. Ideas have run dry and developers have stuck with what they already knew and only differentiated a tiny bit. There’s also a trend these days to reboot older games rather than come up with unique IP’s that can give us some new experiences.
The gaming industry is in a weird place where every idea has already been done a hundred times over and it’s really difficult to truly be innovative without sacrificing an entire game. But as BioShock Infinite has demonstrated, we don’t need innovation as much when the already established methods are used to mould a completely unique game that can’t be compared to anything.
Let hope we see some great games in the future, even if they only use old ideas and make them their own.