Homogeneity in Game Development

18 01 2008

Girl in grass

Grassroots Gamesmaster is an anonymous game dev blog by a designer. A recent post takes a provocative stance on individuality and creativity at games companies:

I got an idea. How about trying to make the game industry less like a bureaucracy and more like an entertainment industry? One of the first things to do is stop being afraid that a person might not be a cog in your machine – looking, walking, talking and thinking like everyone else – and start being willing to look at their quality as a potential creator and take some chances on the unusual.

You want to know why all games look, smell, act, feel the same? Partly its because of the cult-like nature of game companies – with their focus on homogenized sameness.

It matches what we hear aobut some companies though. It also follows on nicely from some points made in an earlier post:

The first thing I do is take the “defined IP” and throw it in the garbage. It is bass-ackwards for the money man to start with the concept and then hire the people to fit the concept. That’s like top-down command – the generals in their pyjamas and slippers in the chateaus, separated from reality, while the grunts are in the trenches on the frontlines. The best you’ll get is mediocre shit that only knows how to play the game of game dev. (Hey, Thomas Edison, I want to hire you to be the inventor. What’s that, you wanna make some thing called a “light bulb”. Who the hell wants that? Put it away because I’ve already got some defined IP here.)

A little more:

I know you have dreams tucked away in your little designers notebooks there. Dreams you sneak around in the dark with, and hope one day to get made. Dreams you know will absolutely rule, that you are saving for that day, years from now, when you think you might somehow get the energy and contacts to finally *finally* make a game company to go into production (the rigmarole of making a company being a process we both know is an incredibly inefficient hazing ritual designed by the cynical overly analytical types that crush the life out of gamedev – which is precisely why filmmakers don’t waste a lot of time managing companies

CC licensed image from Bill Liao’s Flickr stream.

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