One of the most exciting things I’ve seen in gaming is the shift from developer to consumer. While games are products that consumers purchase for sources of entertainment. The games have become only a piece of entertainment. Now the development, media content, rumors, and forum wars serve as the remaining pieces to the entertainment puzzle. But have we ever stopped to ask if that is worth the price we pay?
One of my favorite movies is Willy Wonka. At the beginning of the film, Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe are up late at night talking about the chocolate factory and the rumors of how the candy was made. It was mysterious and dangerous at the same time. No one knew how the candy was made, but it was enjoyed by all. The games industry used to be that way – games came out, and you enjoyed them, but you never really knew how they were made.
In those days we were just passive consumers in a growing industry. We had our opinions of games, but we enjoyed them a sense of wonder and appreciation. Game developers where the Willie Wonka(s) and their studios the chocolate factory. The most we had were rumors, and games media, for the most part, worked at the mercy of the companies. You only got what was given out, unless you knew a way to get the information out there. I like to believe that developers, even with the issues in the workplace, had room to experiment. They were shielded from us, as we were shielded from them.
Of course, Charlie eventually finds out that while some of the rumors of the factory were true, there were also some ugly truths as well. With the internet, influencer culture and our growing sense of entitlement, we have raided the factories and demanded to work there. We are the ugly children who accompanied Charlie into the factory. We now spend time our time to observe and even forcing our way into the development process. We’ve invaded games media like some warped Veruca Salt demanding everything now.
And what has that gotten us? Massive games that no one will ever finish that costs more than what we’re actually willing to pay for. Every game has to be an everlasting gobstopper. What’s interesting about the state of gaming is how we cater to the consumer at a level that is unhealthy for everyone. If games are art, I should have no say in how you create your masterpiece. Now I can speak with my wallet and not buy a game if I don’t like it, but if you want to make that next great platformer, you should feel free to do so. Because that great game you were making could spawn something, no one was expecting. Yet we don’t do that. Game publishers feed us like Augustus at the chocolate stream. “Oh, you like battle royal games? Here’s 100 of them!”
We cater to consumers because we are scared of the backlash. The industry moves like Wille Wonka if he was scared of the kids. Instead of kicking us the hell out, they kowtow to our every need, even when our demands are actually unhealthy for us. Look, I’m happy to play Red Dead, but I’m also a whole adult. I’m probably not going to finish that game. It’s too much. Hell, I think we all think it’s too much. But they make the games that big because they’re scared what would happen if they didn’t. And if someone in media or streaming doesn’t agree with us? We take them to the rack as well.
As guess what I’m saying is this. It’s time for us to get the hell out the factory for all of our sakes. Because we aren’t the music makers, and our dreams are solely turning into nightmares.