Why Games Today Suck

It is a very common thing nowadays to go to an online forum and see a topic with the same name as this rant. It is impossible to stay for any time in a developer community of any type or size without hearing this argument, and not just by a minority, but by quite a number of people. Itís commonly dismissed as disgruntled nostalgiacs, trolls, or the like. However, this is a denial of the truth more than any sort of logical conclusion. Its not just nostalgia, you can go back and play a game from the past, and often times, it IS more fun. It canít be trolls because the topics arenít flammatory, and itís a discussion rather than a flame fest or the like.

So if games suck today, why? What has changed over time to make these items that are supposed to be fun and entertaining just lacking? The answer is pretty simple. Business. Commercialization. I donít know when it happened, but at a certain point game creating became a business, and the spirit and passion was ripped out. This happened for two reasons, one is team size. The amount of people required to make the game technology of today is so large that teams can never really reach any sort of creative harmony, and instead have to function like a business. This really restricts the artistic flow and limits what is possible from the team. The second reason is because of commercialization. Since games are more expensive to make, publishers are less willing to take risks. Thus now games are made for making money, rather than for the sake of making said game. This makes each game decision based around money and commerce rather than the artistic-ness or flat-out enjoy-ability of the game. So while games still have to be fun so that they will sell, they donít have to be anything else. They donít have to be engaging, memorable, creative, inspiring, or any of those things that truly add to the value of something. Thus they suck.

Games as a business is a truly horrible idea. When game making consists of design and construction instead of inspiration and creation, you get the current market of games. Mostly fun, but nothing more. Every once in a while a game has something that gives it that extra "sweet" or whatever, but for the most part every game tries to maximize on fun and sell-ability, rather than giving the game the passion it deserves. Itís cheaper and easier to do this than to create a truly inspired piece of work. The large team size also makes it next to impossible for any type of artistic harmony. The number of people is simply too large, and thus each part of the game is developed from a business point of view, thus losing any type of dynamic-ness that could really help make the game. Art is a process that requires flow and a lack of limits. The team size and stick-in-the-mud developers completely destroy this. An idea canít possibly be understood and run with by such a large number of people, and if something truly creative comes out of it, its most likely going to be shot down by the publishers who donít want to risk anything.

So how are games going to stop sucking? One thing that will aid in this process is simply time. Once game technology slows down some, developers will be able to grasp what's at hand, and the better they understand the tools and what can be done with them, the better game can be made with them. This goes for both the technology and the concept behind games. Both are still being learned by even the best. Another thing that will largely help this process is a change in the structure of the team. Technology should be bent towards usability and ease, as well as reducing the grunt work. For example, more intuitive modelers, procedural animation, and voice to animation technologies reduce the amount of human work and human positions required to create a given model. With flexible and capable programs, what now takes fifteen people could feasibly take one. This reduction in time size would aid to going back to a more artistically flowing process as well as more design harmony. It would also reduce costs greatly, as the salary of one person is much cheaper than that of fifteen. Also it would cut down development times and thus save money that way as well.

In conclusion, games suck because of publishers and all the negatives derived from large team sizes. Time, better tools, and better competency with game tools and game design have the potential of making games not suck anymore, but the industry must move in the correct direction, rather than just keep going the course it is in.