Thursday, June 25, 2015

Video Game Industry: Getting Off Track

I have been wanting to comment again on the status of the game writer on this blog. I have been waiting for the right time to talk about something like this because as an aspiring game writer myself, I want to know what's going on in the industry that I want to become a part of in the future. I want to know what changes are being made in the Video Game Industry and I want to know how exactly these changes are affecting the status of your everyday game writer.

With this said, I will pinpoint the article that is in the link above. This article basically digs into the belief that the Video Game Industry is failing its fans by taking economic shortcuts in order to make maximum profits off their new game releases. Multiplayer Modes are cited as being one reason for the sudden downturn in quality of these recent game releases. Downloadable Content, or DLC, (we meet again, my friend...) was mentioned as another guilty contributor.

The funny thing about finding this article was that I found it by accident on Facebook. I wasn't really searching long and hard for an article like this one. It just popped up in my Facebook read and I conveniently read it. It got enough of my attention to post it on this blog.

This article caught my attention because it specifically addressed a part of the game development team that concerns me. According to this article, game writers are being threatened to be removed from the game development process altogether because of the alternative methods that make up the experiences of these newly released games. Writers are basically being labeled as unnecessary in a game development process if that process only involves multiplayer content being made.

As you can expect, this is where writers like me have a big problem with this line of thinking.

From the developers' point of view, game development in one sense hinges on how much of an investment the development team can make in a game. To the developers, it depends on what they are aiming for. It depends on how much risk they are willing to take on with the various elements that can come in a single game. The core of this line of thinking lies in the fact that AAA games are, for the most part, expensive to make, and if that AAA game flops like a fish out of water, then the game development company loses money.

"Make sure you write it that way... but not that way!"

It's easy to see why some developers would be so hesitant to include certain features in their games. There is precedent for not being too hasty and thinking about which elements make the most sense for your game. There is nothing wrong with doing your homework first and then presenting your finished work to the masses. In fact, I would prefer it that game companies handle game projects this way.

However, you also need to keep in mind what the majority of gaming audiences want, and at this point in time, many game companies are failing to deliver on this end. This article also states that many gamers are still emotionally invested in wanting to play through a single player Story or Campaign Mode where there are some narratives to observe.

As a writer, I shouldn't have to hear that a game company is so hesitant to include a single player mode that has even the minimum amount of dialogue via game scripts that they will do anything and everything to avoid having that mode altogether.

Newsflash to some game companies out there who disregard the art of writing: You can only get by for so long with your niche content that lacks depth.

Game development companies that intentionally and maliciously shun game writers and eliminate them from the development process don't deserve an ounce of respect. I make a bold statement here, but I will firmly stand by it.

In some cases where it really can't be helped and companies have no choice but to avoid game writing in the development process, depending on the content of the game, I will not fault those companies. If you get backed into a corner, then I will understand. However, if you freely have that option and that luxury of including narratives, scripts and general dialogue in a game that, by all intents and purposes, could benefit from having, and then NOT lift a single finger in allowing writers to work, then you have committed a game development crime in my book.

I believe there should be at least a 75% chance of including game writers in the game development process to work on something, no matter how complex or how trivial it is. I also believe there should be a 75% chance of allowing writers to have some sort of input in the elements that will go into a game. This depends on if the writers have other roles that they take care of. There should only be a 10% chance of game writers being excluded from the game development process on reasonable grounds.

Plus, consider that there will be a 90% chance of gamers being upset if you are making a game that has a past history of including single player mode narratives and story lines, and then upon the release of the new game, the gamers find out that it will only be a multiplayer game.

Thanks for the math lesson, Scott Steiner.

Confused yet? Dudes like pro wrestler Scott Steiner wouldn't be confused.

Let's cut to the chase of this matter. Gamers still appreciate the value of a well written story in their favorite games. Gamers still look forward to seeing some form of narrative that builds their favorite game worlds. Many gamers are also fans of watching movies and TV shows, and clearly there is a connection. Gamers don't ask for a full-blown cinematic experience when they engage in a game's Story Mode. They just want something to tide them over. They want an experience that can entertain them, and that's the main point. Game developers don't need to super inflate their budgets in order to capture such a feeling with the game writing. They just need to give game writers the space they need to help express the overall vision of the game as it was intended to be shown by the developers. Multiplayer and DLC can't be relied on in this sense because they don't dig deep into the game world to tell stories about it, at least in most cases.

In summary, game writers do belong in the Video Game Industry, and it's laughable for companies to change the business narrative in an attempt to get rid of game writers altogether. So writers are an uncontrollable part of the game development process, you say? Need more control? Need to copy and paste multiplayer and DLC methods just to economically get by? Go down that route and you will wind up with egg on your face at some point, and a bunch of disappointed gamers. The Video Game Industry should be about promoting creativity, so get creative and start figuring out how to put game writers in positions to succeed instead of just ignoring them.

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