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Where is the richest place on earth?
Financial analysts would say Qatar or Luxembourg, but if you think about it, it is actually...the graveyard.
"because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered..."
I would like to add...and the videogames that were never created.
Nostalgia is an integral cornerstone of this medium; we have a rich history of games that have had a profound effect on us. They continue to inspire developers to create games out of love, as retrospective tributes.
In the AAA space history is often repeated; studios refine their craft by polishing decades of genre templates. Critics bemoan the amount of sequels and annual updates developed, but at the same time; the value these bring to their audiences should not be underestimated.
Michael Samyn (Tale of Tales) once encapsulated the situation perfectly;
"Just imagine AAA budgets for videogame productions that are not about playing with guns or dolls! Mind-boggling! Revolutionary! I don’t understand why the videogame industry does not see the massive potential of such a venture."
I feel it is pointless comparing AAA blockbusters to experimental indie games, but Michael's quote makes it obvious where most of the unique content comes from. Rather than pigeonhole games however, we could simply ask; am I playing in my memories or in my imagination?
Games that trigger memories are reflective experiences; you are comfortable with them; you understand them because you have played them before.
Games that fire imagination can initially make you uneasy. They might require alternative ways of thinking or interacting. You often fumble through them because new things pull us out of our comfort zone. Of course; to understand if a game is based on memory or imagination you need knowledge, knowledge of what already exists (any game could look imaginative if you had never played one before).
For some reason we have this infatuation of labeling things, to confirm if something is a 'game' or not. This doesn't apply to other media (do you question if a book is a book?). In the early 80’s there was no precedent of what the mainstream was, bedroom coders messing around was the mainstream. It was only later when; entrepreneurs made licensing deals for brands and when consoles became dominant (Sega or Nintendo had to approve both your game concept and it's quality) that genre templates started to emerge. Anyone beginning in this era will have a very different perception of what a game is unless you remained open-minded and sought different experiences.
Arguing that Dear Esther is not a game because it doesn't have a jump button or you cannot shoot things is pointless. You are living in your memories; comparing it to first person shooter templates. If you approached it with curiosity however; then you start to imagine the possibilities for first person experiences. Instead, people cling to the term; 'videogame' which has no in-depth meaning, its origins stem from a convenient phrase that happened to stick (I was fortunate to confirm this with Nolan Bushnell). So ultimately we base our perceptions of games on well-established genre templates and/or our knowledge of them.
So why am I talking about this?
Well, imagine the opening quote was mourning certain types of ideas; original, and innovative ideas. If people took those to the grave with them, would they be missed?
Could videogames advance just by retreading the well-worn path, or is it imperative that unexplored paths are forged with new types of games?
The types of games that stop you in your tracks, that resonated mentally or emotionally in a way others haven't or couldn’t.
The computer was only invented 70 years ago, the Internet traced back to over 50. Videogames are only 60 years old! We once looked to the sky and imagined planes and rockets, we also imagined boats and submarines so we could explore the oceans. It is incredible to think that a medium based in interactive ideas has to follow a template.
There is so much opportunity that has not been explored; unique ideas within every person that might not ever see the light of day. I think the reason is found in how the opening quote actually ends; "because someone was too afraid to take that first step."
We have a resurgence of that bedroom coder metality of the 80's, with tools open to everyone. But it does not mean that people will risk exploring new ideas.
So I decided to build a company around taking risks. Our intent with Futurtechture is that every step will be new. We have resolved to only live in our imaginations and not in our memories. We aspire to create experiences that people have not had before.
Will we fail?
Yes! as outlined in my previous post.
It does not mean we stop trying, we keep moving forward.
We are not constrained by the term ‘game’ and genre templates but we are also not making some impenetrable piece of obscure art (even though they have value too).
We are making imagined spaces for people to imagine in.
We hold ourselves accountable, so we make sure we do not take our games with us to the grave.
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