Not All Developers Are Into Progress
I believe we've hit a certain point in this industry where top-tier developers are starting to split into two groups.
Now, if you read a lot of interviews and know the stances many big-name designers take in regards to gaming's current position and future, you know what I'm talking about. On the one hand, there are designers who wholeheartedly wish to leave the stereotypes and old-fashioned standards behind, while the other side consists of the "old guard," so to speak. I don't necessarily mean developers who have been in games for a long time; I'm talking about those who might almost side with Roger Ebert's "games aren't art" claim (which he recanted, if you weren't already aware). They are typically of the "this is supposed to be fun" school. It's the school that doesn't necessarily believe in artistic progression.
In other words, while we have guys like David Cage and Quantic Dream, who repeatedly say gaming absolutely needs to evolve, that we must continue to push into unknown realms of interaction, we also have other guys...who just think we're all taking ourselves too seriously. Some really don't think gaming can be a viable storytelling medium, that video games are, and should remain, "video games," if you get the meaning. Thing is, these game makers remain focused the traditional style of virtual interaction. They want to make the experience better, of course (all good developers do), but "progress" doesn't necessarily mean better writing, in-depth character development, and the inclusion of history, philosophy, or other sciences. No, those should stay in the book and movie venues.
Both sides have a point. But is either side more right than the other? What is the next step beyond something like Heavy Rain? Where are we headed? What if our gaming experiences change so drastically, they don't seem to retain any semblance of the old days? Or has it already happened, and that's exactly why the old guard hangs on and produces certain products... It's an interesting question, I think.
12/3/2010 Ben Dutka