: Do Gamers Really Want Originality?

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Do Gamers Really Want Originality?

All I ever see are people complaining about how a game isn't original or unique or innovative or progressive.

It's a common topic of argument and discussion, and I've seen critics suffer from this, "if it isn't original in some way, it just can't get a high score" philosophy. But in truth, do we really want originality? Do we really want something we've never seen or tried before?

While it's certainly true that without innovation of some kind, without developers taking chances, we get nothing but stagnation. But it's only human nature to be drawn to the familiar and be initially skeptical of the unfamiliar. Furthermore, when it comes to video games, and the rising trend of "I don't want to pay for anything," consumers really have to be convinced to make a purchase, right? And how convinced can they really be if they've got nothing but questions?

I think the bottom line is that while we all say we want originality, what we're actually saying is that we want something new, but not too new. We want to see a new mechanic here and there, we want to see a different approach to conquering an admittedly familiar obstacle, and we want perhaps a new level of immersion via better storytelling and cinematography. I believe that's true. That being said, it's amazing how fast we dismiss brave attempts that fall short.

Unfortunately, if a designer takes a chance and falls well shy of his insightful goal, that designer is in big trouble because we're just not going to buy the product. It could be the most innovative thing ever but if it's part broken, we don't care. And obviously, we shouldn't reward inferior products...but at the same time, aren't we sort of contradicting ourselves? Aren't we only saying, "I want something new but that becomes completely irrelevant if the game is mediocre?" Further, if it's too big of a departure from the past three decades of gaming, would we even recognize it as a "video game?"

There's a lot of caveats to "I want more originality!" I think we need to admit that. The most unique games almost never top the sales charts, regardless of critical acclaim. They can do well, no doubt, but there's no chance of competing with the heavy hitters...which are, last I checked, all quite familiar.

8/10/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (18 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 9:57:32 PM
Reply

When it comes to originality I think of stuff like Bioshock, which was just fantasticness all over, but really just a proper re-ordering of classic gameplay elements in an original setting.

What bugs me the most are franchises that don't do enough new from game to game.

I'm one of the few that often plays mediocre games for the original stuff in them. Hunted, Two Worlds II, Dark Void, WET, I like that they try new stuff and it's sad that games like COD are just expansions that go for full price.

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Dancemachine55
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 10:22:47 PM
Reply

In handhelds like Vita and 3DS, yes, yes we very much DO want originality.

Look at the crazy unique games on iPhone and Android! 3DS has Mario and people want PS3 sequels, prequels or spinoffs on Vita!

Many games mash up genres, like Dishonored, or Borderlands these days. The Indie space is where I turn to for originality.

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SmokeyPSD
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 10:46:00 PM
Reply

There's the bottom line of how much a game makes and the attention I give to games, both very different things, I only give attention to unique, well produced and thoughtful games.

While it would be nice if Catherine made more or Journey and outsold COD. I can't make other people go out and buy it, I just can't. I can only enjoy it on my terms.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 11:09:18 PM

Catherine has been the best original experience for me this gen. When I have time I want to play again and flip my decisions to see what else might happen. Like a crazy Japanese anime Heavy Rain puzzler drama.

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xnonsuchx
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 11:14:03 PM
Reply

Gamers want FUN...most everything else is a nicety/bonus.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 12:07:41 AM

"Fun" is highly subjective. I find classic literature "fun." Most can't even read a menu (or so it seems).

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 12:46:13 AM

I classify fun and enjoyment differently. Lollipop Chainsaw is fun, Heavy Rain is enjoyable. I mean I can't say it was "fun" to watch a strong character self-destruct but at the end of the day I enjoyed the hell out of the experience.

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___________
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 5:43:04 AM

fun is not subjective, what you enjoy is.
fun is letting your hair down and letting people do whatever the hell they want!
exactly why just cause 2 is one of the best games this gen!
nothing does fun better!

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xnonsuchx
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 7:17:54 PM

That's what I'm saying...as long as a player finds a game fun (I'm not trying to define what "fun" is), they can more easily overlook things like originality and other production aspects.

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PharaohJR
Friday, August 10, 2012 @ 11:36:22 PM
Reply

dont mind originality... for me its more quality.

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kraygen
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 1:43:54 AM
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I like original stories, worlds, characters. As far as gameplay, it's getting harder and harder to come up with something different or original, but I'm all for it as long as it's well done and implemented correctly.

I don't however enjoy something just because it's never been done before.

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Beamboom
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 1:53:30 AM
Reply

If we count occurrences, isn't it far more common that we express how we want things to remain the same, than to say we want progression and innovation?

Think about it: We want old gameplay mechanics back, we want jrpgs to be how they used to be, we don't like the latest changes of <insert nearly *any* franchise here>, we hand out bucketload of cred to anything "oldschool", we don't like new online features, we don't want a new console, we don't like any new gaming platforms, we definitely don't like any new social platforms, we strongly dislike any new payment models, we hate new distribution models, when a new handheld is released the first question we ask is if it can play PS1 classics, whenever an old game is re-released we scream in joy for the possibility to purchase them *again* and if a new game looks like something that could have been released ten years ago we faint in sheer ecstasy! :D

I mean, look at us... We don't exactly encourage creativity and innovation, do we? lol :)


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/11/2012 2:29:37 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 3:40:02 AM
Reply

It all depends, some games I do some games I don't. RPG's for example seem to have been pushing 'originality' over most of the fans patients this gen. As I have said before though I enjoyed XIII's battle system, but I do miss turn based combat. Then you get the Horror genre, which has essentially turned into the action genre - they play the same as Uncharted just with less platforming and darker environment and more gore.

Then you get games like Catherine, which has took the puzzle genre and gave it a real twist, a long with character - which I thought would have been impossible. But just looking at my PS3 titles, has there been many original titles this gen? Most of mine just take simple formulas of fighting games and action games (Not as many platformers or RPG's as I'd like.) I know there are a lot of indie games yes, but I didn't buy a PS3 to play mobile phone games - I know there are a few exceptions like Limbo and Journey, but most of them just seem awful.

It seems if anything this gen the word innovate comes along when ever they spring on a new control method, however most games made for these systems are two tied down by the requirements of the controller - most of Kinects games being on rails for example.

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dmiitrie
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 4:45:32 AM
Reply

Yes and no. I don't want to simply play an updated version of an older game, even one I love (with rare exceptions). However, I do want the core gameplay to remain very similar.

To use a couple of familiar examples, Im definitely in the large group here that wants a new Final Fantasy that returns to a traditional turn-based mechanic. Likewise, when Dragon Age III comes out, I want it very much to go back to the mechanics used in Origins (which is fairly close to what Bioware games have been for a long time) rather than the more 'original' ones used in DAII.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 5:27:49 AM

Another yes & no.

I want the games I know & have played to remain, but I also want to see new & innovative games too.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I want everything.

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___________
Saturday, August 11, 2012 @ 5:45:14 AM
Reply

of course they do!
people get sick of the same old thing over and over again!
why were so many people complaining that ACB and ACR are exactly the same game?
it gets boring playing the same thing over and over again, no how much you enjoy something you want and need change!

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Rogueagent01
Sunday, August 12, 2012 @ 5:20:02 AM
Reply

Anything fresh, new, and innovative should just understand that you aren't going to become a phenom overnight. That is one reason I wish more companies would use the downloadable market to test the waters before commiting to something brand new. Why put 30 million into a game if you have no idea whether gamers want it or not? Test the market with a smaller downloadable version first and see how it is recieved, then that should/would dictate how much you can invest in the larger disc-based version. Not only that but it gives you a chance to work out the bugs which have become a nightmare this gen. But a lot of the companies don't care because they can simply patch when they get around to it, and then later complain that consumers didn't go crazy for our game so we won't do another.

Originality and innovation are great and they are rewarded just look at the world. If they weren't we would still be living with tech from the 17/18 century (essentially a steampunk reality), but luckily that is not the case. Games just have to remember that if your going to be creative release those games around the summer so that you have a better chance of making money. If you get creative and release in spring/fall, well then your just not that good at business and you're most likely going to fail with that particular title.

The difference with rewards though is it doesn't necessarily mean you are going to become rich from it. Painters over the last several centuries have learned this more than anybody. Valkyria Chronicles is my example of being rewarded both from gamers and critics alike however their pocket books aren't exactly activisions now are they?

Last edited by Rogueagent01 on 8/12/2012 5:26:02 AM

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ethird1
Sunday, August 12, 2012 @ 6:48:36 AM
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An old wise gamer once told me .... Sometimes original games suck.

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