An Artistic Gaming Renaissance
Perhaps it's inaccurate and even somewhat presumptuous to call this a "Renaissance," but to ignore the rise of artistic-oriented video games would be a grave disservice to an industry that has been accused of rehashing and recycling.
While the uninitiated and anti-game activists will still maintain and nurture the archaic stereotype that all video games consist of either "jumping on" or "killing" things, the avid gamer knows better. While the naysayers want to say all the popular, mainstream titles are sequels and IPs always flounder in the face of such blockbusters, the discerning eye is aware of the truth. It's certainly true that the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Halo will always rule the sales charts, and it would be naive to believe that Heavy Rain will be able to match or surpass the accumulated sales of Resident Evil 5 (now over 5 million, I believe). But is that stopping innovative developers who constantly think outside the box? Is that stopping games like flOw, echochrome, Flower and even lesser-known games like Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battlecars from existing? No. In fact, what we're seeing now is awfully impressive.
Not only is the PlayStation Network currently home to a myriad of creative and original productions, but we can also expect more in Blu-Ray form. We just heard that Afrika is on tap for a North American release, and there has been a whole lot of buzz concerning Project Trico. Then you have Heavy Rain, which has been getting a lot press lately and is on many a PS3 owner's "most anticipated" list for 2009. Quantic Dream, who delivered the atmospheric Indigo Prophecy with a huge emphasis on storyline and character development, is ready to take the next step in interactive storytelling. And yeah, we can't wait. These are only a few examples but the video game world these days...well, it extends well beyond the realm of snazzier visuals and enhanced AI. It's more about breaking through boundaries and embracing new - and even radical - ideas.
Granted, not all unique ideas pan out. In fact, there are many instances in the recent past where original games have fallen flat due to poor implementation, but that's a risk developers seem to be willing to take. The reason? Well, we have to assume that you, the savvy and demanding consumers, are rewarding the risk-takers when they succeed, which has resulted in what could very well be an "artistic renaissance" in the video game universe. So because of that, I say kudos to you. The blockbuster sequels and franchises will always rake in huge numbers but thankfully, there is a place for art to reach new heights in this industry, and it's for this reason I'm extremely excited. :)
5/26/2009 Ben Dutka