The Z-axis; the third dimension; a new depth. Video games changed by an immeasurable degree simply by adding a new direction to travel. Super Mario 64 was, for myself and many others, a mind blowing experience. Moving the plumber around in all directions in a virtual world that felt real and familiar was like seeing the future right there in front of my eyes. From the first time I climbed a tree in the seemingly tangible world I knew that there would be some really amazing stuff produced in the video game industry during my lifetime.
Video games have come a great distance since the N64. Assassin’s Creed shows us how games can have infinitely impressive environmental interactivity (even if the game play is somewhat repetitive). Bioshock gave us a look at the future of story telling in games. But even as we stand on the edge of what technology will allow us to do we sit idly by watching the critical arena digress into ridiculousness.
From the astounding number of spelling errors on the sites of the biggest names in the review/preview industry to the questionable release of a very prominent editor on what was considered a very trustworthy site, things are looking bad.
Fortunately there are some folks out there that are sick of this and New Gaming Journalism is starting to gain traction. Though the circles are smaller and the sites harder to find, there is a sub-group of smart gamers that are involved in elevating video games. Within the next few generations we will see some major changes in how games are made and who they are made for. Expect to see more middleware, expect smaller-on-average development budgets, expect digital-only-distro games, and expect many more niche titles.
Happily, this possible future is much brighter than our present situation. Review sites will have to be pared down or compartmentalized in order to relate to the tastes of gamers across a wider spectrum. No longer would the journalism juggernauts be able to operate like they have been. Gamers will search different spaces and outlets to find a voice that really speaks to them.
With intelligent gamers making their voices heard, we can make sure that games are made for our niche. We will see true Literature Games. Games with emotional and intellectual depth, and stories that drive the player to progress as much as the game-play does will start to see distribution. But don’t just sit by and watch this happen; find your niche and get involved or create a community if it isn’t already there. The bottom line: get involved and give your niche some extra volume.