Friday, 17 April 2015

A short history of gaming

When home computers and video games appeared in 1980's things were bit different. Most players and also developers were young male nerds. Girls didn't play games back then and gaming was certainly not a mainstream hobby it is now. Game development industry was created then from zero, when people started to realize that you could make lots of money from it.

1990's was a transition from nerd hobby to big commercial companies. Best selling games were still mainly good, because the players were still kind of nerdy and wanted different kind of games from variety of genres. The reasons why some games sucked were different in 90's than before, because in hope of getting rich quick companies started to pay attention to advertising and not the game itself.

Things started to change rapidly with new more advanced consoles like Xbox and PS2-3, because it was easy to play games with them (no nerdy programming or computer handling needed) and playing itself became more accepted for mainstream people. It stopped being nerdy and started to be cool. Game development was concentrated to big game titles so much that some game genres disappeared, because they were not selling as many games as were required to cover the ever-growing expenses of development.

Today mobile games cover a big portion of the gaming and the internet has also a big role in it. Indie game development has revived some genres, but the resources to create good games are often limited. The way people think about games is completely changed. The game is no longer required to be good, it can be anything that the big mass of people are interested, and often self-advertised in social medias. Games like Flappy Bird can become an instant hit and give the developer crazy amounts of money. A similar example is Minecraft, a "game" where you place blocks or remove them. It made the developer Markus "Notch" Persson a multi-millionaire.

There was no happy ending to all gamers. Some nerds grew up and started to think why they spent so much money in games and why they made a small group of developers so rich. What they got from it? Some good games and entertainment maybe, but at older age it all felt somehow empty. Not all developers were successful either. No matter how much they programmed and worked on their projects there were failures as well. Games that were quickly forgotten. Difficult hobby projects that made the developer swear he would never play any games or even think about them. Even good games that could have been much better with some minor tweaking before the release.

So in negative way today's games are developed to make money. Every trick or style that makes more money is in the gameplay. The press and reviews have long since been sold to advertising, but it has no point since there are no good games anymore. It doesn't matter how much they lie in their reviews, because casual people play games no matter how much they suck. Money is made and that's all there is. As if it wasn't bad enough there are people who create social media storms called GamerGate or something else, which can actually make the content of games suck even more with gender equality and other kinds of bullshit that restrict artistic freedom.

Game development may become more diverse in the future, because the technology to create games has became more accessible to game designers without strong technical skills. Game engines are getting better and easier to use. Money transaction over internet may become easier and hopefully doesn't require the developer to sign up as a slave for mega corporations like Steam or Apple. How things turn out depends a lot from what kind of future the gamers want to support.

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