Posted by D on March 2, 2007
Like the veil being lifted from before my eyes I am struct with an epiphany, a desperate truism that should haunt us all. Computer games aren’t created by people who know how to make games. Why is it that such moments of clarity occur only after 2am? Was Einstein an insomniac? Picaso? Gaudi? Enough of this.
What about my reality shattering assertion? It’s true, have a look at a computer games company and ask yourself how many people there have any formal training or background in the theory of gaming. How many can actually define what a games is and why certain rule sets do or don’t work. If you look closely you’ll notice 99% of the employees are either cash herding suits or the kind of spotty nerd who, through computers, finds the validation he never achieved at school. Even the term “game design” has been largely co-opted to describe the process by which games are assembled (idea-implement-test-refactor) which is essentially a software development or business process.
And you might say “nonsense, look at all these classic games”. And the answer to that utterly facile statement is “Yes, look at the hundreds of thousands of utterly shitty games which come spewing forth day in day out”. It’s like some kind of object lesson in infinite monkey theorem.
The problem with the itterative design the games industry goes in for (other than them being utterly incapable of even doing that right) is that by not understanding how games work they are left floundering around in ideas space with no real conception of why something does or doesn’t work. Testing things that needn’t have been implemented. A further problem is that if you don’t understand why games that work do work and why games that don’t work don’t then you end up selecting options you already know work. Why else do we have to endure endless streams of indetikit crappy FPSes, racing games, beat ’em ups etc. etc. etc. etc.
More on this theme later.