Friday, June 7, 2013

Excessive Exclusivity

If you look at the roster of most video game studios, you'll find that pretty much everyone who works in the actual design process has one of two professions. They're either an artist or they are a coder (the motion capture team, voice actors and music composers aren't allowed at the table when when discussions about the next game come around). Every once in a while there will be a token V.I.P. that pitches some monetization related advice to the development team for a short period of time, but that's about as far as exceptions go. Even people with English backgrounds tend to end up in journalism or some other public relations field, rather than a more obvious role like script writing.

I find this odd especially when you compare video games to other forms of media. After all, novelists come in all kinds. Movies too need an ensemble cast and crew with a broad range of expertise in order to turn out quality work. So why is it video game development comes off feeling overly limited? I can't think of a good answer to that question, but I am convinced that the lack of diversity contributes to the limited variety of the games themselves.

Part of what gives Dwarf Fortress its unique ambiance and complexity has to do with one of the two developers being a historian of classical antiquity and the other mathematician. Bioware's early (and arguably best) RPGs were conceived by a pair of medical doctors. Then there is distinguished game designer Ken Levine, a man who studied theater drama and film making before eventually starting off at Looking Glass Studios.

Personally, I doubt my ability to be good game designer. However, I am confident that there are a lot of talented people who could dramatically enrich the industry. Sadly, such individuals will probably never have an opportunity to shine under current conditions simply because they don't have C++ experience or some art program certification printed on their resume. Perhaps if, and when, computer languages become more accessible things might change. Editing and creation tool sets becoming more common would be a big help too. Off the top of my head House of the Dead Ninjas and CD Projekt RED's REDkit *whew* are the only recent feature sets that come to mind. I'm sure Media Molecule has something special in the works for PS4 though as well. Sadly for now the barrier to entry remains exceedingly high.  A shame since it is to all our detriment.

No comments:

Post a Comment