Sunday, August 23, 2015

Variety is the Spice of Games

I'm not totally sold on the idea that "inclusivity" automatically results in better games, but I do appreciate the ever increasing diversity of game developers we have these days with respect to nationality.  Back in the 8 and 16 bit era, the overwhelming majority of video games on store shelves were the products of Japanese or American development teams.  Occasionally you'd get something by a UK team, but more often than not this tended to be exclusive to the commodore 64 home computer.  Now days (and in large part thanks to digital distribution) we've got a lot more countries dipping their proverbial toes into video game development.  Take for instance CD Projekt, the Polish developer responsible for the eastern-European themed fantasy RPG Witcher series, or in Mexico city, Squad, the team that gave us the quirky space flight-sim Kerbal Space Program.  In Russia, we've had an explosion of new developers who have brought us all kinds of titles ranging from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and SpinTires to Warthunder and World of Warships.  I'm also curiously looking forward to Reverse Side, but that's a blog post for another day.  The highly detailed melee combat simulator, Examina, comes for a developer based in Italy.  Meanwhile, the indie-platformer Papa and Yo was made by a one-man south American studio.

Of course it isn't all sunshine and rainbows.  A lot of the contributions made to gaming by studios from newly participating nations have had decidedly mixed results.  Take for example DreadOut, a Thai flavored horror game that presented a lot of interesting ideas, but ultimately felt like a poor-man's Fatal Frame (from a gameplay standpoint).  Chinese and Korean game developers, while increasingly prolific in number, have an unfortunate tendency to prey on people who suffer from OCD.  France has also produced a number of video games over the years, from the highly influential Out of this World (a.k.a. Another World) to more middling titles like République and Fehrenheit (a.k.a. Indigo Prophecy), all the way down to Remember Me and the hot garbage that Ubisoft cranks out on a regular basis (Valiant Hearts excluded).

Even though there's a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, I still think it's a net positive, especially when one considers the fact that established publishers from countries like the USA and Japan turn out their fair share of dross on a regular basis too.

So which is better at defeating ghosts
an iPhone or a Galaxy?

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