Saturday, September 15, 2018

Gardening Game Development

I've heard that the best kind of artist is a starving one, a lean wolf who's highly motivated because they have little to lose and a lot to potentially gain.  However, when it comes to video games and the studios that make them, I prefer to think of it a bit more like houseplants - water them, fertilize them, make sure they get the right amount of sun and you'll see new shoots...and maybe even some flowers.  That might sound like a strange analogy, but what are game development studios?...corporations.  And what are corporations?...organized groups of people working toward a common goal (or goals).  Now, if you'll indulge me I'm going to go on a brief tangent that might seem like a nonsequiteur of sorts.

When the feudal warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu finally succeeded in uniting the Japanese isles he found himself surround by a multitude of clans.  In many ways these social constructs were precursors to corporate entities, it just happened that their business was warfare rather than commerce...still he had the idea that the best way to manage all these factions was to turn them into bonsai plants...not literally, of course...bonsai are tree saplings cultivated in small, shallow pots and carefully pruned to create a stylized version of real-life in miniature.  Bonsai aren't people.  Figuratively speaking though Tokugawa Ieyasu limited the growth of 16th century Japan by various means in order to cultivate the best of what the country had to offer.  Generally speaking, his plan worked surprisingly well - there was relative peace and stability, infrastructure improved and the arts flourished.  I know...I know...comparing bonsai to video game companies is a stretch, but what are video games?  Aren't they, more often than not, stylized version of real-life in miniature?

This might come as a shock to ecology lovers, but virgin forests aren't always healthier than forests open for public use.  The reason stems from untouched forests becoming overburdened with deadwood and other natural detritus to the point that new trees can't sprout and even deer can't live there.  Eventually, wildfires will clear everything out, but it's not a pretty sight.  Unregulated, game companies will expand in ways that are detrimental to the industry.  As is, it's not easy for even long-time enthusiasts to enjoy this hobby of ours.  Corporations such as EA and Take 2 Interactive might not like being stuffed into a small pot and pruned by the Belgium government, but the way I see it unless other countries follow suit, sooner or later there's going to be an out-of-control wildfire that burns everything down.

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