Why I'm boycotting first-person shooters

Don Reisinger is boycotting first-person shooters until something changes in the video game industry. He wants more unique games and he's willing to bet he's not alone.

Call it rash, call it dumb, call it outlandish, call it crazy, but I'm officially boycotting first-person shooters. Why? Because I've finally had enough of the video game industry and its laser focus on profit to the detriment of innovation and fun.

Understand something: I grew up in a world where video games were not only innovative and fun, but they weren't derivative, they weren't over-blown movie wannabes, and they absolutely were not multi-million dollar projects that required more business acumen than innovation.

So for the past few years, I've quietly sat back and witnessed the video game industry sink into a rut that it's unwilling to dig itself out of. Why have we been forced to sit through sequel after sequel of the same rehashed game with only a few improvements here and there? Why have we been forced to sit through countless sports, first-person shooter, and dumb adventure games? Why have we been forced to basically play the same old game when all we really want is to play something new, exciting, and unique?

And although I can boycott any derivative genre I want, first-person shooters have become the worst culprit of them all, and if I want to take my own personal stand in the little way I can, that's the best place to do it.

Now I know that you're probably thinking that there are a number of innovative titles coming down the pike in the near future and I absolutely agree. I'm looking forward to Spore, Little Big Planet, Rock Band 2, and a handful of other titles that promise something fresh. But for all the fresh and unique titles, they don't represent the majority of games that are coming out and if E3 is any indication of the future, they'll be few and far between.

Let's face it -- this year's E3 was a waste of time. But for those little moments where big news was announced, it was dominated by Netflix streaming movies and TV shows to the Xbox 360, Final Fantasy XIII coming to Microsoft's platform, and Resident Evil 5 hitting store shelves eventually. And although some of us are excited to see those two games coming to the Xbox 360, doesn't it prove what I've been saying all along: there's little innovation to speak of?

A quick glance at the upcoming release calendar from The Gamer's Temple tells you everything you need to know about the future of video games. It's inundated with sequels and follow-ups to titles we've played more times than we can count. And to make matters worse, there's just a handful of titles that break the mold of derivative gameplay.

Now, the obvious reason for this is money. When video games first became popular, they weren't nearly the money-making medium they are today and although millions of dollars were flying around, it pales in comparison to today's multi-billion dollar enterprises. And I also realize that people have chosen to buy first-person shooters and sports games, which is why the developers keep sending them out, but it's getting ridiculous.

As it stands, few first-person shooters are that great anymore and even Halo -- once the de facto leader in the space -- was ruined by two follow-ups that failed to capture the greatness of the first title.

So what can be done? I think video game developers need to start following Nintendo's lead and make titles that break the mold of gaming and return us back to a point where it's not about the chances of getting a game to sell like gangbusters, but it's about giving gamers unique titles that show them something new, which then sell like gangbusters.

If nothing else, Nintendo should have shown us by now that innovation is OK and believe it or not, most gamers really want to play games in a unique way.

As Ars Technica is reporting, the Wii and DS easily bested the Playstation 3, PSP, and Xbox 360 for units sold in June, which suggests consumers are starting to make their decisions on the kind of games they want to play with their wallets.

But will developers wake up and realize it? I doubt it. More often than not, these development studios are now being dominated by suits who couldn't care less about the value of a game, but care too much about the revenue it'll incur for the company with nary a worry that eventually that well will run dry and consumers will be asking for unique titles.

The day when consumers ask for more unique titles may still be some time off, but rest assured that it's coming. But until that happens, I refuse to be a party to the degradation of the video game industry by playing games that use the same crappy story in a different location using the same mechanics and the same weapons.

I want the video game industry back and I'm willing to guess that millions out there want it back too. I don't mind first-person shooters and sports games are great. But for every 10 titles in those genres, we only get one unique game. That needs to stop. Now.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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