As I searched for something to talk about today, I came across this article from Joystiq featuring a discussion by Will Wright about Spore and the gaming industry.
For those of you who don't know Will Wright, he's not only the creator of Spore, but he's also the creator of the Sims franchise, and arguably one of the greatest game developers of all time.
And yet, I'd venture to say that at least some of you reading this have never heard of Will Wright before. I'll bet you've played the Sims and may even know about Spore, but you had no idea who Will Wright is.
If that's true, the blame shouldn't be placed on you and you certainly shouldn't be expected to perform research just to find out who develops a specific game. Instead, the blame should be placed squarely on the video game industry, and more specifically, major companies like Take-Two and Electronic Arts, for creating an environment where anonymity is not only accepted, but expected as well.
And if you ask me, that's just wrong.
This culture of anonymity reminds me of the old days of film. Back then, studios were under the impression that if actors and directors remained anonymous, no one would know who they were and they wouldn't ask for more money, thus allowing the studios to rake in more of the cash. But after awhile, the studios found out that people were more willing to spend money if they knew who the stars were or who directed a particular film and started rolling the credits.
Although we roll the credits in video games now, does it even matter? For major titles like MGS 4 or Spore, we know who the creators are, but what about other titles like Halo or even GTA IV? We know the companies who develop these titles--Bungie and Rockstar, respectively--but we don't have the name of their creators on the tip of our tongue. Certainly one person had to think it up and act as the creative director, right?
More often than not, developers talk about "the team." Unlike the film industry where we focus on the directors and celebrities, the video game industry seems to love the idea that a team created a game and not one person stood above the crowd.
But is that really the best idea?
Let's face it--most people care about Spore because Will Wright created it. if a no-name developer came up with this idea, we'd certainly hear about it and there would some reports about its progress, but not nearly as many people would care and random stories about it would all but disappear.
Realizing the value of having a celebrity creator, why aren't more video game developers trying to put them into the limelight? When you think about the best video game developers, three names usually jump to the forefront: Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, and Will Wright. There may be a slew of better developers in the wild, but if we've never heard of them, we'll never know.
The idea of "teams" may have served the video game industry well years ago when it was nothing more than a niche industry, but today, it's a major industry in the entertainment business and it needs to start acting like it.
I don't want to dig for a creator's name, I should know it as soon as the game starts. Much like a Metal Gear Solid title, each and every game should feature who wrote, directed, and starred in it as soon as the gameplay begins.
If the video game industry wants to be included in the same conversation with films, it better start acting like the movie business.
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