Some fucking controversy.
That’s what it needs. It is just boring as hell as it is now. All the controversy in the entire history of gaming is either caused by blood and gore or by big tits (the latter happened only once and stopped being interesting after people realized they were fake). Blood and gore is not controversial anymore since Doom. I think we have seen everything since then. Decapitated bodies, guts falling out of the belly, spiked heads, eating blood for health (Wolf3d), chainsaws, synthesized death screams. Now as you see, as cool as it is, it is a very limited area. There isn’t much you can invent more (well I have a couple ideas), just play some recent games like Manhunt. I mean there is nothing wrong with games like that, they are awesome, but they became boring. Gore is not interesting anymore. So what kind of controversy do I want?
The kind you see in every other form of art.
There is a very shy debate going on since the beginning of the video game industry about whether or not games are art or not. Some interesting points are being made, about the graphical design, music, stories etc. Games seem to be a blend of all forms of art, so they should be technically art. But art does not like technicality. This is where games fail as art. It is a completely different mind-frame. There is no place for logic in art, logic drives technology. Logic is just a human mind construct, whereas true art comes directly from Nature. It is a creation of nature, in the same way a tree is constructed or a landscape. There is no thought involved in the creation of a living being or a mountain. It is a mechanism, an analog creation. The difference between human-made and nature-made is similar to the difference between a vinyl record and a CD record. The CD is our way of seeing nature. It has been created in our minds as a description of what really there is, a sound, for us to store and re-listen to.
What’s my point? If games are to be considered art, they are the hardest craft of all. Because of that only a few selected people were able to become involved in this. The only people that could manage to build a game were programmers. A graphic designer, a musician, a concept artist cannot make a game alone by himself. A programmer can. The whole 1980’s were dominated by games made entirely by programmers. The last game to end this era in splendor was Another World by Eric Chahi. After that, more money came in, the producers became interested in this funny little industry. So the designers and artists came to an industry dominated by logically-driven-creatures (read: programmers). And this is a burden. Because we never got rid of that feeling, that we can’t make a game without a programmer. So the programmer was the most important person in the project, even though more people were brought in. These were the 90’s. Now we are coming to a new era, things are starting to change (with pre-built engines and studios specifically dedicated to creating just game content not code). But still we’re not heading in the right direction. This is why I’m writing this, the game industry is still crap.
Look at any art-form.
In literature: we’ve had Joyce which I’ll bet any money that took LSD, coke, tea or some other shit, we’ve had Kafka which was an unusual weirdo, we’ve had Hemingway which marvelously blew his brains out.
In music: Beethoven, Debussy, Wagner, all interesting characters. I don’t have to mention pop music: Rolling Stones, David Bowie and all the other drug oriented groups.
Movies: just read the tabloids.
Painting: Michaelangelo, Picasso, van Gogh and many other freaks.
My point is, in every area of human interest which involves creativity there are people that stand out. Memorable characters that the whole world knows of. This is just how it is. Individuals must become different than the rest in order to create something new.
Look at the game industry and show me somebody who is not a geek. Show me somebody that everybody knows. Who are the people behind the most popular games? Can you name the creators of Counter-Strike or World of Warcraft?? When I think really hard on this all that comes up to me is that japanese guy from Nintendo, John Carmack and John Romero. The latter even sparked some controversy with Daikatana. But how poor and uninteresting are silly business issues compared to the life of someone like Marlon Brando!
You might say that the game industry is too young. It has been around just for 25-30 years. I have to disagree. Look at the movies, it’s incredible how fast that one became an art form. The person that transformed the industry was Charlie Chaplin and he came just 20 years after the projection of the first film ever made! Watch “City Lights” and tell me if any game comes close to that level of intensity and entertainment!
So what do we need? We need interesting characters. Not game characters, but people that drive this carousel. We need somebody to show the way. Astonish. Lead. Awe. Somebody that will be on the covers of newspapers, somebody that will spark the imagination of millions. Carmack and Romero just started a transformation. There is still waiting for us a spectacular change. After that people will truly see how primitive the current game era is. Somewhere there, sitting in a bedroom (or garage) is somebody that doesn’t even know it yet, but it will come to him/her one day that it is time to show the world that games are art. Games will be art.