When it comes to video games, I’m both up to date with the newest releases and stuck in the past with classic old school titles. However music is another story for me, as my love is stuck firmly in the 60s 70s and 80s. It’s like when the date hit 1990 new music became horrible for me to listen to. Now sure there are a few hits of recent years that I do like to hear, however give me The Rolling Stones or The Who any day of the week. I’ve tried recently to get into today’s music and I’ve come to a conclusion about why this it doesn’t click for me (don’t worry I will link this to game design soon).
So in the past few months it seems I can’t turn on a radio station without hearing something by the Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana or whatever the hell the “tweens” are listening to. (FYI the word tween makes me sick, which perhaps someday I’ll explain why). I’ve tried to listen to popular music and most of it has the same generic sounding crap to me. I listen to the singer’s vocals and I just don’t hear “it” in their voice. By “it” I mean that passion in the voice, which the person loves every minute of it and is into the song. When I hear bands like Three Dog Night, Guess Who, The Who, among many others sing I can hear it. Today it sounds like there is no energy in the singers, that it’s all corporate funded singing. Also female singers who have to scream 75% of the song annoy the hell out of me. After that long and winding road it’s time for the point of this entry.
While we may never hear the lead designer sing in a video game (for my voice that is a blessing) but you can tell in a game when a designer has really poured their heart and soul into the project. Whether it is something unique for the time like X-Com or a game where every inch of the game feels like it was carefully put together. These are the games that last forever among the hardcore, games that rarely get sequels or are big sellers. Comparing this to my musical example, a lot of the casual games out today are like the lifeless songs of today. There are examples of amazing casual games but the majority like to copy everyone else’s design. I believe this quote taken from 1up by the designer behind Shadow of the Colossus, Fumito Ueda sums up my thoughts best:
“As a company employee, it is necessary to create something that sells. However, if I were to choose between something that sells for a moment and is forgotten, and something that doesn’t sell much but is remembered, I would choose the latter. But I personally think that a game has potential to sell a certain number of units no matter how quickly it sells. That is why I think that the one that leaves good memories is better, since it will make a sequel more appealing.”
We don’t have to worry about games losing their soul anytime soon with developers like Suda 51 and Atlus around, but I think this is something to think about the next time you see the umpteenth version of diner dash in stores.
P.S The most current song I actually liked would have to be Crazy by Gnarlis Barkley, which I think means something mentally but I don’t think it’s that important right now 🙂