Game designers stuck being "Romantic"

Vladimir Cole
V. Cole|09.03.06

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Game designers stuck being "Romantic"

Our readers amaze us. In responding to our post about the "perfect" game enemy, reader Brad Lee diagnosed the ailment that afflicts game designers who insist on using the same old slobbering, ugly Zombie-Alien-Nazi enemies. Here's Brad's post, edited for brevity:

The problem is that games are still stuck in the 'Romantic' era. Too many video game developers look to romanticism for inspiration. (Romanticism was an artistic movement that emphasized exaggeration, emotion, nature, tradition, etc.) In Romanticism, an artist who wants to convey an emotion such as sadness uses dark colors. If he wants to convey evil, he makes the subject ugly. And so on.

Games use this art style simply because it's easier. There are a lot of costs to produce a video game -- graphics and game engine being the most expensive -- and I'm sure story and characters are probably a lower priority than other aspects of video games. Keep in mind that most games' stories are not produced by professional writers (or good writers anyway), so it is simply easier to use romanticism than try and craft a realistic story with [realistic] characters.

It is much easier to make a story about demons rampaging through the world (and only one guy -- you! -- can stop them) than to create a story about real people just struggling to do the right thing. Many game developers just don't know any better because they don't bother to take creative writing classes or to learn how to craft a good story. Many think they shouldn't have to [learn these things] simply because they are focused on the game and not the story or the characters.

Game developers are likely game developers because they love games, not because they love great stories. When those developers aren't working they are likely spending their time playing other games. If developers took some time to read [and analyze] good literature and watch classic movies we would probably have better stories and characters in our games. Until that happens, I'll be expecting to slaughter many more hordes of zombies, nazis, demons, and aliens in the years to come.

Any game designers out there care to post a rebuttal or confirmation? Are Brad's charges accurate? From where we sit, it seems he's nailed it.

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