February 2019

The emperors new games

This is a phenomenon I observed for quite a while now and I call it "The emperors new games" based on the fairy tale "The emperors new clothes" because the phenomenon is so similar.

The emperors new games are games that look new and great, but in reality they are nothing new or great, in short overhyped games.

Since I'm a game developer I observe the scene, especially the indie developer scene and see what becomes popular and what not. Those "emperors new games" make up a big percentage of all indie games, sometimes also mainstream or AAA games. The are characterized by being supposedly very innovative, intentionally funny, intentionally stupid, intentionally bad quality or intentionally badly designed and because it is all intentional bad, it somehow becomes good. Like there is one innovative idea and the implementation is all just lazy and intentionally bad and because the idea is so great it somehow becomes insanely popular. I don't name any specific games here, because then more people will hate on me than they do now already, so I just describe it as a general phenomenon.

I even had a person commenting me on Uebergame, that the quality is bad and if I had made it intentionally bad, it would have been better, since then I would not have tried to make it good. SO aiming for high quality, failing at it and only achieving mediocre quality is somehow worse, than aiming very low and achieve low. I think this explains the indie developer dilemma pretty good, since you cannot compete with AAA companies/quality you kind of have to aim intentionally for very low quality, because if the quality or art style is so much different from lets say realism, it no longer becomes comparable and you can free yourself from criticism. Of course that is what many developers seem to go for, it also has the great benefit in making production much easier and much less costly. So a win-win-situation basically, less cost, more easy to produce, less criticism, better ratings and more profit. Well it is of course not a win-win-situation, it is a great loss overall, since almost nobody is trying anything good anymore, like aiming for high quality and so the end consumer ends up with overall inferior products.

Now stage two begins and the end consumer also joins the insanity and starts brainwashing themselves into believing that those "Emperors new games" are somehow good instead of seeing them as what they are, just junk and nothing new. In fact most of those games probably would be better of, if they were made as mods for a good game, since then you would not only have the innovative idea, but also the good quality of the game it was modded, good graphics, physics, performance etc. This would be better in almost any way, at least for the end consumer,  but the producer could not make much money from it, since the game he modded does not belong to him. This is where open source would come into play, removing the disadvantages of copyright and even allowing people to make money from their mod as they could release it as a new product and sell it, at least if it is not GPL licensed, which would destroy that concept again.

This phenomenon described here is also a bad side effect of capitalism, since capitalism always needs growth and to sell new products, even if there is nothing new to make. In case there is nothing new to make there is a great solution for that, you can just pretend there is something new. Like repackage something existing in a different style and you have a new product. By making repackaged products or intentionally bad ones you can save lots of production costs and the saved money can be spend well into marketing aka brainwashing people into believing there are so magical great new games, which in reality do not exist. In the fairytale "The emperors new clothes" people were fooled into seeing the nonexistent clothes for real, because they did not want to admit, that they are too stupid to see them. In the games industry there is a similar effect, people like end consumers, reviewers, let's players etc don't want to admit, that their new innovative games don't exist and so they fool themselves into believing they exist. Of course it is just a metaphor, those pseudoinnovative games of course exist, they only don't exist on a meta level as they are just repackaged products marketed as something new or intentionally badly produced and so are missing the supposed innovation or technical progress.

In the gaming culture this all then manifests as people ironically enjoying those "Emperors new games" or enjoying that they are so bad and showing it in let's play videos or on stream. Some also enjoy not enjoying something and make an entertainment out of that. Others just like to hate on something, so they intentionally buy intentionally badly made products and then complain that they are so bad. Overall it is just a weird phenomenon to observe for me so I had to write it down as a therapy for me, since the brainwashing does not work for me I guess and I cannot see the supposed "Emperors new games". As a child I always dreamed of the technical possibilities of future games, but now where I live in the future, things are just getting worse. Instead of using the new technical possibilities to it's full potential, the trend goes to badly repackaging old stuff and only pretend it is new and innovative instead of doing something new and innovative for real. Of course this does not apply to the industry as a whole, but sadly it is a big negative trend that affects probably the larger portion of the industry.

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