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My Name is Daniel and I am a Genre Addict

Closing thoughts

Sequels are here to stay
Sequels and derivative works are natural, even desirable consequence of the nature of games, our distribution system, and basic economic forces.

The corporate drug production facilities like Blizzard and EA Sports have a well deserved place in the gaming economy. They will always be around and they do great good by evolving and refining genres to an addictive peak. I certainly enjoy their games and people who complain about their existence are for the most part hypocrites.

Opportunities for clever people
However, the game industry is moving steadily towards a non-optimal usage of resources. There are thousands of talented developers dying to pour innovation into this great and vibrant media and they have no outlet.

Capitalism abhors non-optimal resource usage. The underserved genre addicts and undiscovered new genres present a wonderful opportunity. Somewhere there is an entrepreneur who will figure out how to make money outside of the current mainstream publishing and distribution system. Others will follow in their footsteps and the industry will self correct.

The path to better games
Most importantly, developers and publishers must come to terms with the reality of genre addiction and how it affects our market. In the past, the industry has been built upon a strong 'if you build it, they will come' philosophy. We now operate in an environment where 60% of the population regularly plays video games. Because we did our jobs so very well, these players have strong market-shaping preferences.

Innovators must adapt to this new market landscape and figure out ways either thrive within it or subvert it. Game developers need to begin developing a practical and theoretical understanding of the psychological reward systems they are using to make people react to their games. We have too many academics from literary, cinematic, and sociology backgrounds studying games and not enough psychologists and neurobiologists. Given time, in-depth knowledge will lead to more potent games that further accelerate the adoption of our favorite pastime.

For better or worse, games remain drugs
As time passes, the addictive nature of games will be seen in a less positive light. Abuse inevitably follows addiction and this is a storm the industry must weather. When lives are ruined as a direct result of a well executed game, we need to take responsibility.

My hope is that games end up evolving into a widespread beneficial social stimulant, much like caffeine. Virtual worlds can be the new coffee bars of this era. We can provide everyone with a daily fix of gaming goodness, and most will come away both refreshed and inspired.

We make and sell a new form of highly effective psychological drug that is taking the entire world by storm. I remain optimistic about the vast potential of electronic games to entertain and perhaps one day enlighten. The only way we are going to get there is by understanding the nature of our craft through honest and pragmatic dialog.

I welcome you to discuss this article on my forum at http://lostgarden.com//phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=8

Random notes


My Genre Addictions

  • Turn-based strategy games
  • Nethack

Send comments and critiques to danc@lostgarden.com

  The Birth of the Genre Addict
  Publishers: How the Drug Lords of the Industry Profit
  The Role of Game Developers in the Drug Trade
  Marketing Lessons
  Closing thoughts

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