I have a bit of a rant that I’ve been wanting to share with you for quite some time. Now I know, it’s not ideal to jump back into things with something negative, but since the game I wanted to review today refused to play the last couple of days, well, you’re stuck with a Raeyn Rant instead. I feel like every time I read about a new game coming out that will use voxels as a means of letting players manipulate a game’s physical world I see the same sort of responses: “Just looks like another Minecraft to me but with better graphics” “So it’s just another Minecraft but with RPG elements?” “This looks exactly like Minecraft, herp derp derp”. And these responses always make me want to scream.
First off I would like to point out that most of the time the reviews and comments on games like Windborne and Landmark are overwhelmingly positive. A lot of gamers are thrilled by the potential that these games offer. But there are always several numbskulls mixed in who just don’t seem to get it.
Minecraft, while certainly not the first of its kind, is the most successful sandbox out there. You can build what you want, play how you want, and do what you want. You can go at it alone, or with a team–your options are limited to only your imagination which is why it appeals to so many different people from all all ages and walks of life. With this success Minecraft set a precedence for something new, something different within the world of gaming. It showed the world that games don’t always have to be about squishing Koopas or blowing zombies’ heads off–games can be about discovery, exploration, and imagination. More importantly to me it showed us that games don’t have to always be devices of destruction. Sometimes games can be catalysts for brilliant creativity.
Now we’re reaching a point where other devs are looking at the success of Minecraft and trying to figure out new ways to implement it’s core values. For some this an absolutely outrageous offense. Clearly these new devs are trying to cash in on Minecraft’s success in order to make their own blockbuster games. To which I can only say, “So? What’s your problem?”
It’s like all of a sudden gamers have forgotten that when games first came out there was no variety whatsoever. In the beginning there was just text, and then someone had the clever idea to add audio and visuals. Eventually we got color, then voice actors, then different camera views. Soon we could even control 3D characters in fully fleshed out worlds. Then Wolfenstein happened without which we probably wouldn’t have the modern first person shooter. Games are constantly shifting and growing and learning and becoming something even more amazing than anyone playing Zork could have ever imagined. But games can only do this if we let them. By dismissing a game because it chooses to implement different elements of design in new and interesting ways stifles any chance for the industry to grow. You can’t write off one type of game as “just another Minecraft” because it uses voxels or allows for terrain manipulation and building, and at the same time not care that there are approximately five kajillion games out there featuring dudes with swords running around killing things in a fantasy setting. How is one more pathetic or money grabbing than the other? (For the record I find neither to be pathetic, fantasy RPGs are where it’s at.)
I recently watched a video by the Game Theorists about what gamers want, and it basically concluded that for all that gamers go on and on about wanting to see innovation in new games, it’s all a crock of shit. Most gamers don’t want innovation, they don’t want to see something new. They want to play Call of Duty 17,892 and Super Mario Bros. 553,220 Deluxe. You can find the video here and I suggest you watch it because it is both fascinating and horribly sad at the same time.
You see, I call myself a gamer because I’m a person who loves games, but sometimes I feel like that label doesn’t fit me. I don’t feel like I belong in this community because I view games so very differently. I want innovation. I want devs to experiment and try new things. I want to see them take chances and create beautiful little accidents that push the industry in new directions. I want them to look at one another and learn from both their colleague’s successes and failures. I believe that games can be art if approached in the right light, but they will never meet their potential if we are forever choking the creativity out of them.
Before I sign off I would like to make one more point–a point that I think is perhaps the most important thing I’m going to say here. I do think that the industry’s trend towards copying other successful games is quite an issue which is why that’s not what I’m referring to here. An FPS game like Bisohock is not going to be the exact same as Call of Duty. Though they use the same core mechanic they have a look and feel that’s very different from one another. The same thing applies to all of these games that are “basically Minecraft“. While they are using this new idea in their game it’s not the only thing that makes the game worth playing. They aren’t blatantly ripping off Minecraft, instead, they are utilizing the new (and successful) gameplay system that it perfected. And I see nothing wrong with that. You wouldn’t accuse Grand Theft Auto or Need for Speed of having copied each other, would you? I mean, they both have cars and criminals, so…
At the end of the day I can’t wait to see other ways in which games will utilize the destroy/build aspect of Minecraft. I would love to see it incorporated into single player games especially, like perhaps Elder Scrolls or something totally unique that hasn’t even been thought up yet. To say that an idea belongs to one game alone is a dangerous thing to do–games have and always will need to build off of each other in order to survive.