Many of us have a dream game for those who are really invested in video gaming. The idea of a dream game is one that has always permeated video game culture since its early days. If I walked onto the E3 floor and asked everyone what their dream game is, there’d be no shortage of responses. It’s not just us who dream of course but those who make the games as well, albeit their heads are more grounded in reality.
Why do we do this? The video game industry is quite an oddball compared to the rest of the entertainment world. Were told how expensive everything is and that to make a video game at all is a Herculean task. That’s not to say they are easy to make or don’t require investment. At the most, I’m merely a hobbyist game designer and couldn’t possibly understand the reality of game development, but I have my dreams as well.
We dream as gamers because, unlike other mediums, we sense deep down the potential for this birthing medium. What makes video gaming so unique is that it’s interactive, and by that fact alone lies so much potential.
Do you ever wonder what Nomura Tetsuya’s dream game is or a head honcho at DICE or Treyarch? If they were given the okay by their publishers to make that game? Surely the likes of Activision, EA, and Ubisoft can make it happen. Video gaming is a billion-dollar industry, they have the talent, time, and money to at least make someone’s game come true.
A game doesn’t have to have a hundred-man team or a million-dollar budget. It can be as simple as Pong or Undertale or daring like Demon Souls or Nier: Automata. True, ideas must be able to be executed if they’re shown to be possible, but it’s certainly not a justification for certain experiences to be nonexistent. It makes sense to cater to an audience by making a game that is sure to sell like Call of Duty or Far Cry, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be variety.
“Hmm, what would Titanfall look like if it had dinosaurs instead of mechs?” That’d be freaking cool, would it? Players could summon certain dinosaurs depending on the situation. Raptors would be a favorite among those who love to storm into the action, they could even be used for stealth-oriented players. Brachiosaurus’ could be used to get a lay of the land like UAVs in Call of Duty. It’s doable and I’d definitely buy it, Titanfall was one of the most refreshing FPS games I played in a while. In fact, I bought it again just to play it with my Uncle in NYC back when I purchased my Xbox One.
It seems that what is on offer from “AAA” (insert Sterling voice) gaming is the same old stuff. One of the reasons why I get so tired of a lot of these games is that they’re ontologically similar as I’ve gone over in my previous post. I appreciate games where I’m playing as a humanoid, which in itself is an interesting subject to explore, but I’m human 24/7. Like a sobbing crybaby in my high chair without my binky, I desire to be blown away by this new medium. Give me a new way to see, a new way to think, a new way to explore.
Which brings me to the open-world genre, a genre that is regarded as boring and repetitive by a number of gamers. For starters, what is a “world?” According to the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research paper, De-Roling from Experiences and Identities in Virtual Worlds:
²In the philosophical tradition of phenomenology, the term ‘world’ generally indicates a set composed of beings that are understood together with all their (detectable) properties and mutual relationships. More specifically, a world describes that set as experienced by one of the beings involved in it. To be identified as a world, that set needs to be experienced in ways that are persistently perceivable and behaviourally consistent, as those qualities are necessary to make it emerge as an intelligible world for a being within a certain spatial-temporal context (Gualeni, 2015). In somewhat simpler words, a world indicates a way in which reality is disclosed to a being (Verbeek, 2005, p. 108), which also implies that ‘world’ as an existential situation is inseparable from the being to whom this existential situation is given. Accordingly, for a subject in relation to a certain experiential context, a context can only be recognized as a world when it discloses experiences that are to a degree persistent in their being perceivable, intelligible, and mechanically consistent (Gualeni, 2015, p. 6). This essential understanding of what experientially defines a world consists precisely in the possibility to address the active experiences of drama and the explorations of interactive digital worlds as similar phenomena on the basis of their responsiveness, their (relative) phenomenological stability and intelligibility, and their possibility for repeated accesses.
In other words, what a world can be is entirely up to the imagination of those who make it. A world could be as simple as The Minish Cap, Lordren, Mushroom Kingdom, or Sonic The Hedgehog. If up to snuff, a team could even make an open-world RPG set within cable television. The player could play as a being that jumps into television programs and can either save or sabotage those shows. The game could even have an in-game clock like Animal Crossing so shows or networks can only be accessed at certain times. The death of a network or show could mean the player would have to revert to an older save or start an entirely new game, just to talk to certain NPCs or find secrets.
Games like Destiny, The Division, and the upcoming Anthem wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago. But look where we are now, live-services and an ever-increasing audience for video gaming. I bought an Xbox One with the intention of playing Monster Hunter: World which is by far one of the best games I ever played. The last generation I was a huge fan of Lost Planet 2 which is one of the best co-op experiences I’ve played. The series has been in a rut since Lost Planet 3, but I have a wish that I hope Capcom would fulfill if it were to ever happen. What I’m referring to is a full-on reboot of the series, Lost Planet: World.
Capcom knocked it out of the ballpark with MHW, and we saw the potential of a game like Lost Planet 2 that despite its flaws was pretty good in its own right. Capcom could easily modernize LP to be a live-service game with improved character customization, controls, weapons, social functionality, and an open-world similar to MHW. It could easily be one of the most highly anticipated games to ever come out. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
What we have here is a medium that can deliver experiences that film could only dream of. For those of you aspiring game designers out there, if you have an idea, and you have the resources to make it happen, do it. Even if you have to create a game that follows some sort of trend like Battle Royale, make your game stand out from the rest and make something you’d be proud of. But most importantly, fail, and fail faster.