Toru Iwatani, creator of the classic Pac-Man, criticized the current situation of the video game industry (especially on the iPhone), considering that many of the current titles will not be remembered 10 years from now.
In an interview with Game Developer, Iwatani stated that when creating Pac-Man, he wanted to develop a game that was not only attractive, but also detailed, beautiful and accessible.
“That's what I want to point out, since since, more or less, last year we've had an avalanche of simple games for the iPhone, social networks and the like. They are very easy games, and by that I mean easy to design and released by the dozen. I think it is necessary to reflect more on how these games are presented to the player, how they can be made more fun. Developing games with this thoughtful approach to their design will help them to be loved and fondly remembered for much longer.”
“When you look at current games,” he added, “it's doubtful that any of us will be talking about them 10 years from now. We have to focus on making games that people will remember a decade from now, because otherwise we are more likely to lose our audience.”
I agree with Mr Toru Iwatani's teachings, but I have to add a contrary opinion for a reason:
- Time when the games are/were made
At the time of Pac-Man, the number of games wasn't as many as we see today, and the industry didn't even have more than 30 years "behind its back" as it has today.
For a company to launch a game these days is much riskier. Pac-Man himself would have been a victim of oblivion if the industry hadn't been so malleable and quickly shifted from arcade to home consoles and later handhelds. Are arcades as ubiquitous today as they were in the days of Pac-Man?
As for today's games being easily forgettable, that's a fact that holds true in the movie industry as well. Do you sell so much Titanic bluray? Nobody even comments anymore and even at the time those who liked the film, today only reveals that it was a thing of the moment. The issue can even become social and much broader. The same thing happens in music, great stars appear, move millions and then disappear into limbo.
And what's the big question then? Art!
A game well made even if it is not a mega success, for sure, it will later become a reference either for the industry itself or for any gamer wheel. A recent example is the touching Shadow of Colossus (Playstation 2).
Games with a “What” of art, whether in the care of the production, or in the game itself, will always be remembered.
Mr. Iwatani didn't say anything untrue about the games being easily forgettable. But it turns out that the market wants it that way! Everything is fast, made for fast consumption. They produce a game (and almost everything nowadays) not to last, but to win over the customer for the next purchase.
In this wild environment (capitalism) are artistic games. Made with care and like some movies, songs, animes and other things from this time, they will live forever in the memory of many people. Regardless of whether they look “oldschool” or not.
[originally published June 27, 2011]