By: Rob Staalduinen
If you take the time to think of your favorite films, you will find yourself thinking about your favorite filmmakers as well, as they simply go hand in hand. The movie industry is full of big name film directors. Individuals like Stephen Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson and many others are directors who have built a legacy around themselves. Most often you will find a director of this caliber advertised more prominently than any of the cast, and rightly so! Did I go to see Django Unchained because Jaime Foxx was in it? Of course not! I went to see just how far Tarantino was willing to go this time.
Okay now, quick, think of your favorite gamemakers? Not as easy, is it?
The idea of a big name in the video game industry is one that we have all but lost. We don’t have gamemakers anymore, we have companies, eve- changing and inconsistent. With a Spielberg film, I have a good idea of what I’m going in to see. With a Bethesda game, or any other company for that matter, you simply roll the dice.
What names we do have are members of the old guard, pioneers of our industry who will be on their way out before too long, and no one is stepping in to fill the gap. People like Sid Meier, Tim Schafer or Peter Molyneux are legends within the industry, and have been so for years. But you never hear of that “young, up and coming gamemaker” the way you do with film directors. And that is a little sad.
I’m not saying an individual needs to be at the helm of every project – on the contrary, our current system has created some truly fantastic games because of the collaborative effort involved – but individual direction does provide a uniqueness and a sense of passion that our industry could certainly use. We see some evidence of this in the Japanese games industry, with individuals like Hideo Kojima and his specific brand of….extremely detailed narrative, or Suda51 and his unfailing insanity and eclectic design. These games, while they don’t appeal to everyone, demonstrate the uniqueness provided by having an individual director.
A single gamemaker also has a greater opportunity to build fan loyalty, as we have a much easier time connecting and interacting with a person than a corporation. Just look at the following some of the old guard gamemakers like Tim Schafer have amassed! This can allow an individual to push the boundaries of their medium, just as they do in film. Do you think Tarantino would be allowed to make his movies if he didn’t have the existing fan base to back it up? Of course not. Just like no one but Suda51 could get a game like Lollipop Chainsaw greenlit.
Individuals can take gaming outside of its comfort zone, because they have the passion for the medium, and the conviction to back it up. As we grow as a medium, we need individuals we can hold up as our best and brightest. It would be comforting to know that our Spielberg or our Tarantino are out there already, just waiting for their shot.
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