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View Full Version : EDITORIAL: Creativity in Video Games is DEAD (Chris Crawford)


RobertoOrtiz
06-13-2006, 05:12 PM
Quote:
"Chris Crawford earned his gaming stripes by working for Atari as a game designer in 1979. Following the company’s collapse in 1984, Crawford went on to publish several simulation titles for the Macintosh. In 1982 he wrote “The Art of Computer Game Design,” considered by many to be a classic in its genre.
In 1992 Crawford left the arena of commercial game design and focused his time and energy on the concept of interactive storytelling. He took some time to speak with Gamasutra on the concepts behind it and his project, Storytronics, which is now 14 years in the making.

Gamasutra: You've been quoted as saying that video games are dead. Do you still feel that’s true?

Chris Crawford: What I meant by that was that the creative life has gone out of the industry. And an industry that has no creative spark to it is just marking time to die."

http://gamasutra.com/features/20060612/murdey_01.shtml


-R

CelticArtist
06-13-2006, 06:00 PM
wow, could you be more negative? I love this guys approach, everything they're doing is wrong, but nothing i'm doing is right, but hey, my system is still better. His idea for interactive storytelling is interesting, but the way he's talking about it makes little sense to me. A story is a story is a story, they've had similiar progressions for a millenia, i don't think he's capable of rewriting that bit of history. I do agree with him on some points, but he goes too far, which I think might be his exact purpose.

lovisx
06-13-2006, 06:09 PM
He says himself that he isn't making a "game"... so for the last ten years he's been making a choose your own adventure/chat room, and he's trying to preach to the world about the lack of innovation in video games... I think I would value his opinion more if he had been trying for the last 10 years to innovate video games with no success because of politics and corporate agendas. The way he talks though, it almost seems as if it's not possible to innovate video games at all.

LaVolpe
06-13-2006, 06:56 PM
ok things I learned today:

- the 80's were a magical time of innovation in games

- The games industry has been creatively dead for the last 10 years

- In order to regain our creativity we should look to hollywood as our creative inspiration (???)

- In the future, people will rush home to read stories where the dialog and plot changes.

Wow...just...wow.

Cronholio
06-13-2006, 07:19 PM
Chris Crawford is a dinosaur who pops his head out of his hole every couple of years to spread FUD over the game industry. I don't know why anyone takes him seriously anymore. Yeah there's a lot of people making a lot of crappy games but there's been some really fun and innovative games in the last few years. He's overly negative, and really I think he's as bad as many of the developers he despises so much. I think he and his book are at least partially responsible for the current state of the game industry. He believes a game has to be a narrative that players become emotionally invested into, sometimes I think a game just needs to be a game; something people can pick up and play and have a little fun with; no plot, no character development, no emmotional investment, just a pure test of motor skills and brain power that's a clever, enjoyable diversion.

MarGera
06-13-2006, 07:37 PM
Chris Crawford is a dinosaur who pops his head out of his hole every couple of years to spread FUD over the game industry. I don't know why anyone takes him seriously anymore. Yeah there's a lot of people making a lot of crappy games but there's been some really fun and innovative games in the last few years. He's overly negative, and really I think he's as bad as many of the developers he despises so much. I think he and his book are at least partially responsible for the current state of the game industry. He believes a game has to be a narrative that players become emotionally invested into, sometimes I think a game just needs to be a game; something people can pick up and play and have a little fun with; no plot, no character development, no emmotional investment, just a pure test of motor skills and brain power that's a clever, enjoyable diversion.

Yep i agree, i picked up table tennis for the 360 the other day, and i am having so much fun playing it. I think this guy needs to take a chill pill, and get on with what he wants, and let other people do what they want.

sheppyboy2000
06-13-2006, 07:50 PM
The only people claiming zero innovation in the game industry are the people who keep ignoring the niche titles. No duh you'll find nothing in innovative from EA. But look to the underdogs...

stevopolis
06-13-2006, 08:22 PM
Innovation. There is plenty of it in the gaming industry, although there are just a lot more
games out. The Sims!!! Grant it, you have the whole FPS genre, which is redundent, but
there are still a number of great games coming out. Dance Dance Revolution is huge.
I respect that this guy helped mold the gaming industry, but he definitely is a little disgruntled
with what happened to it. It's the number one grossing market in the Entertainment industry.

This guy should enlighten us with his refreshing competitive ideas. Pong is the bomb, but it's
totally boring to a 12 year old now-a-days.

heavyness
06-13-2006, 08:35 PM
i hear this all the time. the worse part is that its from older game developers from the "Atari era". i've talked and meet with people who sit back and judge the game industry and i've asked them if they own a DS, or the last time they tried a rhythm game like DDR/Guitar Hero. the majority of the time they don't even own a DS or any home system, just a PC.

yes, there is a bunch of junk out there. but there are some awesome new games and some games that take old game mechanics and present them in a different way that makes the game feel completely new.

sure, he has a point, but i'm to busy playing the New Super Mario Bros*, Kingdom Hearts 2*, and HL2 Episode 1* to hear him.


*none of these games are completely new and or have some kind of gimmich mechanic in them, they are just good games from beginning to the end... except Mario, that game was to easy.

DAZKevin
06-13-2006, 08:39 PM
*Pulls grape off vine. Places it in mouth. "Eww... " *Spits grape to ground.

"Do these taste sour to anyone else?"

Artbot
06-13-2006, 09:02 PM
Wow, he is so the old man in the garage who thinks he can invent cold fusion ("interactive storytelling" in his case). Just sad.

I hope to be a disillusioned crank someday. There's something so appealing about shutting your mind off from reality and just plugging away at some impossibly misguided project, absolutely and positively convinced you are on the road to great success. That must be a comforting world to live in.

Array
06-13-2006, 10:05 PM
Creativity in Video Games is DEAD

Yeah, no shit :(

Even the indie scene is horrible. It's impossible to get a game published which doesnt fit the strict criteria of companies like Real (i.e. Real Arcade), which usually means that your game has to be a "DinerDash" or "Bejeweled" clone....Talk about stifling creativity!

/indie developer

JeroenDStout
06-13-2006, 10:24 PM
Yeah, no shit :(

Even the indie scene is horrible. It's impossible to get a game published which doesnt fit the strict criteria of companies like Real (i.e. Real Arcade), which usually means that your game has to be a "DinerDash" or "Bejeweled" clone....Talk about stifling creativity!

/indie developer
I have so been there. And it's even come so far that a lot of gamedesigners have no intention of being creative. They just combine things they have seen on a low-level, instead of a complex level.

/student gamedesign ;)

PhilOsirus
06-13-2006, 10:47 PM
Blah blah blah is all I have to say to this. There are more games released than ever before, does anyone really expect each of them to greatly innovate? It's little innovations in each games that make the industry go forward.

If we had to ask this guy at what time the industry was innovative, what would he say? June 6th 1979 to March 17th 1987? He's just bored with games like a few other big names who have their chances to make an editorial about what they feel like talking about. The market is full of new gamers. But those people don't tend to write editorials about the end of photography or TV.

Artbot
06-13-2006, 11:14 PM
There really are only so many types of action gameplay in the known universe (not including word, puzzle or trivia games), and every game is a variation of these few basic types. I wish I could remember them all, but they are things like "capture the flag", "timed acqusition", etc. There were something like 7 of these and every level of every game ever made fits one of them or a combination of them. To say gaming is dead because there is no innovation is like saying blues music is dead because there are only a few chords and limited ways to combine them.

It's been proven over and over again that the same, tired old gameplay types can be made fun, exciting and profitable if they are combined and produced in imaginative ways. Yes, it's sad that every game company relies so heavily on copying what others have done, but that's how you get a publisher to fund your game. No publisher in their right mind would give you a dime if you say "we don't know what it is yet, but we will come up with a new type of gameplay never before known and we need your $10 million to do it." Click! That's the sound of them hanging up on you.

The truth is, if you have such a great idea for a new type of game that you think will be pure design genius and mega-profitable, then you should produce it yourself on a shoestring budget. If you are so certain it's groundbreaking and innovative, then you have nothing to lose, right? But it's a lot easier to run around saying the sky is falling than to work your ass off to create a fun and exciting game.

Johny
06-13-2006, 11:28 PM
creativity , in 95% of the games arent "dead" but simply Re-used. Can we fix it ? yes . do we want to ? no . graphics is all that matter now :(

UrbanFuturistic
06-14-2006, 12:58 AM
I was going to say "obviously he hasn't seen spore", but then I read:an industry that hasn't produced any innovation in at least a decadeUm, what?

Where has he been for the last decade? Hello? MMORPGs? Halo? Spore? Psychonauts? The Sims? Timesplitters 2? Destroy All Humans? Lost in Blue? Ratchet and Clank? Nintendogs? Phoenix Wright? Black and White?

Then there's his 'solution'. I can use his 'rules' and 'verbs' to create a story by talking to other people. Wow, now I can pay someone to put restrictions on something I can already do for free. It's as if someone took D&D and stuck all these prohibitive idiotic limitations on it and tried to charge people. Yup, that's innovative.

Also: It doesn't have all the features, so it's pre-alpha.No, that would make it alpha, when it has all the major features, it will be what we in the biz call 'beta'. Kay?Hollywood goes out of its way to provide itself with a seed stock of new talent and ideas, the games industry doesn't.Blitz Games has just closed applications for student open days and will have more, many games companies do placements. Sony are just one company I can provide direct evidence of being heavily involved in education initiatives.

I don't know what rock he's been hiding under for the last decade but I do hope he crawls back soon. I'm going to go and embrace interactive storytelling in my own way. For free. I call it my imagination.

That asides: I know there are some people here who are having trouble getting their stuff published, but I can only suggest you go the self-publishing route. Get some decent webhosting (I've seen http://www.bluehost.com/ suggested and they're bloody cheap for what you get), some cheap publicity pimping your game to various groups through word of mouth and see what happens. I mean, FFS, if some lameass muppetband can find fame and... well... fame putting their shit teenage angst on the internerd a good serious game should have no problem finding a foothold.

insanepoly
06-14-2006, 01:22 AM
His advice to combat the lack of creativity in games is to copy Hollywood closely. Oh yeah, that will get people to listen :rolleyes: .


In a year that saw the release of awful remakes like Poseidon and The Omen and that will see sequels like Scary Movie 4, Big Momma's House 2, Final Destination 3, Garfield's A Tail of Two Kitties and the latest Fast and Furious- yeah, what we all need to stimulate the creative juices is to follow closely the footsteps of Hollywood.

ambient-whisper
06-14-2006, 02:07 AM
His advice to combat the lack of creativity in games is to copy Hollywood closely. Oh yeah, that will get people to listen :rolleyes: .


In a year that saw the release of awful remakes like Poseidon and The Omen and that will see sequels like Scary Movie 4, Big Momma's House 2, Final Destination 3, Garfield's A Tail of Two Kitties and the latest Fast and Furious- yeah, what we all need to stimulate the creative juices is to follow closely the footsteps of Hollywood.

we dont need more companies to be like EA. thats for sure.

jdsb
06-14-2006, 02:31 AM
how can creativity be dead in an evolving industry?

CupOWonton
06-14-2006, 02:48 AM
One of the games that realy proves him wrong is Psychonauts. Heck, back on the N64, Conkers Bad Fur Day. Incredibly creative story and world. Sure, theyre both "platformers" or whatever, but so far we have only been able to generaly classify so many styles of gaming.

aesir
06-14-2006, 03:07 AM
This guy is insane if he thinks his idea will be at all sucessful. In order for his "interactive storytelling" to be successful, they either need to program a REAL Aritificial Intelligence controlling NPCs, or they need to script every possibility a player could make in a completely open ended universe. Theres a damn good reason why there arent any games like he wants. Currently, ITS NOT POSSIBLE. He can whine and bitch all he wants, but lets just see him make something innovative. My money is, he fails miserably.

aesir
06-14-2006, 03:08 AM
One of the games that realy proves him wrong is Psychonauts. Heck, back on the N64, Conkers Bad Fur Day. Incredibly creative story and world. Sure, theyre both "platformers" or whatever, but so far we have only been able to generaly classify so many styles of gaming.

Psychonauts was actually such a horrible financial failure that it practically destroyed the comapny. They lost an ASSLOAD of money on that because they were being innovative. The industry does not reward creativity.

P_T
06-14-2006, 03:10 AM
Where has he been for the last decade? Hello? MMORPGs? Halo? Spore? Psychonauts? The Sims? Timesplitters 2? Destroy All Humans? Lost in Blue? Ratchet and Clank? Nintendogs? Phoenix Wright? Black and White?

I agree with you except for Halo, correct me if I'm wrong but there's nothing innovative about it. Not saying it's a bad game or anything.

He obviously never played WoW or even watch that Leroy Jenkins video. Plenty of character interactions with organising an attack on boss monsters. And from that Leroy Jenkins video, I'd say it's not as great as he made it out to be.

With the verb thing he's talking about, it reminds me of the old Sierra's game where you have to type the commands to open doors, pick up objects etc. as well as RPGs where you click on the objects to pick them up.

noisewar
06-14-2006, 04:42 AM
I have so been there. And it's even come so far that a lot of gamedesigners have no intention of being creative. They just combine things they have seen on a low-level, instead of a complex level.

/student gamedesign ;)


Well the honest truth is that game design is as "dead" as consumer tastes. There's no point in being creative for creativity's sake, I'd argue that polish is what's more lacking from the industry. Take away video games, and people play the same five board games, watch the same five genres of movies, and read the same pulp they have since forever.

I'm of the mind that 99% of all stories in existence have been told already. Blackstone the magician once said that all the magic tricks in existence are just variations of 13 basic tricks, A turns into B, B turns into A, etc. So instead of creating Storytronics, how about creating a damn good story first?

JeroenDStout
06-14-2006, 10:58 AM
Everything 'has been done before', in a sense, that's true. But that's not a problem; people will gladly see someone feel the two basic instincts (James Bond), sex and death-wish, over and over again, because it's 'cool'. I feel that you don't need a brilliant story for a game, book or film. What you need to do is put all the known things together in a new interesting way, like, for instance, Psychonauts did. Only there's the market's problem;

The problem with the game market right now is that it's horridly infantile and hype-driven. In a sense, we should get people who now go to theatre find it interesting to play games, get another market than Mr. Headshot. The problem for that is, really, games may be mainstream (which seems worse than when they weren't, thanks to hype), they certainly have a very horrid imago facing that group.

And they're very expensive to make, too :) I can write a bad book and live, but write a bad game and sell everything I ever had.'

All and more than that combined also means there's an 'air' of combine old known things instead of combine old unknown things, destroying creativity at the root. Innovation is just a direction, creativity is what makes original games.

dunkelzahn
06-14-2006, 11:10 AM
When I look at the average overtime you need to work in the game industry, it´s no wonder nobody comes up with new innovations. Life is not about work-work-deadline-workmore. And so is creativity!!!

Chris

pixelmonk
06-14-2006, 11:22 AM
heh... I'm hoping he's not looking for a job back in the industry he just slammed.

-KDX-
06-14-2006, 12:51 PM
wanna know what's MORE dead...creativity in film.

GG.

no seriously...if I see one more romantic comedy, super hero movie based on already existing licenses, "epic battle scene," or movie where the plot revolves around witchcraft, stalkers, or serial killers....then I will scream.

everyone go watch 16 blocks or red eye...2 of the BEST movies of recent years...WHY??? Cause they are not cookie cutter BS.

-KDX-

DAZKevin
06-14-2006, 02:22 PM
DOH! Double post... please see my next post for the real post.

DAZKevin
06-14-2006, 02:23 PM
The problem was that they were trying to sell Psychonauts to the wrong audience... Why Did sega test Super Monkey Ball on GC first, and not on the larger user base of PS2? Because the GC gamer is looking for innovation, while the average PS2 gamer is looking for realism and blood. Had the company focused on a launch to a userbase looking for a game like Psychonauts instead of the Halo/FPS crowd, they would have seen much more than the $0 critical acclaim...
Obviously with MS's fingers so much in the pie on this, that wasn't going to happen...
Psychonauts was actually such a horrible financial failure that it practically destroyed the comapny. They lost an ASSLOAD of money on that because they were being innovative. The industry does not reward creativity.

CupOWonton
06-14-2006, 02:33 PM
Psychonauts was actually such a horrible financial failure that it practically destroyed the comapny. They lost an ASSLOAD of money on that because they were being innovative. The industry does not reward creativity.

That was because there was NO marketing of the game. Some ads in a magazine were all I saw of it. Same ad every time. Whoever up top decided they shouldnt market themselves should be slapped around a bit.

DAZKevin
06-14-2006, 02:37 PM
Really, I saw quite a few ad's on TV... but like I said, they were aimed at the wrong crowd...



That was because there was NO marketing of the game. Some ads in a magazine were all I saw of it. Same ad every time. Whoever up top decided they shouldnt market themselves should be slapped around a bit.

Gentle Fury
06-14-2006, 03:01 PM
The funny thing is, of all the entertainment industries abound it is Gaming that in my opinion has excelled and become more amazing and immersive every day. Music has become so repetitive and redundant it becomes hard to distinguish one carbon copy artist from another.....as was stated previously, movies are all sequels now (except in Korea....they know how to make original movies!!) and are flat out BORING!! It is the game industry that has been putting a LOT of effort and creativity into making something fun, immersive and entertaining all at the same time......think about it. If a movie sucks you already paid for it and you only have 1:30 to 2:00 to deal with it....not much of a loss.

If a game sucks....why would you bother spending 40+ hours and $60+ on it?? Plus nearly every game now has a free demo level to try it before you buy it....if the demo sucks...there is no money to be made...so there is a HUGE need for creativity in the industry.

So for someone to say the Video Game industry is dead....are either fiercely jealous that they are no longer a part of it, or stubborn as hell!

Atari will never come back for more than nastalgia.....deal with it. You can now go into target and by an atari controller with 20 games in it that plugs into your tv.....it is now a toy. Sorry.

agreenster
06-14-2006, 03:57 PM
So for someone to say the Video Game industry is dead....are either fiercely jealous that they are no longer a part of it, or stubborn as hell!


I completely agree. Before I started working at a game company, I hadnt played games in a while because I was so busy in school, etc etc. But now that I'm "back in," I've realized HOW MUCH I'd missed, and it had only been a couple years (though I still kept up with the big games). Sure, there is some redundant, uncreative stuff in this field, but there are also amazing and innovative things happening too. I just got a DS Lite, and I gotta say, Nintendo is poised for a major, major comeback, especially with Wii coming out this holiday. Innovation galore.

Its a good time to be in(to) games

Artbot
06-14-2006, 04:37 PM
After re-reading his interview, I think he is mistaking "innovative movie-making" for "Hollywood movie-making". He seems to connect Hollywood to all these (un-named) edgey, experimental movies, when in fact they are often made by filmmakers with no formal ties to Hollywood and its machinery. Is he referring to March of the Penguins? That's a French movie that Hollywood tarted up. Sin City? Made in an independent studio in Texas with fx shots done all over the world.

"Hollywood" is good for nothing but sequels and franchises and remakes of remakes. Unfortunately, I think this same cancer is afflicting the games industry, but it's not for lack of wanting to try something new - it's lack of money from publishers williing to shoulder the financial risk. The best thing the games industry could do is run screaming from Hollywood, but with the movie tie-in potential, that's not going to happen.

DAZKevin
06-14-2006, 04:43 PM
I see companies taking risks with games... Sure not every game is an innovative title... but teh general gaming public isn't looking for innovation...

They make a few "safe" titles that they know they will make money on, and then try a unique title... Industry insiders want to experiment as much as anyone else... they just need to be realistic. The industry isn't about creativity, people, or fun; it is about MONEY. When people stop buying the latest FPS or GTA Clone, and start picking up 'new' ideas, the industry will shift... but right now we need the generic sequels to fund the great games.

albedo4800hp
06-14-2006, 05:22 PM
I was
Where has he been for the last decade? Hello? MMORPGs? Halo? Spore? Psychonauts? The Sims? Timesplitters 2? Destroy All Humans? Lost in Blue? Ratchet and Clank? Nintendogs? Phoenix Wright? Black and White?


Remove Halo, Spore, Ratchet and Clank, Timesplitters 2, Black & White, Nintendogs from your list then you might be about right with the decade since these are just copy of a previous already existing game idea. Don't know much about Destroy All Humans and Lost in Blue to comment about them.

JeroenDStout
06-14-2006, 06:21 PM
I see companies taking risks with games... Sure not every game is an innovative title... but teh general gaming public isn't looking for innovation...
Modern entertainment is nothing but a colloseum in which lions fight and girls show boobies...

Bloody money. These days hardly anything is worth it if it doesn't make any money. And the things that are worth it without making money are the things that costs money. It's become like a big religion, don't touch the capitalism, with it's own rules about who can copy what idea and what sequence of bytes belong to whom.

Of course, it's nothing but natural for humans, but it gets on my nerves. I'm far more interested in pleasing the non-general public than vice versa. The general public can have fun with my game as much as with the next. For me as an artist, that's about the worst situation you can get.

noisewar
06-14-2006, 06:46 PM
wanna know what's MORE dead...creativity in film.

GG.

no seriously...if I see one more romantic comedy, super hero movie based on already existing licenses, "epic battle scene," or movie where the plot revolves around witchcraft, stalkers, or serial killers....then I will scream.

everyone go watch 16 blocks or red eye...2 of the BEST movies of recent years...WHY??? Cause they are not cookie cutter BS.

-KDX-


Hehe yes but at least in film, it is possible to find some fantastic work, even if it isn't at the theater. I agree with Crawford in that there IS more innovation and creativity in film, but it's a mature medium, and more accessible as well (although Machinima is changing that). Strip away the blockbusters for both industries and you'll find that film still has a lot more left. Getting a 16 Blocks or Red Eye done in games is much harder.

deadplant155
06-14-2006, 07:06 PM
"...I've been preaching this sermon for 20 years now…more than that, in fact, and I haven't seen any serious attempt to move in that direction."

wait, so he's been preaching that video game creativity is dead since the nes came out?....wow, he's so right, we haven't seen ANY new genres or creativity in the last twenty years....

seriously...

</sarcasm>

UrbanFuturistic
06-14-2006, 08:49 PM
Remove Halo, Spore, Ratchet and Clank, Timesplitters 2, Black & White, Nintendogs from your list then you might be about right with the decade since these are just copy of a previous already existing game idea. Don't know much about Destroy All Humans and Lost in Blue to comment about them.You're saying they had no innovation in them at all? Including Spore?

Riiiiight. :hmm:

JeroenDStout
06-14-2006, 10:18 PM
I think he didn't mean dead as 'whole dead', more like 'brain dead'.

Which is something I can be agreegeous upon :)


("AGRREEGEOUS?!" *hits Ross in the face*)

innermindseye
06-15-2006, 02:08 AM
its unfortunate. games used to be so creative. they would be totally random too. youd get walking eggs in indiana jones outfits, supermoles, flying teacups, infinitaley spawning rainbows to walk on etc etc....

the old amiga games would make a game out of totally anything. and make it good too. thats totally gone these days. theyre going for realistic situations. are semi realistic. not fun, querky, experimental.

i wish i could pin point what it is, but it seems like this is possible in 3d anymore with todays tech. wer goin for something different. hopefully with the wii well get this kind of stuff back.

(...)
06-15-2006, 09:20 AM
Post deleted by (...). Move along. Nothing to see here.

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