As a comparatively young form of entertainment, gaming is in a constant state of exploration and evolution. Though this is mostly the purview of indie titles these days, the market is still always looking for new ideas and approaches. Gameplay and hardware, as the core of what makes interactive entertainment special, are the primary targets for those trying to expand. This can be a double-edged sword, however, where doing too little can result in a trite that players don't find engaging, and doing much can alienate and overcomplicate.

Staying Classic

Many components in gaming are so well established as to become part of the overall fabric of the industry. Jumping far too high, running far too fast, and shrugging off what should be lethal attacks are all examples in many video games, and they aren't going anywhere. We understand these concepts, we enjoy them, and even though video games might be new, this concept is not.

Joystick G22ad37c24 1920

Consider casino games as an example of a kind of big brother to video games. Those in the online sphere find their basis in established gameplay components that have proven themselves for at least twice as long as video games, sometimes dating back hundreds of years. Fire Blaze slots lean on a jackpot system that originated with mechanical slots over a hundred years ago. In 1986 this concept was updated with progressive jackpots, which now succeed in the online realm with titles like Green Wizard and Celtic Charm. The basics were there, expanded upon positively, and now the casino environment is better for it, but back in gaming, the changes made can be far less smooth.

Swings and Misses

Video games are constantly trying to reshape as much of the experience as possible to be the next new thing. Such moves inevitably result in many titles trying to reinvent the wheel, in both the hardware and software space, the results of which run the gambit. Sony learned this in the Cell architecture of the PS3, which Gran Turismo makers called a “nightmare” to work with.

For video games, one of the biggest examples of overreach in design is demonstrated by the ever-in-development Star Citizen. Originally announced in 2012, Star Citizen was seen by creator Chris Roberts as an entirely new experience that would reinvent what gaming and multiplayer could be. Over a decade and more than $560 million later, Star Citizen is still in early alpha, with an enormous number of missed deadlines including the first chapter of the Squadron 42 single-player campaign.

Board G74a441c07 1920

Gaming is defined by pushing the envelope, and thanks to its relationship with rapidly evolving tech, there have always been new things to try. Eventually, this pace has to slow. AAA gaming has become so expensive that few can hope to create or leverage the full power of new systems, and those that do are rarely going to risk their money on swinging for the fences. Instead, it's the indie community that continues to do the weird and wacky, but no pool of ideas is infinite. Eventually, the technology and language of gaming become more strictly defined, with fewer ideas left to explore. We'll always have enjoyable new experiences to jump into but measure the first few gaming generations against the last few, and the results are clear: evolution can't stay at a sprint forever.