Writing on his Facebook page, acclaimed developer Warren Spector asked if the world “really need[s] another Wolfenstein game” in reference to the recently unveiled first-person shooter. “Did we need a generically dark, monochromatic, FPS, kill-the-Nazi-giant-robot game?” he wrote, adding that “No. The world did not. I am so tired of this.”
This outburst is in reference to the trailer for the game that depicts images of Nazi robots, guns, and violence. It all looks quite cool, though I can understand why Spector is so peeved by it: the sameness, the repetitiveness of it all.
He’s also quite taken aback by the voiceover: “Oh, and could we all just agree we’ll never use the generic gravelly whisper trailer voice guy ever again.” Well, that I can agree with, but I simply cannot get in line with this: “Please stop using Jimi Hendrix to promote your adolescent male power fantasies.” Hendrix’s cover of “All Along the Watchtower” is played throughout the teaser for the game.
Spector—I have all the respect in the world for you, but please, Hendrix is awesome. Hendrix can stay.
He later added that he’s not blaming Wolfenstein: The New Order specifically, but that he’s tired of shooters. He is “sick of a particular look and tone… particular trailer narration style… and [I am] worried about the state of the core game business.”
Further onwards, he asks whether anyone is worried about the state of the industry right now. He notes the presence of the indies, adding that the major publishers are not interested in selling anything besides generic shooters, sports, and action-RPG games.
Although it sounds like a rant, and it truly is, Spector raises an interesting and valid point. Why is the industry so fixated on a particular style? Why does everything have to be flat and grey? The answer is: they sell. These games bring in big money, and that’s what publishers are here to do—make money. It may sound crass, but it’s true, and it’s something we all have to live by. It’s a business, and a very profitable business at that.
The reason why anyone isn’t taking risks is because they can be financial disasters. Even big-budget games like Tomb Raider and Dead Space 3 have been reported not to meet their targets. Surprisingly, these aren’t even risky titles with radically different tones and themes. These were regular, ordinary games that simply didn’t sell as well as their publishers hoped they would. And that raises the question: why would they risk their precious resources on “different” things? Sadly, they won’t, so we’re stuck with and excited by games like Wolfenstein, among others.
Roger Ebert, the film critic who blew away the notion that “videogames are art”, is at it again. He has posted once more on his website, this time focusing on Clive Barker’s keynote address at this year’s Hollywood and Games Summit on June 26. An esteemed British novelist and video game auteur, Barker defended games as an artistic medium, which Ebert directly attacks by saying that “games could not be high art, as I understand it.”
His lengthy article on the issue takes individual statements from Barker and tries to counter them with his own opinions. He points out that “art seeks to lead you to an inevitable conclusion, not a smorgasbord of choices,” which is actually quite a contradictory statement by itself, mostly because most of the great “art” out there urge you to think and are not direct with their meaning.
Ebert sums up his argument by saying that “we can debate art forever.” Yes, Mr. Ebert, we obviously can, but you have to make sense in the debate and not ramble about incessantly about unrelated things.