Does the video game industry need to grow up?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that FPS gaming hasn’t had an OMG moment since Quake OpenGL?

The same malady plagues the realm of real-time strategy where games like Rise of Nations or Age of Empires are the exception – and plodding evolution, rather than revolution is the rule.

Quantic Dreams boss and Heavy Rain director David Cage apparently feels the same way, as he recently told GamaSutra the video game industry really “needs to grow up.”

“I think we should have more courage in our industry and take more risks, because I think this is what the industry needs now. I mean, how many first person shooters can you make? How many monsters/aliens/zombies can you kill in games? We need to grow up,” he emphasized.

“I often think that the industry suffers of the Peter Pan syndrome. It’s the fact that we don’t want to grow up, so we stay kids. But there is a moment where you need to grow up as an industry. And you cannot keep up with the Peter Pan syndrome. You need to grow. And I think this is the right time.”

Similarly, Epic Mickey director Warren Spector told EuroGamer studios and developers should work to shift their efforts to advancing in-game AI (artificial intelligence), rather than focusing on weapons and intense combat. 

“I’ve been actively trying to shame some of my fellow developers, specifically John Carmack and Tim Sweeney. Can you imagine what games would look like if those two guys spent as much time working on non-combat AI as they do on rendering? Can you imagine what games we would have if John Carmack decided he wanted to create a believable character as opposed to a believable gun?

“Those guys are way smarter than I am. I don’t know how to solve the problem, but they could figure it out. We focus a little bit too much on violence, but we all know how to do it. It’s easy. And a lot of players seem to like it. It isn’t all we can do and it certainly isn’t all we should do.”

Kudos to Cage and Spector for speaking up. Of course the industry isn’t going to change overnight, as studios and developers can’t afford to ignore the law of supply and demand. 

Nevertheless, I doubt if anyone can deny the need for real change, especially when it comes to advancing AI, particularly for NPCs.

Just think about how much better games like Skyrim would be if AI capabilities took a giant leap forward. 

Yes, multiplayer may be a short-term answer for weak AI, but I don’t think anyone is quite ready to write off the first-player genre just yet.