Video Game Articles 3

Creativity Coming Back to Computer Game Industry?
January 24, 2008
In the summer of 1985, when I was only seven, Family Computer (NES*) came to my home. TV games at that time were not as “gorgeous” as they are today. Family Computer is an 8-bit console, and the capacities of the most ROM cartridges were less than 1 Mbyte, severely limiting the picture and sound qualities of the games. Still, my friends and I were caught up in the games every day because each game was so uniquely made with limited capabilities.
Maybe, the capabilities like graphics and sounds are becoming less important again. Recently, a report showed Nintendo’s edge over Sony in the Japanese game industry (See Tech-On! article), yet another evidence of Nintendo’s comeback. According to the report, the market shares of Wii and Nintendo DS are more than twice as large as those of PS3 and PSP. However, as for the the graphics capabilities, users are much more satisfied with PS3 and PSP than with Wii and DS.
This may sounds odd, but higher capabilities of game consoles do not always allow game creators to use more creativity. On the contrary, because the cost to develop a computer game increases, they can spend less time to work out new ideas in need of cutting the total cost. And now, game programmer is one of the most ill-paid and toughest jobs in Japan.
In the 1980s, because of the low capabilities of Family Computer, ideas were everything. And the game creators could and had to rack their brains to come up with novel ideas to make up for the low picture and sound qualities. In Japan, most genres of TV games, such as RPG (role-playing game), “adventure game,” “simulation game” and “fighting game,” were established in the ’80s. Very few genres, including MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) and “sound novel,” were established in the ’90s and 2000s.
Nintendo stopped pursuing the traditional indicators of good game console, and, with its motion-sensitive controller and touch screen, allowed game programmers to use their creativity as it did with Family Computer two decades ago. Maybe I’m being a bit retrospective, but I am excited about the resurrection of this good old trend in the Japanese game industry.
*NES = Nintendo Entertainment System


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