Fallacy

This article by Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett is pretty much textbook victory by definition.

Under his definition, even the games he listed don’t make the cut. If a game can’t make it for fancy AI or rendering, then certainly Dead Rising doesn’t qualify. Neither can F-Zero when the pseudo-3D sprite morphing (not parallax scrolling, which is entirely different) simply made a 2D game prettier. It didn’t “fundamentally change the way you approach a game”. Why cite Oblivion when nearly all reviews cited it as Morrowind but prettier? And isn’t citing any Wii game cheating? Sure, we could never have had Wii Sports before, but neither could we have Boom Blox or Tiger Woods PGA Tour in any reasonably proximal form.

His definition of innovation is weak and fruitless. It serves a pessimistic view of someone likely overloaded with the vast array of entertainment titles we have today.

The truth is that there is innovation coming from all corners – even some of the big companies. To only focus on a single point, a console launch, and limit your definition of innovations to any creative movement impossible before said point and unique beyond said point is silly.

We stand on the shoulders of giants, to quote Newton. Was the rise of the music genre not innovative even though Guitar Hero cribbed from Guitar Freaks? Is the rise of socially connected games (as on Facebook and such) not innovative even though all the firms seem to steal off each other? Is LittleBigPlanet not innovative because a watered-down version was conceived on PSP? Or is Braid not innovative because… well I don’t know why Plunkett wouldn’t call Braid innovative. Maybe because it feels like a Mario game at first touch?

Is an innovation in Madden insignificant? The PS2 version simply cannot do the gang-tackling or branched animations that the PS3/360 can do. It is still playing football. But so was the leap from the 2D Madden of the early 90s to the 3d Madden of the PS1 era. Go and play Madden 98 then play this year’s release. If there hadn’t been ten releases in between, would you call the leap innovative? Sure, you would. It is absolutely night and day. Why should the ten releases in-between matter?

I could list twenty games that have come out in the past four years that are decidedly innovative and in my opinion, next-gen. Is he not looking hard enough or is he just jaded from his job of reading boilerplate press releases all day?

5 Comments

  1. Designers may have ideas that are limited by computational power, but over time hardware improves and the number of things you can’t do becomes smaller exponentially. But we’re reaching a plateau where we’re more limited by ideas than hardware. No new hardware leap made Braid possible. It isn’t the superior hardware of the Wii console that makes the Wii remote possible.

    Graphics always get better, worlds always get bigger, and things always get more realistic. Yes, there have been leaps, but generally this is an evolution and not a revolution. It’s the gameplay ideas that this evolution has enabled that has been revolutionary, and we’re reaching the point where those ideas are becoming the limiting factor.

  2. It was the miniaturization of accelerometers and the development of MEMS gyroscopes that made the Wii remote possible.

    You wouldn’t have been able to build one at a reasonable cost even five years ago.

  3. Miniaturization may have enabled the form factor, but the technology has been around for a long time. I think a basic Wii remote with accelerometers and pointing could have been made in 2001 to support the PS2, had Sony wanted to make it.

  4. GPS technology has been around since the late 70s, but that doesn’t mean that the little Garmin dealies that came out this decade weren’t innovative.

    By the textbook definition of innovation, every game that makes it to market with a new concept is sufficiently innovative. I think what the author was looking for was revolutionary innovations, but those obviously are few and far between and to expect them just because a company comes out with a new console… it’s hard to make the connection.

    Few people also understand what it takes technologically to make these games. When 3d became the new vogue, everyone could see the radical shift in technology. Try explaining what goes on behind the scenes in Spore’s animation system though and you will get a lot of blank stares.

  5. The other big gains have been in things peripheral to the games themselves – user content, links to social networking sites, etc.

    Also, I think Gauntlet (in most of its incarnations, even the 3d ones) has as many enemies on screen at once as Dead Rising has.

    Though of course the worst part of the article is that it forgot to mention Tiger Woods when talking about the Motion Plus. *shakes fist*

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