Ever since their introduction to society, video games have been a source of great wealth, and controversy. The industry has exploded in recent years, leading to a surge in jobs and an even bigger number of people trying to get their start. There is no denying however that the industry has always been ever changing, always adapting itself to match the modern day needs of society. Video games have arguably gone through the greatest change in the past five to ten years however. So much has changed in such a short period of time, the next generation of gaming consoles have been released, both pushing the boundaries of what a system game do and blurring the lines of what people believe its meant to do. They’ve even started making the move to an all digital approach, with services like Steam revolutionizing digital distribution in a way no one thought would actually work. Video games just this year became the highest yearly grossing entertainment industry, making money that the film industry could never even dream of seeing, this is largely in part due to the already established companies like Electronic Arts. However, video games have seen a new rise in amateur talent with small companies of twenty people like Mojang making over 800 million dollars off their creation, Minecraft. All of this leaves me with the ultimate question of my future, Where do I fit in in a rapidly changing world and how do I adapt to it?
Arguably the most startling change to the gaming industry was a push towards an all digital approach to distribution. This is a change that literally has the entire industry divided straight down the middle. However, if there’s any proof that an all digital approach can be successful, it’s the online service, Steam. Steam provides a huge selection of 1000’s of games while also allowing people to build communities. Its success on such a massive scale was something that no one could have possibly believed would have worked. Another interesting little disruption is a service called OnLive. OnLive is unique because it allows the player to play games, console title games, in a web browser without any discs or downloads. It of course requires a purchase of the games, but it even allows the to be played on tablets. OnLive and other services like it are definitely changing how gaming functions with an entirely new way to play.
Another shocking development mad in gaming recently has been the rise of indie games and developers. If one was to look back ten years ago, they would see that indie titles largely ranged from being absolutely terrible to being some what decent, and while that is true today to an extent, there has been a considerable rise in amateur talent. The prime example is of course the famous Minecraft, created by Mojang, a studio of roughly twenty people. Minecraft has become a worldwide multimillion dollar phenomenon. But games don’t always have to be complex, a game as simple as Doodle Jump, which was designed by two people has sold over 100 million copies on the iTunes app store. The fact is, being an indie developer is more promising now that it ever was five or even ten years ago.
The biggest change in the industry that affects myself personally is easily the sudden and rapid change in technology. The technology utilized to create a game has evolved at an astounding rate in the past 5 years alone. The even more amazing thing about this is that these innovations are also commercially available. There are multiple kinds of software that one can download and start building a game with. Its easier then ever before to build a game from home with products like Unity available for 75 dollars a month. Jeremiah Slaczka(Creative Director at 5th) said, when asked what the most important change to gaming in the past ten years was, “This is an easy question for me, the availability of platforms. We went from devs only being able to make big budget console and PC games to opportunities in flash, iPhone and mobile, downloadable titles like XBLA/PSN/WiiWare, the PC casual market and even Facebook games. It’s an incredible time to be a game developer or to try to get into the industry because you have so many avenues for success”. This is entirely the point I am trying to make. With the new availability of software, it is easier than ever to get into the industry and become a big success.
So, the ultimate question really is, how do these things effect me and how will I find my place in an industry that changes radically every two years or so? Well the greatest strength to have in this industry is flexibility, there are always new things appearing, whether its new concepts or tools to build those concepts. Things are always changing and If I’m not willing to adapt to them, I’m going to get left in the dust. Fortunately, this is a better time than ever to start getting into game design. With the rise of independent development in gaming, it is far easier than it has ever been for myself to get into the industry. Seeing as I have access to the tools I need to make a game, it puts the power in my hands in a way we’ve never seen before in the industry. After doing my research I can see that the number one thing I need in the industry, more than skill is knowledge. I need to be know about what’s changing in the world around me and I need to be willing to take the steps necessary to embrace these changes. I know I have the want and the drive to get into the industry; video games have been a huge part of my life, both now and growing up. I can safely say, I’m more than willing to take big steps forward as opposed to playing it safe.