Hello, fellow game developers! I was sitting in my room, as my custom is until my car is fixed and my summer job starts, and I was playing some Super Mario Brothers. When suddenly I realized, I am unable to finish many of my own games not because of a large work load or lack of talent but because of my own pretentiousness.
Let me explain the nature of what it is to be pretentious. A basketball player who insures himself that he can end world hunger with his jump-shot is pretentious. An actor without any political background or schooling who thinks they can lead a third world country out of socioeconomic depression and into extreme prosperity is unbelievably pretentious.
Merriam Webster Defines pretentiousness as follows:
1. : characterized by pretension: as
a : making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) <the pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him — Richard Watts>
b : expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature <pretentious language> <pretentious houses>
Catch my drift? Don't get me wrong, we all we to create something of value to effect the greater good. Its our dream and to us anyone that tells us differently sounds like a jaded, cynical asshole. But at some point you have to see the truth. A basketball player is simply a sportsman and an actor is simply an actor. They fill because they have a following and the power of money that they can do more than they actually can even though they have no knowledge or understanding to back up their claims.
Now, how does pretentiousness pertain to game development? Firstly, you must realize what a game is. A game is a multimedia project with the main focus of creating interactive experiences. Misunderstandings grow out of potential game developers lack of understanding concerning the nature of games BECAUSE of it's multimedia nature.
Games contain music, but that doesn't mean they are meant to revolutionize the creation of sound.
That's what orchestras and bands are for.
Games contain cinematics, but that doesn't mean they are meant to revolution the mise en scene of cinema.
That's what movie making actors and directors and cameras are for.
Games contain literature, but that doesn't mean they are meant to stir the human spirit, enlighten and teach.
That's what novels and text books are for.
Games are interactivity. Nothing more, nothing less. All of the music and extra quality graphics and writing and cinematics are simply to bridge or enhance the interaction.
Don't fool yourself, interaction is what it is all about. Simply because games are constantly wrapped in a concept of some sort and given a skin full of symbols and representations of that concept we believe that the conventions define the aesthetic, which is horribly wrong. Games are the art of interactivity. Creating new forms of interactivity to inspire what it feels like to experience things known and unknown. A common misconception among game developers is that they can embody the concept of their game in packaging, graphics, story and sound alone; then throw in an convention interaction aesthetic. This is not game design. This is simple the regurgitation of someone elses interactive concept with a shit load of extra frosting.
If the interactivity is not conducive of the concept without the sound, graphics, writing and especially cinematics, it is a failure and the person in charge is not a game designer!
Pretentious ideas lead developers to embark on projects using a medium they don't understand. Regurgitated interactivity with extra fluff ends up the result. The gaming industry is at it's apex now as an art form. Video games are everywhere and the technical limitations have all but disappeared. Billions of dollars are exchanged for games but the games that are being churned out have become increasingly poor in quality because of pretentious concepts and an unwarranted need to compete with the cinematic quality of Hollywood. The art of creating thoughtful and innovative interaction has become an after thought.
If you are reading this and are an aspiring game developer it is imperative that you go back to the roots of game development so you don't help in the perpetuation of shallow games aimed more at making money than making people smile and enjoy themselves.