Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. II, Issue 3    April 1998


By Adam Trionfo

There can be no relaxation if there is inspiration. Those who are tormented by a never-ending barrage of ideas know this to be true. There is no time to sit around and be lazy. The mind and hands must be creating something, anything. It isn't a matter of "What can I do today?" but rather, "What will I do today?"

Asking the former question puts emphasis on wondering what to do, which is different. It means that effort has to be made to figure out what there is to do. It could easily be rephrased as "Is there anything to do today?"

On the other hand, asking "What will I do" means that the choices are natural. No effort has to be made to come up with an idea. All that needs to be done is that a choice must be made from a mental list that has already been defined, sometimes existing for weeks. The spare time becomes rare and precious.

It has been said that ideas are a dime a dozen. It is completely true. That is why there can be no relaxation with inspiration. One's mind doesn't allow it.

Now, bringing this all back to video games, there can be no new games without inspiration. There would just be clones of popular games.

Not all cloned games are bad; some are wonderful improvements. But the great majority of creative effort is wasted upon rehashed ideas. Why? There is so much more to be explored! Granted, not every good idea is new. Money does need to be made to keep the industry alive. But why does the video game industry get stuck in a rut all the time? And why do companies release games that they know to be intolerable?

The 2600 era had a boatload of garbage shoot-'em-ups. Then the NES era gave us the tired platform game/movie tie-in concept. This idea seemed to hang around forever, living well into the 16-bit era. Now what do we have? We have fighting games, the titles of which may as well all end with "3-D." If Atari had lasted until now, the batch of games after the 2000 series would have been called, without a doubt, the 3-D series.

There is nothing to blame for any of this except for relaxation. We all want to relax. We all need to relax. It is what the video entertainment business is all about. People pay for games so that they can sit back in their living rooms and immerse themselves in other worlds. But too much of this is unhealthy. Inspiration will not occur. Creativity will not emerge while emulating someone else's work. It will lead to, at best, boring imitation.

We do not need more imitation in the video-game market; we need more imagination. There is only one way to let this happen: Put down the controller and do something. Create something. Not necessarily game-related -- just a creation that has come to mind through true inspiration, and brought forth with effort. The more effort, the better. Because eventually, an effort becomes a joy.

All right, put this down and get started. Give it some thought, but don't get caught-up in those thoughts. Get started when the first vague notions of inspiration take root. Grab that inspiration and go with it. Keep going until there is nothing left to be done. Then start on something more, something greater! -- AT