Toby tries (and fails?) to predict what the next big trend in gaming will be.
By Toby McCasker on August 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm
I am going to take 101.6% credit for picking the current cyberpunk trend. It was me. You know it, I know it, OK. We’ve now got a Shadowrun remake, Watch Dogs to really look forward to, and Cyberpunk 2077 in the works for the actual year of 2077, by the sounds of it. The less said about Remember Me the better, but it has begun.
Granted it was maybe a fortuitous coincidence — a socially awkward bump between planetary planets — but I like to think it was that wish I made last year as I blew the flames from my birthday cake in a series of about one hundred breathes and then collapsed (I’m a smoker, get off my back, just let me have this one vice, I gave up dwarf-throwing what more do you want DAD).
Naturally, it falls to me, Toe-bi-ass ‘Triggerlegs’ McCaskwine (I hate you, everybody), to predict The Next Big Thing In Big Bangs. Are you paying attention, giant game publishers run by clueless old white profiteers? Grand. Let’s go.
If we trek back through recent game development history (not much of a trek, just step outside briefly), we can see that of late, the following have taken center-stage to become trends that invariably go from fun to incredibly played out.
Brown military shooters. Still in effect but fading fast. Even Call of Duty is starting to introduce, like, flying metal horse drones that shoot capitalist lasers or something. I just don’t care.
Comic hero games that suck. Chalk this up to Hollywood’s priapism for forcing intercourse on Marvel and DC’s extensive libraries of spandex and abs. Plus Batman: Arkham Asylum and City were excellent. Hmmm…
Zombies. Shambling cadavers have been in a perpetual state of pop-cultural uprising for years now, and gaming has not been exempt from their ungentle caress. Left 4 Dead really ‘got it,’ although it will be a very derpy moment if they end up making it to Left 4 Dead 4.
Failed resurgences: Dead Space tried to make survival-horror happen again and then bitched out with Dead Space 3, totally capping that idea in the ass. Stealth isn’t coming back either, just forget it like Kojima forgot David Hayter. Dragon Age II took the series mainstream and was met with a darkened sky of pointed meh, thus helping to scare big money away from fantastical fantasy RPGs (DON’T YOU DIE ON ME, INQUISITION). This is depressing let’s move on.
“But this game has a new hat!” doesn’t work a second time. Those mutable tides of favour that ebb and flow beneath whatever gamingdom’s chief nerds think might make cool gaming eventually have to tide off elsewhere. Looking at all my scientific data up there that is not at all anecdotal, we get the sense a trend must be little different. It’s not like music. Genres don’t ‘come back’ to the fore after an extended leave of absence makes the nostalg grow fonder. They just get dated by advances in hardware.
In gaming trends are decided either by a super-successful game (ie. Call of Duty), or someone pointing out that something unrelated but contextually malleable is awesome and should be exploited for gamey gain (ie. Cyberpunk, which had no contemporary ‘spark’). The only way to figure them out is guess, or wake up and smell what’s cooking.
That smell would be the faint odour of the rise and rise of Gritty Realism, an interesting, emergent development considering each of its advance scouts step liberally into the backdrops of other genres and trends either declining or gone. Think: Telltale’s The Walking Dead, The Last Of Us, Dishonored, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the new Tomb Raider… they show their protagonists no mercy. They make women and children do despicable things, not just men. They are all death metal as hell.