Well, I thought that I would start off April’s roster of articles by throwing all of my dusty old “retro” games into the dustbin and talking about the exciting world of modern gaming. In particular, I’ll be talking about what my research into this thriving, scrupulous and reputable industry can teach artists and writers when it comes to presenting their works to the public.
After all, the modern mainstream gaming industry is absolutely adored by their millions of customers, so they must be doing something right. Right?
1) DLC: “DLC” stands for “Downloadable Content” and it is all the rage these days! Whilst gamers of the past had to suffer through full-size official expansion packs and a bewildering plethora of extra fan-made levels for their games, modern gamers have none of these problems!
No, they can just buy small, low-calorie portions of extra content directly from the games companies for a reasonable fee. Not only that, this downloadable content can sometimes also help to provide an extra sense of closure to fans by telling them how the stories of their favourite games actually end. Recent advancements in this exciting new field include randomised “loot boxes” that allow players to experience all the thrills of the casino from the comfort of their living rooms. It is truly an exciting time to be a gamer 🙂
So, how does this popular and well-loved business practice relate to fiction? Well, the simplest way to add some trendy new “DLC” to your latest novel is simply to remove the final two to four chapters and sell them separately. Yes, some miserable old fogies might accuse you of “fraud” or bang on about the days when novels used to be “complete” self-contained things. But, your hip young fans will be eager to enjoy the experience of buying the same book twice. After all, where’s the fairness in only allowing people to enjoy that “new book” feeling once?
But, what about you artists out there? Well, the process is a little bit more complicated. But, I imagine that it would probably look a little bit like this:
Your audience will love you! They’ll be queuing up in the streets! Look, some of them are even carrying pitchforks to help with your gardening too!
2) Standardised content ratings: One of the greatest success stories in the European gaming industry was the introduction of standardised PEGI content ratings across almost all of Europe.
By applying a single ultra-strict “one size fits all” set of censorship rules across more than thirty countries, Europe is leading the way in protecting younger gamers from the corrupting evils of “mild bad language” and “Non realistic looking violence towards human characters”.
But, why stop at games? Surely, we writers and/or artists have a moral responsibility to introduce something similar in our own fields? After all, think back to your own youth and how seeing or reading age-inappropriate creative works hindered and stifled your own creativity. How, far from making you feel like a “rebel” or making you feel like making art and/or writing fiction were “cool” activities, it left you filled with shocked moral indignation!
Well, a standardised world-wide age rating system for all creative works would soon solve all of those problems. All of the next generation of writers and artists would only be inspired by wholesome, age-appropriate things. Just imagine how much better all of the books, paintings, comics etc.. that come out within the next couple of decades will be.
3) System requirements: If there’s one word that defines the exciting world of the modern computer games industry, it is “progress”! Game companies are always pushing the limits of new hardware, and real gamers are eager to upgrade their systems as much as twice weekly just to keep up.
When a PC gamer looks at the “system requirements” segment of a game’s website, they don’t think that it’s some kind of discriminatory system of exclusion designed to favour the wealthiest and/or trendiest of gamers. No, such silly thoughts do not enter their minds for one second.
Instead, smiling with glee, they eagerly rush out to buy a new £450 liquid nitrogen cooling system for the £700 graphics card that they need in order to use the latest £1200 virtual reality headset. Progress! An example to us all!
Alas, both art and fiction are stuck in a rut by comparison! We live in a world where any literate peasant can pick up a book and read it, or a world where anyone with functioning un-modified eyeballs can gaze upon any work of art. We’re stuck in the past!
As such, I propose a radical upgrade to the English language. English 2.0! If you can’t take the time to spend an extra five years in school to learn it, then s8BB@~## t%8 (“sod off, old fogey!”).
Likewise, artists have been constrained by the fact that their works must appear within the visible light spectrum. It is only the stubborn consumer’s backwards unwillingness to try new experimental ocular surgery that prevents exciting new art made using the infra-red and ultra-violet light spectrums from gaining the mainstream popularity that it deserves. Honestly, these so-called art connoisseurs could learn a lot from the humble PC gamer!
4) Day one patches: Modern games companies are eager to get their games out to players as soon as possible! Who cares if a game is technically “finished” or not? The modern gamer will have pre-ordered the game two years ago and will expect something, even just a collection of glitches and error messages, at the appointed time!
Back in the bad old days of cartridges and discs, gamers were forced to languish for months whilst they waited for companies to “finish” making their games. But, in this modern connected age, any small oversights from game developers can easily be corrected via small downloadable “patches” (which are only mere gigabytes in size) that can be released soon after the game goes on sale.
We artists and writers can learn a lot from this! Don’t have time to finish that novel? Well, you can always put out that rough draft of the first three chapters at full price and correct the rest later in an “updated” version. Likewise, the laughably old-fashioned days when an artist actually had to complete a painting before showing it to the public have thankfully long since passed:
Isn’t this watercolour painting awesome? What? I’ll patch it in about a week or so. You DID pre-order, didn’t you?
Happy April Fool’s Day everyone 🙂 Normal articles/reviews will resume tomorrow 🙂