Monday, August 3, 2020

Blaugust Prompt-a-Palooza Day #4: Underrated Is the New Overrated

What type of content do you feel is severely underrated?

I bounced around several ideas for this topic. Are non-combat features still underrated in games? Considering how many survival games include crafting or exploration into their themes I'm inclined to say no. How about features that foster the creativity of a game's players? I'm not sure that's been true ever, and especially not true since every human being on earth owns at least one copy of Minecraft.

I guess my struggle with this prompt brings two points to bear. Firstly, its difficult to get an accurate read of what the zeitgeist is doing nowadays. We may be more connected than ever thanks to the Internet, but we've all been filtered into easy to market silos that it's difficult to get a grasp on the bigger picture. What's super popular in video gaming? Probably several mobile games I don't play and never will play. Are standard platformers and action-adventures actually the underrated releases now a days? From a certain perspective the answer is probably yes, but we know in our gut that it isn't true.

Which brings up my second point: is anything underrated in an industry as successful as video gaming right now? Genres that aren't exactly in vogue right now still have a steady clip of releases on Steam. The RTS genre might not be getting any AAA releases any time soon. But Steam shows that plenty of interesting looking, and well received, titles come out every week. There's 100 point-and-click adventure games on Kickstarter at any given moment. You can simulate being a tank mechanic, murder your friends, build a bridge, and drive a rally car across Argentina

I don't doubt that there is a niche that is currently being unfulfilled for someone. And no doubt this is especially true for someone who doesn't have the typical interests of a middle-class white American male. But as it stands there really is an impressive amount of coverage in the games industry right now. Whether that's sustainable economically is probably the bigger problem. 

So I'm not sure if trying to suss out what is 'underrated' ends up being a useful question. If the game industry was more efficient at matching player's interests with the games already available it would be something I would be more concerned about. But right now I suspect that most people have more game options they would enjoy than they could ever hope to play through in a lifetime. Doesn't mean things couldn't be better, just that things are pretty good right now.

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