Are You Tired of Playing the Same Game Over and Over Yet? I Know I Am

Why do you feel like you've played this game before? Because... you probably have. Game genres are getting fewer and fewer. Oh, look... the new Call of Duty has a Dog with pretty graphics!

When I was in High school, a new game came out that changed the world I lived in. It was called "Unreal" and life as I knew it had flipped on its head. Video games had a third dimension and games could actually include a variety of features that they couldn't before. It blew my mind... And it blew the mind of many of my classmates.

You live, you learn, you serve your community service and probation.

We wound up installing it on the computers at school to use their network to play each other. What fun! Turns out, though, that was seriously illegal, since that was government property.

Oh well. You live, you learn, you serve your community service and probation. 





It's like the gift that keeps on giving, even when you beg it to stop.

I think about those days a lot when playing games today. Mostly because I still play the same game. No... the servers are all down. And no one wants to play "Unreal Tournament" anymore...

But what about "Bioshock Infinite"? It may seem like a slightly different game, but it isn't. Not really.

Bioshock Infinite runs on the Unreal Engine that I played back in 1998 illegally on a school computer.

Sure the story has changed. There's been graphics upgrades and the weapons are different and Shyamalon wrote it a nice twist ending... but for the most part. I'm looking at a gun down the barrel towards things I shoot which for one reason or another are shooting back.

But why?

Yup... played this all through high school. Well over a decade ago.

Not much has changed in First Person Shooters.

That's true. But would you also believe that "Batman: Arkham City" ALSO used the Unreal Engine? So did "Mass Effect 3" and even "DC Universe Online". Why would so many games use the same engine? Especially games that are trying to be as different from each other as these are... (and yes, I know that they're slightly different versions of the unreal engine, but they're very similar).

Because it's cheaper than making something new.

And that's sadly true. Most games build innovation in other areas. Areas like story, graphics, and boobs. And I only really care about one of those.

Why would I settle for improvement in only some areas?

Imagine a third grader who is above average... then they grow up to be an eighth grader who is above average in Math Science and History. But he's still reading at a third grade level and eating paste. We wouldn't consider that a decent state of his mental development. We'd wonder why he was lacking. And probably also wonder why no one's checked on his development in the past years so we could've seen these problems arising.

"Most games build innovation in other areas. Areas like story, graphics, and boobs."

In films, we don't accept this level of stunted growth.

A movie with a great script that was shot on 15mm will still be viewed as flawed due to the availability of making better films. So why are video games immune to the pressure? And before you say we've come up with nothing better. I challenge you to look at some really creative engines made in the past decade.

There are some fun new Engines that prove creativity isn't dead.

No seriously, this is progress.

#1 Katamari Damacy

Remember rolling a ball and picking up stuff? Simple? Yes. But it was popular because we'd never seen anything like it. That and the fact that the soundtrack will never leave your head...

You're humming it now, aren't you?

#2 Guitar Hero

Seriously, not a complex system, But it was unique and as a result it sold very well. This one also filled in the niche of those of us who will never play live at a huge rock show to a huge audience but still like to pretend. I'm looking at you, Tom Cruise...

#3 Cryengine (Crysis)

But... this is... Oh come on. It's another FPS engine. Are you seriously unable to be even slightly creative when creating new things?

I take it back. Maybe creativity IS dead.

I miss playing new and unique things. If you ever played the Deception Series from Tecmo, you'll know what I'm talking about. It's a game that breaks new ground in Gameplay rather than just minor cosmetic upgrades. A game that puts you in a place where you're unable to fight your enemies directly. But must, instead, utilize individual room layouts to plan elaborate Rube Goldberg traps to launch, spring, pound, fling, and bounce enemies all over the environment. "Kagero: Deception 2" remains one of my favorite games of all time as a result (Just ahead of Harvest Moon).

It's about the time that you're dropping a rock on a guy's head that you realize that this truly is the pinnacle of gaming.

I wish there was a better answer. A way to tell developers that we want more than a reskin of a game released in 1998. (Though a reskin of "Redneck Rampage" might be kind of fun.) Games used to be diverse. Real Time Strategy, Turn Based Strategy... Now only the very best of those genres are alive today.

Whole genres are disappearing.

Games only want to be the biggest game out there. And so they all want to be Call of Duty. But I'm sick of "Call of Duty". I've been playing it since "Unreal" in 1998.

Why keep them around? Games only want to be the biggest game out there. And so they all want to be Call of Duty. But I'm sick of "Call of Duty". I've been playing it since "Unreal" in 1998. I want another "Final Fantasy Tactics"... Like "Vandal Hearts". I want another "Intelligent Qube". Or a new "Tetris"... But mostly, I want a new genre. Whole new ways of gaming. I want to play a game because there isn't anything else like it, not because I like the other games that are basically the same thing.

In the meantime, we can always go back to "Plants vs. Zombies" or "Angry Birds". Oh, look... the new Call of Duty has a Dog with pretty graphics. 

Featured Contributor

Chad Tindale is one of the writers for He's half comedian, half observational commentator. A frequent host for MMO related events at Dragon*Con, his excessive personality is almost as much a feature as his information about games.

Published Nov. 12th 2013
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    As weird as it is to say today, I miss the oddball Japanese niche titles we got on consoles in the 1990's to early 2000's. Unfortunately, what once what seemed like an infinite amount of creativity from the East has dried up (though to be sure, Western devs were no slouches during this period. It was more about pushing technical limits with them at the time, though. IIRC anyway). Big publishing and the 'safety' that comes with it has eaten the industry in every country.

    The lack of creativity we see today has driven me away from the console space (and AAA titles) to solely picking up indie games. Big publishing is only interested in numbers, we're not going to see the passion and vision from them that we saw so commonly 10 to 20 years ago.

    All of this is why some people say gaming is dead. If not for the creativity coming out of today's indie devs, I'd be inclined to agree with them.
  • Ryan Kerns
    Featured Columnist
    Interesting article, but you're looking at things from the wrong perspective. The games you mention are all from giant publishers who are the least likely to take any risks. The executives that green light these games usually only follow formulas that are proven to make money (much like the movie industry).

    For originality you have to go smaller and look at Indie games built outside of that bubble. This year alone we've had The Stanley Parable, Brothers: A Tale of 2 Sons, Gone Home, and lots of others... we had Journey and Fez last year... and games like The Witness just around the corner.

    The only problem is these smaller budget games don't have huge advertising budgets... so to the average person it might seem all the games that are being heavily advertised are the same.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Really good read man. Looking forward to more. Made me laugh Ina few parts. Thanks!

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