'Almost every game or film is a cliché these days'

Mailbox: Are original ideas dead?

On last week's mailbox Grant Clover e-mailed in to say he feels the 'detecting' part of LA Noir could have done with a little attention paid to its fidelity, and that overall the game is both overrated and underrated.


This week Chris Wyer says maybe we should stop pointing out how everything is a cliché especially since the amount of content being released makes it difficult to have a completely original thought.

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Take it away Chris.

The more I read reviews of games and movies, the more shocked I get about how often the word 'cliché' is used. Near enough, every game or film is a cliché these days. Why? Mostly because of the sheer abundance of games out now - there is nearly always something that has done what a new, ambitious game may be trying now. But it doesn't make them a cliché, or even unoriginal.

The sad truth is that, because of how many games and films there are, every developer and director is scared of being labelled a copycat, which is why we constantly get remakes of old games, films and books, which in turn happens to be the least original thing you can do. We all want fresh ideas, but they are becoming rarer and rarer.

Media, at its purest form, is just escapism. So as long as games make us forget how rubbish our lives are for a few sweet hours, who are we to complain that games aren't doing anything new? In fact, if you look at sales figures, gamers don't even want original. The same games are always in the charts, when amazing original games like Beyond Good & Evil are cruelly overlooked.

So maybe it's time we stop looking for new ideas, and just switch our brains off and have fun with what we have. After all, isn't that the whole point of videogames?

PSM3 says: We're not sure we understand your argument that fear of 'copycat games' is driving a trend for remakes, but agree that while most people claim to love 'originality', their buying behaviour shows a preference for safety and 'tested' quality.

The simplest message is the easiest to sell: CoD is war. FIFA is football. GTA is crime. What's BG&E? If even the marketing men don't really know (they failed to explain it to the gaming press...), what chance has the public got? Our contention is that pricing needs to change.

A novel but 'risky' game sold for £17 on PSN might stand a better chance against Call of Duty - or act as a complementary purchase - if it's not stacked on the same shelf, at the same high price.

CVG says: There's plenty of orignal, creative games doing well, they're just not given huge multimedia marketing campaigns and all over store shelves, nor are their sales numbers usually publicly available. We're talking about PSN, XBLA and indie games.

We're not sure we can get behind you, especially when you take into consideration games like Journey, Bastion, Limbo and the like which are doing interesting things on their respective platforms.