"Perhaps we're not putting enough skulls on things… we could license celebrity skulls."
Fair warning: this is a bit of a ramble. A bit of a rant, too, but mostly a polite one. Nevertheless, it's worth watching all of game designer David Hayward's talk about how thinking of video games as industry stifles video games as a creative culture. Here's some more of his thoughts from an accompanying blog post:
The explosion of new games and independent developers that's been reverberating for the past seven years isn't just an expansion of the games industry, it's an expansion of games and game cultures.
Game development is cultural activity, and if most independent developers seem bound to suffer the poverty of authors, artists and musicians, why is so much of what they do still bound to industry?
Thousands of games funneled every year like cattle toward a marketplace. Selling should not be the only route to an audience, but in the UK it feels like there are few alternatives. Funding for cultural projects has largely dried up, and it's skewing games horribly towards selling over creating. This does not help us explore the expressive range of a medium.
Hayward puts together the Feral Vector game design festival, so these ideas are clearly close to his heart. But, it's not that hard to imagine that dozens, hundreds of game-makers around the world having the same kinds of concerns. It's not necessarily about being AAA or indie. It's about whether your work and creativity gets treated as disposable or as lasting.