I recently found myself in a rather interesting video game-related conversation. My friend and I were playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, and he asked me if I could live without first-person shooters.
It was an interesting question that I didn’t answer so quickly. I thought of a world without first-person shooters. I imagined the gaming industry being filled with more adventure games. Madden would still be wildly popular. And role-playing games would have more of a presence in the industry than they do now.
Some of the biggest publishers in the business wouldn’t be so big. And there would be a chance that smaller studios would have the ability to develop worthwhile games without worrying so much about the industry’s high barriers to entry.
After visualizing all that, I reasoned that yes, I could live in a world without first-person shooters. Moreover, I think I’d prefer that world.
Now, I’m sure that there are many gamers out there that scoff at such a statement. They love first-person shooters and derive all kinds of enjoyment from them. To them, the thought of first-person shooters being expelled from the gaming industry is too much to bear.
But when I look at first-person shooters, I think of a category of games that might have done more to hurt the industry than help it. Many of the titles are big on graphics and action, but lacking in storylines and in-depth gameplay. The success of first-person shooters has helped spur a get-rich-quick mentality in the industry that causes developers to turn their backs on innovative ideas and stick with the run-and-guns that are most likely to make money.
Worst of all, every time I play a first-person shooter, I’m reminded of how derivative they really are. I’m a solider of some sort that needs to stop a catastrophe. I have weapons and grenades. Every now and then, I can get into a vehicle. Often times, the same voice actors are in multiple games. And in the vast majority of cases, the multitplayer element is given more thought than the single-player campaign.
When it comes to first-person shooters, it’s the same game with a different name.
Of course, I realize that I’m probably one of a select few that can live without first-person shooters. After all, games like Call of Duty: Black Ops continue to set sales records. People around the globe salivate at the thought of sniping others from a perch online. Playing a first-person shooter is simply the favorite pastime of millions of people around the globe.
Luckily for those folks, first-person shooters are here to stay. They represent too much revenue potential for developers to shelve them now. And franchises like Call of Duty have become such an integral part to the financial operations of companies that the chances of first-person shooters not coming to store shelves in droves seem awfully slim.
So, we don’t need to worry about living in a world without first-person shooters. But if we did, I think I’d be just fine.
What about you?
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear