I remember playing 3D Monster Maze on my Spectrum a very long time ago. It was slow as all hell and didn't really compare to Manic Miner. I don't think I or any of us knew back then that this would go onto to be the dominant genre in video games.
Yes, this counts as an FPS despite the lack of iron sights
The FPS has dominated the PC industry since the mid-nineties. It made the leap to huge console success with Halo and has grown to dominate the HD consoles.
Is this dangerous? Of course not, there is always one popular genre in every medium. It shouldn't be but the business side of the industry is making it dangerous. Everyone wants the next Halo or Modern Warfare. These games sell therefore this is what the publishers want. You know what this reminds me of?
The American comic book industry.
This was once a diverse field that, thanks to excessive censorship in the 1950s, was pretty much flattened. Science fiction stories were pretty much the only stories that could be made thanks to the restrictive comics code. This quickly moved on into the resurgent super hero genre which exploded in popularity first at DC then Marvel. This is what sold so everybody made them.
Cut to today. You have a comic industry with a shrinking reader ship being fed essentially the same stories. New readers are difficult to come by and everyone is scared to try new things as only superheroes sell.
Now I'm not saying this is the be all and end all of the comic industry. Other genres exist but for mainstream comics its pretty much only the superhero that is given to the public. This is the danger that faces video games. Shelf upon shelf of marines fighting marines in grey and brown colour schemes. Innovation tucked in the corner and pushed to one side.
Maybe the problem isn't necessarily the genre but the type of game. It's become essentially the same product, Modern Killzone of Honour. Everyone seems to focus on the S in FPS and lose sight of everything else. Probably the two most experimental FPS games in recent memory would be BioShock and Borderlands. The integration of PRG elements into the FPS is probably it's greatest avenue for beating this stagnation. Can it last, however? How long before the MW2 format is standard, with a straight single player experience and any RPG elements pushed into the multiplayer arena?
This is the nightmare view and I write this as a fan of the superhero. Also you cannot ignore the Wii which is dominated by the Nintendo brands rather than gruff soldiers. E3 however was a peek into the future, one that I don't like the look of. The main thing is that comics was forced into it's path, video games can choose it's own way. Publishers and developers can choose.
Let's hope they choose with the heart rather than the wallet.
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