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We all have awesome video game ideas right? We all dream of awesome games that could revive the FPS genre completely and rival Bioshock. We all wish we had the power to create epic RPGs or sensationally innovative games that gain world wide acclaim. We all want to be able to put our own brilliantly thought up stories into video games and let people play them. We all have those ideas that make us think, 'YES! This. Is. Perfect. Why hasn't it been done before?'.
The problem is that unless you are studying to become, or know in person, a video game designer or developer, those ideas will never become a reality.
I was reading an article on game development recently, and one of the things that was said in it to do with game ideas was this:
"If you have an idea for a game or you want a game made, the only way that is ever going to become a reality is if you do it yourself."
I think we all know that these awesome game ideas we have are never going to go anywhere, and indeed I bet many of them may be technically impossible and totally outlandish, however ideas are still ideas and a good idea will always be exactly that; a good idea.
Just like any other gamer I have my own thoughts and plans about what could make a really, really, really good game. Hell, I was daydreaming the other day when I had an awesome idea on how the Silent Hill series could be revived. Obviously I'm not alone in my want to recreate the series and bring it back to what it was, and I am certainly far from the only person who actually thought up a way to do it, however what point is there to all of these awesome ideas if they are never valid?
There are tons of reasons why the gaming industry would benefit from more consumer or gamer involvement. Developers often know what they are doing and they know their field of work far better than any normal gamer, however it's these thoughts, these plans, these ideas that may be the future of the game development industry.
Look around at the amount of games released and how many of them are actually innovative and good. You won't find all that many. For the amount of titles that are released every month, only one or two, usually, are of a high standard. Over the last 5 or so years, the supply of innovation has been running a bit dry. I remember when this gen started and awesome title after awesome title was released. It didn't matter that the graphics weren't as good as they are now; they were awesome, new, interesting, games. These days the amount of games that are released that meet that criteria is limited.
In truth you can't blame developers. Devs aren't magicians. They aren't superhuman. There may be a lot of them but you can't rely on that many people to create constantly brilliant and unique games.
This is where we, the gaming community, come in.
All of this can change. Devs just need to be open to gamers' ideas and plans for video game titles. Yes there are plenty of crazy and unfeasible ideas out there that will likely never be turned into a real game, however there are plenty of fantastic, realistic ones too.
Consumers know what they want and especially if you've played A LOT of good and bad titles, you know what often works and doesn't work. Just because we don't have the ability to make games ourselves doesn't make our opinions are invalid. I've talked to a lot of gamers who have had incredible plans for different games and I actually spoke to a guy running a Kickstarter campaign who told me that he was lucky to have taken various courses in game development so he could actually get to the stage or possibly making his dream game ideas come true.
For years devs have listened to the gaming community. They've taken on board criticism and feedback and made appropriate changes to their current or upcoming titles in order to satisfy customers. If they can take the time to sort through message boards and forums and e-mails then why can't there be a scheme set up to allow for the community to actually get their own ideas across to devs and, who knows, end up having that idea become a reality?
So far the only possibly killer response to this is copyright issues. Indeed, loads of people have had this very same thought as me and have even tried to set up things online to help with it, however the issue that stops it ever becoming a real thing is the problem of copyright.
I'm far from a copyright expert however I do know the possibility of devs using a gamers idea to create a game is one confusing copyright mess. Who owns the rights to the idea? Will the devs have to pay out a decided fee to the person who came up with it? What rights, exactly, do the devs and the other person have regarding the material made? Is the other person actually applicable to receive a cut from the profits? These, and more, are all things to consider and while I bet many people would happily give up any rights to the idea they have as well as any money they could make from it just to ensure the game actually gets made in some form or another, it isn't as easy as that. There are legal problems here that stop this being resolved outside of the law. You can't simply give a developer your word that you don't want any money or any affiliation with the idea and get on with it without a proper contract being written up or official talks held because unless it is resolved within the eyes of the law then you could turn around 4 years later when the game is released and ask for your cut of the profits that you have an actual legal obligation to all because no previous official, lawful, arrangement was made stating that this could never happen and sorting it all out.
This is why there needs to be an online scheme that already has you and the developer's rights laid out. A website that when you sign up and submit an idea, the terms and conditions you agree to automatically control who has what right over the idea and possible future product and profits. To submit an idea, you have to hand over all rights of it to the devs. Obviously it is far from as simple as that (nothing ever is) however you get where I'm coming from.
In the end I can't provide some answer to all the complications surrounding the whole thing, however I do know that there needs to be a way to pitch to devs an idea for a game. And not just in the form of forums or message boards; I mean proper pitches. In fact, by only allowing proper pitches to be accepted, this could reduce the amount of spam and generally poor ideas that are sent in.
One of these 'proper pitches' could consist of a well constructed e-mail listing your game ideas (including gameplay and story notes too) just like you do when pitching an article to an editor.
In fact, although comparing video game idea pitching to online article pitching is a bit odd, it is also similar. You have an idea for a gaming article? Can you write properly? Can you construct it properly? Can you, basically, produce a good article? Then e-mail your pitch to a gaming editor at a website. Sure, it may get rejected, but you can try and try and try again until you succeed. And it's the same with game pitches. If you mean business you won't mind having to write out a long, hefty, e-mail and pitch in order to get your thoughts turned into realities.
The games industry is struggling in many ways and a lack of innovative, unique titles is one of these issues. But this is something that can be addressed, perhaps in a more unusual way than people were expecting, sure, but a way that can include everyone and really allow for all the awesome ideas and plans that gamers have to be turned into real life experiences. We, consumers, may not have the brain power to make games ourselves, but that doesn't mean we can't think game ups. In fact; just because devs CAN make games, doesn't necessarily mean that they have the best ideas. If we all combine, then this could be the future of game development.