During this generation of console gaming, easily the longest generation in recent memory, we've spent an inordinate amount of time hovering reticules over digital targets and pulling the trigger button. If you, like me, happen to feel a little tired of that mechanic — imagine how it must feel for the men and women dedicating years of their life to developing and replicating that experience day in day out?
Charles N Cox, a developer whose resume features titles like MAG, SOCOM and SWAT has had enough. In a lengthy, extremely well-written blog, he's put down in words the reasons why he will "never work on a first-person shooter game, ever again. Period."
It's a fascinating insight into the rigours of development and how one justifies spending years of their life creating a video game with a core mechanic that involves killing other virtual human beings.
I’m not here to say there’s no room for innovation in this space, especially from its fans and enthusiasts. For a great understanding of how non-developer involvement has grown and changed in the space, see the excellent post from Rock Paper Shotgun – A People’s History of the FPS.
The problem here is that money isn’t an acceptable stand-in for ethical behavior. Just as legality doesn’t equal morality (seriously, it doesn’t, spread the word), so too does profit fail to imply ethical superiority. Great, we’re all making these games. Should we? Did we ever ask?
I think there's a general vibe and real backlash towards first-person shooters and it's been a long time coming. Shooting things is something we all still seem to enjoy doing in games, but there's an increasingly broad audience that seems to be demanding more from games or, at the very least, something a little different.
It makes sense that developers would feel that same tension and this blog post is a great representation of that. Really well worth reading.
Why I’ll Never Work on First-Person Shooters Again [Charles N. Cox Dot Com]