In a world saturated with social media and constant connectivity, it appears that people have lost sight of the essence of the creative process. I understand that in some circles, the pursuit of profit reigns supreme, but if that is your core belief, then you are more of a manufacturer than an artist.
In realms such as video games, books, and to some extent, movies (especially those produced by major studios), consumers often believe they have a say in shaping the creative output. To be blunt, this mindset often stems from a lack of understanding.
Art involves the realization of a vision held by one or sometimes a group of individuals. I firmly believe that when the fate of this vision is tethered to how the “audience” will react, or when creators alter their vision to avoid criticism, it ceases to be art and becomes a mere commodity, no different from any other mass-produced product.
An artist should never, under any circumstances, consider the viewer when practicing their craft. Viewers are not the creators; they are the consumers. And as we are well aware, consumers can be as fickle as a child in a room filled with shiny objects.
I’ve been observing the evolution of World of Warcraft since its inception. When it was first introduced, it was notably challenging. However, over time, the developers seemed to lose their resolve, and the game began to guide players as though they were being led by the hand. In reality, that’s precisely what was happening, and it was what many players desired. To be clear, what they truly desired was not to experience failure or to avoid putting in effort.
As creators, we need to be resolute and say, “No, we won’t cater to that.” I appreciate Microsoft’s acquisition of Blizzard because I hope they won’t pander to the lowest common denominator. Initially, they may face a backlash as some time-wasters depart in protest, but if the content, storytelling, and gameplay are of the same caliber as other top-tier products, people will return.
Before I conclude, I’d like to mention a few exceptions that might not align with the priorities of certain “writing groups” focused on financial gain. When an author declares that they are writing a series, they are essentially entering into a contract with their readers. Regardless of how the financial aspect plays out, they have an obligation to complete that series. Why? Because they told their readers, “This series will span multiple books,” and quitting before the story is finished is a breach of trust.
Let me pose a question to you, including the authors who might be protesting: “If an author consistently wrote books with no endings, resolutions, or conclusions, even if each book was only 200 pages long, would you continue to support that author?” I wager most of you wouldn’t.
In all honesty, this issue isn’t primarily about money or creativity; it’s about honor and reliability. If you make a promise, you must follow through. Instead of crafting an elaborate argument to illustrate this point, I’ll be direct: George R.R. Martin is a liar, a subpar writer, and a morally questionable individual. He repeatedly made promises he had no intention of keeping. Personally, I believe there should be a class-action lawsuit against him and his publishing company. Consider the time and opportunities he squandered.
So yes, as a writer, financial considerations are important—I acknowledge this, as I’m sure many of you do. Nevertheless, in the grand scheme of things, maintaining integrity is crucial. It may not replace profits, but it will enhance your self-respect and the respect of those who read and follow your work.
Finally, let’s address the game that sparked this tirade: Ark: Survival Evolved. Many players had varying ideas about what they “wanted” the game to become. However, the designers had their own vision, and rightfully so. If you disagree with their direction, simply move on. There are countless other games available. There’s no need to vent your frustration online as if your world has crumbled. If you find yourself doing that, it might be time to seek therapy. Instead, explore a different game and set the previous one aside. You had a good time with it, and now it’s time for something new. Games should not have devolved into open-ended experiences; they should be more akin to books and movies—a beginning, progression, and a conclusion.
Wishing you all a pleasant day.