There’s two nagging issues in the games industry that keep coming up: the desire to create more artistic games and the desire to access a broader market. Some would say these issues are related. They certainly are when we consider how the industry tries to solve them: by analysing the “problem” and then coming up with logical constructions that will lead to the desired result. In other words: they try to program the solution.
This should come as no surprise given that many leading positions in the games industry are filled by programmers. Programmers are very creative people. They can deal with immense problems, chop them down to little pieces, solve each one seperately and when they’re done a fully working product comes out. It’s almost like magic. I think they like doing this. It must be very satisfying. I think they like it so much that they see problems everywhere: problems they can solve.
But what if something is not a problem?
20th Century artist Marcel Duchamp is famous for saying “Il n’y a pas de solution parce qu’il n’y a pas de problème” (there is no solution because there is no problem). There is a lot of truth to be found in this enigma. For one thing, it tells us that if we can stop seeing an issue as a problem, there is no need to solve it. Programmers don’t like this. Because they love solving problems. Artists, on the other hand, are very good at looking at things from different angles. In other words: things that are a problem to some are an opportunity to others.
In the concrete case of there being too little art in games, the programmer’s solution is to develop constructions with all the ingredients of art put in their proper relationships that if set in motion cannot do anything but produce art. In other words: they attempt to create art-producing machines. Amazing! Except that what these machine bring forth, can only be considered artistically interesting by a very generous audience (preferably consisting of peers).
If we stop looking at this issue as a problem, however, and start seeing it as an opportunity, the “solution” is very simple. We don’t need to create art-producing machines. We already have art-producing humans! All we need to do is to ensure that more artists can make games. The same applies to broadening the market: ensure that more women can make games. Just let them in and give them the proper tools and we don’t need to worry our pretty little oh-so-smart programmers’ heads about it no more.