Game Philosophy: Originality

Ahhh! After ten thousand years I’m finally free! Time for another:


Today’s topic:

Here’s an idea! It’s the greatest idea of all time! I know it is because nobody ever used it before!

Let me stop you right there.
I appreciate originality a lot. But let me make one thing clear.
Just because something is original doesn’t automatically mean it’s GOOD.

I love originality. It gives a breath of fresh air. But think about it.
When people think about the first FPS game, they think of Wolvenstein or Doom.
But the first game, to my knowledge, that had First Person Shooting was Maze War.

Now THAT's hardcore Call of Duty right there!
Now THAT’s hardcore Call of Duty right there!

Now, most people probably never heard of it, even though by that time, this was friggin original.

I won’t claim to have played it and act like a hipster about it, I’m just pointing out this fact to prove a point.

When you have an original idea, it doesn’t mean it will immediately catch on.
It usually takes several followers of the style for people to eventually like it.
And when they do, THEN it becomes a great idea… until they drive it into the ground.

The point I’m making is that great ideas aren’t necessarily great because they are original.

Sometimes great ideas are in fact just taking bad ideas and reworking them to work.

Back when Metal Gear was made, the creator got shunned by people saying “a game where you HIDE from enemies? That’s not a game!”
And lots of people laugh about it, telling how much of a genius Hideo Kojima is for doing something different while the publishers are seen as idiots.

But look from the point of view of the people talking here. Think back in the time of the NES. EVERY game had you beating enemies.

And it’s not just because it’s the standard, it’s because it WORKED.

What is there to do besides jumping over holes if there were no enemies?
Whether you hate publishers or not, they had the right to be worried. This could have backfired immensely.

Had they not given Metal Gear on the NES a Solid Story (heh heh, get it?)  and memorable quotes (“I feel asleep!”), players wouldn’t have given it a chance either.

And even then, I’m sorry to tell you guys, but Metal Gear in itself was not exactly the best game either.

Hell, I’d argue Thief The Dark Project helped the Stealth Genre catch on way more than even Metal Gear Solid on the PSX did, even though Metal Gear Solid came out first by 2 months.

It takes imitation and tweaking to eventually make a good idea work.


So next time you see your favourite game has been ripped off by another game, be grateful, it means they are carrying on it’s legacy, albeit with an extra dose of annoying “Nu-uh! I totally came up with that on my own!”

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

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