Despite now being retired, Gears of War creator and game designer Cliff Bleszinski has kept himself relatively busy these days. For one thing, he’s still very much active in the gaming industry including acting as the keynote speaker at the 2013 East Coast Games Conference today. It was at this event that the man so fondly known as “Cliffy B” let it be known that if he was to come out of retirement, now would not be the time.
Cliff starts off with a surprising comparison and some interesting predictions.
“This business has not been in a state of transition like it is right now since the video game crash of the ’80s. I really think we’re in a massive state of turmoil. I think Nintendo could possibly be faced with the situation of becoming a company that only makes software moving forward. I think Sony and Microsoft are about to come to major blows. But at the same time, people love playing games on their iPad. The PC is going through a wonderful renaissance right now. I think we’re ready to do digital download games all the time. I just want to see what happens. In regards to the industry, it’s like the Super Smash Bros. of business right now and I want to see if Peach or Mario wins.”
Weighing in the 80’s crash and the market today seems like a bit of a stretch. While it’s true the economy is far from full recovery, video game sales are still very strong. That wasn’t the case thirty years ago when the entire medium was on the brink of going away for good. My belief is that Cliff has taken the number of studio closings and layoffs that have been happening lately and is making a larger presumption than needed on them.
The part about people who “love playing games on their iPad” isn’t something I would take too seriously either. Mobile games have been super popular on iOS and Android devices these days but it’s a different gaming experience than what you get on a console. I don’t hear a lot of people dropping their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 in favor of playing the next Angry Birds or (in the case of Epic Games) Infinity Blade. It’s simply a different market targeted towards a different audience.
In regards to speaking at today’s conference, Bleszinski comments about his love of creating games. He also makes a final statement that seems to speak on the vilifying of the medium.
“It’s about what video games mean to me. Ultimately, I want to take people on a journey through my 38 years of growing up playing games since the age of 6 when I first saw Space Invaders. And how throughout every major milestone of my life, video games have been there for me in a very positive way, and hopefully reminding people that this is a very wonderful medium. And to be frank, I’m kinda tired of it being challenged as some sort of demonic thing in pop culture.”
I want to believe a majority of us would stand up for the integrity of this hobby which we love when it is challenged. Whether it’s the Roger Ebert “video games aren’t art” claim or the recent blame passed over from the Sandy Hook incident, gamers have and will make a stand. It’s good to hear someone from the industry unafraid to speak their mind on it.