Mr. Purple Cat Esq.
@Two Jar Slave
I am just re-writing my above thing except with more detail, this should answer ure question.
Its fine for arcade games (or any game) to be shallow.. A lot of the games posted this week are just pure fun action, which is great!
They still are working with the medium and not against it. Using the unique strenghts of the medium, interactivity and player volition.
A pure action game is highly interactive, like John Romero said to me when I was chatting to him about this*, in doom u press one button and *immediately* the game responds really intensely. Doom was inspired by highly interactive, high feedback arcade games of the 70's.
The problem, is when the consoles started dominating the the home games market.
1st of all the move from little pc's like C64 to consoles really limited what the user could do. They could no longer mod or make their own games on their game playing system.
But the biiig problem was as I said above. Before games were made by mental loners in their bedrooms, all the games were different and innovative, lots of them were shit, but lots of them were mindblowing. People were creatively pushing the medium forwards.
When the consoles took over, the big corps hired people to churn out profitable games. There were no game design courses at the time** So they hired professional people who had 'media' degrees, who had learned all about marketing and the elements of drama, characters, story. Elements not suited to the medium of games. These people had no interest in the medium, they'd have been better off writing plays.
So They took the spectacle, cool graphics, and marketing ideas from the arcades, but forgot to take the actual good interactivity. So u have a couple of decades of games that are half cutscenes, or quicktime events, invisible walls etc. They cant actually embrace the strengths of the medium cus it would mess up the pre-determined story they have written with shitty writing 101 stuff like characters arcs and whatnot.
The sad thing was that the indie scene basically died during this time, the market wasnt big enough to support both scenes. A lot of great innovative game makers ended up emigrating and making shit for Sony or whoever.
The good news is that the indie scene is coming back, the market has gotten big enough to diversify, just like film and music, into the bland commercial shit, and the actual spicy good stuff made by people who are trying to work with the medium, or at least have a few original ideas.
*just throwin' that in there ;)
** There are now but they are shit. I have never worked with anyone who did one. Everyone I have ever worked with did some form of CS, not game design.