Democratizing Development: What if the Tools Were More Accessible?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Democratizing Development: What if the Tools Were More Accessible?

Back in the nineties--1994, more specifically--a bit of software was released I'm personally acquainted with. It was called "Klik & Play," a game development software system that allowed users to assemble their own video games and play the results of same.

I bought in with the plan to make my own games and potentially even find a way to sell them, giving myself a way to have what amounted to the best part-time job a kid could have. It didn't work out that way, of course, but it was still a point worth considering; what if we had more non-programming-based game tools that made it easier for gamers to make their own games?

The current crop of such tools, by some reports, just don't work all that well. While there are some changes thanks to things like Nintendo's WarioWare DiY--though the servers for that one have been offline for a couple years--the current crop is closer to lackluster than anything, particular for the neophyte. Much of the lower-tier development tools are geared toward the indie developer, with a clear focus toward high-end operations for experienced, trained coders and developers.

There are some changes in the works set to come, too; several different tools from Scratch to Kid Pix to Kooltool are joining in the fray, and this isn't a bad idea.

By making games easier to develop, we have the tools on hand to make some of the best and most original games. This actually mirrors the movie industry; several different film properties started out as short films produced independently. Just look at Neill Blomkamp's District 9; that started life as a short called "Alive in Joburg." Imagine what would happen if triple-A developers bought the rights to developed games, brought their incredible development capabilities to these games, and made triple-A remakes of popular, small-developer games. It's worked well in the past for movies; there's no reason it can't work well for the games industry as well.

By democratizing the development process, we get access to more and more diverse types of games. Let's be honest here; that's what a lot of gamers are hoping for. Instead of Call Of Duty Sequel or Officially Licensed Football Game (Fill in the Year), we can have whole new genres to try out, and maybe even find some fantastic new options.

First, though, someone's going to have to build the picks and shovels necessary to start this gold rush. That's going to take quite a bit of development, but when it works, it could be a very big hit.

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