Video games have always influenced each other. Growing from a few seeds the industry has evolved. Occasionally a single shoot is split, forming a new branch in the evolution. Some of these are dead ends, while others flourish. Even more rarely branches come together and make something new.
Not all previously divergent paths join with the same success. As I play more of these titles that attempt to blend separate evolutions together it is becoming clear that Japanese trees in this laboured metaphor are struggling to assimilate Western genetics.
Japanese developers soberness runs through all of their business structures. A rigid adherence to rules and bureaucracy that makes them slow to adapt. As a nation they have produced ingenious devices and innovations but as solutions to problems, rather than pure innovation.
Some realise this problem, with Capcom’s Jun Takeuchi acknowledging the issue of Japanese developer’s stagnation and the need for change if they are to survive. But even Capcom, one of the most internationally minded Japanese developers struggles working with Western teams and concepts, choosing poor properties or failing to understand the reasons behind gameplay mechanics, focusing on bullet points.
At a time when games need to reach an ever-widening audience to justify their development costs, it is an issue set to get worse. Though I hold a small fear that such shared ideals could lead to the homogenisation of games, I take heart in the fact the most unique elements of nature come from cross pollination and mutation.