Brian 'Psychochild' Green
Brian Green, often known online as "Psychochild", is an experienced online game designer and programmer. He was an active text MUD developer in college and he started his professional career in 1998 working on the classic PvP online RPG, Meridian 59. His company, Near Death Studios, Inc., was founded in 2001 and purchased the rights to Meridian 59 in late 2001. In 2002, the team at Near Death Studios, Inc. commercially re-launched Meridian 59.
The Death of Games
Games are dying. Oh, business is booming with an estimated $7.2 billion in retail sales according to the IGDA, with online RPG subscriptions and casual/downloadable game sales on top of that. This number challenges the income from movie box office income, and it's only getting bigger. So, what's the problem?
The problem is that games are dying as an expressive art form. It's big business, and money and power are being concentrated into a few companies. Big publishers control distribution of games. Big companies control access to console development hardware. PC games are becoming obsolete, with retail sales falling 42% in the past 3 years. It's the old Hollywood studios system all over again.
But, what about independent development? Can someone without a budget even hope to gain much attention against a big game with a $10+ million budget? Retail distribution still commands the lion's share of income, but this is closed off to developers that don't work with publishers. Internet distribution hasn't arrived yet, and the companies interested in internet distribution want a "mass market" title just as much; there's still no room for an indie game.
Why is this important? Because games are the new medium of artistic expression. This is the new way to express something to others. Unfortunately, innovation is risk so all you see is sequels, clones, expansions and the like. What little innovation we see is very limited, and there's nobody to replace the great designers when they do stop making games.
But, there might be hope. Downloadable games are a more dominant force, and Internet distribution may become more viable. Many developers are leaving the "big biz" side of things to focus on more niche efforts. But, the question remains: will society embrace independent game development? Or will the industry become calcified and irrelevant?