When the man who gave us Super Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong has put away the controller, something is very wrong.
"There's not a lot I want to play now," [Shigeru Miyamoto] told [CNN] recently. "A lot of the games out there are just too long. Of course, there are games, such as Halo or Grand Theft Auto, that are big and expansive. But if you're not interested in spending that time with them, you're not going to play."
In a way he's absolutely right. As gaming consoles pick up more power and more abilities, game developers are using this power to create larger worlds, more expansive environments, and more detailed character models. The "pick up and play" experience is declining in favor of spending resources on digital eyelash rendering. While Halo and Grand Theft Auto are certainly popular and fun, one has to wonder if the video game industry has strayed a little when the Steven Spielberg of video games doesn't want to play anymore.
Granted, Miyamoto's innovations aren't as amazing as they used to be. Titles such as Super Mario 64, as Nintendo PR guru Reginald Fils-Aime said at E3, "changed the game". That game set the standard for what a 3D adventure game should be and spawned dozens of imitators. What new ideas has Miyamoto come up with this generation to "change the game"? Concepts such as Super Mario Sunshine's FLUDD, the world of the Pikmin, cel shading for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and the virtual puppy simulator that is Nintendogs. This is not to say that these titles are neither well done nor enjoyable; Mario and Zelda consumed weeks of my spare time when they were released and I enjoyed just about every minute of them. They are just not the types of gameplay that the majority of gamers crave these days.
The truth of it all is that there will always be gamers who would rather blow things up and drive very fast instead of explore fantasy kingdoms and interact with virtual pets. The former may well outnumber the latter. It would seem that the video game road is diverging with Grand Theft Auto and other complex games going down one road and games with simple yet addictive concepts such as Pikmin and Nintendogs down the another. Just how many travelers will follow Miyamoto down his road remains to be seen.