Lego Star Wars 2 trailer & lamenting cultural blandness in games

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (553 Words)

I don’t know how many of you have already seen this, but it had me grinning: Lego Star Wars 2 Trailer. Lego Star Wars was a charming little game that didn’t take itself seriously, poked fun out of Star Wars and kept you chuckling at the in-jokes.

The sequel is based on the original trilogy, which of course is from when Star Wars was actually good, and not a hammily-acted, attrociously scripted, Jar-Jar Binks infested shambles that Episodes I-III would unfortunately become. Given that many of us still love episodes IV-VI (especially Empire, which simply has no equal), this irreverent take on it should be fun.

And yes, Han did shoot first. Crazy revisionist writers should leave well alone, especially when their talents clearly wane in later life.

Another initially subconscious reason I liked the original LSW is because something about it ‘felt’ a little British - I guess it was the general aura of irreverence and occasional plain sillyness - and indeed the authors TT Games are based in Beaconsfield, England. I often lament how few games carry signature ‘feels’ from their countries of origin like they used to - games like Another World feeling very French, games like Giants and Conkers Bad Fur Day feeling very British, etc. Games are far too Americanised these days due to the economics, which I think dilutes everything down to a common cultural denominator which makes the themes rather dull more often than not. It’s only really Japanese games that have any cultural feel anymore, which is a great shame. It is of course just another effect of the spiralling costs of the industry and the deep lack of a healthy spread of distribution options. Whilst I hope initiatives like XBox Live Arcade and it’s brethren on other consoles will make a difference, I’m mostly skeptical since the console manufacturers still keep control over what gets published so inherently not much will change I think - you’ll just have cheaper, smaller, mostly Americanised games.

The current situation is crazy when you compare it to film, a medium games are often struggling (sometimes fawningly) to validate themselves against. The publishing constraints in games are equivalent to Hollywood controlling what all the art house cinemas show, or insisting all foreign cinema releases should be funnelled through Paramount. Yes, it’s to make up for the cheap hardware and to ‘control quality’. So how come DVD players didn’t have this problem, and why does no-one care about ‘controlling quality’ on movie releases? The whole current situation is not the only way, it’s just been created that way over many, many years by a small number of console manufacturers. When you think about it, it doesn’t have to be this way. Until publishing becomes much more open on the machines that most people have in their homes, we’re going to be restricted in the content we can view and ultimately, what we can publish ourselves. Long term things have to change, the current situation is not healthy no matter how many bucks it rakes in.

My opinion? Commoditisation of technology - hardware and software - and standardisation of working practice is the way to unleash a truly innovative wave of content. It won’t happen until people stop being obsessed with technology and realise ‘it’s the content stupid’ of course 😉