A former Microsoft game designer believes that the Xbox is responsible for derivative games and a “bro” subculture within gaming.
Daniel Cook, who worked at Microsoft pre-Kinect, said in a lengthy blog post that both the culture at Xbox and expensive marketing campaigns were to blame for the state of console games.
“We made adorable hand-drawn prototypes and watched them climb through the ranks only to be shot dead by Elder Management that found cuteness instinctually revolting,” said Cook.
“You got the sense the pre-Xbox, gamers as bros was a subculture within the nerdy hobby of games.
“Over two console generations, a highly cynical marketing team spent billions with no hope of immediate payback to shift the market.
“Nintendo was slandered as a kids platform, not a leading light. Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight. Wedge, wedge, wedge.
“Gamers were handed a pre-packaged group identity via the propaganda machine of a mega corporation.
“It represented a time in my life as a developer that I'm not overly proud about living.”
Even titles such as BioShock Infinite featured little more than “rote game play with all possible feedback knobs tuned to 11,” said Cook.
“Each element of this form is refined to a most perfect formula. There are crate-raised critics who make subtle distinctions between the 52 historical shades of grey. There are documents and research.
“If you are a creative working at or within a publisher, your higher purpose is to judge games based off their adherence to the form. The game is a product and consistency, much like that found in McDonalds fries, results in repeat purchases.”
Cook has since given away his Xbox 360, and says he is “driven by ideals that fit poorly with a highly gated console monoculture” at his new home, Triple Town studio Spry Fox.
“What if games can connect people? What if they can improve the world? What if they bring happiness and joy to our lives?
“Hardcore gamers, women, men, children, families, people that play no other games... they play these personal, quirky games of ours. Yeah... we impact tens of millions. Deep down, I'm not sure if any of them are people like me.
“So far, none of these games have been released on the Xbox. There's little economic or cultural fit with the artificially propped up tribe residing in that cloistered warren.”
“So goodbye, big black box. I never really liked what you stood for," he said.