Itching For Thoughts #4: Five things Altgames need to do to grow
If you hadn’t realised by the title, this article will be outlining what I want from Altgames in the future, and what they need to do to achieve this.
Why should anyone care what I think? They shouldn’t. But I have some thoughts, I’ve written 70+ articles about altgames throughout the lifetime of Itching For More (and its successive spinoffs) and I believe I can contribute some coherent thoughts. However, I’m not an industry professional, I’m no veteran or analyst. These are just some quick thoughts I’ve jotted down.
- To grow in audience number
Altgames need to grow both in number and in audience. A widening of both of these things will lead to more interest in altgames — something that will contribute to every other item on this list. More interest means more incentive to make them, more incentive means more games, more competition and more interesting, diverse, alternative games out there.
- To grow in appreciation
This links almost directly to my previous point. Itching For More was set up as a direct means to try to grow the interest and appreciation for altgames, and whilst it hasn’t revolutionised the gaming industry, it has gotten some people interested in games that they might never have found before. This needs to be more widespread and altgames need to be more commonplace in order to have critics and players alike become more comfortable with the low-fi DIY feel of them.
Appreciation is key, as without appreciation and criticism, it is hard for a genre to grow.
- To force games in general to mature
Altgames have the potential to shift the entire industry in a positive way. If they were to grow as a medium into something where more and more people took notice, others may as well! Whilst this has happened already with the rise of the Indie, companies looking at indie games and applying some of the popular aspects of them to their own larger pieces, I believe altgames have the potential to bring about a second wave of this.
- To be more respected as piece of art
I want games, not just altgames, to be respected more as art. We need to raise the level of criticism surrounding them, providing more space for longer essays analysing them — not necessarily in written form (something beginning to happen on youtube). We are beginning to see standout signs of proper proper analysis of games, (i.e. Cool Ghosts, Gamemakers Toolkit, Super Bunnyhop), but the necessity for more is needed in order to games to rise to another level.
Games are art — this is now an undisputed fact. We need to treat them as such.
- To transcend the digital & continue to subvert
Alt games are some of the most individual pieces of work within the industry. What has surprised me throughout itching for more is the continued capacity of altgames to subvert your expectations.
This needs to be done on a greater level. I believe that this is one of altgaming’s core strengths, the subversion of traditional gaming rules. One of the ways I would propose is to join the physical level. They need to jump out of niche computers and into galleries, pop ups, street installations, places where games would perhaps be least expected, and yet would most fit in
So that’s it. A quick ramble on some ideas that I think would help to further altgames as a genre and medium. Let me know your thoughts, whether I’ve gotten anything completely wrong or if I’ve missed something out.