So, the story goes like this … An idea gives birth to creation. Simple huh?
If we consider a debut album, the artist learns to play the instrument, writes and records the songs. The output is wholly indicative of talent contained within the individual or group, often shaped and refined by the sound engineer and producer. The fact that debut albums define careers is not accidental, born of years of deliberation and preparation. Musical catharsis. The problem is that the vivacity and ebullience of the debut are impossible to recreate.
The ‘difficult second album’ crushes bands and ends contracts, those with enough ideas to muddle through are usually the ones who have careers with longevity. This results in bloated albums that are experimental and often irrelevant. Everything the debut wasnt. More ideas than necessary layered in.
The bands who overcome this are not immune to another pernicious virus. The reboot. Dress it up as a ‘return to roots’, return to ‘the glory days’, whatever. This reaction is directly related to a loss of direction, or lack of sales. Video Games make the same mistake.
Committees execute and conceive AAA Video Games. Inevitably, marketing and sales exert an influence. Looking for ‘a story’,a way to sell, devoid from artistic merit, driven by business plans and targets. For them, the reboot represents a chance to achieve a bonus at the end of the year. For the gamer, it reinforces the belief that Video Gaming is racing down a cul-de-sac dictated by iterative sequels, FPS monotony and the same old faces. Reboots afflicted the following franchises In 2010: Need For Speed, NBA Jam, Splatterhouse, Medal of Honor, Goldeneye, Castlevania. They failed and succeeded with equal measure. 2011 will reboot Mortal Kombat, Twisted Metal, Tomb Raider and Driver. E3 will inevitably spew forth a further slew of prologues and epilogues.
Reboots should render the previous iteration invalid, refreshing the premise and offer a new insight. In actuality, it’s a new line in the sales notes and new imagery on the back of pack. P&Ls and the ‘Curse of IP‘ drive the necessity for reboots’. Video Games are an industry that often stifles creative imagination over the endless rehashing of the past (and rapidly fading glories).
‘The Shock Of The New’ drives the best musical innovation forward. Delivering to an audience clamouring for innovation and fresh voices. Video Gamers want exactly the same, mainstream developers and publishers aren’t listening to them, instead revisiting the same trench where innovation is irrelevant and endless sequels make retail feel like it’s a safe bet.
The reboot, has two parts. The turn off and the turn on. I suggest we leave it turned off.