Many game developers and companies choose the safe route of releasing games which follow a well known pattern. Exceptional games, on the other hand, stand out because they break this cycle; They become widely popular thanks to unseen plots, game mechanisms and ways to win, with which they offer completely new angles from which to enjoy the gameplay.
One of my latest favorites in this category was The Last of Us by Naughty Dog, a console game tinted with dark realism which took the entire gaming community by surprise with its skillfully constructed script.
Being different can bring success, but there are no rules that says new games should always bring something new to the table.
This being said, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to have more fresh approaches towards games but the issue seems to be both lack of inspiration and courage to try something new.
How to facilitate inspiration and who's to do it?
Sweden has an answer to both.
Swedes are well known for their quality democracy (not that this isn't the case in our region in general), and democracy is what they will use in order to find the next most unlikely game that will blow our socks off. The Visit Sweden, the Swedish Institute and Business Sweden, all of which are government funded public organizations, have created Democreativity, a website which will collect ideas for games from people all around the world and eventually take all these submitted suggestions and push to make it a reality; A game that is, to say the least, completely different from others.
This is good news for gaming startups out there who are hungry for a blockbuster, as the development of the games will be completely up to them. The summary report, along with notes and conclusions made by members of the Democreativity advisory board, will be openly available on the website once the submission period is over.
The Democreativity website uses statistical data and a simple voting system to inspire its visitors. The voting systems allows the best ideas to gain the visibility they deserve while the statistical data gives the contributor an idea of what typically is implemented in top grossing games, as in to encourage them to break the rules.
Submitting an idea is really simple. First you have to choose what kind of an idea you wish to contribute; it can be a character, an environment where the game takes place or a set of objectives on how to win the game. For those who cannot choose, or have a vision outside the given repertoire, there's always the random idea option.
Next step is just to type in your idea. To make it interesting, the site shows relevant data collected in surveys of the 50 top-selling games and asks you how your idea could be different from these.
It's good to note that submitting an idea won't give you any rights on any future games based on your submission, the full ownership remains with the developer.
The project was created to encourage creativity in the world through freedom of impression – being open to new ideas and promoting diversity. Why Sweden chose the gaming industry, which isn't exactly that obvious of a channel for freedom of expression, is because the gaming industry is, according to the website, Sweden's largest cultural export.
It's all a little cheesy, but to be fair and square it's hard not to be impressed by Democreativity on the level of functionality. The system is extremely democratic and it offers an ideal ground for the cultivation of out-of-the-box ideas for games. In a nutshell, it meets its own objectives.
What I'm most surprised of, is that a website such as this comes more or less from the Swedish government. I can't help but think there could much potential for such a PR stunt for any of the major game companies out there, as long as they would keep their promise of actually making the most up-voted game.