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The Producers Of Video Games – Op-Ed Piece


 

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Introduction

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Here is a comparison between a story we like and a current trend in the field of gaming. Also bridges. We wrote about bridges in this piece for some reason.

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The Producers Of Video Games – Op-Ed Piece


The beauty of stories is that they can say things that we can’t say ourselves. Sometimes they are emotions or experiences that we can’t ever know of without the story. Will we ever see love as pure as the love of Romeo and Juliet? Probably not. Are you ever going back in time like Marty McFly? I doubt it. Can we ever truly be as fearful of the government as much as when Orwell presented them in 1984? I don’t think so. These stories give us something that we can’t have in our day-to-day lives. When we step into a world, we are doing such a thing with our mind, too, since we can’t do the very acts in our lives that we see in the story. How many of you love birds are going to lie dead with the other? Are there a lot of teenagers who plan on using a car to travel through time? Or how about all those politicians who are covering the truth with lies? Is there a bunch of them? No. There aren’t. So we allow those worlds to take us someplace else because for that short span of time while the story is being told, we are under a certain spell if you will. This spell enchants us with things not seen in our own lifetimes.


That is only one side of the beauty of storytelling. There is another more cynical side that presents stories we don’t talk about publicly. Of the tales that, for whatever reason, we push under the rug and never get to in our daily discussion. The talk shows don’t mention it. The news won’t report it. The public consciousness won’t recognize it. If any of these institutions even see those things, they will only speak of it for a short period of time. You could say that we are under a different spell with this side of storytelling, afraid to bring up certain topics or questions for what they mean to us and others around. We allow the story to ask questions and bring up the controversial message because if we did so by ourselves, we would be laughed out of the room.

That is where one of my favorite musicals comes in. The Producers presents a timeless question of the creators of the art: Do they actually have to care about it? What if they don’t? What if they pack it in and take the money? I mean, can they do that? Can they? More importantly, do they?

For those who don’t know the story, The Producers is a story of two men, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, who hatch a scheme to make a flop of a musical so that they can make some money off of it. They make the worst play ever, Springtime for Hitler, but the musical is a surprise hit, and they are then confronted with the ramifications of their criminal behavior. It is from the mind of Mel Brooks and is known for the great performances of Matthew Broderick as Leopold Bloom and Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock. There is an original movie made in 1968, but I honestly only ever saw the musical. And yes, for those wondering, the name Leo Bloom is the same name as the main character in the James Joyce novel Ulysses. I am sure that is not a coincidence.


The method that the two producers use to get rich is very simple and surprisingly effective. (as the musical put it)

  1. Find the worst play ever written.

  2. Hire the worst director in town.

  3. Raise money for the play.

  4. Hire the worst actors in NY and open on Broadway.

  5. Close on Broadway, and run away with the money.

In a time where the integrity of many things is questioned, and the views (or the money) are the key to just about any creator, I can’t help but think of this funny musical at times. Were the producers not only thinking about money when they were thinking of the production of the play?

The musical presents an awful reality; the largest profit that a company can make is when they cut production costs and generate hype around it that leads to sales. Just take a look at many modern companies today. How many of them put extra money into more workers or better equipment? I hate to say it, but the mentality of the producers is more frequent than we think. Sure they aren’t trying to create an awful flop, but they aren’t looking for greatness either. Just look around at any local business, and notice a word they won’t say. Greatness; that they want to be the best there is. No, that’s stupid to a businessman, since that costs money, which means fewer profits. And if they do want to be the best, they only say that is a goal because they know that can make them the most amount of money. I honestly wish I was wrong here, but the actual performance is not as important as the profits.

The musical doesn’t mean to expose this awful side of stories. It is a Mel Brooks musical, after all. He is about as good as it gets with comedic writing, and if you want to learn a thing or two about what good comedy is, then you should give a view to one of his movies. The guy knew what timing was all about. The comedic element doesn’t mean the questions posed aren’t relevant. I said it before here that we, as consumers of the art, can’t tell if its makers are pathetic and incompetent or trying to make a quick buck and scram, putting no effort into the art. Does the team suck, or are they trying to lose? Is the movie bad, or were they trying to make it a flop? What’s the difference? The average viewer can’t tell.


There is a real-world example that is going on right now of a Producer type scheme. In recent times, two video games have raised a lot of money, made a poor game, and then stopped improving the game. Sound familiar?

GTA: The Definitive Edition, which is three games in one, GTA 3, GTA: San Andreas, and GTA: Vice City, and Cyberpunk: 2077, fit the mold of the Producer scheme. They got a lot of hype around the game; people bought the actual game, people hated the game, and then they stopped improving the game.

The GTA games are some of the most beloved games of all time. They changed the industry, and even people who don’t know video games know the franchise. They are one of the reasons why parents are worried about their kids playing video games since they were popular because you could basically go around shooting everyone you wanted to. Good times. It took me some time to realize there were actual stories to those games. I was more interested in using an Uzi gun and taking out everyone I could until the police got me.

Cyberpunk:2077 had so much hype around it, as a generational game, a game-changer in the industry, a can’t miss. They even got Keanu Reeves to promote the damn thing. A lot of people bought the game expecting it to be great. This hype served the same function as GTA’s large fanbase. Both produced large amounts of people willing to buy the games.

You know that part of The Producers where it becomes viewed as a comedy by the audience at the play because Hitler is portrayed as being gay; Yeah, that never happened with these two games. If Hitler was like, well, Hitler in Springtime For Hitler, then Bloom and Bialystock would have gotten away with their plan. This plan is so brilliant that the only thing that got in their way was Gay Hitler. Boy, I didn’t think I’d be writing that line when I woke up this morning.


Let’s change around that musical method a little bit for a video game.

  1. Find a video game that people will buy.

    1. GTA: The Definitive Edition had a large fanbase, and Cyberpunk: 2077 put a lot into marketing.

  2. Hire the worst gaming company in town, who won’t improve the game.

    1. No one was impressed with either pick for the groups to produce these games. With good reason.

  3. Sell the game, making money.

    1. Both did that well.

  4. Leave the company, giving the responsibilities to someone else entirely.

    1. Both companies are left to change heads and improve the content, which is too late.


Why did they make a bad game? How could they make a game this awful? I hear many gamers ask about the two games mentioned. But that is the problem with the question; they expect the best from the company. Maybe, just maybe, the games suck because the company wanted them to be bad. There is a chance that you can make more money with a flop than with a hit.


I am going to relate this to another field. Bridges. Wow, you know it is a weird day when I talk about The Producers, video games, and bridges in one post. Anyway, bridges cost money. It turns out those things aren’t free. Over time, the maintenance of the bridge costs more than the actual cost to make a new bridge. Do you see where I am going with this? If you want to make a new bridge, you put no money into the old one. Cut the production costs. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself if you are better off making a whole new bridge than maintaining the old one.

Why make a hit musical? You’d have to hire a great director. That costs money. You have to hire a great cast and crew. It also costs money. Then there are other things that I am sure cost money too, for actual quality. If you pay for the worst workers and equipment, that is exactly what you are going to get. The Producers present the awful logic that is all too common: If you want to make money, don’t pay anyone.


When it is all about the money, where one identifies as being green, more than white or black, one has to ask if that means those producing these things understand that sometimes you can make more money with a flop than with a hit.


I often hear in sports, “It is like they know our plays!” No, bro, they do know your plays. They are cheating. You are too ignorant to admit it. We put so much faith into creators, whether they are of musicals, or video games, or even bridges, that we fail to see that some of them may be trying to con us all along. And when is the only time that this experience is ever seen? In a zany musical with Gay Hitler, because stories say things that we can’t say ourselves.

 

 

Ending

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About The Blogger

Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.

 

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