As an avid gamer since age 11, I have seen and played various kinds of video games. They range from racing, to action, to role-playing, to drums-hitting, to various sports etc. I have also seen gamers from Hong Kong, Japan and United States and how games in each region are developed to suit the locals.
I must say, games designed by Americans are far less creative than games designed by Japanese.
Today as I check out the various games displayed in a vidoe game stores here in the bay-area, I realized that the games are just lack of genre. What are the most popular ones? Grand Theft Auto series (running around being a criminal), SOCOM (first person shooter), Halo2 (first-person shooter), Madden NFL (football, sports), NBA 2K6 (sports again), Fight Night (boxing...sports again), Tiger Woods (yes, sports again!), Dragaon Ball Z (Action), King Kong (Action), Perfect Dark Zero (first-person again) etc. You can see the trend that there are a lot of sports games. It's ok to have many sports games, but the company which is responsible for most of these sports games (namely, Electronic Arts EA), churn out a game every year and slab the year '05', or '06' with minor tweaks and sell them for US$49.99 each. Even American gamers are sick of this trend and refusing to buy these yearly sports games. This results in annual 40% profit drop for EA and mass layoffs. But I think EA deserves the downfall because they refused to be creative and only want to suck $$ from gamers.
And then, of course, there is the overflooding of first-person shooters. American gamers have long been cast to this first-person shooter spell after Castle Wolfenstein 3D. Since then, first-person shooter has incarnated into various forms as Doom, Quake, Unreal, Halo, even Star Wars, then SOCOM, Call of Duty....the list goes on and on. To me they're all pretty much the same with improved graphics, faster engine, upgraded weapons and more brutal enemies. So basically, 80% of American video games are first-person shooters or sports genre, with everything else in that tiny 20%.
Take a look at the Japanese side, and you can see they are much more creative. One of the most creative and successful move by the Japanese is the launch of Nintendo DS. With a handheld and two touchscreens, this little machine has been selling like hot-cakes in Japan, while American gamers are still playing Dragon Ball Z game, the Japanese animation aired 10 years ago but just become very popular here in the west. Go back to the NDS, it has creative games such as Nintendogs, Wi-Fi compatible Mario Kart, Animal Forrest, various brain-teaser games, voice-activated Bomberman etc etc. Games which require you to pat a dog, interact with people, shout a command, or write a word as quickly as possible. Possibilities are endless. And I think this is what a game should be: fun, easy to play, and innovative.
Even on the PS2, Japanese games are much more interesting. Take Katamari Damacy, it requires you to push a ball-like object around the house and suck up everything along its path. The goal is to suck up as much stuff as possible in the alloted time-limit. Sounds like a crazy game but it's actually very fun and easy to pick up.
Americans should learn from the Japanese and improve the quality of the games. Stop being the money pincher and start using the brains to design new games!!!