Are Fantasy Game Developers all Conservative?

I’ve played many of the most popular fantasy/RPG games and I’ve noticed a very common theme: the past was always better than the present. So does that mean all the game developers are conservative? I don’t mean political conservative, which I’m sure most aren’t, but believing the past was better and it’s too bad it changed and got worse kind of conservative.

In so many games, the past was “more powerful” and otherwise better than now, so the protagonist has to run around lots of ruins and find powerful ancient artifacts and secrets to fight the current evil. In Dragon Age, the Wardens were powerful in the past and rode flying mounts. In Elder Scrolls (Skyrim, Oblivion, etc.), the Dwemer had amazing technology and the heroes of the past had amazing powers. In the Lord of the Rings, Men and Elves of the past were greater and could make rings of power, an art long since lost. Even in the Harry Potter universe, the witches and wizards of the past could make artifacts well beyond what could be made today. There are many more examples, but I don’t want to bore the reader. Think about the games you’ve played – if they were set in a fantasy world, wasn’t the past better and now the ruins of the past hold the secrets that will solve the current problems?

Sure, there has to be some sort of goal in the game, and it is easy to come up with some powerful artifact from the past that will solve the problem. But that doesn’t reflect real life, so why would it be appropriate in a fantasy world? In real life, technology advancements make things better than the old ways, so how about a game where the player has to invent new powers or abilities based on old abilities? Sure it could all be scripted out and such, but wouldn’t it be better for the protagonist to come up with something new that nobody had ever seen rather than “oh, you’re a Dragonborn. Go talk to those guys and they’ll train you up…”?

So, game developers, the past is typically NOT better than the future, so quit pining for the old days and make games that properly look to a brighter future (as appropriate to the period setting of the game). Then we will all be shocked and surprised about an original plot!

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