1. a breaker or destroyer of images, esp. those set up for religious veneration.
  2. a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.

Mario. Sonic. Samus Aran. Master Chief. The game industry is known for creating icons, not destroying them. There are plenty of examples of videogame franchises built from the ground up that have become television shows, movies, even novels. Maybe that’s the problem.

For an industry just barely into its adolescence, videogames sure care a lot about tradition. How come running into an enemy head on hurts me, while hitting it from above hurts him? Why do I have to beat the game with 16 different characters to unlock all the content on the disc? Why are death and failure two sides of the same coin? Answer: Because that’s the way it’s always been.

Guns sell. Robots sell. Boobs sell. Combine all three, and the result is awe-inspiring. Who would want to destroy that?

I would.

I want games to be challenging the way that literature can be challenging. I want level design with the meticulously crafted mise-en-scène of a Hitchcock movie. Music with the violently shifting tonalities of a Stravinsky symphony. Characters with the subtlety and depth of a Stephen Dedalus or a Hedda Gabler. Zelda’s fun and all, but it’s not going to take us there.

These guys are. In his own unique way, each luminary we’ve profiled in this issue of The Escapist has broken with tradition and turned the industry on its head. I’m just a writer; the most I can do is scrawl down a few lines of impotent rage and spam “refresh” in the comments section. Not the subjects of this week’s issue – they’ve conceived entire genres of game design, brought fresh perspectives to stale formats and dared to challenge the conventions of an industry where, 15 years later, rendering the same boring characters in a third dimension is still considered “revolutionary.”

Jovial Italian plumbers, watch your back. They’re coming for you.

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