In our February issue, Popular Science explores the Future of Fun. Here on PopSci.com, we've teamed up with the video game experts at Kill Screen to bring you a week-long special feature exploring the unexpected ways we have fun with games today—and how what's even considered a "video game" is ever-changing.
In our first feature this week, Kill Screen's Filipe Salgado pulls together five web-based Flash games (all playable right here) that showcase this new creativity.
On November 8th, 2011, Activision released the latest entry in the popular Call of Duty series, Modern Warfare 3. It sold 6.5 million copies in its first day, and stands as the highest-grossing entertainment launch of all time. The game was well received, but in almost every review a lack of innovation is brought up. The game iterates instead of innovates. It still remains a military shooter set in a present-day conflict. Its look and the way you play it remain largely the same as its predecessors. Big explosions and big setpieces, like videogames Michael Bay would make. And why change? With a budget in the millions, there is little room for experimentation. Game makers have found a recipe that sells well. Deviating from it can only hurt.
While big-budget games get further entrenched in big returns and big budgets, a lot of innovation has shifted to the internet. Developers, by themselves or in small teams, have turned the small scale of the browser into an asset, creating little Flash-based distractions that don't have to worry about commercial viability, and that innovate excitingly, either through theme, subject matter, or game play. They work outside the system. And the best part? They're all free.