a giant glacier lies ahead

Templates Eliminate Creativity

After so many years working in creative industries (gaming, writing), I've become intimately familiar with patterns many of these creations have in common (i.e. the hero's journey).

While there's nothing wrong with these patterns existing, what has really gotten under my skin is that authors and game designers use them as templates for creating new work. It's not just a scaffolding, either, it's a fill-in-the-blanks formula for "creativity."

Templatizing the creation process destroys most of what makes stories and storytelling so captivating. It might be fine after reading/playing one, two, or ten books/games, but it soon becomes obvious that one work is simply a remix of another. The act of discovery is shattered, the uniqueness is erased. At that point you're just consuming media for the sake of consumption.

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Part of what this comes down to is the sheer volume of content thrown at us these days. It's all about more more more, never better better better. The more books an author cranks own, the more likely they are to be successful. Consumer demand for sequels is so high that most publishers won't even consider a new book without knowing it's part of a trilogy that has already been planned out.

This atmosphere encourages creators to work faster, which means they take as many shortcuts as they can. Nothing makes writing a story faster than filling out a template and stitching the pieces together using some dialogue and set pieces. And why bother creating a unique game when you can tweak some variables on a DOOM template and push the 'release' button?

This is only going to get worse, I think, especially with all the excitement surrounding AI content generation. So far my best tactic for combatting this is to hop off the CONSUME MEDIA treadmill and seek out proven works from the past. There are few filters as powerful as a few decades of passed time.