IMHO: Gaming Trends That Drive Me Crazy (from a 24 year-old geezer)
“Hey, have you played the latest (insert current FPS fav of the masses)? It’s totally awesome! I shot some dude’s head off, and pwned a bunch of nubs online.”
The quote above may be completely made-up, but I feel it’s typical fare for a lot of so-called “gamers” out there. I’m not going to rant just about FPS games in this editorial, I’m going to rant about gaming conventions that have cropped up in recent years that really curdle my blood. Some perspective: I started gaming as a young child and I learned a lot through them (that’ll be a key part of my rant), I’m 24 years old, and some people think I’m an old man because of my views on various subjects.
I’ll admit it: I’m biased. I grew up playing games like Ninja Gaiden for the SNES, the Final Fantasy games before VII (although I certainly played VII – XII), and long-forgotten DOS games on PC. Those games were hard. Sometimes brutally, unfairly hard. But they were still immensely fun. Even though Ninja Gaiden mercilessly throttled me and then ham-stringed me, I kept going back to it after a suitable recovery period. What kept me going back? Polish. And no, not I don’t mean Polish Sausages. I mean crafting a game with love, and ensuring that the finished product is the best it can be.
This leads me to my series of rant items:
Visual priority over gameplay and plot innovation
Many of the blockbuster hits are high on visual fidelity and low on innovation. I know the Call of Duty and Battlefield games get called out on this all of the time, but there’s a reason for that. The differences between Battlefield 1942 (which I thoroughly enjoyed because it was unique at the time) and the latest iteration of the series are negligible, improved graphics aside. A genre that does nothing to change itself in 10 years is stagnant. Now, FPS games aren’t the only ones guilty of this. JRPGs often fall into this category as well.
I understand that developers (actually, it’s probably more publishers) don’t want to try new things in mainstay titles because there’s a risk of the franchise’s following not liking the changes. And the problem is, humans are creatures of habit. If a college student has enough money to buy one new game, that student is much more likely to buy a game that is similar to already-owned games. The masses aren’t fond of change, unless it happens in a big way, like a brand-new IP. Innovating within a series is difficult at best, but that shouldn’t stop developers and publishers from constantly stretching the boundaries of gaming.
While online gaming may appeal to most gamers, I grew up in an era when the only multiplayer available was against computers or four players squashed onto one screen. I think that’s where my aversion to multiplayer games in general stems from (there are exceptions such as RTS games and MOBA games). In my opinion, RPGs should be crafted for one person because developers can create a much more realistic and in-depth world. I think MMORPGs have promise, but human interaction is, by nature, flawed. This means random variables that developers can’t control. If a developer doesn’t have control of the game, who does? The People. And while I’m all for freedom and such, The People on the internet aren’t like The People IRL.
It’s like the difference between listening to Vivaldi on a nice surround-sound system at home and listening to Vivaldi at a concert in an up-scale locale which inexplicable sold tickets to a bunch of griefers and trolls. Somehow, that human interaction disrupts gameplay and ruins the player’s suspension of belief. I am extremely happy to see that Skyrim did so well because it means there are more people out there like me.
As fun as it is to rant, I need to run to work. Catch me next week to hear me continue to rail against things that I don’t like. I know, I’m such a pompous prig.