Podzilla 1985

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gamers...what do you want?

   I'd like to take a break from working on the story I've started but can't seem to make progress on to write at your eyeballs. But first, here's a red panda:

Okay, enough of that.
 Here are some questions for you if you're a gamer: What do you want from video games? What is it you want the industry to turn out? What do you want to get from the products they turn out?
(Why do I feel like I've talked about this before? If I have, suck it up. I have dementia. Or Alzheimer's. Or...that Memento disease.)

If you frequent message boards about games or get into discussions in real life about them, there tends to be a few recurring ideas. One is that modern games are trying too hard to match Hollywood, creating more story driven experiences heavy on cutscenes and short in gameplay length.
There's also the idea that game difficulty has taken a huge dive in "too easy" territory.
Basically, to me, there SEEMS to be a divide between what gamers are getting from or expect to get from their video games.
To oversimplify this: Older gamers typically claim gameplay is king. Screw story as long as it's fun. Younger gamers are growing up with the kind of technology that allows stories to be told in ways that allow for more believable character performances and budgets that open the doors for a focus on writing. In other words, why should they CARE about shooting the asteroids? What's the point?

Here I am in the middle asking "Why does it have to be only one or the other? Why can't it be fun AND compelling?"

When I was just a young lad pushing a hoop with a stick down the road, I'd push it to my house where I'd go in and play PC adventure games AND NES/Atari/Commodore 64.
My initial experience with video games wasn't JUST side-scrolling platformers with no real story. Nor was it JUST humor filled PC games driven by puzzles, story,  colorful characters and interesting locations.It was both. I'm finding more and more things in life need context for appreciation and having experiences with two approaches to developing games at a young age helped.
So the evolution of gaming to the point it's at now is by no means a disappointment or even a surprise.

"Old school" gamers sound bitter and young gamers have been spoiled.

So back to one of the questions from earlier: What do you want from video games?

Lately I'm finding less and less time to play much but the last two new games I completed were Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us. I loved both of them and playing them both so close to each other has really made almost every other game seem like a giant pile of garbage.(I'm exaggerating for effect)
Bioshock Infinite
The Last of Us

The point is, both of these are examples of exactly what I personally want out of gaming at this point in my life. (I liked TLOU a bit better but for the sake of this point, I'll keep them lumped together.)(It must be great to be Troy Baker this year).
They're both story driven with interesting characters, mature without trying to force it(*ahem* Heavy Rain), they're fun, involve interesting universes all while both looking and sounding great. In other words, they don't really slouch anywhere. They put it all together in one fantastic package and when it's done right, you feel it when you're done. You think about what you played.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fascist. There's room for all kinds of games. As I get older my focus is just being narrowed. I'll still have time for skateboarding games, almost anything DC comics related, and anything that has a shred of innovation. But those will always kind of be around. There will always be room for sports games, superhero games and Bethesda will still be making Fallout and Elder Scrolls games. So I'm not talking about that stuff. We're good there. What I mean is what I want from the industry that will keep me sticking around. Keep me saying "Wow, look how far we've come." That's the kind of evolution that keeps me gaming. If people with the type of vision that Ken Levine has, those at Naughty Dog or even Rockstar weren't around, there's no telling how little I'd play games.
 I understand not everyone shares my views. That's fine. Hopefully developers are giving you what you want.

What I'm really saying is that character and story have a much bigger impact on what I play or enjoy than it seems other gamers my age, and I want to see the quality of that growing up with me. Sure, I don't want a broken game. But if I'm hooked into WHY I'm doing what I'm doing, it makes WHAT I'm doing more fun. I'm not saying I want ALL games to be serious. But the game industry has grown so much. The budgets have grown way too big for them to not have quality in all parts of their game no matter what the subject matter is.
(I know I tend to ramble so I just had to make that bold so my point isn't lost)
I guess what I'm saying is that games like TLOU and Bioshock Infinite represent the pinnacle of development team coming together under a director or writer's creative vision and producing great quality(there's that word again) in what they set out to do. The bar has been raised for serious narratives and the complete package of a product. What I want from video games is for every developer to keep raising the bar no matter what their vision is. Don't just churn out sequels that aren't much different in terms of quality from the last one. Don't treat all gamers like we're 14 year old boys. Gamers want to be taken seriously right? We'll achieve that by developers turning out stories and characters that even non-gamers can care about. Not by living in a bubble.

I hope that all makes sense. 

Now here's some more red pandas...

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