I recently wrote a blog in which I kind of called out game designers for making uninteresting games. You can find it easily if you want to, but I'd like to open another thread to discuss a broader concern I have, one that certainly informed my wanting to write that blog in the first place. This isn't me trying to spam; I just wanted to open up a less formal discussion about it. see how informal i'm being? not even capitalizing the first letter of a sentence or 'i'.
Seriously, though, I wanted to talk about this without starting off by shoving my opinion down people's throats. I want this to be more of a question posed to a games enthusiast (AKA 'duder') crowd.
The main question is right there in the title of this thread: do I just not like video games anymore now that I'm at the ripe old age of 22? I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with how similar games are to one another, and how much time they take to complete. I really almost feel like it's more fun for me to make a game than play one.
Some relevant biographical stuff to get out of the way:
As someone who was born into middle class America in 1989, of course I spent a lot of time playing games growing up. I would never claim to have an encyclopedic knowledge/background of games, though. I really don't think I ever beat a game until I played Metal Gear Solid 2, and I really didn't own or rent that many different games before I got out of high school. On the other hand, games go on sale so often for so cheap now that I have dozens of unfinished games in my library.
Between Metal Gear Solid 2 and... say... Mass Effect 2, I had a solid run of finishing games once I started them, but now, other than when I play something for review (I make a few bucks reviewing iOS games), I tend to just not care about seeing a game through. As you could see in my latest blog, I really feel like it's the developers' fault for making boring pieces of media. But maybe it's my fault for becoming a Buddhist and learning to be extremely content with everything, including the unfinished state of all of these well-regarded games I own! Maybe being in grad school has messed my mind up but I still love her Lu-hoo-cille has messed my mind up by I still need her, you know I need her!
Ahem. Sorry. Frank Zappa tangent.
I bought Avadon: The Black Fortress on Steam the other day, and I just sat down and played it for like an hour or something. It seems like a perfectly acceptable RPG, but I've clicked on however-many rats to kill them and I'm just like "so this is how this is gonna go, huh?". RPGs haven't seemed to progress much past what was achieved back in the Infinity Engine days, and I'm jaded about it not even having played one of those games for more than like a half-dozen hours or so!
As such, I can't believe someone like our man Jeff Gerstmann isn't totally tired of games and giving anything even kind of familiar like two out of five stars. How much have first-person shooters really progressed since Half-Life: Counter-Strike? How much have 2D platformers really progressed since, say, Super Mario Bros 3? I mean, not to criticize it in particular, but isn't Starcraft II just Starcraft but kinda newer? Jeff has been around for all of these games, and I'm absolutely dumbfounded as to why he isn't sick of the same old mechanics being trod out in different clothes (fiction, graphics, etc).
If you know me, you know I'm way into the games-as-art movement. I'd go as far to say that my own "games" tend to (try to) be expressive at the expense of their game-ness. So while it seems like I'm totally unimpressed with games as a whole, I'd be quite happy to play Rez for a long time.
But I also spend hours upon hours with whatever EA's latest NHL game is! It's ostensibly just because like the game of hockey an awful lot, and you kind of can't blame EA for putting out such a fundamentally unchanging product every year, because the game of hockey itself hasn't changed all that much for more than a century.
Other video games aren't beholden to the rules of a real-life game, though. And I don't totally hate all games. I'll get down with some SpellTower, Scrabble, poker, Tetris, Lumines... are you seeing a trend yet? I do, just as I'm writing this blog. All of these games are... casual games? You could definitely say that, and a crowd like this might act like that's a bad thing. However, if these are casual games, then I'll defend casual games to my dying breath, because all of these games are actually pretty unique. They're not another RPG, another shooter, another platformer, another third-person action game, or another [insert genre here]. If being a hardcore gamer means playing the same thing over and over, then consider me out of the club. I don't mind.
I dunno, duders. Let me know what you think. Do I just need to ratchet up the difficulty whenever I play a game to make it more challenging? I mean, I guess I could say that it's gotten to the point that I'm confident that I can totally complete [insert objective here], so it really feels like a waste of time to actually do it. I'm not trying to rant that games are too easy at all. It's just that they feel like kind of a waste of time.
Thanks for letting me waste your time.[/George Carlin-style ending]