Narrow Horizons: The Games We Cut Ourselves Off From

An Embarrassment of Hats

So about two weeks ago I started trying to get into Team Fortress 2. Not in a particularly zealous way - just a few hours a week as I get a feel for the different classes - but it's kind of a big gesture for me. You see, I tend to think of competitive multiplayer as one of those things I am just incapable of getting into, because there are very few combat loops in video games that I find compelling for their own sake, without some sort of situational context to push me forward. Nevertheless, I am actually enjoying TF2 a whole lot. A lot of the fun comes from the goofy artstyle - also, hat lust- so I doubt I'll be picking up, say, BLOPS 2 this fall, but it's a bit stunning to me that I am now excited about shooting dudes on the internet. I literally never thought that would happen, ever.

Progression in TF2 is a progression toward stupidity

Why We Cut Ourselves Off

That, in turn, got me thinking about the limitations we place on ourselves within this hobby of ours. I imagine there are very few of us who are open to literally any type of game; many of us have specific go-to genres, and several other genres we just don't bother with for whatever reason. It makes sense why we would close ourselves off to things without experiencing them firsthand. After all, no one knows what you like better than you do. So mostly it comes down to personal taste, but I don't think that's the whole answer because I feel it discourages the reevaluation of those tastes.

I think another reason we close ourselves off is for simple filtering purposes. There is too much content being produced for one person to reasonably consume, so we each make cuts according to what we think is worth our precious time. Basically, we ignore a large chuck of the available content so that we're not paralyzed with the need to experience all of it. The reasons we use to justify the cuts are almost irrelevant in this case. It's a basic categorization heuristic, and nothing sinister is involved. Still, it's useful to understand exactly why we close ourselves off so that we can take control of the process.

A Brief History of Shooter-Fear

For the longest time, the only games I played were RPGs - pretty much from the SNES era till when I got a Gamecube. I wasn't sworn against other kinds of games, but the FPS was an source of fear for me - I was genuinely frightened of being snuck up on from a blind spot (yeah yeah, laugh it up). I admit, the idea that an enemy could be lurking outside of my character's peripheral vision, readying some diabolical ambush, still sends a little shiver up my spine. ButResident Evil 4 opened me up to the possibility that I might at least enjoy shooters in the third person, if they were sufficiently crazy. It was only fairly recently, with Bioshock, that I got over the lack of peripheral vision thing. Bioshock still scared the piss out of me, but for different reasons.

CHECK YOUR FUCKING SIX LEON THERE ARE NO SAFE CORNERS IN THE VILLAGE

Now I can play Gears of War with the best of you. Well, not really, because I don't have a Gold subscription. Also, I'm an embarrassingly poor shot. Just terrible. But at the least, I can confidently say that I would not shout in horror if you came up behind me and chainsawed me into soggy little gibbets. It's a moral victory.

Widening One's Gaze

I've been seduced into other seemingly inaccessible experiences the same way as I was with shooters: by playing one exemplary game that proves the viability of the genre. Most recently, I've been playing Telltale's The Walking Dead, which is technically my first adventure game. It's been a blast so far, and now I think I might delve more deeply into the genre, or at least sifting through Telltale's past work. I only picked up The Walking Dead after the bombcrew's repeated praising of the game, which underscores just how important it is to have a like-minded community to turn to.

Of course, I can't just pat myself on the back for being the most open-minded gamer on earth. There are plenty of games that still occupy the "NEVER!" category in my head, like sports, racing, rhythm and visual novel games. I have fairly solid reasons for just disregarding any of those games on sight - at least Ithink they're solid - yet I'm probably just one awesome game away from tossing those reasons out the window.

Well... maybe not sports games, but my point stands.

All that said, a man must draw the line somewhere

So that's pretty much the extent of my thoughts on widening your horizons. I've shared a bit of my gaming history, but what about you guys? Which genres do you consider your favorites? Which do you refuse to even give a look, and why? Do you think you'll ever reconsider the boundaries you've drawn for yourself within gaming? What would it take for you to give something new a shot?

- Jon

7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by Encephalon

An Embarrassment of Hats

So about two weeks ago I started trying to get into Team Fortress 2. Not in a particularly zealous way - just a few hours a week as I get a feel for the different classes - but it's kind of a big gesture for me. You see, I tend to think of competitive multiplayer as one of those things I am just incapable of getting into, because there are very few combat loops in video games that I find compelling for their own sake, without some sort of situational context to push me forward. Nevertheless, I am actually enjoying TF2 a whole lot. A lot of the fun comes from the goofy artstyle - also, hat lust- so I doubt I'll be picking up, say, BLOPS 2 this fall, but it's a bit stunning to me that I am now excited about shooting dudes on the internet. I literally never thought that would happen, ever.

Progression in TF2 is a progression toward stupidity

Why We Cut Ourselves Off

That, in turn, got me thinking about the limitations we place on ourselves within this hobby of ours. I imagine there are very few of us who are open to literally any type of game; many of us have specific go-to genres, and several other genres we just don't bother with for whatever reason. It makes sense why we would close ourselves off to things without experiencing them firsthand. After all, no one knows what you like better than you do. So mostly it comes down to personal taste, but I don't think that's the whole answer because I feel it discourages the reevaluation of those tastes.

I think another reason we close ourselves off is for simple filtering purposes. There is too much content being produced for one person to reasonably consume, so we each make cuts according to what we think is worth our precious time. Basically, we ignore a large chuck of the available content so that we're not paralyzed with the need to experience all of it. The reasons we use to justify the cuts are almost irrelevant in this case. It's a basic categorization heuristic, and nothing sinister is involved. Still, it's useful to understand exactly why we close ourselves off so that we can take control of the process.

A Brief History of Shooter-Fear

For the longest time, the only games I played were RPGs - pretty much from the SNES era till when I got a Gamecube. I wasn't sworn against other kinds of games, but the FPS was an source of fear for me - I was genuinely frightened of being snuck up on from a blind spot (yeah yeah, laugh it up). I admit, the idea that an enemy could be lurking outside of my character's peripheral vision, readying some diabolical ambush, still sends a little shiver up my spine. ButResident Evil 4 opened me up to the possibility that I might at least enjoy shooters in the third person, if they were sufficiently crazy. It was only fairly recently, with Bioshock, that I got over the lack of peripheral vision thing. Bioshock still scared the piss out of me, but for different reasons.

CHECK YOUR FUCKING SIX LEON THERE ARE NO SAFE CORNERS IN THE VILLAGE

Now I can play Gears of War with the best of you. Well, not really, because I don't have a Gold subscription. Also, I'm an embarrassingly poor shot. Just terrible. But at the least, I can confidently say that I would not shout in horror if you came up behind me and chainsawed me into soggy little gibbets. It's a moral victory.

Widening One's Gaze

I've been seduced into other seemingly inaccessible experiences the same way as I was with shooters: by playing one exemplary game that proves the viability of the genre. Most recently, I've been playing Telltale's The Walking Dead, which is technically my first adventure game. It's been a blast so far, and now I think I might delve more deeply into the genre, or at least sifting through Telltale's past work. I only picked up The Walking Dead after the bombcrew's repeated praising of the game, which underscores just how important it is to have a like-minded community to turn to.

Of course, I can't just pat myself on the back for being the most open-minded gamer on earth. There are plenty of games that still occupy the "NEVER!" category in my head, like sports, racing, rhythm and visual novel games. I have fairly solid reasons for just disregarding any of those games on sight - at least Ithink they're solid - yet I'm probably just one awesome game away from tossing those reasons out the window.

Well... maybe not sports games, but my point stands.

All that said, a man must draw the line somewhere

So that's pretty much the extent of my thoughts on widening your horizons. I've shared a bit of my gaming history, but what about you guys? Which genres do you consider your favorites? Which do you refuse to even give a look, and why? Do you think you'll ever reconsider the boundaries you've drawn for yourself within gaming? What would it take for you to give something new a shot?

- Jon

Posted by Sploder

I don't really have a favourite genre, I just generally play what I like to at the time. In terms of playtime I guess you could say RPG's and Open world games, because I played Pokemon from when I was like 3 going on 4 to the time I got a PS2 when I was 12. So like 9 years of my history was Pokemon (I'm 19). Of course I did play other games, but Pokemon was THE game. And most of the time spent on my PS2 was with the GTA games, and I played GTAIV regularly from launch day 2008 until earlier this year. The only genre I abhor is tower defence, I think they're awful. They're the bare minumum of player interaction coupled with the bare minimum of strategy since all the levels are designed around handy pre-created choke points, and they're a mind numbingly dull experience as a result of these things.
 
I haven't drawn myself any boundaries with regards to games (apart from tdf) so it wouldn't take much to make me give something new a shot. A job and some money would be helpful, though :p

Posted by Hailinel

RPGs and strategy RPGs are my favorite genres, quite easily. I also enjoy fighting games (on the non-competitive level) and hack-and-slash games. Those have always been my bread and butter, with the occasional hardcore strategy title or simulation thrown in for good measure.

But I cannot, for the life of me, get into RTS games. Believe me, I've tried. Whether it's Command & Conquer, WarCraft, StarCraft, or GrimGrimoire, all of my attempts at getting into the genre have fizzled after a few missions. Give me a turn-based game, and I will eat that up day and night, but throw me into an RTS game and I will quickly lose interest.

Posted by A_Talking_Donkey

My favorite genre is strategy. I like strategy games competitively and usually don't get any satisfaction from out-smarting a PC. After that it'd be fighting games, unlike Hailinel, at the competitive level. Pushing your performance beyond what you think you're capable of is the most satisfying feeling I've ever felt (not just in gaming).

Aside from that I think I'm open to trying pretty much everything though I don't play first person games much because they give me motion sickness. I have nothing against the perspective other than it making me want to puke.

Posted by AlexW00d

I don't have a favourite, or go to, genre tbh. I like lots of games in lots of genres. I am more for weird shit. Weird Russian shit specifically. The Russians - I should really say Eastern Europe - seem to be the only developers who really push boundaries instead of just pooping out the same old tripe year in year out like Japan and the US/Canada. If it's weird gameplay mechanics or strange meta-philosophy it's usually Russian.

Posted by JasonR86

I can't pinpoint the specific genres or types of games I like. I'm also big on RPGs and open-world based games but there are several RPGs and open-world games I can't stand too. The games I shy away from the most are the technical strategy games on PC. The reason being that I just can't understand them and I don't really have the patience to learn.

Posted by MikeGosot

You know, that got me thinking and you made me realize i'm afraid of RTS's and Simulation games! That may be because i always had a PC that sucked and i was raised on consoles, so when i'm exposed to some of these games i just go "What the fuck, i don't know how to play this shit, omg, i'm so dead.". That sucks, because i love politics and some RTS's have a lot of political stuff in it, and my PC also sucks...

Posted by believer258

I can pinpoint my go-to genre easily - FPS games. Am I shooting something? With a nice meaty gun? Good, that usually means I'm having a bit of fun!

However, this doesn't mean I don't have a fairly wide selection of games from a number of genres and time periods. I have zero interest in sports games, period (I've tried them) and I can't get into RTS's for the life of me. Visual novels and "sim" games (train, bus, farm, etc.) also don't interest me. But most everything else has something I'd like to see.