By Undeadpool 3 Comments
A little background on me to put this in perspective: I'm old enough to have gotten a Nintendo Entertainment System when they were new, I'm old enough to remember when $60 for a game was cheap (Kirby's Superstar for $80, folks), and I'm old enough to remember when our games didn't have age ratings on them and ESRB was just a collection of letters. I remember when being a "gamer" meant you were almost definately NOT in the cool kid clique and I remember when it began to turn. It was a little system called the Playstation that brought gaming to a level nobody had seen before. Sprites were replaced with polygons, voices were heard rather than read and, for some reason, games were getting primetime advertising. Have you ever been a part of something niche that became mainstream? It's the very definition of a double-edged sword. Games are cheaper and playing them doesn't automatically make you a schoolyard pariah, which is great. We have a much greater volume of work to choose from, so there's much more to be enjoyed, but something is lost.
My three favorite games are Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy VI (I liked one-player games because I was the only person I knew who really played games) and those games are all SNES games. They were all made with an incredible amount of love and care and they were made for people like me. This is not to look at the past with rose-tinted lenses, there have ALWAYS been bad games and there always will be, but now you've got people who play nothing but Madden and HALO and call themselves "gamers" and more and more games are being made to try and get these kinds of people on board. The biggest bait used is shoe-horned multiplayer. Games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto 4 and even games that don't have the number 4 in them like Resident Evil 5 are having multi-player crammed into them and it's still happening. Did anyone who played the amazing Bioshock think, "Wow, this game would be perfect if only I could play it online against a thirteen year old screeching racial slurs at me." Is that an unfair example? Absolutely, I made it because I'm trying to be funny and make a point. A better example would be did anyone think being unable to play against their friends in that game detract from the experience? Well for those people, multiplayer will be included in the sequel. And don't even get me started on G4 trying to make gaming "kewl" and "xtreeeeeeme(!!!)" or Roger Ebert declaring that it's impossible for videogames to be considered "art" because the user alters them.
So I guess in the end I'm more giving food for thought than actually trying to make a point. What do you think? Gaming in the mainstream, blessing or curse?