Gears 1 and gaming escapism.

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smokemare

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#1  Edited By smokemare

I've been having a lot of stress lately, all sorts of RL problems to sort out.  The thing that's keeping me sane at the moment is my hour of Gears of War 1and late night real ale.  It's funny, but I think there are two kinds of escapism available in games, or two types  of flow if you like the term.  Twitch and story I guess I could call them.  Gears isn't actually an amazing game - it was good for the time, and very high quality but not actually amazingly innovative.  The story is interesting and the environments are enjoyable to explore, but it's getting absorbed in the game that is enjoyable.  
 
I get a different kind of 'flow experience' when playing something like Guitar Hero, trying to play a difficult song on Expert - requires such concentration, there is no space left for the troubles of real life.
 
In some respects this desire to forget about real life for a bit, is something akin to drugs.  I think gaming is potentially quite addictive, not chemically - but psychologically, like exercise.  I find it hard to go a day without playing something, as I find it hard to go a day without a pint of beer.  I know some people who have quit their jobs to play World of Warcraft 100% of the time.
 
Ultimately the problem is this, if you are a games developer you want to make a game which is good - which is better than other people's games.  The measure of how good is how much people want to play it.  Then sure if the desire is higher they will spend more hours playing it?  And sacrifice other activities to play.  As games get better and better - this is potentially a social problem that will affect a lot of people.  Particularly those people with a personality that makes them susceptible to sacrificing too much to play games, the same sort of people who can't qut smoking and drinking probably.
 
I suppose too much of a good thing is bad for you - more or less whatever it is.  Even exercise - running, do it too much and you wear your knees out...
 
I'll still be playing when I'm old and grey, my thumbs will be worn out - but I hope it never gets to the stage where I'm so desperate to play, I leave my wife and qut my job for it.

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X19

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#2  Edited By X19

I agree I have put 390hrs in to UC2 multiplayer and most of those were to escape. I would say the people you play with makes the game more addictive because it becomes a place to chill out and talk. 

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#3  Edited By DeF

interesting that you bring flow into this, we covered this in media psychology last year :D
 
which reminds me that I need to prepare a presentation and can't give a more elaborate comment :)

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cookiemonster

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#4  Edited By cookiemonster

That was a decent read. I often find that certain games are better for taking your mind off things than others, for example, I find it a lot easier play a mindless game of fifa than trying to concentrate on a story driven action game like bioshock.

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#5  Edited By HandsomeDead

So, because a game isn't 'innovative', it's not amazing?

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#6  Edited By Geno
@HandsomeDead said:
" So, because a game isn't 'innovative', it's not amazing? "
Some purists think that, and then despite their perspective they enjoy the heck out of polished-but-not-necessarily innovative games anyway. 
 
And besides, Gears 1 was incredibly innovative for its time. 2006? What other game like it was out? It practically defined the third person shooter this generation, and also some of the art styles early on. It also popularized Unreal Engine 3, which is used in a large proportion of the major releases today. 
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#7  Edited By stinky
@Geno said:
" @HandsomeDead said:
" So, because a game isn't 'innovative', it's not amazing? "
Some purists think that, and then despite their perspective they enjoy the heck out of polished-but-not-necessarily innovative games anyway.  And besides, Gears 1 was incredibly innovative for its time. 2006? What other game like it was out? It practically defined the third person shooter this generation, and also some of the art styles early on. It also popularized Unreal Engine 3, which is used in a large proportion of the major releases today.  "
 
yeah i agree. the game that defined cover based shooters, hard to slight it for lack of innovation. 
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smokemare

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#8  Edited By smokemare
@HandsomeDead said:
" So, because a game isn't 'innovative', it's not amazing? "
Well, perhaps that was worded a little unfairly.  Gears of War 1 is ultra-high quality in every aspect, as is 2.  But It isn't grounbreakingly innovative - at least not in my opinion.  I'd still play it anyday over the 'innovative' piece of cack called Hydrophobia which I gave a fairly poor review. 
 
Quality is more important, Gears IS amazing, but I think we need innovation in this industry like any other - games are an icon of cutting edge technology and  despite resistance, are starting to get a similar recognition as an art form as fllm.  For this to continue and the media to be fully accepted as a serious art form we need things kept fresh with innovation.
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smokemare

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#9  Edited By smokemare
@DeF said:
" interesting that you bring flow into this, we covered this in media psychology last year :D  which reminds me that I need to prepare a presentation and can't give a more elaborate comment :) "
Have you covered 'the uncanny valley' yet?  That's an interesting topic regarding games development and psychology.
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#10  Edited By owl_of_minerva
@smokemare:  Have to disagree with the contention that it isn't innovative. Kill.switch did the cover mechanic first I believe, but it didn't really catch on and become a major trend/advance for the third-person shooter genre till Gears. Basically, Gears deserves most of the credit for popularising a new sub-genre of shooters. I don't see what more you'd want.
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smokemare

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#11  Edited By smokemare
@owl_of_minerva said:
" @smokemare:  Have to disagree with the contention that it isn't innovative. Kill.switch did the cover mechanic first I believe, but it didn't really catch on and become a major trend/advance for the third-person shooter genre till Gears. Basically, Gears deserves most of the credit for popularising a new sub-genre of shooters. I don't see what more you'd want. "
Interesting point, were there any other popular cover shooters between kill switch and Gears?  One thing  did find when I played Gears for the frst time, was it eased me into using a pad for shooters and made proper 1st person like Left4Dead easier to get into without a mouse and keyboard.
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#12  Edited By nintendoeats

Getting back OT...
 
The following is my rough top 5 games ever list (yes, I'm going somewhere with this):
Super Mario 64
Half Life 2
Mass Effect 2
Counter-Strike
Metal Gear Solid
 
The common theme of that list (except for CS) is that they are all games which can be played and finished. In my mind, the best games are ones that tell their story and can be finished.  In fact, if I made a top 10 list CS would still be the only game on there that one could theoretically play forever. So I guess what I'm saying is that the measure of a good game is not how much people want to play it, but how powerful the experience of playing it is.
 
I should also point out that there is no real difference between beind addicted to a drug and being addicted to a game. Both result in higher dopamine levels and a conditioned response. To say that one is chemical and one is psychological doesn't really mean anything.

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smokemare

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#13  Edited By smokemare
I think the key difference is you are unlikely to experience physical withdrawal effects from Gaming - as you do Heroin, or Nicotine.
 
I do see your point though - there are games I doubt I'll ever play again, but the memory of playing them will stay with me forever - an example would be Squares 'Final Fantasy 7' for the PS1, Secret of Mana for the SNES or Baldurs Gate for the PC.
 
I suppose the issue with WoW for people who see it as game is that it combines the huge explorable world, story and is theoretically endless.
@nintendoeats said:
" Getting back OT...  The following is my rough top 5 games ever list (yes, I'm going somewhere with this): Super Mario 64 Half Life 2 Mass Effect 2 Counter-Strike Metal Gear Solid  The common theme of that list (except for CS) is that they are all games which can be played and finished. In my mind, the best games are ones that tell their story and can be finished.  In fact, if I made a top 10 list CS would still be the only game on there that one could theoretically play forever. So I guess what I'm saying is that the measure of a good game is not how much people want to play it, but how powerful the experience of playing it is. I should also point out that there is no real difference between beind addicted to a drug and being addicted to a game. Both result in higher dopamine levels and a conditioned response. To say that one is chemical and one is psychological doesn't really mean anything. "

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#14  Edited By GeneralTurkle

I have to agree with you. I mean, I love the Gears franchise, they compose of amazing storytelling and continue to innovate. I spent countless hours playing Gears and love the hell out of it.  But I felt like it was a bunch of games thrown together to make one complete package.  They took many different aspects and threw them all together.
 
One thing that bother me with games today is that there is no re playability.  I mean you look at some games that are only 5 hours long and think, "What the hell do I do now?"  I feel like the developers are shorting us out just to take our money.  One point in difference of this is Black Ops.  The time Treyarch put in to make Dead Ops was amazing, especially since nobody expected it.  It is terribly addictive.  While the single player may not be long, they find ways to give us more content

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#15  Edited By owl_of_minerva
@smokemare:  I believe the answer to this question is no as Kill.switch was a PS2 title and Gears came out a few years later on the Xbox. It didn't become a genre staple till Gears surprising level of success.
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#16  Edited By HitmanAgent47

Lots of ppl tries to escape their problems with addiction. It's a vechicle to distract themselves from their problems in life. For example, someone else might drink instead. You probally feel helpless or depressed or something how you can't control your reality. Maybe the first step is to admit you have a problem and you should face the problems directly rather than distracting yourself from it.

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#17  Edited By Blinck

Games can be very addictive, specially if you have an addictive personality. 
 Although I think this tends to happen much more often with MMOs. The reason being that you are constantly comparing yourself with other thousands of players, and if you put enough time into the game ( read ALLOT of time ) you can become "better" then them. With enough time you can actually achieve something in the game, where IRL it's much harder to accomplish anything, and this is where the addiction kicks in.
 The thing is with MMOs you get much more obsessed and it can very literally ruin your life ( www.wowdetox.com ), while with single player games I think you are not as much "escaping" as you are distracting yourself from your problems.
Both things are "bad" if not taken in moderation, and if you think you are playing too much as a means of ignoring whats going on in your life then you should take a break from it, as IMO it's definitely not healthy :).
 
That being said, I would never use Gears of War as a means of escapism, I think that game is not an "absorbing" experience at all :P But this comes down to personal taste of course !