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im-a-roustabout Blog

The joys of gaming:A perspective piece

It's the early 1900's. You're taken away from sex, drugs and rock & roll and placed dead smack on Jan 1, 2010. Besides seeing thousands of technological advancements and marvelling at them, the one thing you find most peculiar is the person sitting on the couch staring a screen and pushing buttons for almost a solid two hours!

"What is that person doing?" you ask yourself as you approach him and ask exactly what you said in your head. He/she turns to you and says

"I'm playing a video game, you wanna play?"

"What is a video game?"

The person explains what it is, probably looking at you like you're stupid, but should probably be more curious as to why a very red eyed looking person is in their living room in the first place. But this is my story, so walk along with me.

So as it all turns out, the cartoon on the screen that was ripping the head off an enemy was not a bloody cartoon at all, but an avatar that can apparently be manipulated pushing a button on a controller.....god knows where the chord is. Then as the rest of this story plays, our time traveller friend finds a new addiction. Video gaming.......and what a lovely addiction it is!

We forget so much how far gaming has come. I know most of us have been there for it, but I sometimes feel people forget where this culture came from and fail to recognize it and appreciate it. I know everybody still loves Mario 3, Zelda etc, but the technology ITSELF is what I want to pay homage to. I read so many posts on Gamespot from people saying stuff like "Sony's 3-d idea is so stupid." "Project Natal is gunna suckz lolz", "Wii has shovelware".

I can't help but smirk a little. I mean I can't even begin to believe that we have technology out there where motion sensing is so fully realized, that we are now bottling it up, and selling it to the discounted prices. Remember when Atari almost killed the gaming industry? Now there is so much gaming going on, we can afford to have fanboy wars, and even have it's own tab in this website labeled "System Wars". In the great words of Keanu Reeves.... "Whoa!".

Love it or hate it look at what we have, and remember when this technology was just a twinkle in some companys eye.

1. We have the DS, you can actually push the screens to manipulate the character. Visuals are beautiful! (Anybody remember the first Gameboy ever made?)

2. PSP. At one time Final Fantasy 7 was considered the pinnacle of state of the art it all fits on a thing the size of your hand......and it can play games with far better graphics. Fully colored screen means movies look amazing and for some people even better than their television sets.

3. 360. Remember when playing Doom with a buddy meant dialing up your friends modem? You dealt with the lag just to see your friend right there with you killing.......and then somebody picked up the land-line phone! Ouch. With LIVE we're online in mins! And I still have the gall sometimes to yell at my 360 for going too slow! State of the Art graphics, wireless controllers (C'mon people, remember when we all had wires? Got up out of bed in the middle of the night and tripped over them all?) State of the art graphics....all this for 200 bucks starting price!!! Wow.

4. Wii. Motion controls that are very very responsive. This had baby boomers everywhere beating up little kids in toystores for their very own to take home! (Not really). People say it has shovelware, and while I kind of agree, still, it's crazy to see that in this day in age our problem is no longer the quantity of games, but lack of quality. I can appreciate this situation. Pretty much the soul reason why motion sensing is being picked up by Sony and Microsoft. Yes, Sony had the eye-toy but nobody bought it, so it doesn't count. The Wii made motion sensing culturally relevant.

5. PS3. The console people love to hate, and hate that they love it. Once again, great graphics, online gaming exp is fairly descent, a very respectable first party gaming roster, wi-fi out of the box, re-chargeable wireless blue-tooth controllers, web browser, etc. Can stream movies and everything you practically never have to leave your room for anything entertainment wise. Now Sony is trying to dabble with 3-D gaming. Many are skeptic, me being one of them. But it's things like this that are pushing the industry forward. I mean, I can't even believe this is something we might get to enjoy one day if it works out right! *Yes I know 360 does some of this too, I'm not trying to say one is better or not*

Obviously these companies are all in direct competition with eachother and it's a cut throat business with fanboys screaming at eachother, and stock holders getting angry, and negative reviews flying and, and and........and we could not be luckier to be living in a world, circa 2010 where we have such a choice between entertainment juggernauts that we even feel the need to fight with eachother about whose is better. Enjoy your console of choice. I hope you get to enjoy all of them. And remember what it is we are even fighting about because bottom line fanboys look like ingrates when you see this beautiful technology in action, and we actually have a choice to boot!

Now it's time for me to go back to 1961, where I'll be waiting patiently for Galaxy and Pong.

My woes of multiplayer games

Multiplayer.....ever heard of it? There's no doubt in my mind you have, and I'll venture a guess that you have gone as far as to play have played a multiplayer game before. Of course I'm just being sarcastic here! Multiplayer is HUGE, it's practically a pop-culture phenomenon. It has even changed the way our video games are structured. They're good fun and all, increasing the longevity of our beloved titles so they don't just go back onto our dust collecting shelves, but what ever happened to the single player experience? Is it me or has it become a mere afterthought?

I remember multiplayer was something only PC users experienced and the idea was still taking off. That left console players with single player games only, and oh what good campaigns they were! Long. Engaging. Literally amazing stories that sucked me in and would not let go till I hit the power button, and when I did, I was sad! I'm sorry if I'm sounding a bit dramatic, but flashes of Sonic 2 and FF8 are coming to mind when I think about the Single player exp. Mario 3 and Vagrant Story! The slew of new games that have come out in the past year or so now have great single player experiences but they're not THAT great if anybody knows what I mean. Part of this, I feel, is due to laziness on the developers part. Knowing that they can just make a few maps and balanced characters and guns they can just release a half baked product and know that multiplayer would be there saving grace.

I would like to take the time to talk about a few of these culprits. First up is COD4. Yea you read that right! "But I'm a roustabout, that single player exp was SICK!" ANd i'd say you're right! BUT how long was it? I mean really? Yea multiplayer was grat, and revolutionized how multiplayer is played but a six hour campaign? Really? Six hours? I mean what the heck? My question I present to you is, if multiplayer had still not been invented yet, or implemented on consoles, would this game had gotten the reviews it did? MOst likely not. Multiplayer was it's saving grace, unless you're the kind that likes to chuck out $60 for a six hours game, maybe 24 if you like to get the acheivements. So keeping that in mind I just want developers to start thinking about the quality of their single player campaign and ask themselves "without multiplayer is this still a quality game worth releasing?"

Another game that comes to mind would be Halo 2. I know for a fact people were disapointed in that game, but it's saving grace was it's multiplayer. They expanded upon the original design so it was a fantastic multiplayer exp, but everybody complained about the lack of a quality single player campaign. I would think it's safe to say that what got people into halo in the first place was it's fantastic single player experience and the bonus was you could increase the longevity of that game by playing Lan parties with friends. Eventually the LAN parties dwarfed the people just sitting by themselves playing the single player portion, but the initial love for everything Halo I believe came from the single player campaign.

It's not that multiplayer is bad. I personally don't like it, and never found the fun in it. I chalk it up to the maturity level of most the people I come across. The pre-pubescent teenagers really irk me sometimes and completly withdrawls me from the whole experience and reminds me that I'm playing a video game, rather than providing a cathartic escape, saving me from my hum-drum droll that is my existence ;) Games these days have become too short boasting on the back of the box that it has an A-MAZING multiplayer exp and I for one have seen through their cheap BS and tire of it. Bring back my amazing stories! Bring back the lengthy, cinematic cutscenes that made me fall in love with the heroes. And stop chucking out sequel after sequel every year making my precious single player exp an afterthought making it ride on the coat tails of it's multiplayer component!