I recently turned years old. My wife and female friends seem to think this is a more significant event than my male friends. I firmly believe that age (at least at this point) has more to do with your state of mind than the exact number years I have spent converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. Anyway I’m going to use this occasion as an excuse to pull out my rocking chair, a nice quilt, and ramble on about gaming at 30. Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin. Time
If you have read anything written by a crusty old gamer then will recognize the “not enough time” theme. There’s no avoiding the fact that once you engage in a career path, start paying a mortgage, attending to your spouse, and possibly even attending to the fruit of your loins then your available gaming time decreases significantly.
Accordingly I often cringe at the frequent requests for longer games. I admit at one time I enjoyed some of those 40+ hour RPGs and similar games, but the amount of time I have to dump into one game is more limited than it has been ever before and I for one welcome some of these 7 to 10 hour single player games.
Highly concentrated high quality games are far more appealing to me now than some of the longer games. I can certainly understand the folks wanting more from a game but Gears of War
’s modest length was just about ideal for me, at least for an FPS. I don't have much more patience or time for games three or four times as long as I find they just offer "more" and not necessarily anything better in terms of gameplay or the overall experience. Adult Themes
If any of the gaming demographic statistics that the industry tosses around are too believed then there are a lot of folks my age buying games, and I would guess there are those folks my age making a fair number making those games. At times this makes me wonder why it seems so few games take on adult themes. Now by adult I’m not talking about including more pixilated sex scenes. If you’re reading this you’re almost certainly on the internet and like it or not you have plenty of that available to you at your fingertips already. I’m talking about games with themes and stories that might be a bit more complicated than “Shoot People in the Face Volume 8” or “Orphaned 14 year old saves the world XVIII”. That’s not to say there aren’t times where I’m looking to sit down and wreak some juvenile havoc on a virtual world while riding my magic shopping cart
. Those games have their place and I’d be bummed if they weren’t around, and I’m also not talking about something like thritysomething
the video game. Gord no.
What I’m looking for is something with a bit more beyond the garden variety badditude and cookie cutter RPG stories. Contrary to popular belief I don’t need to save the world in every game and the characters I play don’t need to be defined entirely by their wish to save the world, conquer the world, or urge to shoot people in the face. I figure there are plenty of developers who also would like to push things just a little farther in terms of storytelling aspects of the gaming. Heck hooking people into a good story and quality characters would seem to be a profitable avenue if you’re looking to establish a franchise, but it seems rarely do games take this path, or at least no farther than most games. I mentioned Gears of War earlier, as amusing as I found the banter between the members of *duxup stops to check the name* … Delta Squad if Marcus Phoenix had dropped dead during the game I wouldn’t have cared much. I would have just wondered who I play as next, and unless I’m up for the same gameplay again I don’t much care what happens in the next game.
I don’t think it takes too much to add great deal a more to video games in terms of their story. Games like the Max Payne
series and Mafia
did an outstanding job adding atmosphere and a compelling story without taking up too much time in the game or compromising any of the gameplay. Heck I still regularly hear people asking if / when another Max Payne or Mafia game will be released. If the games were just gameplay with a little storyline I don’t think we’d still be hearing those requests. It seems there is an opportunity to push gaming farther when it comes to the narrative, but few developers seem interested in or have the opportunity to take advantage of it. Don’t Tread on Nostalgia
The first video game I played was on an old console that I believed was called OmniVision
or something like that. The console that had no less than EIGHT
…. versions of Pong. Later I was playing in arcades. Then came the various Atari systems, and then of course came the Nintendo and Sega arrived on the scene. It was probably the NES that hooked me, and rightfully so as many of those games are still genuinely playable today.
In some ways I think some of those older games are even more playable for folks who are short on time and don’t want to deal with a eight button controller and numerous button combo options. Gord forbid I take a week off from a game and have to learn some of the controls all over again :(
It took a while but now we have convenient and legal means to play many of those console and arcade games from oh so long ago, and I probably should have seen the downside coming. Nintendo tried to warn me, or maybe mug me, when they offered Excitebike
on the GBA for $20. The GBA should have been littered with great collections NES titles for good prices but instead they chose something akin to punching me in the nose. That’s not to say it is all meadows and song birds for me when it comes to Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo’s current offerings these days. While I don’t feel like I’m being punched in the face, I’m still not happy with the pricing. $5 for Q*Bert? $5 for a NES game? $5 isn’t a ton of many but if you’re thinking of buying more than one game that’s when the price really hits you. Aside from a game like Ice Hockey
that is eminently repayable, I’m not going to spend much time with these games. $5 per game for a trip down memory lane seems pricy especially considering the minimal cost to the people offering these games.
I might have spent far more than $5 on a game when I was at the arcade but at that time I didn’t have other responsibilities and other things to spend money on. $5 means a bit more to me these days, and I don’t think the pricing on more recent games on these systems gets any more reasonable as you move further up the retro gaming time line. All the gaming companies are of course businesses and it is their job to make money, but I can’t help but feel a bit of my gaming past is being held hostage. Conclusion
So there we go. I’m older, still gaming, and plan to keep it up so long as the industry offers what I want. No doubt the powers that be could make some changes that might make their products more appealing to someone like myself. I’m sure that is their priority and people are holding meetings about this very post right now ;)
In the end note of the issues I wrote about are solely the concerns of 30+ year old gaming fans. There are graduate students, university freshmen, auto mechanics, and twelve year olds out there complaining about Q*Bert prices, wondering when the heck their game of Final Fantasy XII is going to end already, and how hard it would be to just add a little something more to good game Gears of War (like a point). No doubt there are plenty out there who think nothing of sort as well. I should go now. It’s getting late, and I’m fairly sure there’s an episode of Matlock
on somewhere that I should be watching.