Decadence : the gaming "experience"

I know what you mean, but designers are catering to casualfags now, meaning “the game is supposed to be an experience” not be difficult or challenging, but just an experience. Casualfags don’t like to have to manage their health or ammo or anything like that. It isn’t entertaining enough for them.

Jamming in America’s Army is laughable. From what I saw there was no actual fouling or getting dirty, shit only just randomly jammed… which is half right but half wrong. A well-cleaned M4 should still be able to run a few mags on average before causing problems.

I’d love to be able to customize each weapon with the level of detail I can tweak my car in Need for Speed. I want to be able to replace every part. Titanium firing pins for faster lock-time, replace my barrel with a shorter one, replace my 1911’s slide with one that’s been custom fit to my frame for a thousand credits… all to improve my virtual patterns by a fraction of an inch… Kids do just as in-depth and detailed stuff in games like WOW… why not make one with guns and shit?

The paradox that is the Internet has delivered unto me something about video gaming culture from (of all places) /k/, the dedicated weapons board that despises vidya gaems. Oh, the irony.

I’m not too into the culture of my hobbies; “people are idiotic” seems to be the M.O. when it comes to online communities, which also happens to be where the biggest ‘communities’ are. It took something like this, from a anti-casual-gaming collective, to bring me to realise this fully: developers are looking for faster, flashier, and more fun.

When I actually think back, this has been happening for quite some time. Probably around the time when PC gaming stopped being geeky and the 4th/5th/whatever generation consoles came out (the PS1 or so). Games were moving in a new direction; games that were meant for the common masses, that were simpler, easier to get in and out, and not require strenuous brain function. Because, after all, that’s what games are supposed to be, right? Entertainment. It’s a ‘game’.

So what happens to those of us whose hobby, fixation, and obsession is gaming? Not just ‘games’, but everything surrounding it… story, system, concept. One who would learn how to code in complex languages, how to create 3D renderings, how to mix and generate audial, just to enhance their experience with it. One who devotes time and sweat towards it, until it is a project of their life, its age numbered in years, not months.

Video games have two extremes that share commonalities: the ones who last the longest, have the biggest followings are either the most basic, or the most complex. Games like Prey or even Crysis fade into backstage fairly quickly, while Team Fortress and Operation Flashpoint continue to be enjoyed.

Team Fortress has the simplest of ideas: Red versus Blue, and Classes. Operation Flashpoint, on the other hand, was hailed as an ‘infantry simulation’, a real first-person wargame.

Developers, and more importantly, publishers should realise the kind of games that players are willing to invest in; you need to have the player invest something that, in exchange, will reward him. Whether that something is time, effort, or any combination of factors is up to the game. The casual crowd can be attracted simply by stellar gameplay and graphics – Call of Duty certainly didn’t feel lackluster until the third or fourth time around. Half-Life 2‘s Gravity Gun may be an incredible achievement, but it’s still just butter on top of the fact that it’s a solid, compelling, engaging shooter game. For people who are trying to reach the zenith of entertainment with games, they seem to be ignorant of what exactly makes them entertaining.

The gamers need to feel it. They need to be immersed, need to feel wanted, need to be comforted. They need to be within their allowance for suspension of disbelief (which, thanks to pop culture, is absurdly lax). Most importantly, they need to feel they are actually achieving something. That is the whole point of Awards, Medals, or whatever ‘new’ idea they come up with – dating back to Medal of Honor on the PSX, they make a gamer feel rewarded.

But for the other crowd – the one who I must identify with, the ones who truly want a challenge and a worthy investment – gaming will be in a bad business for us. There are simply fewer companies willing to take risks, naturally, and with the industry moving in the ‘casual’ direction, it’ll be even harder for the ‘serious’ groups to survive… for me, the beginning of the end was when Red Storm ceased to exist, becoming a puppet of Ubisoft. And who knows, maybe one day, even VALVe and Bohemian will be joining it.

My particular alignment towards gaming will not change – in fact, it’s somewhat beneficial that the conservative communities will build even higher walls to protect themselves, and venerable titles will become the standard-bearers of the ‘good ol’ days’. As perusers of the Internet should all know, the more obscure something is without being in complete darkness, the greater the achievements of cooperation, even if only a few will be around to retell it. And in time, when absence makes the heart grow fonder, the days when games meant something might even return.

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