The State of Gaming (For Me)

Written by The Boo

So the other night Jack and I had a quick conversation about what games we’re waiting on, looking forward to etc. We quickly found out, that I may just not be a gamer anymore. Or at least, the state of gaming has changed for me.

I actually finished this game and enjoyed it.

It’s been a while since I’ve finished a single player game. In fact, the last game I actually played through until the ending credits was Red Dead Redemption. Now I know that’s not that old of a game, but the last one I actually finished before that was Legend of Dragoon. So what is it about games today that I just don’t have the drive to finish?

I still love this game, and will never part with my PAL copy of it. As it’s worth a small fortune.

 

Possibly too much Epic for me.

I started playing Skyrim, it was late at night. So I got through the intro, made my character, made the first decision on who to follow, walked into the first fight, saved the game, and haven’t touched it since. That was about two or three weeks ago. Every time I look at the icon on my desktop, I ask myself, “Do I really want to play this?” often I move the mouse cursor off of the icon and move it to Angry Birds instead.

Ba Kwark! Crash! Boom!

So how can I go from wanting to play an epic fantasy so vast and rich with exploration and lore, which is something I do truly love, to flinging birds at random objects? It boils down to two things. Time and Age or Age and Time. I’m getting older, and finding I have less time with which to spend my leisure on, which isn’t a bad thing. It does still pain me though, as much as I want to play Skyrim, and other “big” games, I find myself on the thought that I could spend a few hours playing that game, chasing butterflies, looking at mountains, or, I could play a quicker game a few more times, and actually accomplish something.

That sounds silly. Surely I could accomplish something in Skyrim in the same amount of time? Or maybe it’s just this modern world I’m living in which has infected me with its need for instant gratification. *Sigh* I’m not even that old! Why is it that the games I would pour countless hours into, now just don’t interest me in the slightest? Are the games trying too hard to be more than they should be? Okay, let me think about this for a moment. I guess I should think back to when I started gaming, what games I played until my hands fell numb and limp, how much time I had back then, and then compare all that to what is happening in gaming today. (I’ll try and keep this short as to not bore people too much.)

One of the first games I ever played. Maybe I am old.

So thinking back to the early 80’s (Hehe, keep this short? Yeah right.) I remember my first experience with arcade games, it was at the local swimming pool, they had a few arcade games there, the one I remember most was Wonder Boy. That was back in about ’86. Back then, arcade machines used those coins that had the label “cents”, unlike today, if you can even find an arcade machine (In Australia most arcades have closed due to console gaming etc) they use those coins labeled “dollars”. Tom-Tom (The name of our hero in Wonder Boy) would run along in a side scrolling style throwing his mighty stone hammers at what ever creatures would come his way to rescue his girlfriend from some monster. That was it. I think with the amount of coins I put into that machine, I could have probably bought one. But why did I keep playing, even though I never finished it once? I think the answer is fairly simple, it was fun. Back then, games were still buggy, though fewer of them were, but the thing a lot of those games had for me was down right pure fun gameplay. As time has gone on, a lot of the fun has gone, and it feels more like work, more like I’m playing some epic story someone wrote when you could have simply made a movie for me to sit back and enjoy.

It’s actually quite good, if you have the time for it.

I think this is where gaming has changed for me. To me, games should be about fun, about time spent relaxing, winding down after a stressful days work to mindlessly play a game to prepare for the next day. Now of course this doesn’t apply to all games today, but most of them feel so much like work, the amount of hours you have to spend in certain games makes it not fun, when all I wanted to do is relax and shoot something in the face, or laugh at a few quick jokes. It’s why when beta testing Star Wars: The Old Republic, I got that feeling of “I’m working”. I used to love MMO’s, I played City of Heroes for almost 6-7 years. That’s a long time to play one game. But I remember towards the end of my time with CoH, I found myself logging in, only to find that there was nothing I wanted to do in game. It was all the same. Sure they introduced a few new mechanics and a few new stories, but by this point, I wasn’t interested in the stories, I just wanted to spend some time actually playing with friends, heck, I think it got to the point where I only cared about my friends in the game, the game was only a means for us to use so we could spend time together even though we all lived thousands of miles from each other.

While I don’t play anymore, it’s moments like those that I’ll always remember.

Now dont’ get me wrong, SW:ToR is actually turning out to be quite a good game, the only problem is, when playing solo, every time I received a quest, I sighed. I’m tired of running around for people for little reward, I just want to run at my own pace, which these days, is as fast as I can so I can get the feeling of accomplishment, without the tireless hours put behind listening to everyone in the galaxy’s plight. Does this sound lazy? I guess it does, but that’s my point. I don’t have time for a Twi’lek who’s lost his father. I just want to build a better lightsaber and smack some Sith with it.

So these days I find myself playing games, that if need be, I can play for five minutes, then stop. I found myself playing a few First Person Shooters again. Why? Because it doesn’t take long to get something done. I find myself playing fighting games again for the same reason. While I would love to play Skyrim and witness all it has to offer, it just feels too much like work, rather than a game. Hmm, I think I’ve worked this out.

Today, gaming for me doesn’t feel like I’m playing a game. Most of these epicly beautiful story rich wonders of art are simply just that, art. It feels like they left the games out of a lot of these new epics. Of course I’m not talking about all games today, just the big epic ones that I think I would have enjoyed years ago when I had more time and could have possibly enjoyed the so called gaming part of it. (Insert Final Fantasy XIII game/movie reference here)

Needed less movie, more game.

So have I given up on gaming? Heck no, it’s just I play different games these days, more of the Board Game variety. Why? Because they actually feel like I’m playing a game, and not working. That, and most board games, (Unless you’re going for some Monopoly world championship) can be done within an hour with friends and family and have a blast while doing it.

It’s a board game, and it’s awesome!

There was probably nothing interesting to read in this article for most people, and I probably jumped all over the place with no real sense of rhyme or reason, as I tend to do when just writing down my thoughts, so I’ll do a quick Too Long Didn’t Read version.

TL:DR

I’m not into big games anymore. My time is limited, and with that time, I need to have fun while playing a game. I need my games to feel less like work, less like watching a movie, and they need to have more “game” in them.

In saying all this, I can’t wait for Street Fighter X Tekken. Because it’s just mindless fun that I can have in little time.

Fists will fly! Epic battles shall be fought! As two worlds collide!

P.S. Apologies to anyone thinking they’d find something insightful in this post. It’s just me rambling. 🙁

  • DH

    I feel your pain, Boo. I’ve always considered myself a gamer as well. There’s always some game that catches my interest, after all.

    CoH was huge for me for most of the last five years or so. That’s where I met you and the Panda and the rest of our merry band of misfits. I’ll never forget any of you, or the fun we had those long crazy days and nights online.

    That game only started to wear on me as being a job after I’d gained some notoriety outside our circle, when I started getting requests from people all over the servers, who I don’t even know, to work on their bases for them. (Making front page was a mixed blessing I guess.)

    With that and their decidedly un-fun (for me) endgame system in place, it starts to become more work than fun. I’m actually on a break from CoH now (partly for a different reason, but yeah that’s a contributing factor there).

    I work 50 hours a week in an office. I want my down time to be more relaxing than that. So maybe we are getting old 🙂

  • I find that most of the “Gaming” these days is done in RP.
    Not RPG, but RP, as in text based, be it on forums, Skype, or MSN.
    It takes as long to do something as you type up.
    Call me weird, but I’ve been RPing on forums and things since before I knew as much as I do now about computers… so what? 12? 13?

    Skyrim for me feels a bit over the top is time it takes to do anything, so most of my time THERE is spent either completing a SINGLE MISSION, or loading my 2nd character and going town to town killing everybody and everything I see, because within 10 minutes, I can kill everybody outside, and if I choose to, spend another 20 going on a door-to-door killing spree.

    @DH
    City of Heroes was a staple of my gaming life for quite a long time, but with the market in GOOD games declining in replay value, it’s hard to stick to one game for too long without feeling like you should be getting PAID for it.
    CoH’s end-game TRIALS, are good for story content, but making me redo the same trials lord knows how many times to unluck a couple powers seems more like the Raids in WoW… and I despise those because it’s so… grindy… and it’s the GRIND that feels like work for the 3 of us.

    @Boo
    The reason you like angry birds is because it isn’t a tedious Grind-fest like 99% of ALL games out there.
    Battlefield and Call of Duty require grinding to get the GOOD weapons.
    Skyrim, Grinding to complete long story arcs… and more so on time than anything.
    Saint’s Row is a grind in getting all the best cars, clothes, or guns.
    Dead Island and Borderlands? Grind to get more skills and weapons.

    While these games are GOOD, they ask too much of the player in a sense that… well…

    Alright…
    Ninja Gaiden for the NES.
    A stupid-fun mosh through places that don’t like together, but who cares?
    If you lost all your lives?
    You started ALL the way back at the beginning, like in Mario… and guess what?
    You were HAPPY to play the same place over again because you’re figuring things out, and that was fun.
    Nothing was more satisfying to ME growing up that figuring out the Castle Maze sequence in Mario for the NES/Famicom.
    You heard the “Ding”, and you’re like “GOT IT! HA! EAT IT!”

    – – – – –
    – – – – –
    – – – – –

    You two aren’t old, you’re just sick of the needless grinding that 99% of all games have become.
    It’d be nice, for once, to play a game where you feel like there’s a point to it all…
    Angry Birds?
    Kill all pigs.
    Duke Nukem 3d
    Kill all pigs.
    Grand Theft Auto(The FIRST one)
    Kill all pigs!

    It’s easy, and stupid-fun.

    Pikmin was my favorite “Casual” game, as was Viva Pinata…
    Casual games don’t take up a lot of time, and make you feel like you’ve DONE something, instead of spending 3 hours traversing the same cave(Skyrim)

  • Sgt Moo

    LEGEND OF DRAGOON FTW! I have a mint condition NTSC Greatest Hits (US version of Platinum)…not worth as much but it’s still in the original SCEA plastic wrap and a PAL copy I can play. I never got to finishing it, got the the final boss, died when it was damn near dead (couldn’t have been more than 2 turns off winning) when it wiped me, didn’t play it for a bit and lost my save. Havn’t got round to finishing it again.

    My problem with current gaming isn’t a lack of time or anything but the way developers make “modern” games. RTS games without base building. First person shooters with Halo style regenning health (I’m looking at you BF3 and CoD series), studios releasing the same game over and over with a couple of tweaks with no innovation (definitely looking at you CoD) and an industry full of shoddy console ports. There’s nothing really new in games today, it’s mostly just developers re-hashing the same old IP’s and not innovating anymore. There is of course the whole “casual” or “mobile” scene but I just look at that and laugh, it’s just a cheap $2, 5 minute timesink, I want something that can captivate me and keep me playing for hours on end.

    Minecraft is a perfect filler (somehow), you can spend as little as 5 minutes just chipping away at some masterpiece you’re slowly building over time or you can spend all day on it (like I did digging out a massive hole an archaeologist could be proud of). The game can involve as much or as little thought as you want to put into it. To some it may feel like work toiling away but it appeals to the creative side in me and the creation is it’s own reward. Skyrim is just fun, be it stealing peoples shoes from their houses or setting the local wildlife on fire or actually following the quests, the game doesn’t force me to play it, I can just screw around. That being said when I’m worn out from a days work or something I don’t always feel like playing it, it’s the kind of game where I prefer to sit on it for hours, plowing through content as opposed to small chunks at a time.

    TF2 is one of the last remaining classic FPS games with no re-genning health and proper class style gameplay so I’ll be playing that till the day the servers die (although I’m having a lot of fun with the Saxton Hale mod at the moment). CoD can go stuff itself, I played MW1, then played MW2 and couldn’t see the difference (screw single player, the ammount of content there is a joke).

    WoW I play because…well I’m not sure why, I guess it’s fun, running dungeons with randoms is always interesting, sometimes you get a bad group and it ramps up the challenge. I do enjoy the occasional grind though.

    Only thing on the horizon for me is Diablo 3 and perhaps Torchlight 2. Yes I’m aware they’re both basicly grinds but it’s been a long time between D2 and D3 so it’s time to pick it up again. I know Torchlight 2 is more of the same but they’re all inspired by the same people (Torchlight team is basicly D1 team) so it’s good gaming.

    That’s my disjointed comment, enjoy

  • Doppledragon

    Gaming’s changed a lot over the years. I still remember that first video game (an original NES with Super Mario Bros./Duckhunt!) and the excitement it called for. Now, I get the feeling when I’m between classes and watching people play games on their laptops (or desktops for those who really want to throw their back out lugging those in every day) or if available one of the TVs, and they’re playing all these games that, granted look great, but they just don’t hold that spark.

    You’re right, Boo, The Old Republic looks great, and while I’ll be playing that when it comes out, well, I won’t be doing PvP or anything that requires me to have the ultra-great, awesomeest gear out there because, frankly, I want to have fun and see where the storylines are going to go next. That’s the problem it seems with most games, especially MMOs like CoH (which was great but did get too much like work) and WoW (which is great…as long as you don’t mind do the same thing over and over), they want too much investment for too little. SWTOR still uses that to keep it’s potential players involved.

    Frankly, give me dice, put some people around a table, crack open a few cans of soda (or beer if you’re really wanting a fun time!) and let’s roleplay the old-fashion way. It’s always more fun!