Being a gamer is a lifestyle choice, one that until recently I’ve enjoyed for years, and its not something I give up lightly.
Truthfully, I love games. Great games contain strong narrative, thought provoking themes, and interaction that other forms of entertainment could only hope to achieve.
So why am I giving gaming up if I’m so enamoured with it?
As I move into the thirty-fourth year of my existence, I find my interest in games is almost non-existent. It feels strange, I’ve been involved with gaming and gaming-related pastimes for so long that it’s almost like slowly losing a good friendship as it drifts apart at the seams.
My gaming past certainly is long, so I won’t go into the depth or breadth by naming a few hundred titles here. But I think I understand why I’ve reached the point where gaming is not appealing to me any further.
I have a real belief that we have almost reached gaming singularity.
We keep inventing fresh narratives, richer stories, new technologies to create deeper experiences for games so much so quality of games we have today far outstrips that of the last decade, yet fundamentally have they changed that much at all?
We still have the archetypal gaming staples being created today, more often than not these fall into only a few categories:
- The First-Person Shooter
- The Third-Person Adventure
- The Top-Down Strategy
- The 2D/3D Platformer
- The Puzzle Game
- The Role-Playing Game
While in our distant past each of these types of games have had both great successes and failures, these days the lines are readily blurred. Mixing and matching game types is the path to success when developing a modern title, a little something for everyone works well.
But I feel that the modern game studio has a book of formulas they constantly draw upon for the sole purpose of parting a gamer from their money rather than for the sheer beauty of game development and innovation.
In Game Dev Story, you play the unseen boss of a game development studio making choices of which games you would like to create for your growing fan base. The combinations you choose relates directly to the success of the game the development company creates.
In Game Dev Story there are limited choices to the central theming of the game you wish to make such as Pirate, Ninja and Cowboy along with the style of game with choices like Action, Simulation and Shooter. Once you’ve made your choice then you can hire coders, designers, writers and audio engineers to add worth to your game.
Upon release you have the opportunity to market the game to particular audiences and age ranges in attempt to boost sales and ranking on the leaderboard… and this is where it stops.
You’ve created a game that’s a Pirate Action extravaganza, its sold well with 30-somethings and you are ranked number four game in the world. The game then asks you what the next game you wish to make would be and you get to roll the dice again.
It is fundamentally this process why I’m giving up gaming.
I see studios produce the same types of games again and yet again. Sure they have different storylines and features, but at their core they are still run over there, kill this, fetch that, don’t die here rinse-and-repeat fests for imaginary points that ultimately leave the player satisfied only for a short period of time with their achievement.
For me, its just not enough to keep me interested.
Among some of the greatest games I’ve played in recent years I hold aloft a few, they are The Mass Effect Series, The Elder Scrolls Series, Fallout 3, The Assassins Creed Series and Tomb Raider (2013).
Most certainly these choices will resonate with other gamers as it is hardly a contest when they have won so many accolades. The reason I am a fan of these titles is due to one major factor:
All four I’ve mentioned have incredibly rich stories that aid to enthral a player and it is this that I will miss most about playing games because for me it wasn’t the fact that I was fighting a massive dragon, sailing on the ocean waves, surviving a post-apocalyptic wasteland or, trying to save myself and friends from a mysterious island in the Dragon’s Triangle…
It was about the experience, the history, the culture, uniqueness of the created universes. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan the activities you get to complete in these games and how they serve to drive along the narrative but it was always secondary to me.
When I tear the doors off a new game and play it solidly for hours it takes me into a different place, a different way of thinking about imagined world and its inhabitants but soon after I find myself stuck in a grind to upgrade a particular item or skill which I need to complete before I can learn more about the storyline. It’s this grind which I’m more than happy to leave behind, yes its fun to face off against a dragon in Skyrim, but when you are just trying to get to the next village and it happens four times in a row it can get tedious.
So that’s where I am, not enthused by the cycle of games that all feel ‘samey’ in both gameplay and execution, and the need to grind your way through laborious tasks just to get to the next glimmer of storyline enough for me to remain a gamer.
We had a great ride, but I’ll miss you gaming…