Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rant 34: The state of modern gaming

Uhh... I can't believe I'm writing this but sometimes when a little thing is niggling at the back of your head long enough something comes a long to make it's presence more noticeable. Today's niggle is modern gaming and modern gamers.

Look, you should know by now I'm a golden age gamer and I was brought up on 8-Bit and 16-Bit consoles. What does this have to do with the topic? Well since I've been gaming for 21 years I've watched the evolution of gaming and the people who review and play them. So here's your warning, I'm not going to be very kind. See? I'm using my serious face today on this post.

Let's start with gaming... this is going to be long. Gaming's evolution has been a great ride over the years, the problem is what's happened during the course of time. Back in the 70's, 80's and the early 90's innovation was the only way to get noticed, whether visual or gameplay. Pretty much during that time it was the time of experimentation and cloning. I admit not every game was good, hell the vast majority were crap but the truly good games live on to today.

During the mid and late 90's the 3D revolution changed gaming back into a state of experimentation. Arguably some of the best games came out then or at least some of the more memorable franchises of today. During the end of the century 3D gaming gave us a new perspective to explore and opened the door for exploration and huge environments. Pretty much they had room to move with development of a game and they had to make games bigger, both in room and length. At this time the new generation of gamers came about. These gamers were a mix of those who never played games before because it was "nerdy" at the time and the adults of today who pray at the Master Chief alter.

At the dawn of the new century is where everything started going wrong for the most part. We lost Sega, Nintendo made a great console that came out to late, Microsoft threw their hat into gaming(well it's not a bad thing itself but I'll explain why it is later), online gaming started to gather steam on home consoles, Sony monopolised gaming and the list just goes on. During the 128-Bit console era some of the best games ever made came out just like in the golden age, but it also mirrored the golden age with a metric tonne of crap also being produced. Unlike the golden age however what was crap had an audience that loved them, sure we golden age gamers loved the crap as well at first but we didn't have much choice since we didn't choose our games but the gamers of the 21st century had the choice. Also unlike the golden age experimentation was low and cloning was high.There's also the fact that specialty stores like EB Games opened to make the most of gaming's popularity and eventually dictate what is to be sold. Back in the last century ever game was stocked on shelves and in vast numbers. Flash forward to today and niche games are pre order only and if you missed it, it's gone forever and the only way to know about them is to have an internet connection and look for them even if you don't know what your looking for.

Now on to today. Online gaming is highly popular and is ruining the single player experience by tacking on online multiplayer onto every game just to make extra money, cloning is higher then ever while innovation and experimentation is extremely low, niche games are pre order only and are almost impossible to buy after release regardless of how good it's reviewed, golden age gamers have either changed their gaming habits or game genres they play leaving niche genres to be even more of a niche, special editions to new IPs are common place and the developers whinge they aren't selling them, digital distribution is ruining the way we buy games by removing true ownership for subscriptions and the problems just keep going.

Yes the evolution of gaming I've depicted doesn't go into the most detail but I'm working on the negatives more then the positives. Now on to the game reviewers and yes I am aware of the irony but the difference is I'm an unpaid amateur reviewing the games I buy, while the professionals get the games for free and are paid to review them. I read lots of reviews to learn how to improve my reviews but I've noticed a trend in modern reviews. Some reviewers will pander to the fans of the big name franchises regardless of how they truly feel about it, they also give high scores to "Art Games" like The Journey and Dear Esther even though those games are just boring as hell, they ignore reviewing niche games or when they review them they do a half arse job(case in point Good Game's review of The Last Story) and worst of all they are prejudice to specific genres like JRPGs that aren't Final Fantasy or made by a big name.

I've been disappointed by reviewers for many years and the only serious reviewers I've seen are not very serious people like Jim Sterling of Destructoid and Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation fame. They actually do honest reviews and don't really act very serious when doing so, they just use their honest opinions. I've actually enjoyed their reviews because of their honesty and highly recommend reading their reviews.

Another thing about reviewers of today is that they just seem to be paid off by publishers to give good reviews to shit games. I've played games with high review scores that ever rubbish and low scored games that were great, case in point Dynasty Warriors Gundam got crap scores but was a great game while The Journey was an over praised boring game that I'm glad I tried at an acquaintances place. It's getting to the stage that reviewer should be removed and all games should be shelved and you find out the hard way just like in the golden age.

Now onto the reason everything has gone to shit... the gamers themselves! Yes it's your fault this has happened! The question is who is to blame out of the gamers? Well that's easy, the 3rd generation of gamers! Who is the third generation of gamers? Well if you have to be told then you probably are it. See the first generation of gamers are the arcade rats of the 70's and 80's that bought Atari's and all of those older consoles before the collapse of videogames in 1983. The second generation also know as Generation NES are the children of the arcade rats who have fond memories of the elf, the plumber, the obese pink ball, the blue pin cushion, the vampire killer with the whip, the blue bomber and a whole bunch of others that we've either forgotten or can't play anymore. The third generation are the sons of Master Chief, the PlayStation children or the modern gamer. The fourth generation are what I like to call either Generation Wii or the Motion Generation and these are the kids of today.

The modern gamer has cause the most damage out of all the gamers. You gamers are the ones that turn gaming into nothing but tits and gore because that's all you want! In the good old days Mario and Sonic were the most popular and there was no such thing as a niche genre of gaming, today JRPGs and tactical games are a niche while FPS clones are stagnating the market and the only difference between them is what gun barrel you're looking down and what you're shooting. You are the ones who kept Xbox alive. You are the ones demanding online multiplayer in every game and on top of that spout racial and homophobic slurs while playing these games online. You modern gamers have yet to grow up or grasp what it means to be an adult outside of nudity and violence. You are the idiots who don't want innovation but demand it. You are the ones embracing digital distribution and don't mind the lack of ownership. You are what's wrong with gaming today! How is gaming going to be considered an art form if all you want is nothing but violence and nudity?

As for the Motion Generation of gamers I have high hopes for them because Nintendo has force Sony and Microsoft to embrace motion controls and child and family friendly games. See the next generation of gamers have a bright future thanks to Nintendo and since Nintendo also provides older games for download on their consoles, the kids of today can grow up like the Gen NESers did.

Ok now that I've pissed off a lot of people(YAY!) I'd like to actually talk about what's actually good about today's modern gaming... this will be short. Mobile gaming is actually a good thing because small and independent developers can build a name for themselves and experiment and innovate in a space that has no real restrictions. The only complaint I have about mobile gaming is touch screen controls but if mobile makers actually cared about gaming, they'd make a gamepad or gamepad dock for the phones. Digital distribution while evil, has managed to do the same thing as mobile gaming and it's also allowed Sega and Nintendo to start opening their vaults and introduce new gamers to classic games. The new advancements in tech has allowed new story telling abilities and gave us games like Assassin's Creed and Uncharted but unfortunately has ruined games like Final Fantasy since they abandoned telling a story in a game and started making a movie that just happens to have gameplay, come to think of it Asura's Wraith is doing the same thing. Motion controls have added a new dimension to how we play games and has been nothing but good so far, but it's in it's infant stage so it will get better in time. Online gaming... nah, I can't really see what good about it really.

Ahhh, I feel better... for now. I've probably missed something and if I remember I may revisit it later. I keep losing faith in gaming as things progress but I still hope that it gets better. Only time will tell if it gets better or worse but for now I hate modern gamers ruining gaming and I hope a new golden age arrives.

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