So, a few months back, I did one of these kinds of posts for anime. This time around, gaming is in the crosshairs.
1: Innovation is overrated…
The Wii’s motion controls certainly made waves. Big enough waves that Sony jumped on the bandwagon with Playstation Move and Microsoft with Kinect. But one console generation later, Move is nowhere to be found and the Xbox One is now shipping versions that don’t include Kinect. Meanwhile, the WiiU’s touch screen controller is once again making waves, but the console is suffering. The highest-selling Mario games are still the sidescrollers, and despite a decline in quality noted by just about every opinion person in gaming, Call of Duty continues to sell head and shoulders above many other franchises. Why?
2: …because gamers don’t actually value it.
Let’s be real. We live in a world where Sega was run out of the console market, but Nintendo continues to dominate it. We live in a world where gamers will clamour on and on for “innovation,” but when asked why the Dreamcast failed, will often state that it was “ahead of its time.”
For the people who clamour for innovation, “ahead of its time” should not even be part of the vocabulary. The on-and-on whining about wanting “innovative” games simply isn’t supported by the manner in which people buy games. People are often quicker to drop money on a game in a franchise they know and love than they are to take a chance at a new IP, and I wouldn’t blame them if that mentality wasn’t also accompanied by a hypocritical clamour for innovation.
3: Console vs. PC is a false dichotomy.
I’ve never understood the “Console versus PC” debate. People portray it like it’s a one-or-the-other thing, but I’ve been gaming on both since I was five. People like to draw lines in the sand about this, and all it’s doing is holding people back. This is both sides, by the way. A lot of console gamers are portraying PC gamers as elitists, while a lot of PC gamers are portraying console gamers as lower-level.
Fact is, there are great games on both platforms.
4: The narrative focus of modern gaming is holding the medium back.
To a certain extent, I feel like we’re still reeling from Roger Ebert refusing to acknowledge videogames as art. Much of the discussion surrounding games for the past few years has been narrative-focused. We’re constantly talking about stories, or characters, or “ludonarrative dissonance,” or how certain elements in the environment, presentation, or narrative or elements relating to narrative (never gameplay) promote sexist or racist themes. Not only that, but the games themselves are changing to focus more on telling stories and not having the gameplay interfere with the storytelling.
We’re trying to get people to believe that games are art by turning games into film, and that’s not the way to go about it. The interactivity is what sets videogames apart from other media, and if we have to sacrifice that to get videogames recognized as art, I’d honestly rather they never be recognized as art.
5: The “AAA” and “Indie” gaming markets are crowding out the stuff in the middle.
As AAA budgets get bigger and bigger, and as the indie scene gets more and more attention, the wealth of games inbetween the two markets is suffering. The “stuff in the middle,” refers to your Armored Cores, Ace Combats, MechWarriors, Xs, and other quality games in more niche genres. They can’t afford to market as much as the AAA scene, nor do they have the mass attention that the indie scene has, so they’re left to languish in the middle, supported by dedicated fanbases for their genres and franchises, but not much more than that.
6: The indie scene isn’t living up to its potential.
When the indie scene began to take off, I was pumped. To me, it was the solution to the issue of the AAA market crowding out the midlevel stuff I anticipated that the indie scene could take up the underserved genres and breathe life into them.
When I see indie gaming darlings like Fez, Braid, and The Binding of Isaac, however, I can’t help but feel disappointment. Meanwhile, development on indie space sims like Vega Strike move along slowly and with little fanfare outside of their core audiences and communities. The independent nature of the indie market creates the potential to give new life to underrepresented types of games, but when someone can infinite fame and notoriety by making a puzzle-platformer, I can’t help but feel like that potential has been wasted somewhat.
7: Motions controls were never going to take off.
Motion controls, by their very nature, will lack both of these qualities compared to traditional controls, and the attempt to use them as a replacement for traditional controls during the Wii era illustrated this perfectly. By its very nature, a button press will be more responsive than an arm motion.
In addition, their lack of proper interface breaks immersion. For example, a real sword has weight to it, and you run the risk of injuring yourself if you swing it incorrectly. With a wii-remote, however, the lack of weight and lack of feedback facilitates an immersion-breaking experience. This might seem counter-intuitive, but implementation is a big part of why motion controls can’t replace traditional controls. “Closer to real life” isn’t always more immersive. Edging closer to real life in the wrong way can break immersion.
8: We shouldn’t be making difficulty a selling point.
The Souls franchise (Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, etc.) made a real big deal of its brutal difficulty. This wasn’t an issue back in the day. The fact that difficulty is a selling point nowadays says a lot about where gaming has come in terms of the importance of challenge. In the arcade days, challenge was a given, but now that the focus has changed, challenge takes a back seat because making sure everyone can experience the whole game has become more important.
9: The modern “console wars” are a farce.
Just like “console vs. PC” the modern “console wars” are a joke. We’re at a point where most of each console’s library is on the other consoles as well. The only reason to have any kind of brand loyalty to any one console is because that console has the exclusives you want, and even at that, if another console has an exclusive you want, there’s nothing wrong with getting that console, too. Back during even the PS2 era, each console specialized in something. Nintendo will always have their first-party titles, but Sega was always good for arcade ports, the Xbox was the powerhouse machine, and the PS2 (and PlayStation, for that matter) was probably the closest example of the era to today’s standard console: A midlevel machine with a diverse library, though specializing in nothing.
10: Most Let’s Plays are uninteresting.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not someone who needs to be chuckling every moment I’m on the internet. In fact, more often than not, I greatly prefer insight and perspective to humor. As a result, most Let’s Plays have little value to me, because most Let’s Plays are trying to be funny. Give me a Let’s Play-er who plays interesting games, knows a lot about those games, and can give interesting commentary on the games he or she plays and I’ll probably enjoy it a lot more.
So, readers! Agree? Disagree? Have some controversial assertions of your own? Drop a comment!