In the gaming world today developers are racing to out do each other by trying to achieve the best visuals ever seen in video games, and are totally missing the whole point of gaming, FUN!. With this race to be super realistic, we are seeing more and more generic titles where we end up repeating the same gameplay with a different character in a new setting. Where has the emphasis gone on new, exciting and ground breaking ways to play? Instead we now find ourselves jumping, shooting and ducking for cover in every title we play. These games have their place among us as Gears of War, Call Of Duty and other series of games have proved, but do we need to repeat this formula in everything produced. Are the developers quite simply looking for the next big online war game, where they can cash in on season tickets and DLC sales, producing a newer version each year to satisfy their growing fan base. Where has the originality gone that transported us to far off mystical lands, and gave us new and exciting adventures to feed our gaming imagination? We the people that play games these days are nearly brainwashed into playing this generic format, and the better it looks the more we seem to love it.
If you take a look at some recent releases for example: Tomb Raider, I have been a fan of the series since the beginning and they have totally taken away what made the series so special – the puzzle solving. Sure there are a few elements of this in off the track, hidden caves thrown in as a token to why the series was so special, and now we have a generic shooter where we jump, shoot and take cover with online deathmatch modes to sell the DLC’s. Then we come to Bioshock Infinite a shooter at heart based around the best story I have ever played and it grabs you and transports you to that world? So what does this game have that others are missing?. I think the Bioshock series have been very original in the story telling as well as letting us get to grips with weapons and powers, that quite simply are the stuff of imagination, and I would be quite happy to purchase additional content to extend my stay in such an engaging world.
To get a completely original gameplay experience these days one has to look towards the XBLIG market, where developers are not under pressure to produce a generic format that the big developers think they need to produce in order to claw back the vast sum of money that has been spent. Instead, these independent developers are creating some of the most original and rewarding gameplay experiences on the market today, and I think it is time for some of the big boys to follow suit and take a chance. Make us something that we have never experienced before, don’t just give us a gun and send us out into a post apocalyptic world to collect ammo and weapon upgrades, while trying to kill the leader of the bad guys and save the girl. I want to be excited, intrigued, transported and be able to do things that I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. For the love of god show me something new and make me feel like I have not just wasted my hard earned cash on another jumpy, shooty thing where I spend hours like a brain dead zombie shooting brain dead zombies.
As we see the budget for games growing and growing, we are going to see more and more of these generic titles and the reason for this is the newer generation of gamers. I play online shooters such as the Call Of Duty series, and what is apparent to me more and more often, is the amount of under age gamers singing or shouting down their mic as they play. And yes you do know they are under age as their balls haven’t dropped yet, and it just infuriates me when someone that so clearly should not be playing the game is allowed to not only play but have all of the additional content to allow them to play even more. This is partly the reason that the online generic shooter is such a big market, parents will pay anything to have peace and quiet and if that means allowing their offspring to play games that are not for their age group because all of their friends are doing it, well so be it. This is some of what is driving the market towards producing these games, and leaving out the imagination and inventiveness in games. Then as soon as a tragedy happens, like some psycho going and shooting a load of innocent people in a school, straight away there is a link made between these type of online games and the reason they committed the crime. Well hey, you the parent allowed them to play the games while they were clearly under age, that is why games have an age rating on them, helloooo!.
With the next generation of consoles upon us, the problem with the “visuals race” may get even worse as developers push the new technology and again try to make something that looks as realistic as possible. Don’t get me wrong here, I am all for great looking graphics, after all they say we eat with our eyes first, but bring back the imagination that has made gaming such a big industry. Give us an experience that will get our brains working instead of giving us repetitive strain injury of the trigger finger. Make something that will have me on the edge of my seat with anticipation and excitement, and by the end will leave me with an experience to remember. Then I will buy more and more additional content, because I will want to be transported into that world even more. Then and only then will you have a truly great game that you can expand upon, while your growing fan base lives for the next installment.