As video games have grown in popularity over the last decade or so, there have been attempts to make them more appealing to the masses. Games grew in complexity from generation to generation. The Nintendo Entertainment System had a d-pad and two buttons. Three generations later, the Gamecube controller had 7 buttons, 2 joysticks, and a d-pad. The latest generation of systems, though, is trying to subtract controllers all together. Built in cameras allow for motion controls, and now some of the systems also allow for voice control.
Modifying controllers isn’t the only way that games are being simplified. They are also being made less challenging. In fact, it seems to me that the most commercial games are becoming more like somewhat interactive movies. I mentioned in a previous column that I picked up Call Of Duty: Ghosts. I haven’t been playing it consistently, but whenever I do I get the distinct impression that I’m not contributing much to the experience. In fact, sometimes I get the distinct impression that I’m just getting in the way.
In the game, you play the part of a soldier who’s in a small guerilla unit. The computer controlled guys in your squad work completely on their own. In fact, they give you orders. It feels like if I don’t act quickly enough, the team will do everything without my involvement. My character could basically just become a roving camera. I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I play video games for.
I get that there are people who can enjoy video games as a spectator sport. I hear that in South Korea one of the biggest TV shows is people playing Starcraft. The thing is, I doubt even those people would be interested in playing a game where they’re character is just a spectator. Aren’t games supposed to be an interesting escape from the day to day? Shouldn’t you get to make the decisions and be the hero?
On the flipside, I’ve also noticed a trend of video game influence in movies. Specifically Tom Cruise movies. I’ve already written about all the games that Oblivion reminded me of, but the trailer of Cruise’s new movie takes it to a whole new level. It’s called Edge of Tomorrow, and it’s about a dude in a battlesuit who gets stuck in a timeloop. He keeps reliving the same span of time and improves his fighting skills and knowledge of events each time. That’s basically what a gamer is, especially in first person shooters.
Each level is the same every time you play. But, the more you play the level, the better you get at it. You learn it’s rhythm and patterns until you can get through the level without getting a scratch. When I was younger, that’s what I did. I’d play Goldeneye for the N64 until I could play a level blindfolded. I’d try to beat missions in Hitmanas many different ways as I could. And as fun as that was for me, I don’t know how fun it would be to watch an actor try to dramatize it.
Part of the fun of playing levels over and over again is the puzzle aspect of it. You want to do it until you get it just right. Just like a real puzzle, though, it’s a lot more fun to do than it is to watch.
Graham Becksted had pizza for dinner and knows you’re jealous. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 95th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.