« | Home | »

Are gamers too jaded?

posted on December 22nd, 2006 by matt

Seeing as how most of us are around the 20 year mark, we’ve all probably seen and played a lot of video games in our lives. My collection alone contains well over 100 games, and that doesn’t include those I have traded in. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Hell, the more the better. But when we start complaining about a new game that doesn’t do something that a 10 year old game does, we have to ask ourselves, “are we too jaded nowadays?”

Take, for example, Ocarina of Time. How insane was it when you first saw how big Hyrule Field was? For the time, that chunk of real estate was huge, and we truly felt OoT was special and epic because of it. Indeed it was. For the time.

Now, think of Twilight Princess’ Hyrule Field. It’s definitely much bigger, but does it jump out at you like the OoT one? No, it doesn’t, and that’s because it’s merely an extension of what’s already been established. We say to ourselves, “Well, it’s a good game, but definitely not as good as Ocarina.” I believe this to be merely a jaded mentality that people of our ilk will inevitably reach.

HOLY CRAP! It’s huge!

I’m not saying we’re idiotic for feeling this way. I just believe that, because we play so many games, we are at some point going to lose that sense of freshness we had when we were just starting out. Periods in our life like the NES and N64/PSX eras hold special places in our hearts because we saw something completely original and new. No one forgets Super Mario 64 and that exciting feeling of walking around a 3D environment for the first time. Some may have felt that when playing Doom or Wolfenstein 3D. But we can never have that feeling ever again. Those feelings are reserved for those games, and those games only.

So we should never derogate a game’s appeal for something a developer can’t control. How would they know you’ve played every single 3D platformer ever made?

A few interesting things arise from this issue, though. For one, in this light, reviews are a bit misleading. If someone played Ace Combat Zero after playing Shattered Skies and The Unsung War, they’d probably be completely tired of the genre. They’re essentially the same games, just with new stories. Now, get someone that’s never played an Ace Combat game, and they will have a completely different take on Zero. And you would end up with two different review scores. We therefore can say external forces can change a review score, which should never be true when trying to write something objectively. Some reviewers do a good job on warning the consumer of this, but a lot of them bring their disappointment with the series into the review, and that’s not right.

And I would be willing to bet you that designers don’t really change much between games in the same series, since they feel that if one group of people liked that game, what’s not to say the next group in line won’t?

Meh.

Some of it may be the money, some may be the fear of making something not as good. But the games they do make, like Namco’s Ace Combat series, are some great games to begin with. Not seeing something completely new does not make a game bad. They’re definitely not revolutionary, but they’re not as horrible as some would make them out to be.

It’s just like the situation going on in Hollywood right now. Nothing has amazed us in a long time, only because we’ve seen it all. “Hey, want to go see that sci-fi movie that just came out?” “What, like the last nine we just saw? I think I’ll pass.” Funny thing is, that sci-fi movie is actually really good, but we’ve seen enough sci-fi movies to last us for years. That’s why we keep seeing movies like The Fifth Element being released on Blu-Ray’s launch day. It’s almost 10 years old, but nothing as popular has come out since, in terms of sci-fi movies. Reviewers tank those unoriginal movies, and then no one goes and sees them. It’s a vicious cycle that, to me, seems pretty arbitrary.

Invariably, farther into the future, we are really going to run into a problem with our video games. We are going to get so stuck up that we will probably put down the controller for a little while. Some may even say “Fuck it.” And this isn’t our faults. It’s just human nature to want something new, but I can’t see the video game industry, as a whole, supplying that in the long run. The Wii and the DS have been doing a great job, but we’ll probably get tired of that bowling or tennis game at some point as well.

Wii Sports, in particular, has done something amazing in bringing originality back into the fold. It’s not as complex as it could be, but no one really needs it to be. We’ll soon get those uber-complex bowling games with championships, stats, and leagues, but it will never be as cool as when we played Wii Sports for the first time. It’ll just be the same game, with a few added features. People who never played Wii Sports will probably call it the best game of all time, while people like us will say, “Meh, it’s been done before.” Who’s right?

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Bowling » Blog Archives » Ruchti und K thi on December 22, 2006
  2. Pingback: videolamer.com» Blog Archive » Noob Xbox 360 Impressions on December 26, 2006
  3. Pingback: videolamer.com» Blog Archive » Ten years without a new genre on January 4, 2007
  4. Pingback: Ten years without a new genre | FizzleChat.com on December 29, 2008

5 Comments

  1. GoldenJew said on December 23, 2006:

    I definately agree with the concept of not being "wow’d" by a game in some time.  I still have yet to recapture the feeling of the original EQ (in terms of MMO’s).  However, I often wonder how much of this is "having seen it all before" or perceiving that we’ve "seen it all before."  Isn’t this the same old fogey attitude our grandparents have?  Is it a natural human tendency to be jaded, or have we become so overstimulated in society that we’re numb?  Will it take virtual reality or a Matrix/Shadowrun esque direct brain jack to amaze us again?

  2. matt said on December 23, 2006:

    Yeah, that could be true, Goldie. Maybe companies make way too many similar games that we just can’t help becoming jaded. Having 900 Madden games come out in a 5 year period can do that to you, I guess. And yes, I know there’s only been 5 Madden games in 5 years, but come on, who’s counting anymore?

  3. jay said on January 4, 2007:

    Strangely enough, when it comes to video games I am not that jaded. I am bitter and cynical about most things in life, including the game developers and publishers, but games themselves I often look at in a different light. I think it may be that stuff I care less about I always assume the worst. Hollywood puts out shit, end of story, for example. But when it comes to games, I care enough to look for good things in bad titles, as long as I think the game is legitimate. Mark Ecco’s Getting Up may have a lot of good things in it but it is not legitimate in my opinion because it clearly came from a marketing drone’s wet dream (assuming he still has enough human emotions left to have a wet dream.) A bad game like Orphan may be barely playable and not wasting time on, but still interests me because it’s not painfully obvious the game was designed by boardroom (although perhaps it was just not really designed at all).

  4. Cunzy1 1 said on May 28, 2009:

    The other problem is that so many games are way over exposed before launch that it sometimes feels like you are only filling in the gaps when playing it first time around.

    Super Smash Brothers, Spore, Little Big Planet all had elements that would have been amazing had you not read about it, watched it, read reviews about it a hundred times before.

  5. Spyder Mayhem said on May 29, 2009:

    Agree with Cunzy on this one. If you look back at a lot of games considered classic by the more hardcore community, a lot of that list has or had very little advertisement or hype before their release. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that a part of the joy of those titles came from being surprised by just how good System Shock 2/Ogre Battle/Katamari Damacy/Etc., etc. were.

    Now the sequels to many classic games, on the other hand…

    They hype machine works both ways, oh gaming industry. It’ll be interesting to see how many people are disappointed in Starcraft 2 based on nothing more than the ridiculous wait for it, the nostalgia now attached to the first one and the overbearing hype machine that is about to overrun us all.

Leave a Reply