Future Talk: Must We Be "Connected" At All Times?
Yes, I have an Internet connection. A pretty fast one, too. I've got a computer, a PS3, a 360, a Vita, a tablet, and a smartphone. All of them are or can be connected at any time.
And I suppose that's normal these days. Personally, I can really do without about half of it but I need it all for work purposes (although I definitely question the necessity of the damn smartphone). I also know that social media is starting to play a bigger role in video games these days, and online multiplayer is just about the biggest thing on the planet right now.
The latter topic has been discussed to death and despite its obvious impact, I don't believe single-player adventures have suffered terribly. In fact, I think they've flourished this generation, even if they've gotten shorter (which is fine for me, as I've said before). But this social media thing, when coupled with the increasing importance of being "connected" in general, is starting to worry me. The question is, will gamers actually be punished for not being fully "connected" in the years to come?
I'm not talking only about being connected to the Internet; I'm also talking about Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. All of these are rapidly starting to become implemented in new games, and it's almost starting to seem like in order to fully experience certain games, total connectivity is required. For instance, I'm playing Rock Band Blitz now (review coming soon) and while I think it's great fun, not having an always-on friends list drops the fun factor and overall variety of the game by several degrees. And that's hardly the only example; there are others, and more are coming.
Unless the importance and rampant popularity of social media somehow declines in the next generation - which I don't see happening, given the robotic, almost religious devotion people have to that crap - games will have more of this. And I'm sure it'll almost always be optional. But if it's a big option and those who, God forbid, might actually want to play by themselves get a lesser experience, that's not right. I'm already sick of feeling poked and prodded by the electronic and social media Nazis to conform everywhere, and I'd rather not see my games adopt this annoying quality.
Okay, rant over.
9/21/2012 Ben Dutka