Are Industry Shifts Leaving Game Veterans Behind?
High-definition. Motion sensing. 3D. The online multiplayer explosion. Multi-purpose consoles. The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Wireless everything. Digital media.
The world of gaming has changed drastically in the past decade; it could even be argued that it has changed drastically in this generation alone. And while I'm not claiming to be one of those old-school gamers that feels overwhelmed or left behind due to these advancements and shifts, I'm wondering if this is a legitimate phenomenon. Are those who grew up with the Atari and arcades feeling squeezed out of an industry that suddenly seems to have different goals and intentions? When we were kids in the '80s, "multiplayer" was only when a buddy sat next to you and played on the same TV. There was no motion sensing or high definition or online/digital anything. These days, if a game doesn't boast online multiplayer, it doesn't make it onto the store shelf. They're all in high-def and pretty soon, all three consoles will have the option of motion sensing technologies and various online compatibilities, ranging from extra downloadable content for games to films and even original television shows. There is often a debate that the new multiplayer focus has had a negative impact on single-player experiences.
For instance, I hear Splinter Cell: Conviction is very short. Now, I've played and completed every SC and none of them could really be considered "short," but this new one is apparently only around 6 hours in length. ...it also features very robust online multiplayer modes. We could argue about this all day but we should also recognize that games like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, God of War III and the upcoming The Last Guardian are all about the single-player adventures, and they're some of the best gaming experiences one can have. We could point out that it seems more and more apparent with every passing year that the Xbox 360 is apparently dedicated only to multiplayer gaming but even then, we could cite Alan Wake for next month. Even so, I don't think there's any argument that things have changed a great deal over the years, and even genres have changed a great deal ('cough' RPGs 'cough'). Such changes are quite visible.
We should probably concede that gaming was mostly a solitary activity in the early days of the industry; after all, that was the escapist, stay-at-home part that appealed to the "nerds." We admit it. And coming from that generation and growing up enjoying our games a certain way, this constant focus on technologies and advancements we don't really care about so much can chafe. It chafes even more when you realize that new gamers really love it; they crave the progression and that's perfectly understandable. But tradition is a powerful thing for the aging gamer. I don't care how great online multiplayer can be, I will never do it very often. I don't care how great 3D or the PlayStation Move might be; I will always go back and play the classics. And I don't care if all games eventually go digital; I will always treasure my physical media collection. At the same time, I plan to remain up to speed for two reasons: 1. it's still the industry I love and 2. it's my job.
But I freely admit that it may be a bit uncomfortable. Anybody else feel this way? Or if not all the time, at least some of the time?
4/25/2010 9:21:44 PM Ben Dutka