I'm just going to shoot straight from the hip: I'm a big ol' coward. I've been writing about video games in some capacity since 1999. I got my first reviewing "gig" in 2001. I've had many stops along the way since then, and I've probably had my fair share of opportunities to pursue my "dream job" and write about video games for a living.
Cinemablend ran an article recently that leveled some pretty serious charges at the gaming press. The article uses terms like "publisher-bought gaming media" and maintains that gaming press needs to come clean before games come out if they're bad. This article, if you haven't read it already, is fallacious and unnecessary.
So… you probably heard the news already: Wii U sales for the month of January were less than 60,000 units. That's less than 12,000 units per week of the reporting period. That's also despite the Wii U being the first new video game console (non-handheld) since late 2006. This number should be addressed by Nintendo as "unacceptable" for the US market, which saw the Wii dominate the early and middle parts of this past console generation. Investors should be nervous that the US may not adopt the Wii U strongly enough before Sony and Microsoft present their new hardware, likely later this year. I know that I would be.
Points go to the Extra Credits crew (and basically anyone who talks about preserving old, landmark games), but a lot of this just seems "pie in the sky." As mentioned in the video, a lot of the technology that ran and interfaced with these early titles do not even exist any longer. The only solution would be an industry-wide investment, resurrecting arcades, building kiosks, museums, you name it, just so some kid can play Battletech or Space War as was originally intended. When you really think about it, it seems that these treasures are doomed to obscurity.
The Extra Credits guys give us a quick summary on the importance of the horror game protagonists. After recent comments pertaining to the reception of Resident Evil 6, the creators of Resident Evil really need to watch this video before they even think about returning the Resident Evil to its survival-horror roots. Such an about-face would require a level of expertise (and guts!) that Capcom hasn't demonstrated in over a a decade.
There is a surprising downside to video game demos. With fewer and fewer options available for those that might want to try a game before buying it, demos are the default option. But demos have the adverse effect of underselling a good game or demonstrating how bad a bad game really is. Understandably, many developers and publishers aren't willing to take that chance. Where does that leave us? The guys at Extra Credits take a look.
Extra Credits comes with another interesting game design breakdown. It is, as they readily admit, a bit heavy in game theory, but being aware of this aspect of game creation can go a long way toward a gamer understanding how limiting our current genres actually are. We might also see how limited our game creators are and why some titles simply miss being that breakout hit.
When I think back to my 20-something self, during the 16-bit era, I remember how starved for video game information I was. We had monthly magazines to keep us in the loop back then, and information was relatively limited. "Oh, this game looks cool!" I would think to myself, but after reading a few paragraphs and seeing a couple of images, that was it.
The guys at Extra Credits ask if the video game industry can move beyond games that are simply "fun." Where are the tragic gaming experiences that don't provide a happy ending? Where are the deep, thoughtful experiences that can't be summed up in a catchy subtitle on the box or communicated clearly via box art? We've seen this question pop up frequently during the last few years and we've even seen the creation of a category of games called "serious games" come out of that discussion. As the name implies, it includes games that provide gamers with something other than entertainment. We've also seen the indie games industry pick up the mantle and releasing promising experimental games across the various platforms.
But efforts like that do not reach the mainstream and Extra Credits argues that it is well past time for the industry as a whole to head in that direction. Without true breadth of content, games will never escape the children's plaything or disposable diversion stigma. An entertainment medium seen as having little to no value cannot fight censorship attacks as we are now seeing in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. The Obama Administration and Congress might not be so quick to act if there were anything more than grey military shooters and primary-colored wish fulfillment populating store shelves.
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