I've learned a few things after reading about what's happened during the DICE Summit and Awards event that's taken place this past week:
For starters, the industry seems to be crying out desperately for maturity. David Cage (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) says that games need to grow up. Warren Spector (Epic Mickey) says that games like Lollipop Chainsaw shouldn't be made. The industry wants more Journey and The Walking Dead experiences, as evidenced by these games winning 99.5% of the awards given out. The definition of "fun" is changing, and we apparently need to start accepting that maturity is the next logical step for video games. We've heard similar gripes from luminaries like Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish within the last year, too.
For me, personally, I've learned that I need to get the heck away from modern gaming given this new direction. I don't want this at all, a homogenized and sanitized version of video games that rely more on how they make you feel or generating some sort of emotional response. To me, that's never been what video games have been about. They've been about getting away from growing up, from dealing with the pressures and stresses that life brings with it. They've been (and continue to be) an escape mechanism. Now these experiences that I've enjoyed are frowned upon, not acceptable, and considered immature or juvenile. I'm being told by the same people who I've relied on for this escapism that the party is over and that it's time to grow up in order to be taken seriously.
Luckily for me, I don't have to do that. Retro games don't adhere to this new line of thinking. If I want to mindlessly shoot aliens or beat up thugs with my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I can still have those experiences. I can be reminded of a time before this era of hyper-analysis and reading about how Game A is awful for us because it engages in Theme B or doesn't include enough of Theme C, which is just unfair and insensitive. Much of today's "new games journalism" works to go to depths that I've never really cared about—because they're games. Distractions. Methods of escape. Sure, I've written a fair amount of game reviews in my life, but they're primarily technical… talking about frame rates, sound quality, and whether I found the gameplay to be engaging and easy to learn. I've never been interested in finding out what makes this character tick or why the character wasn't a woman instead of a man, or why it's yet another shooting game because we should be embarrassed to see so many of them. With the retro experience, I'm able to go back to when "games journalism" was "enthusiast press," and how writers really were enthusiastic about what they covered.
It's not my place to say that this new, mature direction is right or wrong for the industry. If this is what they want, all power to them and I wish them the best of luck in their transition. I do, however, have the ability to divorce myself from this trend and go my own way because I refuse to conform to it. I'll stick with my NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, my Genesis, and even my PlayStation 2. I'll still talk about my own experiences, to anyone who wants to listen. I'll go my way, modern gaming will go its way, and an amicable split—much like we saw recently between SuperBot and Sony—will result.
I think I've learned this week that this is really the best possible outcome. I'm disappointed, but not angry. It's been a tremendous 30+ year relationship, but all good things come to an end. As I mentioned last year, it's a case of irreconcilable differences.
- Consoleation: All good things… - November 15, 2013
- Consoleation: The death of the College Football video game - September 27, 2013
- Consoleation: The war on used games—Xbox One, Consumers Zero - June 8, 2013
Most people saying games need to grow up, actually grew up with games. That is they used to play mario on the snes etc, but as they have grown up, matured, settled and have jobs and families their tastes have changed, and what they deem ‘fun’ has changed. Natural part of growing up mate. Evidently, you still find jumping 8-bit pixellated characters on screen trying to beat nintendo-hard games still fun. That’s your prerogative, but most if us have moved on somewhat, and I’m all for the more mature voices in the industry trying to push away from the formulaic… Read more »
Glad to see you still putting up articles, Peter. I find it ironic that David Cage thinks the industry needs to grow up, when Heavy Rain is so full of plot holes and red herrings that it turns laughable by the end. Even though this generation will probably be my last, I still can find enough old school experiences on the current systems to keep me invested. For example, I’ve been playing the hell out of Resident Evil 6, and it reminds me of why I started playing games in the first place. It’s a great time, and I think… Read more »
I can understand the point: while I find myself increasingly drawn to art games like Journey and Braid and others (like the new island game Proteus, which looks amazing), I also want to be able to have more traditional gaming experiences that are less about art and more about fun. But Peter. I think that out of a kind of fear, you might be misreading the point of the people you mention. I don’t think they’re arguing that the maturation of games means that ALL games must be like Journey; the reality is that games like Journey are still technically… Read more »
I see what you’re saying here, but have you considered that the “fun” games you’re looking for might be in the mobile space? Everyone poo-poos the Android and iOS games, but those are the simplified games that the console market seems to be running away from. Part of it is simply maturity, but let’s face it, a lot of it is because these games are so expensive to make. Justify that $60-70 game with academy award-nominated actresses, deep storylines, heavy use of motion-capture and super HD graphics. That leaves the likes of Nintendo and some stubborn third-party console developers to… Read more »