17 August 2008

A brief rant on computer games

I have a great t-shirt. It was given to me by a friend of mine; it had Igor from Dork Tower sitting on a street corner holding a sign that reads, "Will game for food."

I wear this shirt rather frequently. People see this shirt and think I'm talking about computer games (there was one memorable incident when I was wearing it in a gambling town in Colorado, and someone thought it was in reference to casinos).

I don't generally care for computer games, and I'll tell you why: it's not because of the graphics. It's not because of the gameplay, or the mechanics, or even necessarily the story. It's because of the replay value. Most computer games (especially if we're talking about console gaming, like the PlayStation or XBox or Nintendo) are story-based RPGs. They do have some non-linear games, like the Wii Fit (which has me scratching my head; yes, it's a good idea, but where did anyone get the idea that this was a game?), or old classics like Tetris and Intelligent Qube (there was a great game; the only game for the PlayStation that I really liked, and no one else liked it, so it didn't sell), or things like Mario Kart. But most of them are the sort of story-based games like Final Fantasy or The Elder Scrolls. And in my opinion, once you've played the game once, why play it again? You've seen the story. These sorts of games seem to me more like a very long movie, only at several points, you have to undergo some sort of task or else figure out where to go and what to do to get to the next part of the movie, and if you fail, you have to try again until you get it right. That seems kind of silly to me.There's no replay value to these games. Puzzle games and adventure games and strategy games... these are more interesting to me. It's not the same every time; it varies from game to game. There's no need to sell off the old game once you've beaten it.

Granted, there are a few exceptions. Chrono Trigger, for example, has several points where your decisions affect the ending in certain ways. I still like the old Burn:Cycle game, even though it's especially formulaic and composed of a "railroad plot." But mostly, the few computer games I actually play are Doom (the original, and that's rare any more; I know where all the monsters are, and it's too easy to kill them if I'm ready for them) and Civilization II.

That's why, when I list the breeds of Game Dorks (Roleplaying, LARP, Wargaming, and Miniatures), I do not mention computer gaming. It's not really a form of gaming. Gaming involves dice or some other determinant factor of random chance, and no computers.

At least, that's my opinion. But of course, others will disagree. Which is how it should be. So whatever form of game you like to play, have fun playing it, and remember to always

Game on!

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