Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Analysis Editorial: The Changing Social Aspects and its Effects on Videogaming

     Currently in Vegas, poolside. Waiting for drinks to come around so I got time to write. Random thought came to me as I was on the road. Occasionally a game is released that can be called crap at face value, but after reliving the experience of playing locally with three other people in the same room and defeating a game that sets unreasonable challenges for achievements, I came to the realization that back in the day, ALL games were unreasonably hard. Gamers called it several kinds of profanities. Developers called it, "Replay value." And it caused gamers to come together to overcome the challenges that old school games offered up.

      We as gamers may have been spoiled with easily completable games since market studies have concluded that the people who buy the games now either no longer have the time to invest in long winded games, have family to care for (young and old) and/or generally less involved than they were ten years ago (referenced on May 9, 2011), in which older gamers still reminisce about the days of last gen systems and hyping the original Playstation.

     If we were all the gamers we were ten years ago, Attack of the Movies 3D would not be viewed as difficult. It would still suck, but it wouldn't be considered hard. According to trueachievements, as of May 9, 2011 over 50% of the registered players who have played the game only have earned one or two achievements, which illustrates the level of commitment that the average gamer presently has. This is why the causal market has flourished the last few years; the casual gamer gets their game fix with the satisfaction of accomplishment and game developers get paid more often for smaller projects. Nintendo embraced the casual gamer first in 2008 (referenced on May 9, 2011), and the financial windfall that followed began the era of "Casual Gaming" that brought rechargeable health, unlimited continues, and copious amounts butthurt from older hardcore gamers around the world.

     The gamers have grown up, and if any of you are like me, then you also came from an old mindset in which videogames was viewed as a waste of time and a time sink in which something more productive can be done in lieu of sitting on your butt for hours on end, working out your thumbs and nothing else. This is also an old 1990's mindset that is still perceived as truth by the general population who do not play. The availability of the internet, the increased usage of social networking resources and the hardware of consoles that cater to them now make console systems (the Xbox 360 in particular) an alternative for friends, family and even lovers that are separated by distance to connect through the social aspect of gaming. This social outlet can also be a reason why casual gaming has become an appealing genre to developers and gamers alike.

     But ask any friend, family member or couple who do long distance to choose between online or local interaction. The answer should be obvious. Attack of The Movies 3D may have it's issues with quality and difficulty, but it does serve a role in bringing back fond memories of sitting Indian style next to player 2, sharing the gaming experience, whither it was good or bad.

     Granted, the internet allows the opportunity for virtual social interaction. But the social experience of in person co-op or competitive is something that cannot be recreated with the magic of the internet, despite the accessibility that casual gaming has created. Internet cannot recreate the memories of the arcade, where you stood next to your opponent, smelling their aura of opposition and body odor as you sunk your quarters into the console. The instant gratification of the smack talk that followed upon the completion of every round, and the crowd of friends that supported each player that watched from behind and made commentary as you played simply cannot be reproduced with xbox 360's party chat.

     To put into perspective the time frame we are at now, Playboy centerfold models are now born in the 1990s. In the 1990's we as older gamers are now at a time where we will run into the new generation that have not experienced local co-op or competitive gaming as we have in the 20th century, before the internet changed many aspects of social interaction. Games were harder too; almost unforgiving. But gamers of our generation ventured forth and put forth the effort to find other gamers to come over, and share in the joy of tackling and defeating the unreasonable challenges of the games of yesteryear. The act of sharing the good and bad experiences is what brings people closer; and more often than not, those friends that you played with before are still friends today. The internet can be considered a convenient blessing that has created many opportunities, gaming and otherwise; but can potentially rob the newer generations of genuine social skills and courtesies that older/refined gamers have developed. This issue is apparent with the generally belief that the majority of troublesome online gamers are grade school age with lack of proper social upbringing.

     The notion that gamers are anti-social shut-ins is an outdated mindset. It couldn't be farther from the truth.

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