A seasonal overloadNovember 1, 2008
Happy Halloween. Now that midterms are over I can finally get down to some hardcore gaming. Or so I thought as there is an array of other papers and articles write as well as research to do. Looking at my previous post I see that using the term “credible gamers” should actually be replaced with “enthusiast gamers.” It is a problem me and my fellow bloggers are facing today, which is finding the time not only to play video games but also keep up with games released—especially during the fourth quarter rush. Because I have missed a week of posting, this will be an especially longer post than usual so please bare with me.
The sentiment of many game journalists and commentators is that the developer means for the player not to rush through games. Games such as Fallout 3 or Fable 2 are meant to be digested in slow spurts. That is not to say that they discourage the opinions of reviewers and other gamers that go into marathon play sessions. But it is discerning that games seem to have such a short window of attention only lasting for a week or two if they are lucky.
Again, I must compare to different mediums as books and movies also require such slow digestion. For any kind of intellectual reflection there needs to be duration during and afterwards of the experience. I personally believe, that much of the appreciation for games comes post-gameplay rather than during. This allows for more in depth investigation and pondering of the product. A lot of what my fellow commentators seem to touch upon is the experience while playing the game and the criticism is that because of this October rush of games we are unable to give the time of day to examine a game before we must move on to the next one.
Of course, the average consumer does not care about looking at games in this manner. They just want the next blockbuster to take up their time. And of course, it is rare that reviews can review every game as their extensive backlog library indicates.
I believe we are asking too much. Looking at reviews and criticism in other media there is a vast division between the two. Comparing reviews of books, television, or film to criticisms months and years afterwards there is a multitude of difference in the approach and topics brought upon in reach. We should not expect the same from reviews and I believe it is unfair to expect as such. The criticism that developers mean for a game to be played a certain way is erroneous as a major aspect of interactive media is that the player gains control of the gameplay. Especially for such open world games, it is insane to believe game experience and personal play can be judged in a numerical ratings system.
Not having the luxury of time (and especially money) to play every game that is released the best we can do is savor what we have. My confession is that I have never owned a 3d graphics console until this current generation. I have since been retreading many of the PS2 gems that I had missed on my PS3 and my appreciation for design and artistry has me in awe in the past console generation compared to our current one. Surprisingly, little has changed which is one of the reasons I started this blog. Because there is so much more where interactive media can go from where it is now apart from the boom of social interaction games.
All great things come in retrospect. Though we may be or may not be blowing through the numerous AAA games that are coming out this season, it does not mean that they are no appreciated. I would argue that the best season for gamers is the summer drought allowing time to not only backtrack on games missed but also reflect and replay games that we had back in the Fall. And, of course, we become disassociated with the hype machine that often plagues games that we criticize and idolize.
So while you are trying to play and buy games during this period of global economic downturn, do not feel pressured to play every game this season. Because more often than not, the current discussion of the game is superficial and it is only months afterwards when we revisit out experience do we realize the impact and importance of these games. However, I do have to say that marathon gaming itself is a fascination topic of player experience. Just as watching a season of television at once rather than an entire year can put a series into perspective that we may not have experienced by watching a series in how it was “meant” to be seen. Intentions can be overrated and we must discover ourselves how much we value our time and the experience we want as opposed to what the developer wants.