I was flipping through the latest issue of Game Informer at a friend’s house the other day, and as I looked at the advertisements, I realized something: I no longer knew all the upcoming games for all the systems like I used to. The ads were all over the place, page after page full of so many games I had never even heard of. But somehow they were all familiar. A lot of them looked like games I’d already seen, but in a slightly different shade.
You may be tempted — and I’d understand it — to assume that I’m just old, that I can no longer hold my gaming bladder like I used to. But I think it’s something else, something far more concerning. Am I getting old — or is gaming?
I don’t pay attention to previews like I used to, and I know I’m not alone. The industry has gotten so good at “the art of the preview” that it’s hard to get excited about games any more. It’s hard to tell what’s really going to be good, versus what people are saying just for the sake of being mentioned in an ad or on the box art. Now I just wait for the reviews to show me which games to get, and I ignore the rest.
The good games seem to be getting further and further apart. There are so many games in development right now it boggles the mind, but many of them are “me too” games that lack what made the original creation so good. There are currently a large number of games headed to the Wii. Yeah, like that’s a difficult prediction to make, I know, but still, it should be interesting to see how many of them turn out good, and how many end up being ineffective attempts for publishers to jump on the so-called “casual gamer” bandwagon.
Whenever I talk to a “non gamer” about video games, they always respond with “I don’t have enough time.” I always fire back “So how much TV do you watch?” They usually respond with an hour or two a night, at which point I tell them that that’s time I spend playing video games.
Or at least I used to. Lately I’ve been catching myself vegetating in front of the TV flipping through channels. I’m hoping that’s just a phase. Screw brain dead television, I’d rather be involved with my entertainment.
But with all the me-too and Wii games coming out, it’s no wonder I can’t keep up. They’re still making games for the PS2, for crying out loud!
The games that can be judged as a piece of art are far and few between. Why do you think we all went so crazy over BioShock? Perhaps the developers need better tools to create their worlds, I don’t know, but the number of games you can call truly “great” isn’t a very large number. The rest are nothing more than diversions to keep you going until the next big game hits. And you’ll wait patiently, we both know that.
With so many games starting to blend together, I’m hoping for a change. Call of Duty 4 was a relief to me, because I’ve watched a room full of people watch the first few levels and think it was very cool, even though they were just watching. In fact, they were upset when I stopped playing it. COD4 was very entertaining to them, and that’s really the point, isn’t it?
But with so many bland copycats out there, it’s no wonder I can’t keep up on them all. I don’t believe I’m getting old; I believe gaming is. I’d like games to keep entertaining me, to be as fresh and original as they were just a few years ago. I’m sure they will, because I will wait patiently. But this aging, this mid-life crisis that gaming is going through, is a bit disconcerting.
— Robert Dusseau