Friday, June 22, 2012

The Future Of (Lousy) Interactive Entertainment

Help, I'm suffering from ear barotrauma and it's pissing me off.  EDIT: I think I got fluid buildup in my ear, that sucks.  Nevertheless, it's time for a post!  Recently, I was browsing the Internets as usual and I came across a funny slideshow.  The gradual change of Super Mario Bros. from the past to the present.  Here's the photo album.

It goes from this serene image: this horrible abomination:

More supplemental material!

Oh boy, another fun-filled rant about "casual" gaming is ruining everything!  As usual, Call of Duty is the culprit.  If you're a 4chan/Reddit poster, then this is all too familiar.  So I'm going to cut to the chase.

The way I picture it, the computer/console gaming world has morphed into this behemoth consisting of video games, movies, music, social media, YouTube, motion controls, 24/7 downloadable content (for a sizable fee), you name it.  You can't simply "play games" or "update Facebook" anymore in a vacuum.  It's the Wal-Mart go there to get everything you need, you get the "whole experience."

Bring this with you on a desert island and you're good!

Problem is, it obfuscates the primary reason we turn these things on in the first place and that is to PLAY GAMES, not to be disturbed by these other things I have little to no interest in.

I read an article from a friend's blog a long time ago (thanks Dave).  Basically, the Xbox 360 is no longer a game console--it's an entertainment hub.  Fair enough...Microsoft populated the new 360 dashboard with all this online crap so let's just bypass it.  Yet--and I'll throw this in here too--even if you stick to just playing the damn games, they aren't really "games" anymore...they're movies too (sort of).  Interactive as playing a game but as expedient as watching a movie--follow the instructions, watch the cutscenes, and be done with it in hours.  Not the first time I said this but let me delve into it further.

All the cutscenes, tutorials, linear hold-your-hand gameplay might as well substitute for "interactive stimulation" or something.  Don't get me wrong, some games clearly call for plenty of cutscenes (like Yu Suzuki's Shenmue) or tutorials/instructions/limitations (pretty much any strategy game), but they've gone way too far with many action-based games like FPS and racing games.  And this becomes a BIG issue when more production value is put into these side things than the actual gameplay itself (which is why I get pissed at games like Need for Speed which are basically rehashes of the same material in a different package).

Just for kicks, I looked up the definitions of the term "game" and "movie" on

Game (noun) - a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.

Movie (noun) - redirects to Motion Picture (noun) 1. a sequence of consecutive pictures of objects photographed in motion by a specially designed camera (motion-picture camera) and thrown on a screen by a projector (motion-picture projector) in such rapid succession as to give the illusion of natural movement. 2. a play, event, or the like, presented in this form.

While a video game can be a movie (sequence of pictures), can a movie be a video game (competitive activity of skill)?  Food for thought...

Speaking of food, here's the schtick I was leading up to this whole time.  See Seinfeld Season 9 Episode 4 titled "The Blood."  George is on a date with his girlfriend when she lights up a vanilla incense.  The scent makes George ravenously hungry during a makeout session.  Therefore, George starts eating pastrami sandwiches at intimate moments..."Food and sex, those are my two passions!  It's only natural to combine them!"  This causes George to behave strangely when eating in public much to Jerry's chagrin.  Later, George goes for the trifecta...he smuggles a handheld TV into the mix.  Needless to say, his girlfriend caught him in the act and immediately broke up.

The point is you gotta keep 'em separated!  It's just strange because we've come so far in terms of technology, we're supposed to be "happier" with our newer games.  But messing around with these new consoles, it's a hassle to deal with the clutter of big-budget "movie-games", online subscriptions, perpetual DLC & advertisements, annoying online communities, over-reliance on game servers, RRoD's, and so forth.  Back then you occasionally blew on the cartridge and that's all you needed to play the game.  It was amazingly simple but it was first and foremost a game, not some bizarre digital amalgamation.

Seriously, tossing away all racing games for a second, I think Goldeneye on the N64 was one of my most favorite games ever.  Yes, it's massively outdated and is not as playable on your worn out N64 joysticks.  But I think it was awesome to run around unlocking cheats and beating the game on 00A using my wits and a few strategy guide tips to get by.  Nowadays, everything intrudes on the game itself that it just sucks.  My appeal for this current generation of games has been waning ever since.  Maybe I'm having a "grass is greener" moment, but eh.  Let's all be indie developers and make more GAMES first and foremost--yeah, that would be cool, bro.  Get in a time machine and travel back to 1998, best of both next-gen and previous-gen games, that's the ticket...

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