I’ve been a gamer since before I could talk coherently. My parents have often told me tales of how I would escape my crib at ungodly hours to beat them at Super Mario Bros. with ease. Since then I’ve moved into a career that is centred around my passion, love and understanding of the video game medium. Investigating, writing about and playing games is what I do for a hobby and also my job.
That’s why I was so taken aback when I struggled to come up with an answer to what should have been a seemingly simple question for a hardcore gamer.
“Why do you play games?“
I expected my answer to be simply “because I find them fun” but when I really thought about it, when was the last time I had fun playing a game? Back in the day I’d sit there for hours replaying Super Star Wars, Starwing, Super Mario Worldand Sam and Max Hit The Road because they all had a fun factor that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
I must have finished this game at least 87 times growing up
Now I can’t even remember the last time I played a game for the second or even third time. Do I simply game now because it has become a habit, because it’s just something that I do?
The gaming giants simply don’t make those type of experiences anymore. I love games like BioShock, Uncharted and Heavy Rain but they aren’t exactly made for fun. They are here to tell a gripping story, hook you in with familiar mechanics and push you through a creative narrative.
Then there are games that insult your intelligence, violate your wallets and spew forth a million iterations of the same game with a new skin. People keep buying these year after year, and while the game themselves completely suck, it’s their addictive and reward incentives online that keep players hooked for months at a time.
So according to these revelations, the gaming experience I endure these days are often to do with a gripping story. I won’t bother finishing a game unless the story hooks me, and I’m waiting to find out what happens next.
Then I start to think about my foray into the indie gaming scene, and every single indie game I’ve fallen in love with has been built around one mechanic – fun.
You name it; The Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy, VVVVV, MacGuffin’s Curse and countless other indie games I’ve experienced over the past few years all have one crucial ingredient that the big games simply don’t. Fun. Isn’t that why we all started gaming in the first place? If it weren’t for these titles, gaming would largely feel like a huge chore at this point.
Or maybe I’m just cynical. I still get super excited for big titles that I’ve been waiting for, but ultimately I never has as much fun playing them as I did playing Bumpy on my old Amstrad back in the day. If you’re listening EA, Acitivision, Blizzard and THQ, try having a little fun instead of focusing on dollars and cents all the time.
I want to ask you all the same question right now, why do you game?
By Stephen Heller - Bio