Have we forgotten the point of gaming?

by Stephen Heller Featured 26 Comments 59 Votes 4726 Views 20/06/2012 Back to Articles

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

Link to us http://wii.mmgn.com/Articles/Have-we-forgotten-the-point-of-gaming
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Tags: Amstrad Binding BioShock boy Bumpy Culture curse do game gaming heavy indie Isaac MacGuffins meat of Rain super The Uncharted VVVVV why you
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Nice article Heller. I was thinking about this same thing but in a different way just the other day. I beleive the answer lies this quote from your article. "If you’re listening EA, Acitivision, Blizzard and THQ, try having a little fun instead of focusing on dollars and cents all the time". Notice something about this comment? All the developers are western. Back in the day all the best developers and all the best games were Japanese. There has been a HUGE power shift in the games market. As the western games market has exploded, the Japanese game market has shrunk. Even the largest Japanese developers that remain are are changing development to appeal to the larger western markets. There are few truly Japanese developers left, with Nintendo and Suda 51 coming to mind. Thay continue to understand that games are, and always will be about "fun".
Games are fun! The problem is time. Who has the time to play a game more than once? I certainly don't which is sad since I would like to revisit some of them! The only game I can recall playing twice is Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I miss those days when I played Ocarina of Time from the beginning for the fun of it. :(
I play a few games more then once.. I played morrowind twice, oblivion 3 times, I'm on my forth fallout 3 play through, 2nd fallout nv, played Bioshock 1 and 2 over 3 times..

For me it's like a movie.. You have a favourite and you watch it over again cause you love the story.. ^_^
Tano
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I try to keep it simply as a past time. CoD, for example, is pretty therapeutic for me in a weird kind of way.

Long campaigns eventually turn into somewhat of an obligation, like as if, I owe it to the time I've already spent to finish the game and get closure with the narrative.

This is why I tend to spend more time with competitive games, not only because I'm a fairly competitive person, but also because it doesn't really dictate any real push and drive to complete, something I think undermines the notion of "enjoyment": once I'm hurrying up for a game to end, I've played it for too long. That happens way too often for me.

M@ndyz said: I play a few games more then once.. I played morrowind twice, oblivion 3 times, I'm on my forth fallout 3 play through, 2nd fallout nv, played Bioshock 1 and 2 over 3 times..
For me it's like a movie.. You have a favourite and you watch it over again cause you love the story..


YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME! GIVE ME YOUR TIME!! [Rage]

renagadez said:

M@ndyz said: I play a few games more then once.. I played morrowind twice, oblivion 3 times, I'm on my forth fallout 3 play through, 2nd fallout nv, played Bioshock 1 and 2 over 3 times..
For me it's like a movie.. You have a favourite and you watch it over again cause you love the story..


YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME! GIVE ME YOUR TIME!!

No mannnnnnnn nooooooooooooooooooo it's all I have left to live for :'@
LMA0
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I play games for the challenge and keeps my mind stimulated like. I don't like games which makes me win easily because I like challenges that makes me think, adapt n improvise new things and I like to be rewarded for hard work.
Other people play for different reasons but this why I play video games.

Beta said: I try to keep it simply as a past time. CoD, for example, is pretty therapeutic for me in a weird kind of way.
Long campaigns eventually turn into somewhat of an obligation, like as if, I owe it to the time I've already spent to finish the game and get closure with the narrative.
This is why I tend to spend more time with competitive games, not only because I'm a fairly competitive person, but also because it doesn't really dictate any real push and drive to complete, something I think undermines the notion of "enjoyment": once I'm hurrying up for a game to end, I've played it for too long. That happens way too often for me.



This is me too, just with FIFA tbh. Once a game begins feeling like a chore, it is completely lost on me.
most games lost the replay value or due to irl life time once clocked its time to sell and buy another.

fallout 2 and fifa games i probably play the most.

and battlefield on ps3
sounds like diablo 3-

with the advent of the RMAH house, people dont play for fun anymore, they play for a payout. Otherwise, the huge grind simply to find items (and you don't find them) is a chore and definitely not fun.
I always play games for pure fun and social interaction with friends over multiplayer! :D

matt12 said: I always play games for pure fun and social interaction with friends over multiplayer!


i agree with matt
Dunno..

I felt Bioshock was a bit different but I agree on Uncharted, especially Uncharted 3!

I want to feel challenged and I want a story but for me Uncharted 3 went wrong. Too much story, terrible gaming mechanics.. ew.
I know that feel bro! I play a lot of games and many impress me, and pretty much I think that is normal. It is not until a game gives me that buzz, that feeling I used to have when I played sooner of the good old games that I realise most I play today do not have this.

And you are right, DayZ made me feel it, and before that ether last I remember was Minecraft. Both of these games are essentially Indie titles. I think I first realised I was totally blown the **** away in DayZ when I had just shot a cow and used my hunting knife to gut it for meat, then my axe to gather wood and matches to light a fireplace I just built to cook the meat. I had to scavenge through hell and back for those items, all while keeping wary of surrounding zombies and even more so other players, and had finally after many frustrating deaths gotten back all my health and had some ammo. The feeling of reward was EPIC! There are so many little challenges in that gamer that just make it so ****ing rewarding, as simple a thing as getting your location from a sign and navigating your way to a friend is so much harder to do than any other game that succeeding is rewarding.
I've just grown up. I love gaming but the fun i found in gaming back when i was young was no different than the fun i found in xmas etc you just grow out of things well your perspective on things change and so do your priorities at least thats my view on it.
This is probably the main reason I buy Nintendo consoles. Sadly though that isn't keeping me fizzed.

I was super pumped about the new GoW. Then got worried that a 4th title might destroy my almost perfect memories created during the first three.

I find too many games these days too stressful. Or like cod, you invest months of your life, then suddenly a 'new' iteration comes out, which is the same as the last, and all your previous time invested is worth squat. If I'm investing that much time in something I'd rather it stick with me forever......which is why I play the guitar now religiously.

renagadez said: Games are fun! The problem is time. Who has the time to play a game more than once? I certainly don't which is sad since I would like to revisit some of them! The only game I can recall playing twice is Batman: Arkham Asylum.
I miss those days when I played Ocarina of Time from the beginning for the fun of it.


This is a huge part of it. Plus the fact that so so many new games come out every year, buying and finishing them all would be impossible for the working man, let alone finishing them for a second, third or eighty-seventh time.

Don't forget that as we age Heller, our tastes grow up slightly too. I know I find it hard to have fun in a "fun" game, but games that bring on an intense feeling, whether it be kill or be killed or some kind of imposed restraint, I find "fun".

renagadez said: Games are fun! The problem is time. Who has the time to play a game more than once?

Me! But I usually don't bother to unless it's awhile after I last completed/played it.
every time i played super star wars a new hope i never made i further than the sandcrawler

game was hard
I still find games heaps of fun - I've played 250-odd hours of Civ V, the single-player of Uncharted 1 and 2, as well as MGS 1 and 2 four times (all of them, so those four titles are sixteen playthroughs), and regularly go back to favourite levels from all sorts of games, from this years releases to the original Command and Conquer (playable on PS3 using the PSOne disk, woo!)

Time can be a factor, as can be letting the whole 'always on, playing for rank/trophies/what-have you' getting in the way of enjoying the moment - but I recommend focusing on the moment - the cut-and-thrust of the gunplay in Uncharted, the sneaking in MGS, the strategy in Civ, the unpredictable randomness of most online shooters, the wonderful rhythm of a platformer (and they're still out there - I hear Rayman Origins was excellent :)). Much like life, enjoying gaming is about being in the moment :).
Well, the problem with trying to answer that question is not having a definition for how you have fun. I find myself having fun in games for two main reasons:

1. Competitiveness: I enjoy games like starcraft 2, CoD, fighting games, Fifa etc because I can push myself to play better than other people, and I find that rewarding.
2. Social aspect: playing games with other people feels so much more satisfying for me. For this reason I've lost a lot of interest in single player story based games.

There are so many other ways that you can enjoy games though. I guess everyone just enjoys games for their own various reasons.
This brings back memories, Worms 3-D with a whole group of friend ^.^
I got old and unless I got right into the online community of a game, I will probably get my arse whooped and unless I'm lucky, it could kill the online portion of a game especially in FPS.

sport games aren't too bad since a pitch is a pitch. Certain characteristics change but that's about it.

I find it so much easier to get back into games that I grew up with and simple 'fun' games that don't take themselves to serious. Ratchet and clank is good example of a recent modern game I've enjoyed returning back to.

Also replayability is great but I dont know about this generation, unless its kinect, most games rely on playing online to interact with other users and I'm just out and about being social then being 'social' in a room all alone. Not sure why getting a 2 player split screen gaming is few and far between.
Does anyone know how to post images on these forums/threads???

TrblyXlent said: Does anyone know how to post images on these forums/threads???



The white box you post in, look right, there is a "[?]". Hover over it.
You finished Super The Empire Strikes Back 87 times? Clearly, you're lying, even if you playing on Easy.

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