Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's Fun Got To Do With It?

 I'm still sifting through all the E3 info...Games, commentary, critiques, controls, etc.etc.etc.
But as I read about Kinect and Move and the complaints and shortcomings about them, not to mention the Wii comparisons, I'm left with one question...
    What happened to fun?
   Its a question I've been asking for a long time actually. I'm not going to run down my history of gaming (yet again) but I just want to throw out there the fact that I joined Gamespot in 2005 a couple of years after I started gaming regularly. Before 2005 I would see a game at Walmart and if it looked like it would appeal to me, I bought it. No reviews, no critiques, no trailers or screenshots. If it sucked, well I was out some cash. I was one of  those "casual gamers", one of the ignorant unwashed masses who had no idea E3 even existed. But, you know what I DID know? Fun. I would play a game and continue playing it if it were fun, if it wasn't, then I stopped playing.

   Now, here I am, years later, stuck in a routine that is starting to really bother me. I get up, I brush my teeth, get a cup of coffee and sit at my PC. Once there I start running down the list.
   What list? The list of things I must check...

3 email addresses
the Escapist
numerous boards, blogs and nefarious sites

  Tab after Tab after Tab open in my browser. After all, gotta keep up with whats going on in gaming. So, as I waste time reading about games my list of games to play keeps growing.  Seems  I read more about games than I play them and that is just not right. Now, that's my own fault isn't it? shut down the PC and turn on the console! Yes, its partly my fault but...once I fell into the "being in the know" trap, I can't seem to get out. Not to mention that I, like everyone else, am feeling the financial crunch which means I want to be sure before I drop that cash.  How can I be sure? Reviews of course. I read tons of game reviews no tons of sites. Not just Pro reviews but gamer reviews as well. Now, I'm be cheesy... "Now I'm playing with Power"

  Lately I've found myself spending more time skimming release date lists more than actual game info. Why? Because I've finally found my individuality again. My ability to think for myself. WTF does that mean? Philosophy 101 or Psychology 101? It means, I've put the reviews down.  Reading reviews and previews can be informative, I'm not saying that they aren't helpful. However, more and more I see them concentrating on graphics, innovation, technology and the technical.

  Here, I'm gonna throw out a prime example of this...
    Dynasty Warriors

  I got into Dynasty Warriors around the time 6 came out. I had never even heard of it before. After my husband and I had finished Champions of Norrath for about the 16th time we decided we needed a new co-op game to play. So we went to Gamestop in search of the elusive 2 player game. Only thing we found that even mildly appealed to us was Dynasty Warriors 6. We had no idea what it was, only that it had to do with Chinese History and fighting. I have no idea how many hours we spent playing the game day after day, night after night. My husband was fascinated by Zhuge Liang's attitude and character and decided he would champion Shu. I was a bit less decided. I Championed Wu as Zhou Yu and Wei as Sima Yi and on occasion I would tag team with him as Zhuge Liang's wife Yue Ying. The game inspired us to read the Three Kingdoms  which gained me some brownie points with my Chinese Mother in law (hehe).
  Long after my husband got tired of playing Dynasty Warriors I kept going. I bought 4, 5, 5XL and moved over to Japan as well with Samurai Warriors. When I bought a PSP one of my first purchases were Dynasty Warriors 1 and 2 for it. Since then I've played Samurai Warriors State of War, Warriors Orochi 1 and 2 and Dynasty warriors Strikeforce. I've loved each and every one of those games and even now they are my go-to games when I want some mindless fun.

  I was shocked the first time I read a review for a DW game. They are all scored just slightly higher than mediocre. The main complaint is repetition. not enough change between each iteration. No Innovation in the formula. Yes, I will admit that DW games are all pretty much the same thing, but, why is that necessarily a bad thing. I don't play DW for a life altering experience. I play it because I find the idea of being a pretty boy with a pair of Tonfas kicking Yellow Turban ass in the hundreds, fun. Because I like saying the name Sima Yi. I really have no interest in seeing an overhaul of the DW series...But...with the release of DW Strikeforce there WAS a tangible change in the series. There were huge bosses, a town hub to upgrade in order to buy power ups and weapons, to store goods, to gain powers. The game emphasized multi-player like none of its predecessors. The characters were given back their Pre DW6 weapons and the ability to also use any other weapon they chose. So there you go..Innovation! Change! It still got a crappy score. While the changes were acknowledged, they weren't enough. So, what would it take to make these games acceptable to reviewers?
 Shouldn't FUN be enough?

   The Wii... oh...nothing gets slammed like the Wii does.
I'm not gonna lie...I rarely play the Wii.
My Wii is probably covered in dust right now.
The last game I bought for it, I've never even opened.
The games that I like on it, I rarely ever play.
The reason however, might surprise you....

   It has nothing to do with its graphical shortcomings or its gimmicky controls or kid-centric games. Simply put, its in a room that I don't associate with gameplay, my studio.
   Granted I spend hours in this room every day watching TV and surfing the net. I have all of my "old school" consoles in this room and they are all plugged into the TV. From my very first console, the Colecovision to my dust covered Wii. The thing that makes this room a great art studio is also the thing that makes it a nightmare to game in... Two walls are made of windows giving great Northern and Eastern light. They give excellent light for painting, they also give insanely annoying glare to the TV and make the room at least 10 degrees hotter than than the rest of the house.  Intense sunlight and heat...not exactly conducive to gaming with something that requires lots of movement.

  The Wii gave us innovation..a whole lotta innovation...and fun. Lets be honest, sure you look like an idiot playing some Wii games but its damn fun and you can also take comfort in the fact that who ever goes after you will look like a fool too..laughs for all! Right now, I'm planning on dropping $80 on We Cheer 1 and 2 and pom pom attachments so my uncoordinated daughter and I can act like morons night of course...very late at night...with the AC turned down to 60 and every movable fan in the house on in this room.

Critics don't like the Wii..causes its gimmicky and graphically inferior to its console brethren. So, Nintendo tried to Innovate and it was considered gimmicky. What innovation ISN'T Gimmicky?
Let me ask you this... is it FUN?
While playing Soul Calibur Legends left me with a sore arm for a few days it was damn fun.
Wii fun...I hate Bowling and Golfing but I can play Wii Sports for hours. House of the Dead? More please! Cheesy dialogue and rail shooting...hell yeah!

I'm an extrovert...or in layman's terms a HUGE Attention Whore. So, I'm down for some crazy antics. I like DDR even though I suck at it. I own tons of singing games and 2 eye toy cameras, one for each PS2. So looking foolish playing the Wii is not an issue for me, as long as I'm having fun.

So now Microsoft and Sony have jumped onto that Motion Control train that Nintendo got rolling.  I'm not gonna argue about price points many people bought a friggin iPad? How about a PS3 at $600? So lets forget price.
Unlike the Wii, Sony and Microsoft are neck and neck in graphical ability.  Though you would think by now we  would realize that good graphics do not a good time or game make. Guess gamers like a beautiful  disaster.
So price is out, and graphics are out...what's left?
We already know we'll look like idiots playing the damn things...question is...will you have fun playing it? If it is fun, then, does anything else matter?

To play games
I don't know, but where I'm from games, whether its jumping rope, playing hide and seek or using a controller to make a person on screen do something, they're supposed to be fun.
Looking at my game collection, a lot of the games I own were given really bad reviews and/or scores and had I based my decision to buy or play them on that, I would have missed out on a lot of fun and good times.

Maybe being from an older generation of gamers makes the difference. I grew up on Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, not exactly the most photo-realistic games, but even now, I still find them fun.
As much as I can marvel at the gorgeous rolling hills in Oblivion, I can spend hours playing Bejeweled.

Yeah yeah yeah...this post is all over the place....I probably went off on tangents more than I stayed on topic... I'm watching America's Next Top Model reruns while I write so my attention is divided.

1 comment:

Jim said...

you made a great point there. If games are not enjoyable what is the point. Even with all the new games I still spend a lot of time in both Bejeweled and Oblivion because they are both more fun than the new games.

I get tired of trying to figure out how to parkour or a new battle system and a different way of doing this or that.

and where you did tab, tab, tab....I often enjoy a tab.
that and diet coke are my faves.
not because i think the diet sodas are better for you but diet is sweeter than sugared drinks