Before I start writing my first serious work of c-blogging (sorry, egg), I would like to apologize beforehand for not having a "gamer" sense of humor to my writing. This includes the overuse of sarcasm and the predictable comparisons of certain things with a random tangent of incomprehensible, trivial gibberish. I am a boring English major that writes very boring things. I know many will not like this, but itís something that Iíve noticed over the years and is my personal opinion.
It is seen more and more over the years, examples as to how and why the human race is being dumbed down. The evolution of mass media has created a very visually oriented people. This is seen in different types of mindless art that most people partake in. Movies full of action with no substance, incoherent modern art, and repetitive music. It seems that media, mixed with big business is forcing people to give into worthless pop culture. More specifically, this can be seen in visually appealing, yet destitute games. Examples of this can be seen in the evolution of popular games such as Team Fortress/Team Fortress Classic, StarCraft, System Shock, and high profile console games.
Walter Benjamin looked at the phenomenon of mass mechanical art reproduction and saw it as a way of being able to decentralize the hierarchy of art. The form of art being looked at here is from a gamerís perspective, the video game. Over the years, games have been getting more and more easily attainable for more and more people. The fact that these games can be easily played by everyone is a great idea. Most people can now pick up a controller or keyboard/mouse and be fairly decent at most new games. Now the problem arises as to how this affects gaming in general.
To have massive amounts of people to become involved in a game there needs to be a shorter learning curve and easy feel to it. However, this takes away a very crucial aspect of gaming, the depth to it. Depth to anything leaves things open to interpretation and always makes something better. In this case, depth is a solid story line, changing gameplay, interesting characters, et cetera. When a games learning curve gets shorter, the depth also decreases. It ruins the longevity and the competitive side to a game. This competitiveness and longevity is what makes a game timeless. By making one think deeper about it, and more challenged by a game makes it that much better.
Team Fortress has an incredibly deep gameplay for a first person shooter. The class based system made for good team work and strategizing. When Team Fortress 2 was released, fans of the original Team Fortress were incredibly disappointed, mostly because the lack of grenades. People argued that the element of grenades separated players of different skills too much and kept new players away from the game. The removal of the grenades, bunny hops, and other elements took away the depth of the game. The lack of depth can be seen in league play. The amount of Team Fortress players found in a league is far greater than the Team Fortress 2 players. There is no challenge to Team Fortress 2, no reason to come back other than to be with the community.
When there is mention of great real time strategy, StarCraft is always at the top of any list. The balance and gameplay involved is second to none in the real time strategy genre. The micromanagement involved and the strategy makes the game truly great. This is proven by the fact that the game is still played competitively even after 10 years. Every match there is always changing and evolving gameplay and strategies, this shows just how deep the game is. Recently brought up on a Korean show devoted to StarCraft and StarCraft matches was the much anticipated sequel. Many professional Korean players were allowed to play a beta version of StarCraft 2. The players expressed worry in the way the game was played. The lack of micromanagement and simplified gameplay did not allow for any deep gameplay. Their worries were consolidated when Blizzard explained to them that they were looking to simplify the gameplay. Players wondered whether StarCraft 2 would be played professionally with this type of play.
Reasons behind this change are based off of the gamer community and big business. Because gaming has experienced a boom in recent years there is a definite trend showing that more people are gaming, and more people are becoming better. Because of this there is a growing gap between the hardcore gamers and the conventional gamer. To keep people coming back to a game, businesses seem to have dumbed their games down. What is not helping this is big industry companies such as Electronic Arts buying out many companies. These buyouts disallow smaller companies to create new and original games. Like all things, it becomes a need for money rather than a want to progress.
People today seem to be mesmerized by great graphics now rather than gameplay. This is due to the nature of our society and media. It can be seen in the lack of depth in games of being released today, especially console games that aim only to show the visual strength of the console and end up being short and repetitive. There is still hope with avant-garde and truly original and revolutionary games being released like Psychonauts and Portal. We need to see more games like these, otherwise there is no say as to what will happen to the future of gaming.