Saturday, January 22, 2011

Video Game Stupidity

Welcome to the Video Game Stupidity blog. The purpose of this journal will be to describe, vent about, discuss, work through and hopefully help to alleviate some of the dumber things gamers experience in their video games and computer entertainment. We've all been there, unfortunately. We've all been playing a game we've spent our money (or in some cases, bandwidth) acquiring and have enjoyed them - for the most part. But the problem is we encounter something that is just hideously ridiculous in our beloved game. Maybe the game has terrible control. Maybe the physics are all messed up. Maybe the camera is more of a hindrance than helpful. Maybe they changed a foundational element about the game in one of the many sequels that aren't as good as the original. Either way, the game in question is ruined and it makes you not want to play. At least that's how it happens in my case.

But why would I let a single thing like X or Y ruin an entire game for me, you may ask.  Well, the problem is this; I'm in my mid 30's, and I've been playing video games since I was about 6 when my uncle got me my first Atari 2600.  Since that Atari, I've owned many game consoles ranging from the ColecoVision to the Neo*Geo Home system to the newer generation systems and even several Arcade cabinets.  I once considered myself a 'hardcore' gamer, but I don't any longer.  I don't mean to say one can get 'too old' for video games, (I don't believe that can happen) but I do like to think that I've 'grown up' when it comes to gaming. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I do like to have a "Halo Weekend" with my friends, but most of the time, I play casually.  I also like to play a game to 'get through' it so I can find out the entire story. I don't care about difficulty, or achievements. Sometimes I'll play the game on the easy setting so I can just enjoy the game and get the entire story. But some games prevent you from the 'entire experience' unless you play on the highest difficulty. That's not fun for me, and we'll talk about that in a future post.  I also don't usually play online.  In fact, the only reason I even have Xbox Live currently is so I can use Netflix, not to 'pwn n00bz' on Halo (I'm not even that good). I don't have the time and/or patience to play in-depth games too... er... in depth, I guess you could say.  I have become a casual gamer. When I do play video games, it might be for an hour or two at a stretch. Sometimes I might get into a game and play on a Saturday morning. I may not even realize I've been playing all morning. I'll 'wake up' about 12PM and realize I've wasted the entire morning in my underware in front of my TV with a game controller in my hand, but those times are few and far between now.

I seem to find many faults that 'break' games for me. These faults take me out of the game world, or just ruin the illusion.  There are some standards I have personally set for video games and if these standards are not met (with some wiggle room) I will stop playing, no matter if I haven't reached the conclusion or if I'm at that last level. I_don't_care.  Once a game pisses me off enough, it's over.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that we are no longer in the infancy of video gaming and/or game design. We are in the 7th generation of home game consoles. We are now in 2011, and the first multi-game or 'modular cartridge' console was released in 1977 - that's nearly 34 years ago.  Game designers have had plenty of time to perfect their techniques and design methods. For the most part, this has proved true. We've gotten plenty of brilliant games in the last 30 years, but we've also gotten some real stinkers - and unfortunately, we've gotten some 'good' games that have been ruined by Video Game Stupidity. This blog is here to talk about some of the inconsistencies in videogames, game design, or game 'theory', as it were.  The word 'theory' might not have been the best way to describe what I mean, but what I mean is this. Let's say we're playing a game that is supposed to be 'scary'. The game F.E.A.R. is a good example here. It's supposed to be a 'scary' game, but most of the 'scare' tactics used in the game are simple "BOOGAH BOOGAH BOOGAH!!" moments.  I.E. - Long periods of walking through silent corridors only to have a monster/badguy loudly burst through a door with weapons ablaze. That's not scary. It's annoying. But what some designers 'discovered,' was if they made the hallway DARK enough, it amplifies the illusion of danger and makes the game 'better.' Well I'm here to clear something up about that concept.


You know what making your game 'dark' accomplishes? It makes me turn up the brightness on my TV or your game options so I can see where I'm going.  It doesn't scare the player, it blinds them. that does not make your game better. It makes it worse, and it makes me not want to play it.

The darkness situation brings me to the subject of: The List of Game Design Stupidity, as I've come to call it.  I'm not going to give the list out just yet, since this is only the first post on this blog, but we'll discuss the list in due time. Feel free to check in every once in a while to find out more.  I may not post here every day, since I don't play games all that much anymore but I will post when I have something to describe, or I feel like revealing one of the items on the list.

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