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Avatar ImageGaming Today: Still Fun?
By: | February 10th, 2009
Exclusive |Feature

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Every new generation brings enhanced graphics, processing speeds, and new features that promise to wow and astound gamers all over. They bring cleaner landscapes and brighter backgrounds. New characters as well as some older ones now grace screens looking better than before. Blood flows more realistically and castle caverns appear to be even shoddier and broken down than previously. The passing of time gives way to new improvements that reflect our progressive society. Moving ahead, year after year, are graphics the only things improving?

Game developers look as if they’re getting closer and closer to realism with every new title. Still, are games really being designed for their main purpose anymore? Game reviewers frequently mention the graphics as being a, or sometimes the main strength of a title. Gamers regularly discuss the graphics rather than the story. The games industry is constantly growing and becoming more and more commonplace every year. For example, the recent 2008 provided some of the most memorable games to ever be played. Such heavy-hitters as Fallout 3 and Gears of War 2 displayed their impressive ability along with new games like LittleBigPlanet and Spore. Some gamers however, believe that modern games have lost that magical feeling they once had and instead replaced it with better graphics or larger playgrounds. Now that the tools are available for these high-end designs, the elements of narrative and playability possibly become less of a priority.

Thinking back on classic video game series along the lines of Super Mario and Megaman, gamers remember them because of their engaging and challenging game play, not their amazing graphical capabilities. Several earlier RPGs, despite having far less technical ability of those today, continue to stay favorites for that unforgettable feeling that comes from an involving and deep storyline. The graphics might not stand the test of time for a few but many still regularly enjoy them as well as others from earlier days.  Additionally, others may reason that graphics and photo-realism add to the experience rather than hindering it. This can certainly be true. However, the main focus should be to present as much fun as possible. Graphics should be kept in mind but narrative, innovation, and fun ought to come first.

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Nintendo is a good example of having kept to this philosophy. The Nintendo Wii is easily the least powerful of the Big 3. Graphically it’s unable to provide the depth and realism provided by Sony’s Playstation 3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Regardless of this, the Wii continues to sell more systems than either of the other consoles. Nintendo played to their strengths as they did in previous generations and favored being innovative and different as opposed to powerful. The results were as they expected. Recently reported by NPD’s Group’s statistics was that the Nintendo Wii sold more than 10 million units in the United States during 2008 and that the top four games of 2008 were from Nintendo. Even more astounding was the fact that quite a few of the sales occurred during an economic downtime.

I know what you’re thinking and don’t worry, this article was not written to praise the Wii above all other consoles, (especially when I own a Playstation 3). The Wii illustration is merely to show that graphics, power, and brute force don’t always equal fun and success. For example, many of the games offered on PSN, Xbox Live, and the Nintendo Store can provide that rare and genuine feeling of fun without the complex graphics and massive amounts of space which also comes at a fraction of the cost. Developers are regularly attracted to this “indie” scene for its creative aspects and environment. Indie games, while small, strive to be original and unique while at the same time looking for new story methods.  “Casual” gaming is not always a bad thing.

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Contrary to popular belief, I have nothing against the recent games that take their place in our libraries today. I still get as excited as a kid in the candy store when seeing the latest trailer for Final Fantasy XIII. My point is simply desirous of video games continuing to develop into something more than looks and technical prowess. Graphics might ease the eyes and technical strength might allow for everything necessary, but the interactivity and storyline is what will keep the games close to our hearts. These wonderful things we call video games are supposed to offer creative and interactive experiences unparallel by any other form of media.

As such, they deserve the care and attention shown to all of the various art forms. Every generation will automatically improve in its graphical capabilities and technical strength. Original styles of art and narrative however, do not. So while graphics should be kept in mind; returning to the original idea of crafting the most creative and unexpected game ever should be first on any game developer’s agenda.

  1. While Killzone 2 looks beautiful, they put no effort into the story/characters. This will not detract from the FPS experience for me, but it certainly could have been better with good character and story development. Gears 2, I’m looking at you.

  2. I agree that some recent AAA title’s story/ characters feel unimagined and could use much more originality. I’m looking at Faith of Mirror’s Edge, Marcus Fenix and Dom, and even the crew from Dead Space.

    They are cliches… where are this generations Marios, Sonics, and Links?

    • avatar Thembeka

      Mario has definitely been waeretd down by the over whoring. The main Mario games I even care bout anymore are from the main franchise.I’m even kinda tired of Mario Kart. I think I’d rather just stick with the earlier versions of MK. They’re still the best IMO. MK on the Snes, and MK 64.

  3. Good article. The more advanced games have gotten, for the most part, characters and story seem to be less emphasized than they used to be.

  4. Gaming still remains fun today, but I don’t think overall that titles these days are as great as they were say 10 years + ago. Everyone just looks to making their graphics nice a shiny and throwing in ‘online capabilities’ that often the core features – gameplay and longevity – are ignored.

  5. avatar Chris N

    I agree with this article so much. I have actually put down my wiimote recently in favor of some old school play. Zelda 2, Final Fantasy III, and the original Paper Mario are games that just always bring a smile to my face. Zelda 2 in particular is still hard as rocks, but a blast to play. I hope Wii Ware titles like Megaman 9 become a stronger component to current consoles this next year. Not too strong, though, or we may see all our childhood heroes destroyed for a quick buck.

  6. I don’t really think Mario or Sonic had any kind of well written background story when they first appeared, and in fact both Mario and Sonic had fairly simple plots. Bioshock and MGS4 both had amazing storylines and were excellent to play as well.
    I feel that too many people are overly nostaglic when looking back, after all when you are a kid, everything is more fun anyway, and you ignore things that you pick up on as an adult.

  7. avatar Bukem

    Good point Austin, but what I think he was going for was that the games focused more on fun maybe? Gamers do often look back a lot though.

    • avatar Olivia

      Ha! It was supposed to be, but I fkecud up when I made this and when I realized Ryan Reynolds was the one who got married to Blake Lively and Ryan Gosling is the other Ryan (I am not a big follower of the famous!), this silly game’ had already been re-pinned over fifty times and it was too late to change it! I think Ryan Gosling would say something like, Hey girl, it’s OK you fkecud up your drinking game. Can I make you a Skinny Girl Margarita? On second thought, I’m fixing it

  8. While we can see the general decline of story in modern gameplay, I still believe it to be holding on strong. I mean there are several narrative games out there. I recall playing Heavenly Sword and literally being entranced by the flow of the storyline. I remember playing through Fallout 3′s many quests and actually finding myself entertained by the main storyline. However, I’m not sure that story is the only, or even the main element that makes games fun. I means honestly did Mario have an original or compelling plot? Save the princess from the spiky fire breathing turtle. I don’t remember a twist or any amount of layering. Consider LittleBigPlanet, the story is easily one of the games weaker aspects, but you simply can’t not have fun. Genghis Khan would piss himself giggling over that game.

    I think games are meant to touch us intuitively in some way, and when they succeed in doing so, they become truly fun. Many FPS allow for a sense of catharsis, quirky and cheery games (ala LBP) reach deep into that youth in us and unleash that giddy rush of euphoria, strategy games offer a mental workout that is soon accompanied by a mental ‘runner’s high.’ I believe the best games are those that evoke deep emotions, be it ramping up our blood pressure and adrenaline levels, scaring the crap out of us, or causing us to lose ourselves in slap happy smile fest.

  9. avatar malli

    Gaming still remains fun today, but I don’t think overall that titles these days are as great as they were say 10 years + ago.

  10. avatar Anonymous

    i like this for realzy

  11. avatar Buy cheap OEM software

    rZTrFi Excellent! Got a real pleasure..!

  12. avatar Shweta

    It’s hard getting a feel for who the PS3 aceidnue is because so many more people have a 360 or Wii. I’d say this aceidnue is the VERY hardcore gaming aceidnue. These are the people who live for videogames. They’re also such a small minority that I can’t imagine justifying a large amount of support for this aceidnue. At least not yet.With the recent price drop to the PS3, a lot more people are getting into it. That’s an aceidnue to watch for the future, maybe, as trends could be changing.

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