Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Older with Videogames

OK, I am not that old. I am 31, nearing 32. But my gaming history goes decades back, in the far and mysterious year of 1988, when I got my Atari 2600. I had two games, if I remember correctly, Space Invaders and River Raid. And boy, that was all you needed back then. There was no way videogames could be simple. One directional, one button, graphics with pixels the size of oranges, I think the machine could output 8 colors, but I am probably wrong.

When you are young, you don't need much to have fun. In old times, all you needed was imagination and maybe some twigs. Everything could be a source for entertainment. That is probably why all that licensed games with Marvel and Disney characters on the box sells well. While older gamers can find hard to like the outdated graphics, repetitive gameplay and all problems most those titles have, a child will be happy just because they are Iron-man or because Donald Duck is talking funny.

This was high tech back then.
But as you get older, things start to change. Becoming a teenager, you start wanting more. Simple gameplay is not enough, you want more complex things. Because as you enter this phase, you want to look cool and there is nothing cool in 'childish' games. So, games need to be challenging, because bragging rights are cool. Be the kid who can make that complex combos in Street Fighter II is what is cool. And so the characters need to be cool too. You don't want to be associated with 'childish' characters, you want to be associated with the cool ones.

And here I must do a confession. When I was young, I didn't care for characters background or his story or personality. I just wished them to look the coolest possible. My favorite Final Fantasy VII character, Tifa Lockhart, was not my favorite at first because of her personality, but because she was so hot. Only after getting older and playing Final Fantasy VII again, this time paying attention to its story, I started loving Tifa because of her personality.

Sorry for just looking at the outside at first. I now know you are an amazing character in the inside...
And again, as you got more life experience, start to stop caring about looks and start thinking more about things, again what was enough as a teenager is not enough as an adult. You stop caring just for looks, for the outside of things. You want more deep experiences, deeper games. Just having cool design and some cool gameplay is not enough. you want more.

You start to want that games have some significance. That their stories are not just 'save the world' but that it give us reasons to save it. Evil being evil for the sake of evilness is just stupid. You want reasons. The character looking so amazing don't cut anymore, it needs to have personality. Because now that you are old, you are more difficulty to be pleased. 

You already have seem too many things, so your brain stops to care about some simple stuff. You start to be more pick, wishing thing who make you think more. Incessant action does not have the same effect and you start to want that your experience to go beyond just at the time with the controller in hand. you want to discuss with another people and share the experience, what you may have learned and the meanings of what you played.

Of course, this could be just me. There is nothing wrong in liking the simple and 'childish' games, and it is not a sign of maturity or immaturity liking or disliking it. People change, is what I say, and I changed. The kind of games I loved when a kid or teenager hardly pleases me today. But people are different I think. What is cool to me may not be cool to another guy the same age as me. 

But everyone changes, as we grow older. Most of the time for better. Experience changes the way we look at life, ourselves and what we think is fun or not. And my wish is for the game industry to recognize that. As gamers got older, what was 'fun' and 'cool' when we were younger aren't anymore. The industry needs to do more games to cater to their older audience. The one who can now buy their own games and not wait for mom and dad to give them as presents.

Because people change. And the industry needs to change with them.

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