Are Games Losing Their Focus?

Games Losing FocusWith the advent of the latest generation of video game consoles and PCs that are almost infinitely expandable, developers are being pushed to their limit to create the latest and greatest game of all time. There’s no doubt that some developers have been delivering: games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, Killzone 2, etc. With games like these nowadays, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when people were crazy over games like Pong and Pacman.

My worry is that because of such hits, many fun games have been overlooked. Note that I said “fun”, not “quality” or “good”. Games of such epic proportions in today’s world have raised people’s expectations of what a game should be like. When a new first person shooter is released, people start comparing it with other games like Killzone 2. When an open world game is released, it’s immediately compared to GTA 4.

My worry is that people often forget what games are meant to be in the end: fun for the person who’s playing it. Let’s face it, everyone has individual taste. A game that might seem horrendous for one person (eg. Cooking Mama for me) might provide endless amounts of fun for another person (eg. many girls out there). The first thing a casual gamer does when playing a game is determine if they’re having fun playing it. On the other hand, gamers have played so many more games that there are times we forget the simple fact that games are just meant to be fun.

There have been many a time when I’m playing a game and naturally start thinking about stuff like “Hmm, the models in this game look more shoddy than the ones that were in this-other-really-cool-game-I-played-not-too-long-ago.” or “This game is lame because it’s copying a mechanic that was included in this other game”. Gamers will just naturally start comparing certain aspects of one game with a better one, and in the end the game might seem inferior. However, we get so caught up with how the animation in a game is less realistic that we don’t even realise that we’re still having loads of fun playing it.

For example, if a game has cliche dialog and writing, it’s considered annoying. If a game has a stereotypical story or plot, it’s “lame”. If it doesn’t have an epic scale, it’s criticised for having a “limited scope”. Et cetera. You get my point.

There are 2 reason for this problem in my opinion. Firstly, game reviews. In the ages of Super Mario, reviews were never as wide spread or easily available as a few clicks of a mouse. Nowadays, with dozens and dozens of reviews for almost every game, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. Not to mention that these reviews rely heavily on the subjective experience of the reviewers since they’re ultimately written by other people who will have absolutely no idea if a particular game is fun for YOU. There’ve been times when I just didn’t have any fun with a so-called “5-stars” game purely because they weren’t my type of game (eg. Bioshock, even though I love FPSes in general). Similarly, there’re certain games that I find insanely fun despite it receiving ridiculous scores (eg. plenty of PSP games) and I’m sure almost every other gamer has had similar sentiments as well. The problem with reviews is that many gamers have undoubtedly overlooked plenty of games that might have been insanely fun for them, but because of the negative reviews or just overwhelming hype surrounding other games, they’ve been missed out on those apparently inferior games which would still have entertained them till no end.

Second of all, is simply the overwhelming number of games that are being released today. Decades ago, there were only that many quality games to choose from, for example the SNES had TONS of games released on it, but only that many were worth playing. Fast forward to today and even the more mediocre games still have a certain amount of production quality to them. For example reviews of the game Legendary have been pretty bad across the board, but I’m sure there’re still some people who will love the whole idea and atmosphere of the game, be it because of its gameplay mecahnics or its story.  The thing is that there are so many games released nowadays that only the best will be noticed, while mediocre games that might still be fun for some people will be overlooked for sure. Of course, the wider variety of games is a huge bonus, but it’s just so much more difficult for each individual to find the game he or she will love.

All in all, I have one piece of advice for all gamers when you’re playing any game: just have fun. Stop comparing it to previous games in terms of graphics, gameplay or whatnot. Also, go ahead and try out some games that might receive bad scores from game review sites or magazines, no harm trying anyway. Just ask yourself, “Am I having fun?” If so, just keep playing. If not, pop the disc out and move on to the next game. It’s just that simple.