Having grown up with games for the duration of my life, I can’t help but feel that gaming has lost its way, and has gone off-track. Long gone are the days when gameplay – not the high-end, multi-million dollar companies who published them – mattered, and carried the game’s reputation. I remember – and still have – hours upon hours of nostalgic fun whilst reliving some of my ‘childhood classics’; ‘Final Fantasy VI’; ‘Secret of Mana’; ‘Pocky & Rocky’.
Even now, 20 years after the release of these Super Nintendo games, they are immensely enjoyable to play; the gameplay is simple, they aren’t complex, and they’re accessible – something I feel most modern video game creators fail to think about when they are brainstorming their latest hits.
The 8-bit graphics were adequate and easy on the eyes. The polyphonic audio was memorable. (I would find myself whistling some tunes around the house!) The games tempted you with new stages and bragging rights against your friends and fellow players; there was a need to keep playing just so you could knock off a friend’s high-score, or get to more difficult stages before them. A great deal of strategy and quick reactions were needed to maneuver your little character round the almost-impossible levels on a rigid D-Pad whilst ghosts, ghouls and all sorts of enemies flew from one side of the screen to the other at wicked speeds. When the players finally finished that one level which they’d been battling on for so many hours, an enormous sense of achievement overcame them.
Sadly, however, it’s become much less common to see modern video games with TRUE gameplay qualities. In the past 5 years, video games have become much more focused on mindless violence, sex, guns and drugs, and less focused on skill and decent gameplay.
Gone are the cute raccoon avatars that threw leaves at sinister looking matryoshka dolls; instead, being replaced by the Grand Theft Auto-styled ‘catch a whore, throw her in a car and drive it into a the nearest lake’ gameplay. It’s no wonder that children are growing up swearing and being much more violent than they ever used to be when certain game makers are allowing unrestricted access to ‘hyper-violence’ in the form of titles, such as Man Hunt, Mad World, and Call of Duty; one of the more memorable scene included engaging in a game of Russian Roulette, only to graphically behead a Vietcong soldier.
I feel that the video game industry should take a step back and identify what made gaming enjoyable; how they could improve how their finished products play, in oppose to furnishing them with as much violence, gore and expletives as possible. After all, it’s most definitely gameplay that matters most.
How do you feel about modern video games? Do you feel that the themes that are becoming ever present are acceptable, or should manufacturers return to their less violent, fictional roots? Are Apple’s iPhones and Android devices bringing old, true games back, through the creation of casual games, such as Doodle Jump and Angry Birds?
Please let me know your comments.