Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quick Fix Video Games

The below is a quote from this article: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/24946

Most video games are a rip-off.

Nearly every video game since "tank pong" has buried its best content behind layers of work. Unlike any other retail product I can think of, when you buy a video game, the chances that you will actually get what you paid for are infinitesimal. I can't think of a single game I've played where I am confident that I've seen every single level; unveiled every coveted secret; unlocked every whatsit and pretty and soundtrack left like kipple by the designers in the dark corners of the code.

I bought it. I want my game.

I mostly disagree with the article - I think games should provide the user a great amount of value - after all you are spending a good deal of money on it - relative to say a board game, or other "toy", but I do see where the author is coming from.

Recently, my roommate purchased an xbox 360. In short the box is amazing. We have Ghost Recon Advanced War Fighter and Oblivion. I haven't played the latter, but the former got me sucked in pretty fast. I played an hour to two every night for awhile and was completely enthralled with the graphics, game play and overall presentation of the title (there is nary a menu screen to be seen - instead it's like an interactive movie - I digress).

One day, however, my buddy told me to check out Geometry Wars. Geometry Wars is a game from the Xbox Live Arcade - a part of the Xbox Live functionality that allows the purchase of smaller, more retro style games. As an example Street Fighter 2 is going to be coming out soon.

The games are simple, free to demo, and only cost about 5 dollars to buy - which unlocks the whole game. So I went and played the 3 minute demo of Geometry Wars, which can be described as a mash-up between asteroids, Galaga, and adrenaline :) - and then promptly bought it because I was hooked.

The game has three controls - move, fire, and bomb. Your mission is to destroy everything moving on the screen. Is there strategy, yes, but I don't want to get into it. What's the draw you ask - the game is addicting as hell. In fact right now at this time of night if I weren't writing this post I would be playing. It is like my "before I go to sleep brain relaxant". It's a drug - quick games that get you out of the worries of the world. A healthy dose of frustration does come along and if you look at the all-time high score on the leader board (currently 101,000,000) it could make your own high score (mine is 790,000) feel very paltry. Yet I keep coming back - the simplistic, addictive nature is outstanding.

I see the point of the author's post - sometimes a game should just exist for the sole purpose of existing - to be played with all the cards out on the table. But most the time if you really want to escape and play in an interactive world you need to have a game that has some varying levels of exposure in it (what would a role playing game be if you had all the spells right off the bat - or a racing simulation that dropped you in the hands of a Ferrari F-50 where chances are you can barely drive an Audi TT around the track).

In the end - yes we do need quick fix games, but if games stopped being rich, interactive works (of art one could argue) there would be far more people griping ...

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