There are times when I find myself longing for the good old days, back when life was simple. As my father like to say, “when I was young, all I had to play with was a stick, and a tin can”. Back then coffee was black or white; Michael Jackson was black; and games, were just games. With time however, most things have become more established, more “grown up”, and definitely more complicated – and games are no exception.
As our games grow and evolve, they become increasingly more complex. The games we play have certain characteristics or features, things that help us define and classify them. But many games nowadays borrow heavily from other games and genres, copying features, taking on new characteristics and adding them to their own. There are now action-adventure games with RPG elements; sports games with simulation modes and fighting mechanics; platforming RPGs with puzzler elements and racing modes; and even board-game simulations with 3D fighting mechanics and real-time strategy elements.
Also, as our games become more bloated, the amount of effort, and the cost of the equipment required increases dramatically as well. It is then perhaps not so surprising, that the recent trends in gaming have shifted towards the more affordable; the lighter; and the lower tech side of the industry. Although some gamers might deny it, it is my belief that many of us, subconsciously yarn for simplicity in our games. There is a longing among many of us for the good old days, for a return to innocence if you will. Just look at the success of the Wii; the spotlight on casual indie titles; on mobile gaming; the downloadable retro-style titles; and last but not least, the rapidly rising genre of social-gaming. These sources of simplistic lite-gaming have become the new homes of many gamers, providing the communities with alternate sources of entertainment. However, as lite-gaming becomes more popular, as more developers turn their attention to these simplistic gaming genres, the cycle of growth and complexity is sure to begin anew.
Some might say, our games are becoming way too complex, bogged down with too many features. The problem is, nowadays in order to keep up with their competitors, developers are EXPECTED to implement all the major features (and trimmings) found in all the other games. If absent, comparisons are often drawn negatively, and critics often respond with cries of outrage. As a result, innovation suffers, and the market becomes saturated with a stew of generic, mediocre games, with similar sets of overly complex features and mechanics.
Now, let me end this rant with this depressing thought. Has modern gaming indeed become too complex? Or maybe, is it us, the gamers from the past, who are unable to adapt to the evolution of our games? Or worse, is it me? Have I just become too jaded and burnt out to enjoy the simple act of gaming, the way I once did? Whatever the case, one thing is for sure – our games will continue to evolve, regardless of where we are as gamers. I just hope that we are able to evolve along with them. As they say, evolve, or die.