The Death of the Modern Video Game

Hello, dear reader, again, and how are you? Life for me has been rather hectic, and thus my now-ended hiatus from the world of blogging.  So, without further ado, I present A Wild Dingo’s Howl, my new blog aimed at all things nerd, with some of my fun eccentricities thrown in for good measure!

Any questions? No? Good. Moving along!

The Death of the Modern Video Game

For those among you who consider yourselves gamers (and, for the record, I’m not talking about you wannabes who think that just because you own a console and three games means you’re a gamer), I’m sure that you, like I, have noticed a disturbing trend in the world of gaming.

The modern video game is a dying breed. Already it nears extinction, an there is little we gamers can do to change that.

But first, I think a little clarification is in order. The term “modern video game” is a broad and many-shaped thing. So, allow me to define it as I see it.

The modern video game is that which fully utilizes modern gaming technology, as much as possible (within the realms of understanding).  Generally speaking, the modern video game is one a somewhat lengthy endeavor, lasting anywhere from around seven hours (Modern Warfare; Dishonoured) to ten times that (Skyrim; Final Fantasy).  The modern video game is a story-driven device, though the actually depth of the plot itself may vary from game to game (I’m looking at you, Injustice).  The modern video game has a degree of difficulty involved, and is not designed to be played through in a single sitting.  All in all, the modern video game is what gamers have been playing for the last two decades, since Wolfenstein 3D helped start the 3D revolution.

Now, that beautiful, multiform creature is dying.

Why, I hear many people ask when I bring up this topic. Video game sales are higher than they’ve ever been, by several times. More and more and more people identify with video game culture, and identify themselves as gamers. And yet, think back over the last few years. How many games fitting my rather broad definition have been released in comparison to games that do not?

About five years ago, perhaps even a little further back, a massive shift began to change the face of gaming. Nerds, and all that they entailed, were suddenly popular.  As video games are often tagged as being (at least in their heyday) a massive part of nerd culture, these, too, became more popular. In time, while nerd culture began to fade and hipster culture grew to replace it, the popularity of the video game stayed, and is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

With this rise in popularity of video games, a problem began to arise. A very large portion of the consumer population began to complain that their weren’t video games tailored towards them. Only “hardcore” games existed, games such as WoW, or Battlefield, or even the Madden football series, existed, which disallowed people from enjoying the world of video gaming.  Many gaming companies jumped at this opportunity to develop games for the “missed” demographic–that is, the elderly gamer, the casual gamer, or the family gamer.

Coupled with the ever-developing mobile computer (SmartPhones, tablets, netbooks, etc.), a much more casual variety of video game came about.  A new breed, dominated by such shallow games as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and FarmVille, quickly took over the market. And today, we find that such games are the norm, rather than the outlier.  Less and less do we see major, blockbuster games being produced, and more time spent on casual games.

See, it all boils down to greed, on the part of the companies who produce these games. As far as sheer profit is concerned, would you rather spend $100,000 to develop a series of mobile-compatible casual games that are instantly gratifying to their players, or spend ten times that amount to produce a massive, in-depth game that will take years to develop, and will still be ridden with bugs after its release?  Seems to be a fairly simple choice, when coming at it from a purely money-based perspective.

So, what do we, as the true gamers, do about this?

The saddest part of the story is this: We do nothing. There is nothing that we can do about it.  We continue to buy and support the games that we love, as some companies will continue to produce this high-budget, years-long projects. But we will see less and less of them. So, most importantly, dear gamers, cherish the games we still have. Who knows how much longer they’ll last…

* * *

As a side note, I would like to point out that I have absolutely nothing against the world of casual gaming. In fact, one of my favourite games (Minecraft) is very much a casual game.  I only dislike the effect that they are having on the gaming world.

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