Recently, while we were talking about the Walking Dead, it came to light that both me and Ger, both game development students, don’t have quite the enthusiasm for games as we once did. With me it’s quite recent – but games were having a damaging effect on my life that I didn’t even see from the outside.
They were my primary form of entertainment – but it had become so unbalanced. I would forego meeting with friends in favor of collecting herbs and other such menial tasks. Since I’ve cut back I’ve had far more time to give to my other interests, been a lot more social, and just been both happier and more productive.
I still play of course – but once or twice a week is sufficient for me. But here’s the thing – it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed a game as much as I did Spyro years ago. And while there’s a number of things at play ( geddit – at play – I’m hilarious) here, one really annoys me – hype. Hype is destroying the joy that gaming is capable of bringing.
When I was younger, I had no income. So I was reliant on birthday money and the likes if I was going to get a game. And you know what – it was awesome. I didn’t have magazines. Internet access-hah! We had to make sure nobody was on the phone if we were going to use it and at that I was in no big hurry to look at all the shiny things I couldn’t have.
Nope, I went down to the shop with a crisp twenty euro in my hand, believing I was the kind of billionaire people envied, and looked at the covers. Picked up a box. Read the back. (Fix this) Bought it.
Of course there were disappointments. Wastes of money, poor experiences. But you know what? It made the joy of exploring the world of the game so much better. It’s something we’re losing across the board actually. In all media. Movies, television – marketing and greed has destroyed that sense of discovery.
I remember the first game I ever bought with my own money. 20 euros. In the local(and only) video store in our town. A badass purple dragon was on the cover. Some kind of creature stood in the background. I had no idea what to expect. A brief description of what awaited me was printed on the back cover – enough to intrigue, too little revealed.
Popping in that disc elicited such a sense of discovery in my ten year old self. What was this world like? What would it’s inhabitants be like? What kind of set pieces awaited me?
It was the same when I went to the cinema to see a movie. To a lesser extent sure, but I wasn’t so well informed. Trailers have always been there, but they’re pushed on us so much more today. You can’t go to an action movie today without knowing all of the major set pieces in advance, as they’ve all been condensed into a three minute clip to make you go watch the movie.
I get it. People don’t just wander into stores and buy things based on the cover. Or at least, not enough people do. But we seem to go from one extreme to another.
This talk applies to several forms of media, but I’m going to use games as an example again because I think they’re the biggest offender.
At last weeks E3, which was all very exciting, several games for 2016 were announced. Why? As soon as an anticipated game is announced, you cant just leave it be until the release date. Concept art, updates, trailers all need to be dropped periodically. To the extent that by the time those games roll around we will know absolutely everything there is to know about the game.
I don’t know if I stand alone in this or if you guys are like me. I’ll grumble about this, and I’m not one to follow every video, every diary, every picture until release in a futile attempt to keep the sense of mystery for myself. But I still buy these games/movies when they do drop. And I know several people who anxiously await each trailer, each leaked image, and are still delighted with the finished product. So maybe I’m just weird. Not enjoying the lead up as I should. In that respect it reminds me a lot like Christmas – only I’m the trains conductor. I like the lead up so much, and then the day comes and goes like it was nothing. And every year, I’ll try to extend it as long as I can. And that little voice in the back of my head, dragging me down, will whisper – “All that build up for that?” And yet, every single year, by the 1st November I’m rocking out to Jingle Bells and wearing a stylish red and white hat.
Come on creators. Give me a world with mystery to discover. Don’t tell me it’s secrets. Let me discover them myself.
Apologies for the disjointed article as well readers, the E3 hype annoyed me somewhat and I needed a good ‘aul fashioned rant!
About the Author:
Rumored to have been born with a games controller in his hand, Noel Gleeson works as a Java Developer in Ireland and loves all things pop culture.