Experienced Points

Experienced Points
The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus Young | 7 Apr 2011 21:00
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Gaming forums are filled with arguing, trolling, flaming, outrage, and paranoia. Actually, I guess all internet forums are like that. Actually, I guess that's more or less the state of human conversation since we invented writing things down. But if there is one thing on which gamers might be said to occasionally agree, it's that games are getting dumber.

Old-school PC gamers are always willing to tell you about how shooters used to have management of multiple resources - armor, health, and ammunition for ten weapons. Now we have a single "life" gauge that fills up on its own, and three weapons. Combat used to take place on sprawling levels with branching paths and multiple routes. Now they have linear railroad paths. The old menagerie of monsters has been replaced with "solider with gun A" and "soldier with gun B."

On just about any gaming site you can find a small group of die-hard PC enthusiasts, bemoaning this lack of choice, lack of depth, and lack of variety. Sooner or later the blame will fall on the "consoletards." You know, those drooling idiot console players who only want to see stuff blow up and don't want to have to think too hard about the how or the why.

You can also find similar gatherings of console fans, who are just as unhappy with the state of gaming as the PC crowd. They're not complaining that games are too open and too complicated; they're complaining that games are just too easy. Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.

The console fans tend to point out that games used to be harder, more punishing, more challenging. I'm not a huge fan of time-sink punishments, but the fans of that "Nintendo Hard" gameplay do have a point: Games are easier.

Even among console fans, there is blame to be spread around. PS3 fans sneer at the frat-boy Halo demographic of Xbox players. Xbox owners laugh at the dumb jocks who bought a PlayStation and then buy the same Madden and Tiger Woods games, over and over, every year. Both sides are filled with burning contempt for the giggling, clueless, inept Wii players and their affinity for heaps of shovelware.

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