252: Playing For Our Future

Playing For Our Future

The term "gamer" sets us apart, as if those who consume games are somehow different than everyone else. Jason Della Rocca argues that as gameplay infects almost every facet of our lives, gamers will no longer be a cultural subset, but that our society as a whole will be gamers.

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if it's such an ecosystem, then things can still be categorized and different facets of the culture can be still be named.

Irrelevant Article is Irrelevant. I'm also thinking it may be redundant with the Zynga article hanging around.

I feel as though I have read a very similar article to this on the escapist before.

I do agree with the author that everything will become a game eventually - should one buy into the idea that games are really just sophisticated commercial activities for customer participation. (I am on the fence about that, there is something about games that shouldn't be just that somehow)

Games as improving reality - probably the wave of the future, not sure if it should be.

I doubt that many people are willing to become geeks... but play games yes geeks probably not.

I can't imagine anybody wants their appendix out by a guy who equates the operation to fighting imaginary aliens or yanking the evil "god-thing" from a possessed person. The notion that technology allows for time-eating distractions to become more and more accessible during the other, more mundane aspects of life is not a notion, it is granted. But I doubt anybody will ever need cereal box animatics to convince a kid to eat his sugar blasts.

Likewise, it is human nature to categorize, file, label, and marginalize. That most people will one day play games will not stop them from categorizing those they view as less savory amongst their number into groups apart from them. Remember, the term "gamer" actually comes from the tabletop RPG and wargaming community, pre-dating its use for video game players by many, many years. And though those sorts of games have gained much acceptance through references from high profile celebrities and mentions in movies and TV shows, it is still a niche and somewhat marginalized hobby, and to some people always will be. Just as with video games, you will always have a disparity between those who make games their lives, those who do so but whom the others don't like for whatever reason, and those who think all of it is idiotic.

The technology behind video games is important - again, a no-brainer - but that technology's proliferation into every aspect of our lives need not be in the form of games, and certainly it would be a bad idea if it became so (see the first sentence of my post). Games, by definition, are for fun, not for serious business, and as stupid and unwise a species as we are, I have a strong suspicion we are not so stupid as to let idleness and silliness into our attempts at passing the bar exam.

Acceptance is the key issue here. What makes somebody feel like an outcast? Often it is the bad timing of a single word. In this case "gamer." But a new word will be found and marginalization will take place somehow, and a gamer by any other name... well.

Video games are one aspect of a gigantic technological revolution. They are handy in many ways. But again, they are only one aspect of that revolution. They are not humanity's answer to the Big Questions. And heaven forbid they should become so. If they are allowed to, we deserve whatever mess is ahead of us.

While I don't disagree with the author's projections about the future, the very idea makes me sick. Not because I don't want games to become truly "mainstream" - I've been arguing for that for years (where's my "Favorite games" field, Facebook??). But because how "games" are defined will come to include more and more frivolous bullshit - like Mafia Wars or Farmville. Games are a specific activity that I enjoy, that I set aside time to engage in (often a LOT of time), not something that I want to be ubiquitous, like on my cereal box.

The distinction "gamer" for me isn't about being part of some nerdy elite club, but about that special appreciation I have for games as an art form. An appreciation that the mainstream simply does not have.

My argument was not for games to become so ubiquitous as to make everyone a gamer, but for everyone to wake the hell up and recognize how awesome the medium is. In other words, the mainstream needs to evolve, games don't need to de-evolve and sling around in the muck with these feebs to increase companies' profit margins.

The mere fact that ZYNGA was even a competitor in this year's Escapist march madness competition made me sick. NOTHING that company has produced even compares to the stuff that the other competitors became famous for. Seriously? Mafia wars vs. Final Fantasy? Farmville vs. Mass Effect? Just because there are a million people willing to click their mouse a few times to "find a lost cow" doesn't mean that Farmville is as serious or worthy an effort as a game like Beyond Good & Evil, which only had a select following.

I could go on and on, but...whatever. The future the author speaks of frightens me, and will probably make me disavow games altogether.

Then why are athletes still called such?

I'll always be a gamer, in that same way.

chozo_hybrid:
Then why are athletes still called such?

I'll always be a gamer, in that same way.

There's a big difference. Athletes aren't all people who play sports. They're people who play sports competitively.

Godheval:

chozo_hybrid:
Then why are athletes still called such?

I'll always be a gamer, in that same way.

There's a big difference. Athletes aren't all people who play sports. They're people who play sports competitively.

Then why are some considered pro, and others just athletes?

chozo_hybrid:

Then why are some considered pro, and others just athletes?

Pro athletes are those who get PAID to compete. Unlike scholastic or amateur athletes.

Hey, this article tricked me! It looked like it was going to be about video game design, but it's about plain game design! LIAR LIAR.

Well, of course everyone loves games, although not everyone may admit that with those exact words, but I'm not sure if gaming becoming somehow ubiquitous is a good or desireable outcome. I acquire some minimal enjoyment out of unlocking an achievement on my 360, (mostly because the achievement is usually a lame pun and I love lame puns), but I might become bothered if my social network gave me a "Just Friends" achievement if none of my female friends assigned me as a crush or whatever is the most generic equivalent.

Re: gamer as a label, I read somewhere a long time ago what is essentially a paraphrase of the first paragraph, that 'gamers' are bound to disappear just as TV fans aren't 'watchers' or music fans aren't 'listeners'. To that I say: bullshit. Look at me in the eyes and tell me 'punk' isn't a relevant subculture. Now tell me that, regardless of everything in behaviour and appearance it implies, 'punk' isn't primarialy about music. See? Music fans don't call themselves 'noteheads', but people who enjoy a certain kind of music create a subculture about it. Just as there are cons for fans of sci-fi TV shows and how fans of indie music gather to smoke clover cigarrettes and wear berets. 'Gamer' may become an obselete, incorrect label as more people play games, so it may end up referring only to those who identify with gaming at a higher level, as it kind of already does, but will not, in the foreseeable future, disappear.

The only problem I have with design such as this is that a 'game' becomes a thin disguse of an mundane activity 'more fun' - which is usually a method of duping the user into thinking they are doing something else.

Playing a game that helps you keep fit? Whats wrong with actually thinking that the getting fit part IS the FUN part? Why do we need to make a game of it other than trying to convince people that its something its not?

Why the hell would I want a virtual tree to grow in my car? Yes I don't mind being eco friendly but the only purpose it would serve is to fuel my own ego to a point where I would smell my own farts! (SP reference :P). No one else is going to be impressed by my 'eco-peen' and it makes little difference to anyone else apart from the people who apply some undeserved significance to these 'games'.

Look games may or may not become the global norm but, they can categorize TV-viewers and Music Listeners into their own distinct little groups ranging from Metalheads to Trekkies, as such the term Gamer may fall into disuse only to be replaced with new titles such as FPSer and RPGers.

Yeah, I find that arguable. If you call something a game you imply that something is fun. But when you merge it with everyday life, like, say, a dentist's office, it might be fun at first, but later on, (s)he'll find it boring and only see it as it was before: Not a game, but work.

Wait, game the dentist drill?
I dont think that there is any way to make that less painful...

I had a thought in my WoW days when I compared the addictiveness of Azeroth the the drudge of everyday life, and it went like this:

In games, we are rewarded for completing objectives. Do something for a quest giver and our gaming life becomes a little better. Nowadays, in society, we are mostly punished for not doing things. Punishment is by far the dominant motivator, it might not be terribly severe, like a parking ticket, or an email from your boss for coming in late, or general frowns from people around us for whatever, but mostly avoiding such things is what guides us, and the reward of a paycheck at the end of the month can be abstract and distant, and even then the government and whatever other bullshit agencies have their way with whatever share of it they want to take.

Meaningful rewards are extremely uncommon. Punishment is everywhere. This is the society we have created. Games might offer a model for a solution.

I prefer the term "Playa" myself.

Sup, playas.

We are no longer enthusiasts either what we are....we...are..... uuussssss.. ......con.... sume...er.ss.....uusssss .....one of uussss....... bbwwaaiinnsssss

Necromancer1991:
Look games may or may not become the global norm but, they can categorize TV-viewers and Music Listeners into their own distinct little groups ranging from Metalheads to Trekkies, as such the term Gamer may fall into disuse only to be replaced with new titles such as FPSer and RPGers.

Do we not already have those titles for gamers. You have players who only play FPS and those who only play RPGs and then you have the inbetween like myself.

As stated above I just fear that the term "gamer" is thrown around too much. Yeah, the act of gaming is just to play the games but gamers are true fans of the art. Yes I believe video games are art and roger ebert can piss off for all I care. He is a movie critic. Already people who play FarmVille or Mafia Wars are labeled "gamers". My girlfriend and mother play FarmVille but despise video games and do not like that I label myself a gamer when the media calls FarmVille players gamers themselves. I just don't want everybody and their mother to be labeled gamer just because they can play simple click and point games on farming.

I think the term Gamer will always be exclusive, or my definition of gamer anyway, that being "lock yourself in a room with the computer for a few hours and continue trying to ghost your way through Thief 2"

Morgan Webb did something on this on g4 recently.
I don't think we're going to lose the term but I think we will start seeing the over-rewarding of the mundane. Hell, games are even one step ahead: I get these stupid trophies when I play games on the ps3. The machine rewards me for playing a game. Am I the only one who sees how absurd that is?

GonzoGamer:
Morgan Webb did something on this on g4 recently.
I don't think we're going to lose the term but I think we will start seeing the over-rewarding of the mundane. Hell, games are even one step ahead: I get these stupid trophies when I play games on the ps3. The machine rewards me for playing a game. Am I the only one who sees how absurd that is?

I've been gaming for at least a quarter century now (maybe longer) and have always been slightly OCD with them. I often feel compelled to get every item, explore every corner and uncover every secret. Now the game "rewards" me for my due diligence. Is this a bad thing? In and of itself, no.

The trophy/ achievement system works for the gaming industry, as it may influence some people to try more/ different games than they might have previously, thus possibly expanding the player's taste in games and driving more sales which is a good thing for the industry on the whole. Some games (like the recent FFXIII) have even begun to include actual rewards along with the trophy. In the case of FFXIII it is limited to background wallpapers for the PS3 "desktop". But as time moves forward, perhaps developers/ publishers will offer more significant rewards to the player (free/ reduced price on DLC; Beta keys for new games; an integrated "points" system that allows the user to log onto the developer's site and purchase items (think Air Miles); etc...) I don't think that is a bad thing really.

And besides, if you don't care for trophies/ achievements, you can opt to simply ignore them.

s69-5:

GonzoGamer:
Morgan Webb did something on this on g4 recently.
I don't think we're going to lose the term but I think we will start seeing the over-rewarding of the mundane. Hell, games are even one step ahead: I get these stupid trophies when I play games on the ps3. The machine rewards me for playing a game. Am I the only one who sees how absurd that is?

I've been gaming for at least a quarter century now (maybe longer) and have always been slightly OCD with them. I often feel compelled to get every item, explore every corner and uncover every secret. Now the game "rewards" me for my due diligence. Is this a bad thing? In and of itself, no.

The trophy/ achievement system works for the gaming industry, as it may influence some people to try more/ different games than they might have previously, thus possibly expanding the player's taste in games and driving more sales which is a good thing for the industry on the whole. Some games (like the recent FFXIII) have even begun to include actual rewards along with the trophy. In the case of FFXIII it is limited to background wallpapers for the PS3 "desktop". But as time moves forward, perhaps developers/ publishers will offer more significant rewards to the player (free/ reduced price on DLC; Beta keys for new games; an integrated "points" system that allows the user to log onto the developer's site and purchase items (think Air Miles); etc...) I don't think that is a bad thing really.

And besides, if you don't care for trophies/ achievements, you can opt to simply ignore them.

What I find amazing is that they've gotten enough people to believe that. The real reason they have achievement/trophies is to act as like a neilsen rating for publishers. With the achievement trophies, they can peek in and see how many people played how far into their game, and how compelling the various elements were. They've just managed to convince gamers that it's a treat for them.

I don't know if you remember but games used to reward us before achievement/trophies. Actually they used to reward us better. For example in the previous generation gta games if you completed the vigilante missions, you would receive an armor bonus. In gta4, all you get is a crappy trophy.

It's a matter of relevance. We used to get rewards that were relevant to the game we were playing. Now we get these arbitrary rewards that aren't relevant (on the contrary, they're pretty much worthless) to anything.

And another thing, when did beta keys become rewards? People used to get paid for beta-testing. Now they pretend like it's some sort of treat you should be paying them for.

GonzoGamer:
What I find amazing is that they've gotten enough people to believe that. The real reason they have achievement/trophies is to act as like a neilsen rating for publishers. With the achievement trophies, they can peek in and see how many people played how far into their game, and how compelling the various elements were. They've just managed to convince gamers that it's a treat for them.

So, publisher/developer gets quick feedback and the gamer feels some sense of accomplishment or at least gets a novelty to regard. . .I'm not understanding where the actual harm enters, especially when those "rewards that were relevant to the game we were playing" are still there, namely enjoyable, engaging, and memorable experiences.

. . .I'm sensing more "big" hate than anything, especially with that beta-test line.

MissAshley:

GonzoGamer:
What I find amazing is that they've gotten enough people to believe that. The real reason they have achievement/trophies is to act as like a neilsen rating for publishers. With the achievement trophies, they can peek in and see how many people played how far into their game, and how compelling the various elements were. They've just managed to convince gamers that it's a treat for them.

So, publisher/developer gets quick feedback and the gamer feels some sense of accomplishment or at least gets a novelty to regard. . .I'm not understanding where the actual harm enters, especially when those "rewards that were relevant to the game we were playing" are still there, namely enjoyable, engaging, and memorable experiences.

. . .I'm sensing more "big" hate than anything, especially with that beta-test line.

I just think the beta test thing is a shame. It used to be a good way for young people to make a little money. Now they seem to be doing it for free. It doesn't affect me, I'm taken care of now but I used to need little odd jobs like that when I was in high school and college.

And I pretty much said my piece on achievement trophies too: the only thing I hate about them is that they seem to have replaced the relevant in-game rewards like better armor and respawning arsenals in gta. Other than that, I don't get the fascination with them or the fact that it's the one feature sony insists devs include.

GonzoGamer:
And another thing, when did beta keys become rewards? People used to get paid for beta-testing. Now they pretend like it's some sort of treat you should be paying them for.

At one time they didn't piece-meal games into DLC bits either.
The thing is, over time, all things (not just video games) change and evolve. The system which may have worked twenty years ago, may no longer work today. That's just the way it is.

Again, the easiest solution, ignore the trophies/ achievements. They are pretty meaningless anyhow.

As for the comment about rewards, I dunno, I remember MGS2 giving infinite ammo and invisible camo for collecting dogtags. But in an RPG (which I tend to play the most of any game type), there have always been and there are still, rewards for various accomplishments (whether it be a set of Master Materia, or a useless in-game trophy item. It all amounts to the same thing...

one has to wonder if were on the cusp of another videogame meltdown. The way it seems to me is that the market is going to be getting super saturated very soon and will ultimately push away the people who have kept it going all the years. I get burnt out on videogames if I play them for more than 4 hours and alot of people I know are the same way; imagine if you were having a different game thrown in front of you every five minutes on your way to work. it would get old fast.

Hum... I seem this kind of total conversion happening in one of two ways:
A. Gamers become accepted, i.e. saying your a gamer has about as much impact as saying I collect stamps as oppose to now-a-days where being a gamer still carries some stigmas.
If everyone games, then nobody will think poorly of it.

B. Gaming goes "undercover". Nothing about it changes but people become involved without realizing it or giving it it's proper name. In a way we all become gamers before we know it. Many parts of life are in fact "games" and I see this as the most likely outcome.games as we know and slipping there way in everywhere and soon everything will be part of the game.

If that kind of play ethic can get kids to drop their Xbox controller and willingly make their beds, there's really no limit on how play...

Like this, perchance?

image

s69-5:

GonzoGamer:
And another thing, when did beta keys become rewards? People used to get paid for beta-testing. Now they pretend like it's some sort of treat you should be paying them for.

At one time they didn't piece-meal games into DLC bits either.
The thing is, over time, all things (not just video games) change and evolve. The system which may have worked twenty years ago, may no longer work today. That's just the way it is.

Again, the easiest solution, ignore the trophies/ achievements. They are pretty meaningless anyhow.

As for the comment about rewards, I dunno, I remember MGS2 giving infinite ammo and invisible camo for collecting dogtags. But in an RPG (which I tend to play the most of any game type), there have always been and there are still, rewards for various accomplishments (whether it be a set of Master Materia, or a useless in-game trophy item. It all amounts to the same thing...

My problem is that it seems to be evolving into the worst possible deal for gamers. Industrious gamers can no longer make a few extra bucks beta-testing. And like you said with the dlc: where last gen- we would buy a game and it would be the complete experience, there are many games where you buy a bare bones experience for $60 and are expected to pay anywhere from $5-$50 more for the complete experience. It's starting to remind me of the airline industry.

Yea,they can't take rewards out of RPGs. That's how you usually progress. They need to look back into it for other genres though.

Godheval:

The distinction "gamer" for me isn't about being part of some nerdy elite club, but about that special appreciation I have for games as an art form. An appreciation that the mainstream simply does not have.

That is pretty much my thought as well. While the term "gamer" may or may not have any cache in the future (assuming it even has any now), I don't really believe that gamers are going anywhere. Just as with movies, music, literature, etc. there are those who simply consume whatever tickles their fancy and there are those who dive in, explore and become immersed in the medium.

Since his name has been kicked around here so often lately, I'll use Ebert as an example. He is quite clearly a movie connoisseur. There are a huge number of people who watch movies but is Ebert really the same as someone who just puts their $10 down on the ticket counter to see a movie with friends because he's bored?

Quoting Greg Tito: "Games, once a pastime enjoyed only by children, will soon infect the daily life experience of every human being. We see evidence of this already happening, from the game-like gas consumption progress bars built into the UI of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight to the badges and titles of The Escapist. There will come a point, then, when the term gamer will be irrelevant because it would describe everyone that you meet. On top of that, researchers and corporations are discovering that adding an element of play makes even mundane tasks engaging, as Jason Della Rocca points out in Issue 252 of The Escapist..."

I think there is a combination of broad generalizations being made in regards to games encroaching on multiple areas of life. I do agree that although a philosophy of "Make it fun and it makes money" is becoming more prevalent (as it should), we will not suddenly lose the old monicker of "Gamers". The term is simply evolving to match the changes we have made in our lives in order to accommodate our past time of choice. We now have the terms "casual gamer" and "hardcore gamer" to differentiate between the people who participate in video games to pass the time and those who have serious ambitions in regards to playing video games.

In regards to the two specific examples given by Mr. Tito, the escapist titles and badges are just a reinforcement or echoing of the reason we post on the forums; we come here to bitch, discuss, debate, complain, praise, soap box and in doing so hopefully be heard by others. It plays directly to the source of why people come here, which is to exorcise their egos (Yes). The gas consumption bars on some car models was simply a stretch, as you could consider mileage indicators (DinG! 10,000 Km!) and fuel indicators in the same way.

From Mr Rocca "There will come a day in the near future when there will be no more gamers. Not because they'll have killed each other in some Grand Theft Auto-induced mass rampage, but rather because the term "gamer" will be irrelevant. Much like how we do not call people who view TV shows "watchers," or those that enjoy music as "listeners," playing games will become similarly as pervasive and commonplace as to render the "gamer" distinction archaic."

Aside from the GTA reference being (imo of course, and that's all this has been) in poor taste, I would argue that playing video games has less to do with sitting and simply devoting your attention to the tv/computer screen for half an hour and more with what you as a person need for your entertainment, what stimulates you. The reason we're not all still playing Mario and Sonic (aside from more pressing company level issues) is that we didn't want to remain as the blue hedgehog or red suspender-ed stereotypical Italian. We wanted to play on our favorite sports teams, fly in space, fight epic battles and water our plants, and have all of this delivered to us on our video screens -now-. We get to experience, even if it's incomplete, inaccurate or to an extremely small degree, something that we wouldn't be able to otherwise. That's what makes us gamers. We changed to become gamers, a single change that has let us experience a plethora of worlds and possibilities without having to change anything else about ourselves.

Godheval:

chozo_hybrid:
Then why are athletes still called such?

I'll always be a gamer, in that same way.

There's a big difference. Athletes aren't all people who play sports. They're people who play sports competitively.

I agree with Godheval. What sport do you not consider to be competitive?

 

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