What is it with all the seriousness about playing games? Why do we get all in a wad of anger and frustration while playing? I thought this was supposed to be fun.

Maybe it has to do with the subject matter of our favorite games: Major devastation – invading aliens, evil sorcerer, mysterious nuclear holocaust – rocks the world. If that’s not enough, it’s up to us to clean up the whole mess using whatever means necessary, be it picking up a gun and going on a rampage, or learning and deploying a full grimoire of spells to save everyone, including ourselves. Ummm, stressful, to say the least.

Or perhaps, it’s the worlds themselves. A world having been subjected to an event such as those in many videogames is fairly, what’s the word … depressing, yes. And as graphics engines and cards are becoming more sophisticated, we expect those worlds to look more and more realistic. There are two problems with this: One, realistic devastation isn’t like the primary colors of the games of the early years; it’s gray or it’s brown. Two, realistic devastation in a world that looks more like our own and than, say, Legend of Zelda‘s Hyrule is downright unsettling.

Whatever the reason, games don’t seem to be fitting into the typical definition of the word “game.” Go on, look it up. You’ll note that most definitions include the word “amusement.” You guys may run around in gritty, alien-ridden worlds toting weapons of all persuasions and call it amusing, but really, when I think about it like that, sheesh, that’s a little tough for me to say with a straight face, “Hay guys! It’s fun!”

It’s not to say that there is no place amongst videogames for these more hard-hitting, dark-fare sorts of games. There’s absolutely room for it – they can be cathartic and really pull a person into their gritty worlds. Those are great things for any sort of entertainment. But where’s the balance?

Oh, the balance games are out there. And many have devout followings. Interestingly, at last year’s Into the Pixel game art auction at DICE in Las Vegas, the developers who bid on all the art from a variety of studios from the hottest games out, went all out for one happy, cheerful, bright game. The print of characters from Viva Pinata brought home the largest sum.

And yet, these games get little attention from us gamers. The attention they do receive from us is often accompanied by snickers and thinly-veiled scorn. Why? What is it about these games that get our hackles up? What about these games irritates our indelicate gaming sensibilities? We wondered that here at The Escapist HQ, so we decided to make an issue about it. And without further ado, here’s this week’s issue, “Smile, You’re Gaming!” Enjoy!


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