29 March 2008

Are we too lazy to play difficult games?

I was reading back issues of The Escapist when I ran across a well-written article entitled The Slow Death of the Game Over. The author gave a brief history of how the save system in video games has changed over the years. He also suggested that players might be spoiled by the ample save points that have been programmed into today's games. Go read it and see what you think.

I will admit that one reason I stopped playing console games when I was a teenager was because I died so easily. The dexterity necessary to get through platformers like the old Super Mario games came more naturally to my siblings so I got edged out of my time on the Nintendo. By the time I was out on my own and didn't have to compete with them, I owned a computer and had moved on to adventure games which allowed me to save frequently.

The author of the article mentioned that in the early days, difficult levels were put into arcade games for economic reasons. If you keep dying, you will keep plugging quarters into the game. I believe that current games also have liberal save systems for economic reasons. If I pay $50 for a game, I want to get to see the cool bits. If I keep dying before I get off the first level, I am going to be angry that I spent the money and I won't recommend that game to anyone.

Today's console games are more similar to the old adventure games. Instead 100 levels of basically the same action, the console games now have a story. The games aren't always as linear as they used to be. There may be one correct path to victory, but some games don't stop you if you go in the wrong direction. In this type of game, it is rather boring to keep repeating the same section over and over. It's like watching the same TV episode again and again within a short period of time. It may be considered lazy, but I'd rather be able to create a save point so I can go directly back to the spot where I messed up instead of redoing everything before it.

I read about a game called Tex Murphy: Overseer that had two modes, Entertainment and Gamer. In Entertainment mode, there were hints available and the player could skip certain puzzles. In Gamer mode, there were no hints and bonus points were given for speed in solving puzzles. If more games could incorporate something like this and publicize the heck out of it, then I think publishers could get money out of the people who are currently sticking to casual games.

I don't think that current gamers are lazy, but I do think we may want something different than gamers did in the past. Some people want to feel like they've accomplished something when they play a game, but I just want to be entertained. A walkthrough and a liberal save system are my friends!

Game Carnival for March 29, 2008

Welcome to the March 29, 2008 edition of The Game Carnival. There are several good articles in today's list. I hope they inspire you to get out there and play more games!

old-wizard presents Old-Wizard.com Top 100 Video Games of All Time List / Introduction posted at Old-Wizard.com.

old-wizard presents Old-Wizard.com / Video Games / Top 10 Gaming Consoles of All Time posted at Old-Wizard.com.

presents Old-Wizard.com / Top 20 Worst Video Games of All Time posted at Old-Wizard.com.

Gameguy presents Nacho Loco posted at Gameguy thinks..., saying, "Resist the urge to eat the cards and you'll have a good time with Nacho Loco"

Heather Johnson presents A Guide to Z-Man's B-Movie Card Games posted at Yehuda

Geek's Dream Girl presents Diary of a Drow, Days 6 & 7 posted at Geek's Dream Girl, saying, "Mar'Kessa saves the life of the kobold leader, but only because she hopes he'll give them more stuff."

Game Fan Art presents Game Fan Art: The Legend of Zelda posted at Game Fan Art - Article - The Legend of Zelda saying, "This site is the place for artists and game fans to celebrate innovation and excellence in all aspects of game fan art. Game Fan Art exhibits, discusses, connects and promotes artists and fans. We are looking for any quality artwork having to do with games."

joe boomer presents Toribash posted at Tech Smartly, saying, "A nice game called Toribash, very interesting method of control."

Jigsaw hc presents Army of Two Review posted at Jigsaw hc's Rants & Reviews.

Damon presents A Whole Bunch of PS3 Bullshit from CNet posted at The Deathbox: Issue #1, saying, "An interesting reply to a very uninformed CNet article"

Eric Miller presents Nascar 09 by EA posted at Supercave.com.

Jigsaw hc presents Battlefield: Bad Company Beta Impressions posted at Jigsaw hc's Rants & Reviews.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of game carnival using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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02 March 2008

Never heard of Pente?

One thing that always amazes me, no matter how many times it happens, is that as a parent I am often the first person to expose my children to things that grownups take for granted. I know that sounds crazy, but once my kids started going to public school I expected that they would be learning about stuff without me. I get a little thrill every time I find out that I am the first one to tell my kids about a game or song that has been around forever.

So what was my kids' latest discovery? This:

To me, Pente is as common as Scrabble or Monopoly. I don't think of it as a hobby game. Although I haven't played it in a while, I assumed that the kids had probably run across it as someone's house. I think my copy of Pente has been with my longer than my husband has, and we've been together almost 20 years.

Anyway, the kids were bored yesterday and I sat Pente on the table, not really expecting that they would play it. Boy, was I wrong! They took to it immediately. Apparently, the neighborhood kids hadn't heard of Pente, either, because I had several of them wander in to take a turn. Who knew that something that had been sitting in my garage all this time would turn out to be the kids' next game craze?