Sunday, July 29, 2007

What have they done to my hobby?

At the risk of sounding like an old coot, I am gonna post about how my gaming hobby is being ruined by becoming too mainstream. I started gaming back in the day on the Commodore Vic 20 and the game Zork. Needless to say the gaming industry has come a LONG way since then. Some of it has been for the better, some of it not.

There was a time when a game would come with a nice thick manual and involve a significant learning curve. I remember buying games and not even playing them until the next day while I read the manual and learned how to play. I can't remember the last time I bought a game with a manual thicker than fifteen or twenty pages. Ingame tutorials have been helpful, but when it comes down to it the publishers just want you to buy their hint book for another twenty bucks.

Manuals are one thing, I'm okay if I can pick up a game and it is easy to play but hard to master. However, I am increasingly able to do less and less in games than I used to. In order to illustrate my point I am going to use two new racing games recently released for the Xbox 360 -- Forza 2 and DiRT. Both games are well done and fun to play, but my options are significantly limited when compared to old classics like Grand Prix Legends. For one thing, each game starts you out in events without any kind of qualifying run. Forza 2 puts you in position based on how powerful your car is for some reason putting the most powerful cars in front and DiRT starts you out last. What happened to qualifying for position? What is worse is when you do end up racing, the races are only a couple of laps. Has our collective attention span diminished that much? I remember when you could set the number of laps you wanted to race. How does it hurt anything if I want to race twenty laps? I am guessing this has something to do with online records and achievements. Even in DiRT's "exhibition" mode you can only go as high as five laps. The manuals have almost no help on setting up your car for better performance. Again, they want that hint book money.

This is just one minor example of how the gaming hobby is becoming watered down. It seems as time progresses we are given less options all the while paying more money. The future doesn't look too bright either with the success of the Wii and its reliance on the mini game. I would love to see Wii baseball with all the features of a full fledged title, but sadly it is looking more and more like the standard and not the exception.

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