Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Gaming is no longer fun...

So, I've had no Internet for the past couple of days and that's great. Really, it is, maybe it's just me but the Internet seems to eat up so much time. Wikipedia, youtube, tech forums...other certain websites....(do I make the unsavoury and cliché reference to porn or am I classy enough to avoid it....I think I'll give it a miss because I'm all about the class...but I just referenced it.....noooooo!) they all combine, like some sort of virtual Justice League, you know, not as good as The Avengers, but still powerful and interesting enough to keep a hold of a person's attention...if only because of analogies go, it's not perfect, but whatever, I'll fix it in the edit. So, anyway, yeah, video games are no longer fun I say, and why? Achievements...

See, a few years ago games started implementing achievements. I think is started on the Xbox 360 or at the least it proliferated best there, and rapidly so, and now achievements are in pretty much everything. They're in PC indie titles, they're on Steam, they're on the PlayStation (where they're called trophies because reasons)...I don't know if they're on the WiiU or whatever, you know, because there are no games there to gain achievements on (oh snap! topical! yeah high fives all round!) but they're pretty much everywhere and they've ruined gaming. Why? Because gaming is now less when you're not able to gain those "achievements". It used to be that completing a particularly tricky jump on a platform game was it's own reward, now it comes with "Achievement unlocked! 20G! a winner is you!" and you know, that's great! Even though the achievement means absolutely nothing, and you'd have had to have done that jump to complete the game anyway, it still feels like you've actually earned something extra. If you don't get the achievement, will it feel as good? It's interesting, in a certain kind of Skinner box sociological experiment kind of interesting way, because now we're no longer looking to simply play a game for the sake of playing, but we're doing it to rack up the most points, we're doing it to unlock those hard to get points, gaming has gone to an extremely meta kind of thinking, where it's "well, if I do it this way, even though it's a hindrance now, I'll get these points later on for doing it." A personal example of this was I completed Duke Nukem Forever wielding the golden desert eagle all the way through the game....all the way....It was a challenge, but was it fun? Was having to kick my way through half the game really all that entertaining because there wasn't enough ammo which didn't matter anyway because the gun, despite having the appearance of a deadly weapon, in reality had all the force and power of a kitten's whispering fart? No, it was a slog. It was work, and worst of all, it was something I didn't even have to do, but did anyway...because points.

That's where no Internet comes in. See, the way most achievement systems work is that you have to be connected to the Internet to register them when you do something in game. Sure, you can earn them offline, but without Internet no body else would know...and they become even more useless than they already are...and as for Steam, sometimes achievements don't unlock when you're offline, they just don't at times, there's no rhyme or reason to it. And this is the point I've been working toward, I was sat there with no Internet, and I thought to myself "maybe I'll play a game...oh...but no meh"...don't you see? Achievements have taken the fun out of gaming. And what's worse? They're reducing game quality...think about it, what is the most galling thing to a game developer? Well, it probably varies, because it's subjective to each one, but I'd hazard a guess that high on the list of most of them would be game content that goes unexplored, that isn't used. I'm not saying that every game developer is like this, because they're not (check out the insane detail Hideo Kojima puts into his games, for example) but a lot would and do. They can get more out of people by implementing nigh impossible achievements that keep people coming back for more of the same (look at Halo DLC achievements, then look me in the eye and tell me that there's an all-loving God out won't be able to, and if you could, well then, sir/madam, i admire your fanaticism, please stay away from me...) and the worst part of that is....who can blame them? To use an analogy, why make 1000 pieces of Lego if you can make people spend twice as long and twice as much on just 100 pieces all by telling them that they're unlocking bonuses for using their 100 pieces in "clever" ways? Again, not saying they're all like that, but it's definitely the company policy of some developers and as I say, who can blame them.

"Congratulations, you have reached the end of this blog! You have unlocked 50G! A winner is born and that winner is YOU! "

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