Hello again, inhabitants of the local L.coms. It is I, Lord Riddles, descended from up high once again to crank out some form of editorial content for the site. I shall assume that I was SORELY MISSED by all, since that is the best course of action in the interest of preserving my shaky sense of self-worth.
Oh, what? Nothing. Anyway. Proceeding.
Perhaps readers recall my last article, published some time ago, that listed five things that suck about modern gaming. If not, no familiarity with it is needed to enjoy today’s spin-off, which seeks to find positive things about modern gaming and the many changes and evolutions it has brought upon us.
Awesome Grafx, Dude
But seriously, though. With this console generation, videogames truly have come unto themselves as artful, riveting visual experiences. That is not to say that games have never been pretty – but games like Uncharted, Dead Space, and God of War III have provided visual experiences that rival Hollywood films. And that has never been done before, simply because the technology has not been there. With this seventh generation of consoles, we may just have the first 3D games that age well. Not every game, certainly – but I have the feeling that Uncharted 2 will still look damn pretty when I boot it up on my PlayStation 4, 5, or 6.
Sure, graphics are not the most important part of a gaming experience. And yes, with the advent of powerful graphics engines has come the tendency for developers to place too much emphasis on the visual aspect of their games – a temptation that has never really been possible for developers until recently. But even though Final Fantasy XIII is a soulless tube of monotony, I enjoyed how pretty it was for the 15 hours I played it. Even though a game like Uncharted 3 may not be a revolutionary gaming experience, I was more than happy to let myself get swept away by the unparalleled visual presentation. And there is not a thing wrong with that. I watch American Beauty for an artful film experience; I watch Avatar for its epic beauty.
I like physical copies of games. I consider myself a collector in that sense. But man, have I grown to love the digital distribution model as an alternative – and someday, I could see myself being okay with it being the norm. I like boxes, yes. But something else I like is not leaving my home. Downloading Borderlands from Sony’s PlayStation store may not grant me a box to file away in my collection, but it does grant me the ability to remain on my couch. Also, I have to say that scrolling through the “game” section of my PS3’s XMB and seeing all the pretty icons is almost – almost – as satisfying as perusing my collection of game boxes. And we cannot forget about the many, many quality games released these days that are only available digitally. There is a very good chance that my favorite game of 2011 was Outland.
But perhaps the greatest reason to love digital distribution is the access it grants us to classic titles. While I may not use it all that often, I think the Wii Virtual Console is one of the greatest things available to gamers today. And it is just one of the many reasons to love Sony’s PlayStation Store, which itself has quite the selection of classic games from bygone eras. It is difficult to imagine now (after a mere 6 years), but as gamers we did not always have such easy access to games from past console generations. Playing older games required older systems, as well as the hassle of re-connecting said older systems and blowing dust from cartridges and whatnot. Now? Well, now one can stop a game of Super Mario Galaxy and fire up The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask without ever leaving the couch. And that, in my opinion, is quite an awesome thing.
To use the last two sentences as a springboard, I will now pay homage to the awesomeness of wireless-controllers-as-standard. I mean sure, we have had wireless controllers before, but they were expensive, bulky, stupid-looking controllers that did not come standard with the system. Most of us suffered the use of wired controllers for most of our gaming lives. I honestly do not think that as a culture, we take the time to reflect on just how lucky we are to be free of the oppressive necessity of wires and cords. We should. We definitely should.
The Rise of Indy Development
This could be considered one of the indirect benefits of digital distribution. Now, for the first time, there are ways for the “little people” to get their games out to the public. It is an extremely important development – while games become more and more mainstream, and larger publishers work to stifle innovation for the sake of profits, the indy development scene is a place where innovation and creativity can flourish. The tools to make and publish games are more widely available than they ever have been, and this is a very good thing for us as gamers – to say nothing of would-be developers.
I would like to come up with a fifth point of awesomeness, in order to match the five points of suck in my last article. But unfortunately I appear to be suffering a bit of writer’s block. STATEMENT? Probably not. But this is your chance to contribute, readers. It is easy enough to shout doom and gloom about the game industry today, but it is important every so often to let the bitterness go and count our blessings. What do you like about modern gaming? What new features and conventions of today are you happy to have?