Thursday, June 21, 2012

Are today’s video games becoming easier to play?

While I’m not completely on board with Brian Gaar’s hypothesis, I do understand his point of view. We live in a trophy era. You know the ones where you get an award just for showing up? I never understood that. “Well it’s to make sure kids don’t feel left out for not winning. It helps their self-esteem.” You know what helps a kid’s self-esteem? Knowing that you can’t always get what you want.

But you get what you need.

Here’s my philosophy about life: kids need to learn that things are not going to be handed to them. They have to work. By giving them this mentality of “oh, I’m going to get a trophy just for being there” sets them up to expect everything in life to be given to them without ever working for it.

Allowances for example. A survey that was released by a cleaning company (note I heard this on the Russ Martin show yesterday so I don’t have the exact name or link but I’ll post it when I do) showed that 3/5 kids are given a weekly allowance without doing any chores.

The hell is up with that?

I did chores. I didn’t get anything out of it other than the satisfaction of knowing that the house was clean. Gifts were only rewarded when we truly deserved them. Video games back then were still expensive. Keep up with your chores, keep straight A’s for a full year, and not get grounded on top of the other responsibilities, then you got a game. A Game. One. Single. You played your heart out on that game because you knew it was the one thing you’d be getting that year.

And to think that was just a decade ago. Now it’s all about “gimmie now!”

I know not all children are like this, but when I see how parents act at stores they cave in to their kids every whim and desire without ever flinching.

But because of this “I want it now” culture that we have, games are so much easier to grab and go. From computers to mobile phones, flash games, and apps, games are quick to pick up and put down. In turn, gaming companies are shifting their design patterns to match the attitude of gamers to ensure their products are sold.

It makes sense. Why would someone want to pick up a game and spend 100 hours on it banging their head about puzzles, when they could pick up this other one on the Android Store that satisfies their gaming needs in 10 minutes without frustration?

Now I’m the one to argue that there is merit to those 100 hour, brain crunching games. Look at Brain Age. That’s all about getting you to think and people will play that for thousands of hours. Even though it’s a series of mini-games within a game, it quenches their desire for something there and now while extending the life of the game. Maybe that’s the way we should approach games. Mini-games! We all love and or loathe them in RPG’s. But maybe they had it right all along.

Something to think about.


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