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Where Have the Gamers Gone?

April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 266

As the games of today continue to evolve, and in some cases, de-evolve it is interesting to note that the gamer of today seems to be much more forgiving of mediocrity. In order to examine the possible reasons why, we must take a step back into the past.

The games of yesterday, including pen and paper role playing games, were by today's standards sub-par. At least that is the assumption by many. However, if this were really the case, we would not continue to see new versions of older games. In programming, some of the first games a person will create are replicas of older falling block games, parallax scrolling level games, maze games, and of course text games. For some programmers it is a logical progression to learn from the past. For others it is because they understand that building on the ideas of older games demonstrates that there are few real differences other than the technology used.

Where does that leave us? In order to understand the games, we must understand the gamer. Like any other profession, the game developer is going to put their energy and resources into a game idea they believe will be popular. This litmus test is based on what sells and what does not. So what do gamers expect from modern games? I would hypothesize that many gamers have no idea what they expect, but they know they want something. Many of the games today are created with a limited play-time expectation, instead of looking for a formula that will promote longevity.

Many of the games today are rated by how many hours of game play they have, such as 40 hours of play. This is one of the tools that developers use, which gamers have become accustomed to. The trend for the hours of play in some game genres has continued to get shorter. Instead of gamers expecting more from the software they purchase, there is a reluctant acceptance of the lower standards. Without using names, a recent first person shooter was released with a lot of fanfare and high budget advertising. By all accounts it was expected to be the next generation of shooters for the genre. Instead of meeting the expectation, the software was released with the same engine the previous installment of the game had used 3 years prior. The single player campaign came in at a paltry 6 hours of play. In essence, the game was simply retooled from a previous game and instead of calling it what it was, the loyal following ignored the fact that they had been taken for fools. So what we have is a substandard product being released and because of pride or stubbornness, the gamers in the community have given the developer a pass instead of holding them accountable.

The game developer is going to release whatever they believe will make them money and that is as it should be due to the time and resources they put into their product. The problem isn't that the developer may release a game that is terrible. The real issue is that because the gamers of today do not really know what they want, they will accept anything. If more gamers had higher expectations fewer developers would take advantage of them. The conclusion must be that the reason many games of today are substandard is because there are fewer principled gamers today.

Steven Bradley

Independent Game Development

Source: EzineArticles
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