Should I give in to an increasingly shooter-based gaming future?

I have this problem when it comes to playing shooters: I may be the worst player in the world when it comes to titles that rely on aiming and accuracy.

My hands just don’t know what to do. To be more specific, the years have trained my right thumb to press face buttons to execute the perfect Hadoken in Street Fighter 2 or summon Shiva in Final Fantasy 7. Button mashing and stat-tracking have always been the bread and butter of my gaming credentials.

Menu screen of Final Fantasy VII
This is what I'm used to

Thanks to Super Smash Bros. Melee, I chose the Nintendo GameCube over the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox as my console of choice during college. Since there were very few role-playing games available for that system, I had to adapt to action-based fare like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Metroid Prime. It was a big transition from menu-driven RPGs to titles that require quick hand-eye coordination, but it was manageable, and I eventually became quite adept thanks largely to Nintendo’s innovative Z-Targeting system.

While it’s one thing to use the right analog stick to manipulate a camera, it’s another to depend on it for pinpoint headshot accuracy. I simply can’t do it. Like an old dog, it’s difficult for me to learn a new trick when my right thumb is so accustomed to pressing buttons. That’s why I’ve always avoided anything involving aiming and shooting as best I can.

But something happened in the past several years. Not only are there fewer and fewer traditional RPGs, but more and more games are increasingly adapting aiming and shooting as their primary gameplay element. Instant classics like Mass Effect and Fallout 3 are technically in the role-playing genre, but their shooter-based gameplay has kept me away for years.

The same could be said for the action-adventure genre: I was awesome at Batman: Arkham Asylum and Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time, but for me, Infamous was an utterly hopeless endeavor — an action game that had melee options, but focused primarily on accuracy and shooting. I eventually finished it, but not without letting go of my pride and setting the difficulty to easy. Ugh, I’m still ashamed.

Infamous is an open-world action-adventure that features aiming and shooting as a primary focus

I understand that a big part of the changeover has to do with the fact that technology now allows us to experience instant inputs that result in direct consequences. Developers no longer have to rely on heavy text or a four-minute Guardian Force summon to present an epic sense of scale. Now, everything can be done in real time.

No one was more excited than me when Nintendo unveiled the original Wii. Like a late-night infomercial, I wondered if this could be the product that would change my life forever and allow me to play shooters. And for the first time, I was a complete badass at Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition — games I had no chance in finishing if it wasn’t for the intuitive motion control. It’s an unfortunate reality, however, that developers never took full advantage of the console.

It’s not that I don’t like the concept of shooters. I’m just hesitant to see more and more games moving toward core design concept that I’m not sure everyone has a knack (or a desire) for. As I see this trend grow bigger every year, it’s quickly becoming a sink-or-swim issue for me.

Should I stick to the few remaining traditional role-playing and action-adventure games and risk missing out on the majority of medium’s best experiences? Or should I face the reality that shooters are the new standard and suck it up, even if it means toning down the difficulty to easy and retrying the same mission 50 times?

Update: This post has since been featured on the front page at Bitmob.com!

2 thoughts on “Should I give in to an increasingly shooter-based gaming future?”

  1. The good thing is you don’t have to choose. Well, if you’ve got a good PC anyway. On there it’s as easy as putting a zombie’s head in the middle of the screen. I’ve always heard that the Wii works similarly, though without too much experience there (I kind of stuck with non-shooters on it) I can only say that I love me some PC shooters. Maybe you should give them a try and see if they work for ya!

    Also, hell no. RPGs rock. They better keep them coming or I’ll be one grumpy gamer.

    1. I actually just finished Splinter Cell: Conviction on my Mac (I know, I know) a couple weeks ago. I was definitely better at aiming using a mouse but I was really overwhelmed by all the action keys with the left hand. I eventually changed some of the keys and got quite a bit better.

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