Game makers: You're losing me as a gamer

My Current-Gen Game Collection
My Current-Gen Game Collection

I remembered in middle school, I would try my hardest to save my allowance just so I can buy a $29.99 game to feed my Nintendo Gameboy. In high school when I was working part-time at the SFUSD as a web designer, I would do the same thing and buy not some, but ALL Squaresoft (now Square Enix) game releases on the original PlayStation. Final Fantasy VII, Parasite Eve, Bushido Blade, Brave Fencer Musashi, Xenogears— you name it, I have it. Everything was so exciting for me and the creativity I found in videogames seemed limitless.

Fast forward to today when games are more accessible and affordable than ever, and I find myself lacking the motivation to even pick up the game controller. I’ve bought my fair share of games in the past twelve months, from Zelda: Skyward Sword to Dark Souls to Rayman Origins, yet the only game I have actually finished was Uncharted 3 back in December of last year.

Part of that reason is the overall direction of gaming. A medium that used to transport me to another world has become something I’ve seemingly played just eighteen months before, changed only by the edition or version printed on the cover. Slowly but surely, I find myself turning on my PS3 at the end of the work day only for Netflix and nothing else. Not even for a quick round of Street Fighter IV.

Games are now created with increasing production value, they are also taking less risk to ensure profitability. Assassin’s Creed II was amazing, but in what way were the next two follow-ups original? Resident Evil 4 was a complete turnaround for the series, but how successful did Capcom in taking Resident Evil 5 to the next level?

Walt Disney didn’t build his empire by creating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and then follow-up with Snow White 2, Snow White 3, or even Snow White 3: Ultimate Remix Edition. So how can videogames possibly be mainstream (or otherwise be taken seriously by critics) when most games out there just look like a ripped-off Michael Bay movie? Alien first-person shooters in a post-apocalyptic setting, really?

That’s why I’m honestly more interested in an offbeat game like Rhythm Heaven Fever than Skyrim or Syndicate, just as I’m more interested in risk-taking game like Bastion than another generic modern war shooter. Videogames are created to inspire and introduce people to new experiences, so perhaps ideas should come from organic inspirations instead of market research data.

I’d happily play an original game with a distinctive message instead of a rinse-and-repeat game that offers little more than an upgraded weapon. Until then, I don’t mind using my PS3 as a glorified Netflix player.

❤ wins

Winson Shuen works at IGN but is not an editor. All opinions expressed here are solely his own and do not represent his employer by any means. You can follow him on Twitter @vdot90.

Product cycles: Ain't age nothing but a number?

Mobile phones have always had short product cycles because consumers, especially those in Europe and Asia, are so used to changing their phones every six months.

And between the new Macbook Pros released late last week, and the anticipation for the upcoming iPad 2 in March on top of all the iPhone and iPod releases later this year, it seems that Apple is updating their products more often than ever.

But wait a minute. The same can’t be said with the videogame industry, right? With Nintendo DS pushing past its sixth year in November and the PS3 currently in its fifth year, game consoles seem to be immune to the ever-shortening product cycles compared to other consumer electronics.

I don’t know how Sony does it, but despite being in its fifth year the PS3 still feels very much like a new console to me. Likewise with the XBOX 360. The only console showing its age so far is the Nintendo Wii, and much of that is because of the difference in its graphic capabilities compared to the PS3 and XBOX 360 from the very beginning.

So what makes game consoles so uniquely different from other consumer electronics? Why are their product cycles acceptable to span well over five years when laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and other tech devices require product updates every eighteen months or less? Continue reading “Product cycles: Ain't age nothing but a number?”

Why horror movies consume me

tl;dr – Blood and violence aside, horror movies ooze out creativity other genres just can’t compare to.

I could never watch scary movies when I was a kid. I remember closing my eyes for most of the movie in The Swarm, and I was absolutely pathetic with A Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact, I’ve never finished any of the movies. Instead I just surrendered myself to bed, hours before bedtime.

The entire premise for A Nightmare on Elm Street itself is horrifying. The fact that this child molester is killing teenagers in their dreams while none of the adults (usually the ones kids run toward for help) would ever believe them makes it even worse.

It wasn’t until this year did I decide to face my fears and paid for an Netflix account. My first DVD queue was A Nightmare on Elm Street, and guess what – not only did I survive that movie, I fell head over heels in love with it. Or the idea of it. Continue reading “Why horror movies consume me”