Why it’s a Good Time to be a Gamer
Throughout the history of video games, gamers have developed a negative stereotype naming them as dorks, nerds and geeks. The image of a lonely, acne riddled man with a pony tail, grazing on a bag of chips and staring into the bright glare of their screen, spring to the mind for many people looking at the surface of the gaming world. We are not all ‘Comic Book Guy’ from the The Simpsons. Ever since the boom of online services for consoles and the worldwide phenomenon of games such as Halo or Call of Duty, gaming has reached a wider audience and has allowed more people to become involved with the gaming lifestyle. This lifestyle consists of being up to date with gaming journalism, finding news on new games, following the publishers on Twitter as well as counting down the months to the release of the next big game. 2013 has already proven to be a big year for the gaming industry with the release of both Microsoft and Sony’s mammoth consoles, showing the world that being a gamer is an exciting addiction to be a part of. It is not just the release of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 though that makes gamers alike thrilled, we are just scrapping the surface.
Experiences like no other
Games provide entertainment like no other medium. We are delivered a story that we can take part in. We are the explorers of a new world that gives us endless opportunities. Games have developed dramatically over time, from Mario trying to rescue Peach from the clutches of Bowser, to taking the role as Booker Dewitt, helping his new friend Elizabeth escape from the floating city of Colombia. Stories establish and grow as your progress, creating a rich narrative and an exciting world for the player to discover. Gaming to me is a mix of reading an excellent novel and watching a blockbuster movie, but I can steer and navigate my own way around. Yes, many games have a linear pathway to the end, but that doesn’t mean that choices can’t be made and exploration can’t be done. With just a controller we are given the freedom to experience something completely beyond our lifestyle.
2013 will be forever known as the year that Playstation owners alike fell in love with The Last of Us, and the experience that the developers at Naughty Dog gave us. When the trailer for this game was initially shown and gameplay was posted online, I immediately went out and bought a Playstation 3, and it was worth it. The experience The Last of Us delivered was unlike any other game. An emotionally real story, with an immersive life like world and characters that are almost human themselves are just some of the reasons why the experience was far beyond any game. I am game enough to admit that tears were shed within the first half hour of playing, and that is a mighty task to accomplish in any game.
Parents who have grown up with arcade games might look upon gaming as an unhealthy addiction that should be monitored, or something that only children should take part in. Now it seems that playing a video game in 2013 is arguably a greater entertainment experience than sitting in front of the TV watching a movie, or laying back reading a book. Games have grown from side scrolling platformers to massive open worlds for us to explore, with online experiences that are becoming just as competitive as sports. All of these components have one thing in common: the experience that the game delivers.
Indie developers becoming more prominent
Like always, this year at E3 showed a large presence of high quality games but also showcased many indie developed games. Indie developers have shown that they are a forced to be reckoned with when making top notch games. Look at Minecraft for example. At beta stage Minecraft was already an internet phenomenon and it has grown dramatically since its release on both PC and Xbox 360. Other games like Braid and Limbo hit the spotlight too within the gaming industry but didn’t reach the heights of Minecraft. Even last year indie developers were releasing excellent games from Journey to FTL and Hotline Miami to the Unfinished Swan. Indie games were even showcased at E3 within the Sony and Microsoft press conferences explaining that the next generation in consoles will have an even larger indie presence than it does now. Being an indie developer allows the creation process to run wild as it is a personal game and they are only necessarily limited by their talent or capabilities. That is what has made indie games so popular lately as it connects to the audience. Whether it’s by bringing back a feeling of nostalgia by creating a pixelated puzzle game like Fez, or by creating a multiplayer experience in which you can only communicate by the sounds of your character like in Journey, indie developers have shown they can be compared against the high budget games. Not only 2013, but the years after are proving to be an exciting time for up and coming developers.
The Gamers Word is Valuable
When Microsoft announced their new console back in May, the audience were full of mixed feelings. The fan boys were happy that another Xbox would be released in 2013, but many were upset about the strict regime that Microsoft set upon its gamers. The many grew to the thousands as they flocked to social media sites and blogs to discuss the new terms that Microsoft had laid out. Gamers were told that the new console needs to be connected to the internet at least once every twenty four hours to update the library of games and to synchronise the game licences. Strict rules were put into place on playing games at a friend’s house and sharing the same copy of the game. Even trading in games was out of the question for the new Microsoft console. With Sony fan boys laughing in the faces of Xbox players, many people decided to change alliances and pre-order the Playstation 4 as it would be less of a hassle to use. With the gaming community still sour towards Microsoft at E3, they thought they could win the gamers over with an amazing display of new game titles and the return of loved franchises. It worked for some but all Sony had to do was go on stage, state the flaws of the Xbox One and mention that the Playstation 4 would not have any of these issues. This resulted in an explosion of applause, and Microsoft had to watch with their tail between their legs. The gamers were the ones cheering to Sony, and the gamers were the ones that were complaining online to Microsoft. Only a few days after Sony’s triumphant victory at E3, Microsoft announced that they will no longer be continuing with their initial regime of strict laws and rules but were scrapping that idea to better suit the community; to better suit the gamers. It was us, the gamers, who complained, and it was our voice that directly impacted Microsoft resulting in a console better tailored to the gamer’s needs.
The games industry is becoming a larger business each year, with higher budget games being produced with teams of hundreds from all over the world. It is an exciting industry not just for the publishers and the developers, but for the gamers themselves. It is due to the experiences that we are granted by games, and by the growing appreciation of the medium that has changed the perception of gamers which has haunted us for so long. 2013 has proven to be one of the greatest years for gaming, and we are only half way there.
What do you think? Leave a comment.