When I sit playing games on my consoles or surfing the net reading game news, I wonder to myself, on which format will games appear next. Video games have surfaced in many different formats which include cartridges, cassettes, CD-ROMs, GD-ROMs (Sega Dreamcast for those who remember), DVD-ROMs, Blu-ray discs and are now being shipped digitally. Where can gaming go from here? Teleportation? Click a button and you are transported into the game? Or will gaming die because no-one wants to play any more?
Gaming has evolved over the years from a child’s toy in the mid ’80s to a multi-billion pound business in the 2000s, with many games consoles now being the “entertainment hub” of a household. Where consoles were once used to play games, they’re now used for anything from chatting to friends to renting films. It’s common to hear of a dad owning a PS3 to play Need for speed, a mum owning a Wii and balance board to stay in shape and a kid owning an XBOX 360 to talk to mates on twitter while playing FIFA 12. Games consoles were once aimed at kids, but are now owned by everyone in the family. But with this comes a price. Consoles are now no longer about the games.
They'll be no stereotypical comments here.
When game format changed to disc from cartridge, console developers saw other ways to try to boost sales. Consoles started appearing with audio CD compatibility, which in turn led to DVD compatibility. When the PlayStation 2 appeared, consoles not only provided a person with games, but a CD player and way to watch films. It was also this generation of games consoles that introduced online gaming via a games console. This was started by the Sega Dreamcast which was followed by the PS2 and XBOX. No longer did someone have to be in the same house as someone else to play a game with/against them. Seeing this, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all decided that their next generation of consoles would not only have a more multimedia feel to them, but also online capability. Consoles were looking less like consoles and more like PCs. Console and game developers saw another way to make more cash. Games started getting extended beyond their shelf life with extra content, sometimes provided by bringing a new version of the game out, but also by bringing out download content. This was joined by not only film services, but also music as well. All your entertainment in one machine. Perfect. Except for the poor sod who hasn’t got the internet. Or the poor bugger who’s spent money on CDs, only to become chastised by their friends for being “in the dark ages” with their CD collection.
When online gaming took off, developers decided that online gaming was the way forward. Games that are purely online have been made. A lot of extras on games require an internet connection. Games are released with terrible bugs that are eventually sorted out by updates, that require… an internet connection. Games have also been made that can only be purchased online.
I understand the need for change. Nothing can last forever. I’m not the kind of psycho that keeps videos because DVDs are the work of Satan, but I don’t know why everything has to be digital. I don’t know why everything has to be internet led, either. Having witnessed people hurling abuse at each other over a game on the internet, I don’t understand why people bother to go online with people they don’t know. I’ve witnessed my eldest son turn from a nice kid to a complete asshole over getting beaten on FIFA 12 by someone he didn’t know. Why? What’s the point? Instead of mouthing off at someone, or getting stressed because you’ve lost, why not just turn it off? It’s only a game at the end of the day. That’s why I try to avoid playing people I don’t know. And that’s why online play will kill gaming. Game companies see it as way of getting more money, but sooner or later, people will get annoyed at the cost or the abuse or by the fact that there’s someone better at the game than them.
Online gaming could have been a doorway to reaching people. I regularly play online on Madden (come on, you Broncos!) against my brother-in-law, but that’s because it’s more convenient that way. We don’t hurl abuse at each other and we don’t get upset when we lose, but why should we? We play games for enjoyment, not to raise stress levels to a new high.
In the end, online gaming will alienate the people who can’t afford broadband, people who prefer to physically own something as opposed to digitally, and people who don’t want to suffer verbal abuse.