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| Tomorrow Comes Today (Add a comment )|
by: quixilver (5)
Posted 76 months ago in category DEFAULT
Atleast, that’s what the highly paid marketing departments of the videogames industry would have us believe. Substantial amounts of money is being poured into making gamers’ believe that whatever gaming experience they have experienced thus far is nothing more than an outdated technological farce. That the virtual reality that the gamers are immersed in is nothing more than a digitally concocted lie, that us gamers’ screens are too small, our RAM’s too little, our disk space too less, our processors’ too slow, our graphics card’s too outdated. They are telling us that to find true digital fulfillment, and to attain gaming nirvana, we will have to pour in more money than we could possibly imagine into upgrades to buy ourselves whatever new digital ‘crack’ that is on the market these days. It is even more saddening to see game developers openly being in cohorts with the hardware manufacturing industry.
Industry pundits proudly point out the facts when they make comparisons and draw parallels between the movie industry and the games industry, at how both seem to be converging and in some ways the videogames industry has surpassed Hollywood. What they fail to see, or perhaps to point out, is that the same shady practices that are rampant in Hollywood are now making their way into the videogames industry.
Immense amounts of money is being spent on marketing a game and creating palpable amounts of hype about the game. It is truly disappointing to see that many highly anticipated and aggressively marketed games have been strongly criticized for being released incomplete or even poorly tested with bugs that strongly undermine the gameplay. This is a trait that is particular to Hollywood, where the money spent on marketing certain movies has been greater than the substantial amount of money spent on making them.
Instead, to cover up their shortcomings in game development, and to make greater profits as well as coerce consumer’s into buying expensive hardware, game publishers simply tell the consumer that to play the game at its maximum potential and to enjoy it fully, the gamer might have to end up paying much more than the game itself cost.
A recent example of this consumer exploitation, and one that will affect many gamers in the coming months is the Microsoft policy of allowing DirectX 10 to be Vista-exclusive. This will ensure that Microsoft will guarantee that any serious gamers will be paying much more money to play games than that spent on buying them.
It is puzzling to see the games industry often work in reverse without much resentment from the gamers. The next-gen consoles from both Sony and Microsoft are some of the most expensive consoles ever marketed. The companies claim that the high price tags are necessary for providing the consumers facilities that they have never experienced before. They expect the consumer to gladly sell their souls to the silicon deities that they would have us believe their new consoles are.
A closer, in-depth inspection of the state of the industry reveals that a tragic comedy of Shakespearean proportions is taking place.
The new consoles allow users to listen to music, watch movies, browse the net, and download stuff, and lastly, actually play videogames.
Other than playing the latest videogames, a 5 year old computer can accomplish the other various tasks that the new silicon behemoths seem so proud to be able to do.
On the other hand, a PC gamer will have to shell out incredible amounts of cash just to play a game at a quality that comes quite close to that offered by (relatively) much cheaper consoles by spending far greater amounts of cash.
Furthermore, the word ‘exclusive’ is now used in a White House spin speak context rather than its literal meaning. Besides a limited number of games (and that too can change anytime), due to extremely high development and advertising costs, games are now increasingly multi-platform.
But this is not the main reason for the sad state of affairs in the gaming world today. Infact, this economic surge has helped the videogame industry and videogaming in general transcend from a geeky hobby to a veritable cultural phenomenon. The world may have never witnessed the graphical brilliance nor the guttural satisfaction of brutally chainsawing and head stomping their enemies in the raw visceral treat that is Gears of War, nor would 7 million people cumulatively spend millions of hours playing World of Warcraft fanatically had it not been for the huge growth in the videogames industry. Videogames have truly evolved massively since the days of Pong and Tetris. It may even be true that perhaps the videogames industry would not have survived had it not been for its phenomenal economic growth over the past few years.
However, in its strong struggle for survival, the videogame industry and videogames have lost their identity. The crucial question is: Why do people play videogames in the first place?
The answer is simple. Escape.
Videogames are perhaps one of the best forms of escape that a human can experience with the greatest amount of visceral treat and greatest ease. Videogames have always been that, a means of escaping the dreary reality that surrounds us in out lives.
We may be boring, uninteresting people in our daily lives, living pathetically mundane lives consisting of an endless cycle of work-eat-sleep till we inevitably end up being fertilizer and worm food. But in a videogame, we can be fearless warriors out on a quest that will eventually save the world from destruction. One could be the emperor of Rome, a notorious criminal, a demented psychopath or a soldier.
It is this means of virtual escape which videogames provide that draws people to them, not DirectX 10 graphics or 7.1 surround sound. Sure, they add to the experience, but they are not its essence.
Instead, by limiting games to hardware and vice versa, developers and publishers’ seem to be forgetting that in their greed to provide greater amounts of realism in return for substantial amounts of financial input, they are essentially destroying the very essence of escapism of games.
Due to the unreasonably high cost of playing current and upcoming videogames these days, it’s really difficult to imagine escaping to a lush tropical virtual island to shoot things up without having to pay about as much as it would cost a real vacation to a tropical paradise.
Developers should think about what the future holds when they promise that they bring tomorrow to us today.
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