"Video Games Are Boring"

A really nice article about variety in game design, and how limited communities also tend to limit the range available for artistic creation.

gamesindustry.biz/articles/2016-11-07-video-games-are-boring

Comments

  • This is very interesting. I haven't played any video games since my childhood. The only thing that captures my interest is maybe playing an Escape game.
    That being said, I actually like watching video play-throughs of video games with interesting stories. But I would never invest the time to play through the whole thing.

    Something that could get me really interested:
    If there would be a solution one day that is bridging an interactive storyttelling platform i.e. like Storium with technology that automatically generates animated videos with these stories and characters.
    That would be kind of an evolution of TV series for me.

    Still, the main reason that I don't want video games is that I want to spend more time off the screen, face-to-face with real people.
  • I'm the same as you, BeePeeGee. Haven't touched a video game in many many many years for precisely that reason.
  • I think this hits a nail in the head. I think it's pretty admirable that the writer is a gamer, yet seems to understand people who aren't.

    I actually like all that Game of Thrones stuff and even video games sometimes, but nowadays I rarely play anything except timewaster browser games. I think it's the same thing with RPGs: I'm just not interested in charop- or challenge-oriented games that much any more. I'm interested in stories and artistic vision and emotional content. Like video games, tabletop RPG hobby might be pushing away a lot of people who're not into the prevalent paradigm.
  • I play loads of video games, but the two things they have in common are story and immersion.
    I love Dishonored 1 and 2. I love the world, the exploration, the plot and the sense of being there. It's a great story being told, and a wonderful universe to to experience it in.
    I love GTA 5, because it's cathartic. I love just going nuts, or setting challenges for myself. Very unlike Dishonored where I take it as a personal failure if someone dies.

    Oh, and I always, always play on Easy mode. The challenge for me is choosing the right solution to a problem, not having to reload constantly, because I'm really crappy at actually playing.

  • Oh, and I always, always play on Easy mode. The challenge for me is choosing the right solution to a problem, not having to reload constantly, because I'm really crappy at actually playing.
    It could be argued that on Easy mode, the right solution to a problem is often "any of them". I think part of the problem is that we are still wedded to the idea that games need to be "challenging" in ANY way.
  • edited November 2016
    I liked this comment to the original linked article:
    What about games like Dear Esther, Gone Home, Everybody's gone to the rapture, Proteus and the likes? While these may be very introspective experiences lacking meaningful interactions with other characters, there are also games like Animal Crossing that focus on virtual communities instead.
    I think there's already a lot more besides fight-kill-win or pointless mobile time wasters and, while we do need even more varied and deeper experiences, we are definitely moving towards the right direction.
  • My impression is that a lot of video games in the major consoles are either FPS, platforming, or some open world deal. They just seem very derivative, though. Not bad games, but really just offering more of the same.

    The last game that really impressed me was Shadow of the Colossus. These days I mostly game on mobile, and that usually means board games or quickie stuff like Riff Racer or Beat Hazard (stuff that uses the music you own).
  • Ugh, not Shadow of the Colossus. x.x I like me a clever game as much as the next man, but SotC was repetitive and fundamentally unrewarding.

    People are correct that lots of games are derivative and also correct that there are a few games like the ones mentioned in BeePeeGee's comment which offer different kinds of experiences, but they are not often as polished (I'm not even talking about graphics) as other efforts, and they are, lets be frank, not well positioned to be encountered by people who don't like the other kinds of games.
  • edited November 2016
    Probably no more repetitive than Super Mario or another off the assembly line FPS. It is generally well loved, though: http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-2/shadow-of-the-colossus
  • If you guys wanna start a new thread for critiquing Shadow of the Colossus, I'll be there with bells on.

    In fact, video game critique would be an interesting thing for this forum, perhaps we should do some of that. I unfortunately play modern games very rarely. Like, if you wanted me to critique something that I've been playing lately, it'd be a toss-up between Rondo of Blood, Streets of Rage, Outrun and Air Buster :D
  • Wow, streets of rage and outrun. Talk about nostalgia for me. :)
  • Eero I'm totally curious to hear what you have to say about Rondo of Blood, even better if you can spin some story gaming-related lesson out of it.
  • My friend raves about a game called "Life is Strange", in terms of somewhat mold-breaking games with strong storylines (and it features a female protagonist).

    It has an unusual "time travel" mechanic you can (and sometimes need to) use to solve the puzzles in the game. There are demos/trailers online which show it in action. Interesting!
  • The question is WHICH Rondo of Blood. :P
  • The question is WHICH Rondo of Blood. :P
    PC Engine game Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. I see that a remake exists as well, but I'm not familiar with that. I only discovered Rondo's existence last year, as the console it's on is practically non-existent here in Finland. It was a bit of a shock to discover that the best and most mature arcade-style Castlevania, that practically hones the form of the game to perfection, is one that I'd never even seen before. Needless to say, I've been playing it on and off since then, delighting in the aesthetics, level design and gameplay. I'm not sure if it'd be possible to improve on the original Castlevania recipe any further. Even the cheesy German-language intro is hilariously perfect.
  • I've been having fun with pretty immersive character-driven roleplay taking place in the Ever, Jane open beta. It's a Jane Austen themed MMO, and while it's still pretty buggy and many features either don't work properly or are yet to be introduced, there's a small but dedicated community of regulars using it as a big virtual Regency freeform RP chat-room. There have been a couple of physical conflicts, but most of the time it's just character interactions and the clash of personal goals.

    (If you do try it out, the biggest issue at the moment is that the experimental "proximity chat" doesn't usually work, so you need to type /shout at the start of any chat text to make sure everyone can hear you.)

  • PC Engine game Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. I see that a remake exists as well, but I'm not familiar with that.
    That was the gist of my question, because by all reports, the remake ruined everything.

    I don't actually know if that's true, but...

  • I don't know if people here are missing the writer's point or just happily talking past it, but HC Old School stuff is definitely something she wanted to get away from, I think.
  • I assume it's the latter. I hope we didn't drive Brie Code away from the forum, now.
  • I assume it's the latter. I hope we didn't drive Brie Code away from the forum, now.
    She was probably just about to register when she saw Rondo of Blood mentioned.

  • My pet peeve is when people use video games as shorthand for genre or setting description. My favorite Forge rule was the one saying you couldn't describe a game as the [X video game] RPG.
  • My friend raves about a game called "Life is Strange", in terms of somewhat mold-breaking games with strong storylines (and it features a female protagonist).

    It has an unusual "time travel" mechanic you can (and sometimes need to) use to solve the puzzles in the game. There are demos/trailers online which show it in action. Interesting!
    It's a wonderful game. I haven't finished it for the sole reason that I don't want it to end.
    The timetravel aspect means that you can rewind time to try out various conversation choices and see the short term results of your choice, often using your foreknowledge to gain additional dialogue choices.
    The stickler is, of course, that you only see the shortterm consequences, so the choice that leads to a happy ending may later prove to be a mistake.

    It's really very interesting, and the game really gives you enough rope to hang yourself.

  • edited December 2016
    Sorry, I disagree. If it were the early 2000s and the boom of commercial shooters I would understand the critique, but nowadays we are living in a creative golden age after the indie explosion from the eacly '10s.

    Life is Strange was already cited, but there are other bazillion crazy-innovative titles out there reaching for new experiences and defying old categorizations: Minecraft, Sword and Sworcery, Limbo, Gone Home, Crusader Kings 2, Firewatch, Papers, Please!, The Stanley Parable, King of Dragon Pass, Kerbal Space Program, Soma, Dwarf Fortress, Hyper-Light Drifter, Undertale, Abzu, The Last Guardian, Prison Architect, Goat Simulator, Hotline Miami, etc, etc, etc.
  • Yes, but doesn't it go without saying that she's discussing what is commonly called the "mainstream" in cultural studies? That is, objectively of course there is a vast variety of games of all sorts out there, and it's an obscenely rich cultural field, because humans have been at it for decades, but that's not what it's about - the point in complaining about the monoculture of video games is that video games are perceived as repetitive schlock, because that's what the popular high profile games are. The games that get the most players, the most money, the most media attention. The point is that video games remain less than approachable because the mainstream of video gaming is what it is, even if there exist a lot of variety in the undergrowth that a casual gamer never sees.

    Whatever one thinks of the idea of critiquing the medium for its mainstream, that same argument applies just as well to music ("the problem with modern music is that it's all superficial autotune trash for teenagers") or tabletop rpgs ("the problem with rpgs is that they're all D&D") or anything else - or just as badly, were one to point out that nobody's forcing you to listen/watch/play that 70% of the field that exemplifies the current mainstream tastes, and that the real problem is not the medium or the scene, but rather the inherently mediocre cultural skills that limit humans to the mainstream in a world full of wonder and variety.

    For the record, I think both viewpoints have merit; it's simply a legitimate complaint that a given media culture (consumers included) ends up elevating a mainstream that is less than perfectly virtuous - say by marginalizing women as hobbyists or by being so stupid I want to perform a self-lobotomy. It is always possible to do better, and the fact that somebody under a rock somewhere is doing better doesn't justify World of Warcraft - WoW needs to justify WoW, if it's going to, and if somebody cares to complain when it doesn't, I think that's just fine. It's not really my thing to complain about mainstream tastes, but I can see how it'd be important for a different sort of culture advocate.
  • Sorry, I disagree. If it were the early 2000s and the boom of commercial shooters I would understand the critique, but nowadays we are living in a creative golden age after the indie explosion from the eacly '10s.

    Life is Strange was already cited, but there are other bazillion crazy-innovative titles out there reaching for new experiences and defying old categorizations: Minecraft, Sword and Sworcery, Limbo, Gone Home, Crusader Kings 2, Firewatch, Papers, Please!, The Stanley Parable, King of Dragon Pass, Kerbal Space Program, Soma, Dwarf Fortress, Hyper-Light Drifter, Undertale, Abzu, The Last Guardian, Prison Architect, Goat Simulator, Hotline Miami, etc, etc, etc.
    I'm not so sure; How many of these actually appeal to people who don't like video games? I can rule out a lot of them already as being too challenging. Most of the rest fall into the builder/simulator category, which is also part of the very traditional video game appeal demographics.

    I think you underestimate just how FAR removed most games are from the interest of a lot of people who don't enjoy them.
  • Most of the rest fall into the builder/simulator category, which is also part of the very traditional video game appeal demographics.
    As someone who hasn't really played any video games in... a long time... that sounds about right.
  • A lot of my friends enjoy board games, while I find them non-immersive and out-right boring. I get far more immersed in the computer games I play, because they always have characters and a story. Board games just have rules, and they're mostly PvP, something I don't enjoy at all.
    The best blend of roleplaying and computer games is Artemis, because you have to communicate and cooperate throughout, and it's usually hilarious. We tend to bring nerf guns in case we need to stage a mutiny.
  • I've never heard of Artemis before. Now that's an exciting development in game design!

    In action:

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=V9Q2X32hZNk
  • The most amazing thing about Artemis (I played it only once) is the Captain role. You have someone not using any tech, just watching the screen, but coordinating everyone else, and it is *vital*. It's like a conductor in music. :-)
  • At Fastaval, they have a room reserved for Artemis, albeit a far more stable version, complete with smoke machines, lights and everything. Loads of fun, especially when everything goes haywire.
    Captain: Helm, get us the hell out of here!!!
    Helm: Aye, aye, captain. RAMMING SPEED!!!
  • I should play Artemis sometime. The closest I have come so far is Spaceteam. ;)

    Also, I got a fresh reminder of how far removed from me people who 'dont like video games' are this Christmas, talking to my sister after she got sucked into Farmville 2. It's a game with no goals, no combat, no fail states, and no story. All you do is plant stuff and harvest it to get more stuff to plant and harvest. And she LOVED it. Well, for about a week, I think, before it started to ring hollow (which it is) - but she liked it in the meantime because it wasn't stressful (no fail states) and it didn't involve any fighting.
  • That's a great observation, Airk. I've seen some people engage that way with roleplaying games, too. (e.g. story-games.com/forums/discussion/11607/iawa-slapstick-comedy-and-plucky-birds)
  • edited January 2017
    Yes, but doesn't it go without saying that she's discussing what is commonly called the "mainstream" in cultural studies? That is, objectively of course there is a vast variety of games of all sorts out there, and it's an obscenely rich cultural field, because humans have been at it for decades, but that's not what it's about - the point in complaining about the monoculture of video games is that video games are perceived as repetitive schlock, because that's what the popular high profile games are. The games that get the most players, the most money, the most media attention. The point is that video games remain less than approachable because the mainstream of video gaming is what it is, even if there exist a lot of variety in the undergrowth that a casual gamer never sees.

    Whatever one thinks of the idea of critiquing the medium for its mainstream, that same argument applies just as well to music ("the problem with modern music is that it's all superficial autotune trash for teenagers") or tabletop rpgs ("the problem with rpgs is that they're all D&D") or anything else - or just as badly, were one to point out that nobody's forcing you to listen/watch/play that 70% of the field that exemplifies the current mainstream tastes, and that the real problem is not the medium or the scene, but rather the inherently mediocre cultural skills that limit humans to the mainstream in a world full of wonder and variety.
    You are right, the games I cited are far from representing the mainstream. Perhaps a better way to pu it is that, since Braid, there is a vigorous growing indie videogames industry, but its still that, indie and underground. When your average pal talks about videogames they cite Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, not Journey, Gone Home or Flowers. I stand corrected.

    On the other hand, there is a preconception among most non-gamer post-30 year old people I know that videogames are child things. Most of these people didn't have the opportunity (or interest) to sit down and experience a game that's not mainstream and no childish. So I think there is also a generational barrier involved too, which will break down eventually. (in fact, given my son and daughter and his pals interest in electronic media and games, I wouldn't be surprised the industry will reach cinema and literature respect and popularity in one or two decades from now).
  • edited January 2017
    Oops. Double post.
  • edited January 2017

    I'm not so sure; How many of these actually appeal to people who don't like video games?
    And how many people who don't like videogames have actually sit down and gave an truthful chance to a game lately ? We seem to have examples in this very thread.

    True story: My wife always hated videogames. last month she saw me playing Dishonored 2 (a stealth-puzzle mainstream game) for just a moment and suddenly got invested in it, to the point of sitting down night in and out to watch me play through the end of it. Now she has already begun playing The Last Guardian with me, and even got emotional in a couple of scenes. So in a 13 years long relationship, just now she decided to sit down and enjoy some games with me. All due to a moment of sheer, unbiased curiosity. (let's see if I can do the same with RPGs :D )

    I agree with Eero that videogames on a mainstream level tend to be monolithically repetitive and formulaic/commercial, but there is also the factor of established preconceptions from non-gamers, who tend to keep turtled n these preconceptions and hardly give a chance to the media. Perhaps if the non-gamer or NUgamer crowd (in the case of my wife) entered the hobby in a significant way, we could see a healthy shift in the mainstream.

  • And how many people who don't like videogames have actually sit down and gave an truthful chance to a game lately ? We seem to have examples in this very thread.
    They don't have to; Seriously. If they're not interested in games with fighting, that automatically rules out the vast majority of them. If they're not interested in games that stress them out, that rules out most of the rest.

    I was HAVING this conversation with someone a week ago, and I couldn't think of a SINGLE title that met her requirements. In retrospect, maybe Flower would have, but what am I supposed to say? Drop $300 for a console and $20 for the game so you can play one title?
  • Yes, a bias against video games exists among the muggles, that's pretty clear. It's also clear that the gaming mainstream does not do the hobby any favours by being, well, the mainstream - pretty man-childish, catering to a narrow band of tastes, commercially exploitative, and so on. Maybe I'm not far off the mark if I say that 50% of the bias against video games is out of entrenched ignorance (really, the muggle culture loves to perpetuate stupid stereotypes about gaming, it helps the middle-aged people feel relevant in a changing world), while the other half is because the gaming culture celebrates and focuses upon values that are, well, sort of dumb. In other words, gaming makes it easy to play it off as being beneath adult attention.

    I mean, nobody could mistake me for a muggle (I'm using this term because talking about "the non-gamer mainstream" would just get confusing while also talking about the "gaming mainstream"), but I still think that modern mainstream video games are often pretty dumb - just think how easy it is to hold this opinion for someone who isn't intimately familiar with the form.

    I think that it's been figured out pretty well what the casual gamer demographic (or "non-gamers", if you will) wants out of video games, though, so at this point it's just about building up the library - exactly as Vini says, the games are out there, and more are being made. But, just as has been observed, availability and noticeability is still pretty shitty. You basically have to be in the scene to find the gems (by whatever measure), and you're presumably only going to be in the scene out of habit (like say myself - if I didn't play videogames from a child, I probably would not have started in the 20s anymore), or because you already like the mainstream fare.

    What I've been doing myself lately in the video gaming field sort of connects with this: I have my own tastes and opinions about interesting video games, so what I do is, I maintain my own private game console for my friends. A curated selection of games, perhaps with some commentary from me for cultural context, and just loan that thing out to them - you hold onto a copy of my console for six months or a year, and odds are that you'll have some inkling of what I'm talking about the next time we talk video games. I especially like sharing my hobby in this form with people who don't play video games a lot, because it's a personal, low-commitment way to get to know my hobby - plus of course if you ask me, my game picks are the best, and therefore a reasonable person will obviously enjoy them more than some mainstream schlock :D

    But that's just a grassroots approach to pulling attention towards interesting games. To get the scene to move in a wider way, video games need to go the same way e.g. Nordic rpg scene has: more women at all levels, genuine platforms for focusing on the facets of the hobby that interest you, and more variety in general. Anticommercialization (reversing the commercial focus of the artform, I mean) helps in a fundamental way on this, I think, because it helps more genuine artistic and human interests to surface - it becomes easier to perceive why one would engage with the hobby when more of its high-profile spokesmen are speaking for the art and from the heart, instead of for the latest bestseller, from their wallets.
  • Going back to the original link something that struck me as false was the claim that video games were more relevant to our current experience as a medium than say, the novel.

    [quote]Meanwhile, our lives have changed radically compared to our parents' lives. As we adapt to new technologies, our lives are becoming increasingly fragmented, multifaceted, interactive. Linear novels and films are less relevant now for reflecting our realities. What forms of art and entertainment are most relevant now? Collage? Memoir? No, it should be video games. Interactive entertainment. Yet, many people don't like video games.[/quote]

    While I do think that the video game hobby can only benefit from having more diversity of thought and taste in it, and might even bring more people in, I think the fact is that not everyone likes videogames as a medium (the same point has been made on the blog's comments better than I do here). Some people will always prefer The Novel, for example, to any other medium.

    Now that I really think about it, her blog post seems like the videogame version of asking why RPGs aren't more popular. In most cases, the answer may be that people just don't like the form. (Which again, is not to say that more diverse expressions of the form would not be awesome.)
  • edited January 2017
    Also, from another comment, this stood out to me as true:
    Dying and having to start over, your experience being halted and progress reset. The game saying "fuck you, do it again". That might be one of the biggest strengths of games like Gone Home, next to the more obvious like theme.
    I can totally see how most people would not like the whole fail->restart cycle that seems to be the predominant way games are made. Then again, some people love that (Dark Souls, I'm looking at you).
  • edited January 2017
    .doublepost.
  • I think that's an interesting question about the inherent appeal of video games. What might be going on with that, assumption-wise, is that many of us who engage with the form sort of see its possibilities in a deep way, often in a way that is yet to be entirely substantiated by practical products. Just like D&D is merely a specific and often frivolous expression of the more general idea of [talk to each other to construct an imaginary space, then use this space to do stuff], historical video games may be viewed as developing towards the more general idea of [computer maintains an interactive space for you]. So when we just sort of assume that of course video games are for everybody, it's not "everybody should like Super Mario" - rather, it's "in the short-to-midterm future, practically everybody will come to use and appreciate tools and entertainment that are medium-wise essentially just video games - video games are for everybody, the medium is simply too powerful and basic in the information age for society to react in any other way".

    From this perspective it is perhaps not unreasonable to simply believe that while rpgs clearly aren't for everybody, video games probably are, given time. I think I do believe so, for instance; rpgs inherently require skills and concentration much in excess of what can be reasonably expected from the average man (barring a really good motivation - it's not out of his reach, it's just not something he feels the need to do), while the barriers to using video games for entertainment and learning and whatever else are mainly cultural, requiring much less skill to engage with. Already, as our parents' generation gets sidelined culturally, basic proficiency in computer use is becoming a new norm, and with it comes a basic proficiency with game-like interactive systems. When it comes to video games as a medium, we are just starting to transition into an age of full literacy, so to speak; just like one could not have concluded that reading will only ever remain a rare hobby for the intelligentsia before the advent of universal literacy, one can't conclude that video games will remain a niche hobby before we see what it looks like when everybody gets used to engaging interactive virtual spaces. Build up the skills, and using the medium for mainstream art becomes much more feasible.

    (Calling them "games" at that point - eh, likely not. The video game "Louvre Museum Experience 2019" won't have much of a game in it, it'd likely be described as "virtual tourism" - it actually is already. That still counts as a video game if we're talking about the inherent appeal of the medium - we can't just argue that video games are inherently unappealing, and then define everything that might appeal the mainstream to be "not a video game".)

    Of course, all this might easily be a prophetic illusion brought about by nerd tunnel vision; people have the tendency to project their own experiences as universal, and the trends of their own life and immediate environs as applying to everybody over time. Even acknowledging that, though, I do have genuine difficulty to believe that using computers in ever-more complex ways is not a dominant trend for jobs and entertainment in the developed world, and to me that implies an era of video games, even if not under that name. For the cultural history to develop otherwise would be like if a civilization invented writing and taught everybody to write, yet writing fictional stories for art would remain a marginal subculture.
  • Maybe we can't reclassify anything that "might appeal to the mainstream" as "not a video game" but I think there's still a difference between "Simulated virtual environments" and "Video games" in the same way there's a difference between roleplaying as part of, say, a work training excercise, and an RPG. While our definition of "game" is historically pretty messy, I don't think many people will argue that games are generally engaged with for enjoyment.
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