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Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 7:17pmSanction this postReply
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Congratulations:

 

You Made It

 

Over the course of my life, I've noticed a distinct trend in video gaming, which is indicative of an unfortunate larger culture shift.

 

I own an original Nintendo and Super Nintendo (the systems of the 80's and 90's) and the games are very difficult - shockingly difficult by today's standards. They require lots of practice, skill, and trial and error to complete. In fact, there isn't any guarantee you'll *ever* complete them, so you feel proud when you manage to finish a game.

 

Today's video games have checkpoints, continues, and scaling difficulty, so it's all but impossible to lose. You never have to start over in modern games; they're just a continuous walk to the finish line alongside everybody else. When you finish, you feel like you participated in an interactive movie, taking preset actions on cue, instead of having accomplished anything remarkable.

 

Just read about this disgrace, for example:

In Super Mario 3D Land, it only appears after Mario loses five lives in a level that is not already completed.... Touching it ...will make him invincible, as the Star also does, but the invincibility lasts for the entire level.

There are exceptions, I'm happy to report, though woefully few. Dark Souls is a delightful throwback to the golden years of gaming. Oh, did you die? Sneak back to your corpse as an undead with half health to recover your items. Fail that? Start from the beginning, and this time the enemies are harder as your punishment. You want to "save" your progress in the level? What kind of a wuss are you? Now start grinding.

 

Man, was that game fun - every grueling, unforgiving moment of it. And it felt great when I finally beat it.

 



Post 1

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 7:52pmSanction this postReply
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I made it to level 73 on the arcade game Galaga when I was a kid.  Talk about spending an afternoon on one quarter!  I have no idea how many quarters I actually spent to get that good.  A lot!

Centipede was another favorite! Fast action and you really did need razor sharp reflexes and reaction times.  We used to literally finish a game sweating you were so pumped up with adrenaline that you needed to take a 20 minute break just to cool down!

 

I still have my original Nintendo as well as intelevision!  Intelevision had some amazing games!

 



Post 2

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 11:00pmSanction this postReply
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Fortunately, most games (namely, first person shooters) allow you to set the difficulty on a scale before you begin the game. The is set-up something like this: 

 

-Easy

-Moderate

-Hard

-Very Hard

-Extremely Difficult

-May God Help You

 

Many games include bonus content for those who venture into the harder difficulties. 

 

I remember Mario games as always being easy. Though, I think they've gotten a lot easier over the years. Or maybe I've just gotten older and better at playing video games. 

 

There's been a noticeable shift in the development of modern video games. Gaming companies are making that extra effort to appeal to casual gamers. And casual gamers tend to like easier games. So, the games become easier, more people are attracted to the games, and the gaming companies tend to sell more games as a result. 

 

There are a number of independent game developers who focus more on gameplay and less on story. These developers tend to make more difficult games. Indie games tend to be rather interesting and innovative, as well. 

 

So, I'm interested in this larger cultural shift to which easier video games seem to be a symptom. 

 

How is this shift identified/defined? 

 

Can it be summed up as "Little effort for maximum reward"? That's my take on it. 

 

Input a little effort, achieve bonuses (lights, loud noises, all signs of victory), and get the maximum amount of dopamine for the little effort given. 

 

I like dopamine rushes as much as the next guy. But, eventually, I crash if over-stimulated. 

 



Post 3

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 3:11amSanction this postReply
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I own an original Nintendo and Super Nintendo (the systems of the 80's and 90's) and the games are very difficult - shockingly difficult by today's standards. They require lots of practice, skill, and trial and error to complete. In fact, there isn't any guarantee you'll *ever* complete them, so you feel proud when you manage to finish a game.

I played Nintendo games very little or none. However, I played most of the Zork series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zork, on an IBM PC), which fits your description of very difficult. Each one took roughly 40 hours, even with occasional hints. I played some others, too, such as  the Police Quest  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_Quest ) series, difficult but not as much as Zork.

 

P.S. Dean or somebody, the post a link feature is faulty. It sticks extra characters into a URL.



Post 4

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 3:51amSanction this postReply
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I also killed mannny hours playing Wizardry on my Laser 128k apple lle compatable in the 80s,and Karateka...oh man green monochrome goodness!



Post 5

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 4:27amSanction this postReply
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Mannny hours? Well, it probably isn't a very womannny thing to do.



Post 6

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 5:11amSanction this postReply
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Kyle - I've found that the easy/moderate/hard scales in modern games are a half-assed retrofitted solution for poor design more often than they accomplish real challenge. The way it works is they design a game on normal, then they tweak the time limits or enemy stats to be higher or lower for the different levels. This tends to make the games unfair rather than challenging, and there is a big difference. Inspired by my hardcore gamer friend in college, I typically turn games with these scales to the highest difficulty. But this can ruin the gameplay by resulting in Lvl. 1 rats with 1,000,000hp or infantry that take 4 headshots at point-blank range to kill. It's a symptom of the problem more than a solution (life doesn't have an "easy mode").

 

I think if you go back and play the original Nintendo Mario games you will be surprised by their difficulty. I'd bet a sizable amount of money you couldn't beat them on your first or even third play through without some sort of exploit. They are very challenging, especially Mario 2. It's as you say with the modern Mario games. They're like an ADHD kid's wildest sugar fantasy. Power up items and free lives literally rain down from the heavens the entire time you're running through a level. I can't even stand to play them at this point because there is no challenge left.

 



Post 7

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:01amSanction this postReply
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Man/hours?



Post 8

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:18amSanction this postReply
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Jules, "many man-hours" is satisfactory.



Post 9

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:34amSanction this postReply
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Many man-hours it is then!



Post 10

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:39amSanction this postReply
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Merlin,

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_Quest

 

Seems to work for me.  Um, it just doesn't work when you use "Preview with Spell Check", you have to use "Post / Preview".

 

Re: this thread:  Yea, its all about being able to sell to the unskilled casual gamer now.  Before games were made by and for the computer enthusiests.  The same process has happened to World of Warcraft from vanilla to the current expansion.

 

Tool assisted speedrun: http://tasvideos.org/



Post 11

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 7:09amSanction this postReply
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I got so disgusted with WoW I cancelled my account.



Post 12

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 7:15amSanction this postReply
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I'm also a big trivia enthusiast, so I was excited when the Quizup app came to Android earlier this month (previously only on iOS). I really wanted to compete and prove myself. I won a few games and received xp, gaining a level. But then I lost to someone in television trivia (wtf - I don't watch True Blood) and I *still* gained xp just for playing. Turns out you can only move up in level, so the ranking system is meaningless, solely a reflection of how much you play, like WoW and other roleplaying games nowadays. That lost my interest immediately.

 

My view of video games is changing a bit in light of the aforementioned trend. I used to think they were good for children by teaching them eye-hand coordination, logic, and patience. But now I think the instant gratification and "everyone's a winner" game dedigns can be damaging. I think I might start my kids off with SNES and Genesis and hold off on the Wii.



Post 13

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 7:32amSanction this postReply
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_Quest

 

Seems to work for me.  Um, it just doesn't work when you use "Preview with Spell Check", you have to use "Post / Preview".

 

Aha!



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Post 14

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 10:16amSanction this postReply
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I think itís a mistake to assume that just because gaming is more accessible to a larger population means that people, in general, have somehow lowered their standards for achievement.  Iím not arguing this has not happened, because it has.  We are becoming a participation award culture.  There are signs of that in gaming, but thatís not ALL that is going on here.

Like everything else where a profit is to be made, the gaming industry is about supply and demand.  Hard-core gamers are no longer the majority voice on the demand side.  Demand now also comes from:

         Executives who find shooting zombies to be a stress-reliever at the end of a long week.

         Fathers who accept that their son may not be NFL-material, but who know that they can get an hour of their kidís attention with Madden 25.

         Mothers who have put away the Monopoly board and taken up Dance Dance Revolution so that she can still have family game night.

         People who donít have time to get to the gym but who can take 20 minutes each morning to do some yoga on their Fit board.

 

I could go on, but the point is that there are a great many people who now enjoy gaming NOT because the standards of play have been lowered, but because play now supports their values and meets their goals. 

 

Just because their goals are not your goals does not make their goals less worthy. 

 

In regards to what kids can learn from gaming, again itís a mistake to assume that kids ought to get out of the experience exactly what kids of the 80s and 90s did.  They donít need to learn hand-eye coordination from video games; they get that in keyboarding class starting in 1st grade.  They donít need to learn patience from repeating the exact same levels over and over; they get that from reminding the grandma from Wyoming to hug the wall and stop standing in the fire.  As a plus, they also learn that thereís a super-cool grandma in Wyoming who likes the same things they like and who, even though sheís a disembodied voice in a headset, sheís a real person who might have something to teach them about real life while theyíre waiting for the rest of the raid party to show up.  

 

Finally, consider my 9-year-old son.  He has many interests and likes a lot of different games, but heís primarily a Minecraft enthusiast.  He loved Minecraft before it was cool to love Minecraft.  Because of that love, he can find his way around a .jar file way better than me, and I have a degree in computer science.  Heís currently learning video production because he was introduced to it through the Minecraft community.  On his own, through gaming, he discovered something technical that he wanted to teach himself, and heís following through.  So yeah, Iím not concerned over much about his hand-eye coordination, logic, and patience.

 

Gaming has evolved.  I suppose you could argue that it has devolved, and maybe it has in some ways.  But Iím a glass half full kind of gal, so I have to disagree.  It isnít what it was when I was a kid, but anyone who says it ought to be, should dig a little deeper.



Post 15

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 11:19amSanction this postReply
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Dear Ms. Deanna Delancy,

 

Excellent post!  

(Disclaimer: I was born and raised in Wyoming, and I made my living for a long time with computers :-)

 

(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 3/20, 11:20am)



Post 16

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 11:37amSanction this postReply
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Deanna - Thank you for your thoughtful comments on RoR, as well as on OL before that jerk MSK banned me.

 

To clarify, I'm not arguing all games need to be tailored to hardcore gamers, nor that all games need to have a high learning curve. The problem I'm talking about is rewarding people just for showing up and preventing them from making mistakes and improving. There are still great games out there that reward skill, practice, exploration, or creativity: you just named two of them, which are Minecraft and Dance Dance Revolution. Those aren't what I'm concerned about. It's the new shooters and Wii-Mario games that make it impossible to lose and don't encourage any growth or sense of achievement in the player. I'm not blaming any game designers either, I think that's unfortunately what most people want nowadays.



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Post 17

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 2:02pmSanction this postReply
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RB,

 

I was not a participant in your disagreement with MSK at OL, and I will not be a participant in any discussion about that disagreement here at RoR.  I'm happy to respond to your threads that interest me, but I must request that you not attempt to draw me into that drama.

 

I realize that this was probably not your intention, but I feel the need to be proactive on this topic.

 

Deanna



Post 18

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 8:20pmSanction this postReply
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MSK is a posturing phony and a jerk, and I'll call him what he is. That's my decision. You can make your own decisions, and no preface or explanation is necessary.



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Post 19

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 8:34pmSanction this postReply
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I don't necessarily have any strong feelings about shooters or Mario. I've never enjoyed them much myself.  Before video caught up, the shooter graphics tended to make me motion sick, and I never regained any interest in them. Mario... well, I never saw the point. I hated the repetition.  Which brings me to what I think you're missing here. You find value in that. I don't. You may have found growth and a sense of achievement in that.  I didn't. Does that mean that I'm somehow inferior or incapable in life?  No, it just means that you could beat me at Mario. 



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