Heya readers, I have been spending a lot of time playing some very specific games lately and after I figured i was mainly spending time on those, I thought about writing a little article about my experience with those and then my sudden realization.
You all know me and my love for indie games, but unfortunately, despite the amount of miniscule amount of time that I have in a week, let alone a day, I have found myself not playing that many indie games lately. To be fair, if it was not for the weekly streams where I showcase 2-3 different indie games every Tuesday and Thursday and play something else on Wednesday, I honestly do not know how many different ones I would be trying out. It is not because I have grown tired of them or because I do not find any interesting ones. On the contrary, I find so many interesting ones that I really want to try out that it makes me both sad and mad when I realize that I still haven’t tried them out and more awesome ones are coming out.
What is the cause of all this though? Why do I not dedicate time to indie games anymore you may ask. Well this is why I am writing this article, to explain why, not only me, but many players out there, the majority I’d say, are starting to get addicted to a certain kind of video games.
This case has been seen before in other forms of art as well. The fast and easy route in art, or the exciting 3 minutes dose of beat-ful happiness in music. Let’s take music as an example. Classical music is still a thing, yet a little bit less than in the past and continuously becomes less the more time passes. The reasons behind this are many, but we will be looking at a very specific one for our case, the fact that popular music, the one with the most reach in this case, is the music that lasts a very short amount of time and keeps things simple and interesting. A fast beat, a catchy riff, intro – verse – bridge – verse and you are done. The masses have been brainwashed to hurry up in anything they do in their lives and that is art indulgence included. This, my dear readers, is starting to affect video games too.
Even though I am a huge fan of post-rock, I still find myself aching for some fast beats on days where I am working on something. I seek to feel that fast 3 minute catchy song that will make my mind pump. I fear that I will slowly get out of my ability to enjoy longer-lasting music with more essence and meaning to it (because of its build-up). Fortunately, I still have that and I do have some impulsive moments where I feel like listening to long-lasting post-rock songs or other kinds of music. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening for me in the video games world.
I used to be a competitive gamer and I spent a lot of hours on some games and that made me realize years later that I hadn’t been spending time on many other titles that were interesting in their own way, thus making me miss a lot of awesome gaming moments. So much art out there and I was focusing on only just a couple titles. Sure those titles were great and I was really good at them, but in the end of the day, it is what you get out of your gaming hours. Surely some will say “I get just as much out of playing the same game because I just prefer that.” I am just going to tell you now, that you are NOT allowed to say such a thing, not when you haven’t tried many other video games out there (no, same genre video games do not count). I have grown to become a journalist who is able to play pretty much any kind of video game, learn it fast and become good at it when I spend more time on it because of my understanding and experience on video games. With that understanding and experience I am going to tell you that you can’t say that playing only Counter Strike is just better for you. It’s like saying that only listening to one genre allows you to fully grasp the meaning and glory of music as an art.
There are so many video game developers out there, all with their own values, concepts and ideas and yet we spend our time playing the same-concept games over and over again. Not only that, we buy into the whole “franchise” thing too by trying out all the continuations of a title. Sure, Assassin’s Creed 2 was awesome and so was the 3rd installation to the series, but when is it that the game becomes a bit too repetitive? When and where do we draw the line? Even worse of a case are remasters. The salt of the earth in my opinion, especially when you are basically just reworking the graphics a tad bit. There are good remasters such as Day of the Tentacle of course, but there are also terrible remasters such as The Last Of Us which literally came out one year later than the original one.
Word goes out here to all the awesome developers though who actually manage to make those games. I mean, I might hate Hearthstone for being considered a “competitive game” with all the shitty-RNG that runs through its digital veins, but on the other hand, I do recognize that it is a brilliant game that allows you to pass time in a very enjoyable way. Same goes for other games such as, Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Counter Strike, Call of Duty etc. These are all great games (except for LoL) and they are played so much for good reasons. I mean, some of them have of course become entirely shit and there are other games just waiting to replace them, but still, the main idea remains the same. Those 5-10 minutes of gaming that you want to have sometimes during the day, that basically end up being 30 and 60 minutes once you get into it. This is the “problem” though that I have been facing. I am a pretty good player at Overwatch and I do enjoy being rewarded for being good at it as much as I enjoy playing it, but the thing is that all those “action” and “fast” games have spoiled me.
I love adventure games and there were times when for weeks straight I would only play adventure games. Now, even though there are still quite a few I want to try out (both reportedly good and bad ones, can’t know for myself unless I try them out though) and yet I cannot find the time to play them. Or, even worse, I lose interest fast because I get invites from friends who are also playing those “action” and “fast” games. I feel as if I will start being socially awkward if I don’t join my friends in any sort of game they are playing and play a single player game instead. This is not the truth though. Just like with watching a movie, video games are a form of art that tells stories. Even more specifically, they tell a story in a very interactive way that allows you to experience things in an even more awesome way. You know all that stuff though, no need for me to repeat it for you.
Hyper Light Drifter easily became one of the best games I have ever played and it ascended all the way to the top of my favourite games list (which I should make a post about at some point by the way). I loved it for all sorts of reasons. It felt fast at the start but then it slowed down and allowed me to enjoy it. I actually spent a lot of time researching all of its lore and secrets after having finished the game and I came back to it on New Game+ (harder and with less health) playthrough in order to do a 100% clear of the game. I am quite proud of that achievement and I feel that it was a way back into the whole “indulging in video games the right way” kind of thing. I am mentioning HLD though because it is a perfect example of how games should be. Less words, more interactive gameplay. You can check out a very nicely made YouTube video that I will put below this paragraph that explains why HLD is bringing what is needed in the video games industry.
I believe it’s great that games like Overwatch are being made, since it is by all means a masterpiece and it is addictive (as I already mentioned) for good reasons. However, we need to allow ourselves to realize how we should be indulging in this form of art. We need to distance ourselves from the marketing traps that big companies like EA, Ubisoft and Sony set up for us with all the continuations of franchises that have been running for 10+ years now. They are great, but we need to start supporting different and new concepts rather than just condoning the old and recycled ones. Of course there is no entirely “new” thing in any form of art, but there are quite a few titles out there that will give you a totally different experience from what you’ve tried before. I am not saying support the indies scene, I am saying support your way of enjoying art and allow yourself to learn how to enjoy it even more.
I’ll make a little list of weird and different games for you to try out sometime next week since I believe that despite our constant need to categorize games, there are quite a few out there that will surprise you with their amazing and obscure (compared to what you are used to) gameplay.
-Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis