Trends and Video Games
Gaming is first and foremost an entertainment industry and as such, it has its own trends. Just like TV, comics and movies, video games have a game genre or game theme that is “in” for a certain time. After some months or years, people get tired of it and it goes away. Most gamers have certainly been affected by those trends at least once, changing their gaming experience for a while. So, let’s take a look at some of these trends.
One of the most recent trends is the Zombie Trend. Now, granted, zombie games have been around for quite a while. Take, for example, Resident Evil. However, the zombie genre has seen a resurgence in the last few years. This probably has to do with the mainstream appeal it now enjoys, thanks to things like The Walking Dead TV series. It makes sense for something that is succesful in other mediums to move into gaming, since a decent portion of the gaming audience has probably seen or read things with zombies. So, from about 2008 and onwards we’ve seen a ton of zombie games. While most of them follow the survival path, there are some that try another way, like Telltale’s adaptation of The Walking Dead. The zombie trend has given us many great games, but also many failures. For example, we have DayZ. DayZ started out as a popular mod for the game Arma II. After seeing its success, its creators decided to make a standalone version, which entered the Steam Early Access program on December 16 2013. It is now two and a half years later and the game is still in its Alpha state in Early Access. It’s still buggy and glitchy, with tons of hackers and technical issues. It’ll probably stay that way forever. All in all, while the zombie craze has largely subsided, zombie games are still being made in abundance, as we saw both in this year’s E3 and also with some indie games, like March of the Living.
Another trend that appeared a little bit after the Zombies is the Dark Souls Trend. Dark Souls is a game made by From Software and is a spiritual successor to the company’s previous game, Demon Souls. Dark Souls got quite a bit of attention when it was released for Playstation, and even more when it came to PC in 2012. It has since spawned two sequels, Dark Souls II and III, and is praised as one of the best games of all time. It is therefore natural that people want to imitate it and entice its vast audience. I bet that if you think for a bit you can find at least a few games that were marketed with some form of the sentence “Dark Souls-like”, for example “Dark Souls-like combat”. Honestly, some of those games are pretty good. However, the mere comparison to Dark Souls takes people’s expectations too high. If they had been marketed in some other way, people would actually like them more since they wouldn’t be subconciously comparing them to Dark Souls the entire time. That said, I honestly really like the fact that more games are taking the “hard but fair” approach to combat instead of the “Have a gun, kill things” approach. I would also really love it if more games took the Dark Souls approach to their lore and environmental storytelling, because damn is that part of the Dark Souls series amazing.
Now for an older one. If you were a kid back in the years 2002-2008 you definitely played at least one World War II game. I’ve captured Berlin and fought in the beaches of Normandy countless times. Eventually though, people got tired of WWII, with only a handful of games with that theme being released this decade. However, I believe this is one of those trends that has come full circle, which means that we’ll start seeing more WWII games very very soon. The reason I believe that is that WWII is becoming more and more popular in other mediums, such as movies. In the last couple of years we’ve had films such as Fury, Unbroken and Monuments Men, with more coming, like Dunkirk. This means more people will get interested in WWII again, leading in more games made about it. This time around though, I’d like to see some different areas of the war, like the Sino-Japanese War, the invasion in the south of France and more.
The last trend I want to talk about is the futuristic one. This is probably the newest one and it’s gathering quite a lot of steam these days, what with the new Call of Duty and all. I’m a bit torn on this one. I really like the whole premise of it, but I want to see it expanded a bit more. I want to see more of how a futuristic world looks, not just firefights and explosions. This probably means that I’ll have to wait for some Indie games on it, which will certainly come, if they aren’t out already.
All in all, I think trends are a really good thing for games. They allow people to focud their efforts on one thing and perfect it as much as possible. Even better, trends in video games are not this huge roadblock that prevents other types of games from being made, which means that even if you dislike something you can find other games to play. Personally, I’m looking forward to the next trend.
-Philip “Snowchill” Alexandris