March 16, 2017

I have such ambivalence about video games.

This article might exaggerate the scale of people, especially young ones, switching to a virtual world for comfort, but maybe not.

It's crazy at how coddling single player games have become. They really want you to succeed, but feel you've accomplished something. You used to maybe need a map (heh, I think about how I never would have gotten through Metroid on NES without that player's guide map, and guidebooks were a mainstay for me in big N64 and GC games) but now that's all baked into the game. Any mission failure is immediately handled another chance, it's barely a setback, and maybe they'll quietly knock the difficulty down a few notches for you. It used to be you'd think you could get good at something, gaining skills 'til you could "beat the mission", but now it's so quick to retry and retry that sometimes you're just playing the odds.

I suppose that's less true for the online multiplayer stuff. I've always shunned that, but maybe mostly it's too bruising for my ego to get my butt handed to me by "that 12 year old who can spend all his time playing the damn thing". I guess I'm kind of amazed multiplayer avoids that, or succeeds despite that effect... I guess it's through careful tourneying, group you with like-skilled opponents?

It's such an odd blending of factors for me: fixed mindset, the desire to see a new microcosm, empowerment fantasies, fun visceral physics engines... what hardware I've favored, disliking sheer "make the number go higher" games, dabbling in creating my own tiny games, really missing having 4 or 5 people over for a round of "couch" nintendo games...

At one point I was sure that games were a good path to creating in digital media for kids, now I have my doubts. For one thing, the triple-A titles you can play are so far beyond what you can generally make. (I should keep my eyes open for tools that allow playfulness in 3D, for a start) For another, they seem to have evolved into a human-attention sucking rabbit hole - I mean they always kind of have been, but the evolution has made them that much more potent.