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Are modern gamers spoiled? Well, let’s take a look at some modern gaming standards. We can choose from a multitude of different genres, platforms and whether or not we want to play solo or online. Players can create perfect-looking characters and can customize everything down to the color of the person’s eyes. But has this made us more demanding as gamers? Is it fair that in today’s gaming era we press developers for new games, content or map packs in an unfair stretch of time? Is it justifiable when, as gamers, we throw a tantrum because our favorite leading lady or man is killed off at the end of a series, resulting in, what we determine to be an unfavorable outcome? A lot of players today will give a poor review on a game just because the end or something somewhere in the game hasn’t gone the way they would have personally liked. Or is it simply down to the fact that as a community, we take what we have for granted?
Back when I was a little kid, we had most of the earliest consoles – the NES, SNES, Megadrive, Dreamcast, N64, Playstation, and so on. I wasn’t lucky enough to have the Commodore or Atari, but the consoles we did have were impacted me tremendously, so much so that to this very day I could still happily sit down and play them for hours like I did back then.
Nowadays, we have the current generation of consoles like the Nintendo Wii (soon to be Wii U), Xbox 360, PS3, and of course, high end PCs with i7 processors and top-of-the-line graphics cards. Today’s machines can handle anything the developers throw at them: high definition visuals, large amounts of shadowing, multiple things happening at once in a scene, interacting with the cut scenes (as in mass effect with the paragon/ renegade options) and fine attention to detail on background objects such as walls or trees. It truly is a great time to be a gamer.
That said, do gamers appreciate the evolution of consoles? Have we become so spoiled that many wouldn’t be happy to jump from playing Crysis to playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES? Is this for good reasons though? I remember sitting in front of my consoles for a good few hours blowing into the cartridges, into the machine itself, hitting restart, and jiggling the aerial cable around just to get a picture, and sometimes I would just have to settle for playing it in black and white rather than color because the aerial connection for our SNES wasn’t 100%. I know that some of the old computer-style machines like the Commodore would see players type in a sequence of coding only to have them wait a few hours for it to load just so they could play a game such as Pong. That was simply what the majority of people would have to do in order to get their consoles working, but nobody complained. Struggling to get a console or its games to operate at all was just the norm, we had nothing to compare it to.
Now we have generations of console cycles to compare it to, but have our expectations grow exceedingly outlandish? These days, gamers will score Diablo III with a 1/10 on sites such as Metacritic just because the servers have been made temporarily unavailable, bringing the overall game score down significantly. A lot of people on Star Wars: The Old Republic’s forums complain when their servers are down for maintenance, and therefore will cease their subscriptions. This kind of behavior is destroying game scores, making games like this inevitably end up as a Free-To-Play, because they need the custom.
With the Mass Effect trilogy, Bioware put in so many hours and so much hard work into creating the game, which in my opinion, turned into the perfect series. Yet, people don’t like the end of the third game, so to try to keep fans happy Bioware felt forced to release an alternate ending. I’m on the fence about this, because while I think they should have left it as it was, I like the fact that development companies actually pay attention to their fan base and are willing to alter and edit things in order to please people. I don’t think that’s much a bad thing, but, at the same time, I don’t feel it’s right to just expect a company to change the way they made a game simply because as an individual you didn’t like the way it ended. When you go back to the days of Super Mario Bros., I’m sure many fans were disappointed when they fought Bowser and still got the message “Sorry Mario, but our princess is in another castle”. Disappointment did mean we complained until we got our way though.
Why is it, that in today’s world, fans can be this way? Perhaps the reason behind the raging fanbase is the accessibility. Players can post things like this to websites, bringing the score of the game down, whereas when the NES was popular, families just didn’t have access to the internet like we do today.
I believe that the problem is down to impatience and greed as a community, greed not in a fiscal sense, but in what we expect. We expect too much from developers in a short space of time. Also, If one game sets a high standard on a genre, we expect every game, including smaller indie games, to be to the same high standard. Yet if and when they inevitably fall short, we feel disappointed. Take World of Warcraft for example, it has been running for over 8 years now and when Blizzard released Diablo III fans were outraged at having to wait for things like the auction house. Shouldn’t it be obvious a new game will not have as much content as something that has been running for 8 years? But we seem to take all this for granted, set our standards too high, and expect too much. What does this mean for future gamers? If we look 20 years into the future from today, what will we see? Will it be a pleasant change, or a shocking one?