Explaining specific games to people who don't play them
My opinions on games have changed so rapidly and so suddenly this year that I thought I would write a series of posts about them. I guess this is the first one.
Its about explaining video games to people who don't play them.
And no I'm not trying to justify the existence of games, or explain why people play them. I'm talking about picking up a game off the shelf and explaining it to a person who doesn't regularly play games.
This is a problem I've thought about a lot but one I didn't consider worth writing about until I had to explain Viva Pinata to and older man at work who admittedly never played video games. I got to roughly the polite, retail equivilant of, "AND THEN THE PINATAS FUCK EACH OTHER," before he just shook his head and put it back on the shelf.
You could easily point at me and tell me it was my fault that I wasn't able to communicate the values of the game. I could easily say go fuck yourself because it starts way before me.
First point -- Trailers don't tell you shit.
People who play games know this. If you want to know what a game is really like you need to hunt down gameplay videos or a Let's Play. What do the gaming illiterate get?
Oh cool looks like a fantasy action game with some rpg elements. Never mind its actually a game with tons of dialogue choices and slow, tactical combat. The only thing the trailer gets right is that by playing this game you will see ridiculously bad sex scenes.
And I repeat -- we know this. But what about random dad who wants to play games so that he can relate to his kids in some way? Or how about chick who watches her brother play games all the time and wants to play one herself?
Now we've all seen this point brought up a lot, and somebody will say that games just don't give you enough to work with to make good trailers. The problem is that the indies figured it out.
I couldn't possibly argue that you can make a good trailer for every game, but at the very least publishers could try creating trailers that aren't blatantly misleading. Like I say all the time in the context of game design, stop sucking cineme's dick. Game trailers don't have to resemble movie trailers even a little bit.
Second point -- Gaming journalism is embarassing for everybody
I don't feel like I have to say anything here but I will anyway.
Gaming reviews are all about the score, and the score only matters to people who already care about games because scores no longer exist to influence your decision. They exist to reinforce the decisions made by people who already want or own the games being reviewed.
At best buy we have this awfully shitty magazing called @Gamer. I remember reading the first issue and immediately felt disappointed for paying 5 bucks for some of the most dangerous toilet paper I had ever purchased. But upon reading some of the newer issues I started to get it. It's a magazine for the lowest common denominator. Its for people who are familiar with games but haven't made them a part of their lives yet.
Its still super shitty, and panders to daft teenagers but they got that right. If only there were media that spoke to people on that level, but not insultingly.
Third point -- Aller sur une grande aventure!
The backs of game boxes are useless now. Worst case scenario is all the screenshots are from cutscenes. Best case is a giant tag line written in like nine different languages.
So why change?
The obvious benefit to developers is that they'll reach a wider audience. They won't necissarily sell more copies (because misleading customers is probably a better strategy there), but they'll get more people playing.
The benefit for the working guys like me is that they don't have to explain to grandpa the differences between call of duty 3 and modern warfare 3.
The benefit for you guys is that your pastime becomes something you can talk about with people who may have had a passive interest in it but could never dive in.
Feel free to chime in with your opinions.