Gaming: Evolution and Devolution

People often have trouble understanding the word “trade-off,” it is indeed easy enough to understand as exchange, but in current business parlance, it is meant to be an exchange of one good as a price for another. I was playing Final Fantasy’s Dissidia on the good old PSP yesterday when I was amazed at the replay value of the game, yes I’ve spent over 50 hours on it already, and that’s what this whole topic is about.

Normally, when you look at the oldest games like Mario and Dave, they all had one thing in common: addiction to it. I’m not promoting an obsession with anything, but this is what the current paradigm of gaming boils down to; a commodity. I’ve always been a gamer, I won’t deny that, and this is exactly my position with gaming today. The early games had a lot of things that people hooked up with, but what mattered was the level of involvement the player had with the game environment or the “world” of the game. And this involvement has little to do with the 3D graphics or the extensive options available.

The Devolution of Video Games

Let’s take a look at the progress; first, the advent of the simple arcade-style games was phenomenal to some degree. It kept players hooked and introduced a whole new boom of media to the world. This was where every kid begged for the Atari systems. Your Pentium II and III machines had Sega and NeoGeo emulators installed (mine installed both, by the way), and game elements were about difficult commands mixed with clever sequences. Take this a bit further, and the same two systems have decent mixed storytelling and continuity in the games enhances the media opportunities explored on the two avenues. The fighting game series KOF is ardent proof of that, and from there came the further emergence of turn-based strategy and role-playing games that became akin to “

Because this was where many business leaders realized that the games could be used to simulate many things, pretty much anything, so the potential as a business commodity was clear even from that point on. The progress from then on was about improving the game’s visual effects; the additions were clear that the visuals needed more work, so came the influx of investment in game studios and the push for 3D graphics in gaming. That apex can be called the secondary curve because the potential for business profit through games became unparalleled once established. Hollywood movies tell you the tale of boom and bust without fail, but games have the replay factor attached to them regardless of their audience size, which guarantees a reward.

The Evolution and Devolution of Man

And this replay factor was subsequently cashed in. We can all see the online possibilities offered by games that also paved the way for players who buy the next power-up or update online. The concept of “buy everything” is where we can point and say that gaming has evolved. So at a point where gaming was fun with added complexity, like Baldur’s Gate, Ys, Metal Gear Solid, the games were more about the value of goods.

The biggest factor in all of this is, of course, mobile gaming, and here I am pointing out the smartphone games that are purely focused on killing time. The problem arises when most smartphone gamers are not regular gamers but more to pass. So if you give a game like Subway Surfers online buying advantages for the “normal” people, there is a certain amount of competition between the console/PC games and the phone games. The niches are different, the categories are different, and the size is different. A game like Temple Run can’t be compared to Farcry 3, but eventually, when the games are about money, things get sidetracked and mixed up.

Today, fantastic game elements have been added, decorated, and perfected. Complexity is a given, and with that, some functions fit in well, while others don’t. What is generally detrimental to the gaming paradigm is the holistic focus on sales, which often leads them to compromise on many things on the part of the game. Ultimately, when gaming becomes more focused on buying rather than playing, the whole reason for playing a game is taken away.