From the beginning of time in video games, there have been shifts in how the games are made and how the story is told. Before it was a simple 8-bit pong story of a friendly competition and that has transitioned to a Wi-Fi-loaded, 1080p experience of just about anything you can think of. Want to build your world? – Minecraft. Want to rob a bank? – Grand Theft Auto. Want to play as a starter on the pitch for one of the best teams in the world? – FIFA. Games have come so far that now when my parents look at the TV. screen they are utterly stunned by the advancement of the graphical arts in video games. A graphical change has been the highlight of games for nearly 20 years now.
It has always pushed the industry of gaming to its limits to ensure a look as similar to reality as possible. Although this has been a driving force within gaming, and for gamers, this isn’t the shift that I am trying to underline. Regardless of the graphical capability of a system, the MOST important part of the event is gameplay. Regardless of graphical art or not, if the game isn’t playable then well, it really can’t be tolerated. Nowadays the consoles have been hit hard, and influenced even more, by a competitor that has seemingly locked down the consumers want in play: the MMO.
As gamers, what is better than making your own character (the way you want it to look) and building up skills the way you see your character and yourself playing the game? It is this gift that has been presented to us, but most of the time it is a double edged blade. This ability, this paradigm shift, has come about and has brought with it a new wave of gamers, as well as a lot of dedication time that these gamers must endure. Whether you consider it good or bad, it is here to resonate for some time. The paradigm shift I am talking about is that of a linear gaming experience now having been turned on its head to resemble the ever popular MMORPG style of game that has been dominant on the PC.
When I was able to purchase my first console with my own allowance money, that console was the PS One. It came with the attachable screen for traveling purposes, but more importantly it was accompanied by games such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and Crash Bandicoot. These games were great. What they all shared was a main character, a main villain, and a fun and entertaining story line to play through. Also, what these games had (we could label it almost, “this generation of gamers” created) was a linear game style. By saying linear style, I am referring to the build of the levels and how the game is played out. Yes, the games previous listed are great games (and are a PlayStation bias, but even if you look at how Halo was created, Gears of War) but there is almost an invisible director behind the scenes allowing you to move through the levels in a certain way. These certain games enable the player to treasure hunt, find Easter eggs, yet the story line itself is more influential to the style of play then the gamer’s decision on how to attain the final goal. In a sense, more limited for the gamer.
The paradigm shift now incases the gamer in the world. Decisions have to be made such as; “Do I conquer this stronghold, or do I continue with the story line (thank you Shadows of Mordor for allowing me to use this example)? Do chase after my goal of winning the last race, or do I upgrade my car as much as possible, race other players and then go after the last race? Should I play the non-existent story line in Destiny, or do I just choose to PvP to level to 20? Prior to these consoles (by these I mean PS4, Xbox One and ever more changing Wii U) these decisions weren’t as easily, or flexible. Granted if you were on the pc playing a massively multiplayer role playing game, then you did have this experience, however for the noobs out there, this will be a shocker. The linear game has been changed to a mantra heard at the last E3 – “open world”, “free roam”. These concepts have been making “their” way into the brains of developers, who have in turn put them into the brains of the gamer. This shift has been slow, maybe even before the next gen with the introduction of GTAV, or even beforehand.
Is this shift a plus? Or is it a way to get gamers to ultimately pay upwards of 90 dollars per game after the DLC’s have been purchased? Eventually games are going to have to go down in price, yet the industry is pumping out extra content as a marketable event, causing the games to be even larger. This isn’t an issue with me and how I game, yet if it is something to debate about, then why not attack the fact that it costs me more to game now? Yes free roam is something I enjoy, yet other times I just need the option to beat levels. I was born on levels, and now it has shifted towards an open map, open world, to choosing which missions best fit my mood at the time (unless it is a ‘story mission’ then which is a necessity to play and beat). This style hasn’t taken on to every game because every game doesn’t need to utilize this style of creation. However, it is only a matter of time before each game adopts this lifestyle of development, so be mindful of your time, and your wallet.