When I was a kid, I spent a huge amount of time on my old-school Gameboy trying to get past level 5 on Super Mario Land. I was fascinated with how simple it was: Move to the right, jump on things, eat mushrooms. It was a pattern that, if followed in real life, would lead to ruin – But it was so fun.
Until I finally realized how hard it was for a 5 year-old to beat. As I mentioned, I just couldn’t get past level 5, much less beat the game. After a while, I stopped thinking it was fun at all. So, why was I so fascinated by it? Was it the challenge? The plumber? The mushrooms?
Well, I think it was the mindless novelty of it, actually.
A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to catch the feeling that games like Mario, Doom, and the other second generation video games seemed to create when they were children – Too many of them focus a lot on the difficulty. While I don’t have to go a whole lot into Shamus’s Do It Again, Stupid to make my point, if you look at a number of older games, that was the “difficult” part of the game play – Extremely punishing for even the smallest mistakes that would cause you to do something over and over again.
Is it fun to be tasered every time you spill some food? Surely the reward of eating is nice, but every you spill something or drop a Cheerio you wouldn’t be able to finish the meal. The fact that you didn’t get electrocuted this meal doesn’t make the meal that much more rewarding.
So it definitely wasn’t the punishing game play that a lot of developers seem to think is what we want.
So, I jumped the bandwagon with a bunch of other blogs and did the BrainHex quiz. It’s interesting how a few simple questions can come up with so much about you, and here’s what it came up with about me:
I was browsing the inter-web when I found this little jewel: Extra Credits – Which pretty much takes gaming and explains the why of it. It’s really well put together, and if you’re interested in figuring out some of the deeper cultural and psychological aspects of gaming and game culture, check it out. The makers do a fantastic job of wrapping up things quickly and with an adorable sense of humor.
I’ma go waste the rest of my evening watching more episodes, now.
Do you like Minecraft and First Person Shooters?
There’s a game for that. It’s called Ace of Spades.
I recently bought and started playing Minecraft, a sandbox game made by a Swedish pirate. Minecraft feels a lot like playing with oversized Legos – You essentially start out in a procedurally generated world and run around punching things to make more things out of, while trying to avoid getting pummeled yourself, shot, or blown up. I’ve been enjoying it more and more as updates have been coming out, and it’s fun being able to play out an idea or construct something out of materials you’ve harvested from the depths of the earth.
I’ve recently started playing a browser based game called World of the Living Dead. It’s a rough game, since it’s still in closed beta (So you have to request a key if you want to join), but I find it incredibly fun, but not just because it’s a game that’s set in modern LA and uses Google Earth to give you a playing field – It’s interesting because it raises some questions. In my mind, at least.