Friday, November 21, 2014

Experiential Gaming

I was at a friends' house a couple weeks ago, and we were watching some random Twitch streams. He's got an Xbox One, so we were able to browse Twitch from the comfort of his living room couch. Anyways, the stream that we settled on was a guy playing the recently released Alien: Isolation on his PS4. He was very animated, and he did a great job of ramping up the tension in the stream. He was clearly nervous and scared (of the outcome of the game, not of streaming; he seemed perfectly comfortable sharing his gaming experience, and I wish I remembered his name). He was truly "experiencing" this game.

As I watched, I realized that this guy's gaming experience is almost completely opposite my own recent experience, and his experience is what I wish I was getting out of gaming.

I've been playing the following games of late:

PAYDAY 2

Payday 2 has a number of different heists, usually with both a stealth and "loud" approach. Each mission holds several different challenges, and some are multi-day affairs that change based on your actions on the first day. The game also offers a wide variety of moddable weapons and customizable masks, both of which are consistently supplemented through DLC (some of which I've bought, some I've not bought).

But I've really done everything I wanted to do in Payday 2. There are some achievements I don't have, some guns I haven't bought, and some missions I haven't completed on the highest difficulties, but I don't feel compelled to satisfy any of those "incomplete" aspects of the game. I've completed all I feel compelled to complete from this game, though I keep playing, because "levels" and "unlocks" I guess.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

About two months ago, I decided to finally check out the Star Wars MMO. I was a huge fan of Knights of the Old Republic, and I had actually played a little bit of the beta for SW:TOR. It was fun enough, and story-heavy, which is a nice change of pace from some of the other MMOs I've played. So I've been playing for a while now, and while the stories are interesting (and unique for each class!), I find that most of my time "playing" the game is simply spent on crafting while I do some other task outside of the game, like watch a TV show or work on a Magic deck. It's like I'm only seeking the regular validation of a successful crew mission, not actually caring about the time spent.

Pattern?

Counter-Strike:Global Offensive

I go through spurts of playing CS:GO a lot or very little. The game recently began a new "Operation," which involves a few new maps, some new weapon skins, and a revival of the mission system that was present in the last operation. The missions require you to complete some task in the game (get 20 kills in deathmatch, win a match on a particular map, etc), and after completing the mission, you receive a reward of some in-game item. These items can be worth anywhere from $0.03 (most often) up to a hundred dollars or more (pretty rare, obviously). So, naturally, I grind out some games here and there to feel like I'm "accomplishing" something.

What the shit, right?

Remember the old days of playing games just because you hadn't beaten them? Or damn, I mean, I've played Mega Man 2 a thousand times, and probably 900 of those times were after I'd beaten the game. I keep playing because the gameplay itself is fun. I don't get any achievements or register any points when I play. I just play.

So much of my gaming these days is in pursuit of small, artificial, unsatisfying goals. I'm not saying I don't like getting achievements; I'm saying I want to want to play the game, not solely want to pursue the achievements.

I have managed to get back to playing "the game" of Star Wars; I'm actually scheduled to regress from "subscriber" to "preferred user" in the next day or so, so actually I'll have fewer options with regards to crew skills and auction houses anyways. It's possible that this artificial barrier, designed to encourage users to re-subscribe, might actually help me play the game I want to play it again.

I have 846 games just on Steam. I've got a dozen more on Origin, maybe 40 on GOG.com, and probably another 30-40 on Xbox 360 (my one console that's set up). There's literally zero chance that there isn't a game in here that will get my blood pumping again. I just have to A) find it, and B) feel like I'm okay with adding a new game to my "rotation." I should feel that way, since as I said, my gaming isn't satisfying me in its current state. But I'm a complicated guy, so you never know.

1 comment:

Chip said...

FTL: Faster than Light

BOOM... done and done.

That or Jurassic Park. Take your pick.

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