Amid all the new systems, games, bundles and other shenanigans throughout E3, one common theme can be discerned amid the mix of disconcerting euphoria: Gaming should be enjoyed by all, not just some. Is this the trend we can expect to see the upcoming generation of gaming to follow? Is it the path that has the interests of all gamers–and not just some–in mind?
Before being introduced to some degree by all of the major players in the electronic entertainment industry, the concept of bringing all kinds of gamers to a system had recently been actively pursued by Nintendo at the start of it’s Wii era and was eventually adopted more actively by Microsoft and Sony with the addition of the Kinect and Move respectively. So by E3 2011 the concept wasn’t necessarily novel when Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft and others cited it as an important concept behind all of their reveals this year.
To look at it more in-depth, there are many reasons why these entertainment giants have been pushing this concept so much this year with not just their pretty little speeches between reveals, but also during reveals of their new shiny toys. To simplify things we’ll go with the noble and selfish reasonings for this possible new trend.
First the noble reason, the “we care about your gaming experience” rationale. This is the reason we often hear around press events like E3 because it is arguably one of the more PR-friendly and appropriate (if not the coolest if the reveals are done right) places to do so. All it takes is a flowery choice of words, some friendly body language on stage and some nod to a casual style of dress to connect with the audience better to seal the deal away. It really makes you feel like your wants matter and they care about “you.”
Then there’s the cold water to the face reason, the six-letter word: profit. While some companies may truly care about the gaming experience, it’s hard to look past the reality that these companies need to think about their bottom-line just as much as their passion for the art of video gaming. To that end, the PR-friendly statements of “enhancing the gaming experience” and the push toward including everyone in the video game experience may be another sign of the need to stay ahead of the competition or to simply keep in the black.
Sorry if I burst your “they care about me, yay!” bubble there, but it’s best to overturn as many stones as possible when looking at something like this. While we’re overturning stones, let’s look at how this kind of trend will influence the gaming community? It’s hard to tell for sure, but many viewers who Tweeted or posted on Facebook during Ubisoft’s unveiling of Rocksmith and Just Dance 3 expressed a disbelief that companies were making more “casual” games and then there were some expressions of complete horror and made it seem like the producing of more casual games was as if some sort of cataclysmic doomsday that would bring about the end of video gaming as we know it.
Calm down Vader, sheesh, let me continue…acting like someone died…RUDE.
At any rate, I’d guess this range in reactions from some of the more self-titled serious gamers is to be expected whenever there is a game unveiled that doesn’t involve the stereotypical signs of a “hardcore video game” (guns, lasers, swords, galactic dogfighting, dungeon crawling, blood, loot experience bars and so on), but is this reaction substantiated? It’s possible that the gaming community will continue to take on more casual gamers in this generation, considering the Kinect and Move were pushed pretty heavily in Microsoft and Sony’s presentations alongside titles that appear very family-friendly (such as Kinect: Disneyland Adventures and Medieval Moves), but consider the other titles that were announced at this E3 (Uncharted 3, Farcry 3, and a possible new Smash title).
It seems to be a pretty even balance at any rate, for as many games that may be labeled as casual games there is at least one recognizable “hardcore” title to match up to it. Besides, even if this generation sees more casual gamers enter the community, is it necessarily a bad thing? Or are we as gamers making something more of it than there really is? At first I was one of those naysayers about casual gaming, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize it may not be such a bad thing.
The casual games may not be what those of us–who grew up playing Sonic, Ninja Gaiden and The Legend of Zelda–think of as serious games, but why do we do not consider them serious? Because they aren’t what we grew up playing, or because if they get so popular that publishers will focus more on making those kinds of games, leaving us in the dark?
Do we not consider the people who play these games as gamers by extension? Or is is because we don’t feel like they deserve the moniker for whatever reason (they didn’t do the long hours of play time, the 8-bit games, the late night fragfests with Mountain Dew and pizza)?
I know not all gamers are “anti-casual,” but just figured I would throw out something to think about as the E3 press conferences winds down and we’re left to make sense of the year to come.
What do you guys think?