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Topic: Are Games Becoming More Than A Medium For Having Fun?

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KratosMD

So last night I finished Persona 4 Golden and I started to think; this was the first game I've played that I've really felt such a strong emotional bond to. I feel like I know all these characters personally in real life and that we will meet each other someday again. When I played through the dungeons and the actual RPG element of the game, I had fun. But when that part transitioned into the story/social aspect of the game, I felt like I was feeling something more than fun. I felt like I was there in the game with all these people having all these different experiences. It felt so alive and every time something new happened, it affected me emotionally in real life. Whether it was feeling happy, surprised, sad or excited, I had these feelings so many times and it felt like I was truly connected to the game on a whole other level.

Let's leave Persona and talk about something that probably most of you had played, Uncharted 4. This game was probably the series' most story-driven game (yet) and a lot of people loved it for that aspect. But then you go to another side of the internet and hear all the complaints about how Uncharted 4 is an "interactive movie" and that it doesn't have enough gameplay to warrant it a game. That gets me thinking, does a game really have to have an emphasis on fun gameplay nowadays to be considered a game? How about saying that a game can be a game as long as it gives you enjoyment or entertainment in any way possible? Whether it's through text, sound, visuals or gameplay, I feel like games can be something much more than people think they are now.

I mean, back in the day, games were 2D and were considered toys for children. But as technology has advanced, games have become more and more complex. They can be more immersive than ever before, in other words they can be more than a medium for having fun I feel like. Should people take this into consideration when for example reviewing a game? Does a game have to be fun or does it only need to give you some kind of experience? Does it have to focus on gameplay? Is that what defines a game anymore? Or should you just play a game and see if you liked that form of experience that you got from it?

I feel like the main question is hard to answer if given some thought. Most people probably would say that it's obvious that a game should focus on gameplay. But look at games like Persona 4 Golden and Uncharted 4 and a lot of other games, which have received critical acclaim from gamers for its aspects. There must be some reason for why people love them so much, even if the emphasis isn't on the gameplay. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

KratosMD

Mega-Gazz

Leaving aside the semantics and definitions of certain words, certainly I think we now have a spectrum of entertainment media ranging from TV/movies to pac-man and everything in between. It doesn't really matter where one ends and the other starts, aside from communicating to consumers.

Mega-Gazz

get2sammyb

It depends what you're playing and what you want to get out of it. I will say that I think gaming as a medium is a massive underachiever. Books tell you things; movies show you things; games let you live them. Rarely do games come along that truly take advantage of how powerful the medium can be, though.

Mega-Gazz

get2sammyb wrote:

It depends what you're playing and what you want to get out of it. I will say that I think gaming as a medium is a massive underachiever. Books tell you things; movies show you things; games let you live them. Rarely do games come along that truly take advantage of how powerful the medium can be, though.

Some people would argue that the medium is the message . And I will reference here the tweets summarized in this article

With the idea of a "spectrum" of experiences in mind, games aren't underachieving by not being intellectual. In fact, I usually play games to get away from intellectualism. I just want to wind down from a long day most of the time, but not wind down to the level of television which is pretty much "off". Not to say I fault you for seeking out powerful experiences where you get to live out another life/etc.

To use the movie analogy, a summer action blockbuster is a perfectly valid type of movie, and not "less than equal to" a movie where the writer/director/actors are trying to "show you something" important. Sometimes I want one, sometimes the other. I liked Waking Life as much as I liked "Dude, Where's my Car?".

Where I will agree with you is that games aren't given enough credibility in the "adult" world to attract enough artists to the medium to generate more artistic/intellectual content... but please don't take away my wind-down action games which are devoid of higher purpose

Edited on by Mega-Gazz

Mega-Gazz

Gamer83

I've thought for a long time now that games have become more than just a medium for fun and fun alone. Don't get me wrong, there's still some games I have a blast with... Forza Horizon 3, Ratchet & Clank, Gravity Rush, Gears of War, the Mario games... these are all about simply having fun. One of my all-time favorites though, The Last of Us, is certainly not what I would call fun. The gameplay is good but very deliberately paced and isn't about just the adrenaline of a shootout or pure platforming and the story most certainly isn't 'fun' subject matter but it was such a well told story and I enjoy the added interaction the gameplay segments give it. So gaming has evolved a lot, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Gamer83

KratosMD

@Mega-Gazz: @get2sammyb:

You both have excellent points. I'm just thinking if it is acceptable by the gaming community for a game to come out and not offer much in terms of gameplay. Maybe I should've phrased that in my original post. Because just like how I talked about Uncharted 4, a lot of gamers don't seem to like the idea of games being anything other than gameplay first and foremost. Perhaps it also may be that for Uncharted, people were mostly expecting a shooter and thus they didn't get as much of an enjoyment out of it as they wanted. As you made the comparison @get2sammyb, between games and movies and books, I came to think that books can't be like movies and games, movies can't be like books and games but games can be like books and movies.

If we take P4G as an example again, that game has mostly text (books) but also cut-scenes (movies) and also delivers profound gameplay (games). It can be all that, whether it does it really well is up to the player. But the fact that games are actually able to mix all those things together makes them more special as a medium. But I don't feel like this has become an obvious thing for everyone.

KratosMD

themcnoisy

@KratosMD: Boss exposition as always mate, makes me want to play P4G all the more!

Games have evolved since "games with a story are like porn with a story" - (think that was John Carmack the doom creator). Perfect examples of this are the telltale games, gone home, journey, valiant hearts and of course final fantasy 15s bromance.

So much so that Uncharted 4s story actually put me off the game and I dislike Nathan Drake as a character. I'm fine with the gameplay but watching the sleaze ball drake and his reporter wife moseying up together made me want to be sick.

Anyway I've gone off point, but yes games are more than just fun - go and play actual sunlight and nothing about it is fun! But its still an experience.

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DerMeister

I feel like they've been like this for years. I've seen some point and click adventure games that are story driven, but I wouldn't call them fun.

For console games though, I think this really started to take shape around last generation, when indies like Braid were getting known, and there were more games that put more emphasis on stories while just using a game as a backdrop. Telltale also kicked into gear last gen as well.

Unless it's an RPG, I generally prefer more gameplay focused stuff like platformers or fighting games, but I don't have a problem with story driven games if the story is good and interesting. I'd prefer it if I could get a good experience with fun gameplay at the same time, though. Best of both worlds.

Games aren't for kids anymore (anyone who still thinks that are seriously behind the times), and I've always thought it was inevitable that games would do more than what Mario and Sonic could pull off.

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BAMozzy

Of course games can be more than 'just' fun! You wouldn't watch Schindlers List or something similar and say that was 'fun'. Games are no longer mindless past-times like cartoons or tiddlywinks but like other mediums can offer a whole lot more. Game-play is no longer ALWAYS the primary focus of gaming - Story can be more important as the tell-tale games prove.

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Mega-Gazz

BAMozzy wrote:

mindless past-times like cartoons

Hey I like cartoons!

Mega-Gazz

BAMozzy

@Mega-Gazz: I didn't say Cartoons weren't fun - and these are very different from Anime which are know could be classed as 'cartoons' too but they are nothing but slapstick mindless fun.

Point I was trying to make though is that games can be far more than just mindless fun. Its no longer just about who can get the highest score or something to just pass the time but can be so much more. Yes some games can be the equivalent to a cartoon but they can also be Star Wars or even like great literature like Lord of the Rings. Games are not just 'tiddlywinks' or 'Ludo' but can now be the equivalent of an epic movie or book with the rollercoaster of emotions that they can convey. In some games, the game-play is almost incidental, a way of taking you through the story. Instead of trying to beat your high score as the motivation to keep playing, you now have 'what happens next' with the story. Stories aren't always fun. I wouldn't say Resident Evil or Alien Isolation are 'fun' stories but like Alien or other horror movies, their stories aren't fun but some people like the tension, the scares etc. In games like Dead Space, the game-play is nowhere near as memorable as the story - not that it was poor but because it worked as expected, it allowed us to focus on the story.

A pessimist is just an optimist with experience!

Why can't life be like gaming? Why can't I restart from an earlier checkpoint??

Feel free to add me but please send a message so I know where you know me from...

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get2sammyb

@Mega-Gazz: I don't think all games need to be "intellectual"; honestly, I love mechanics-based stuff like OutRun and Super Mario and Rocket League just as much as the more (for want of a better word) "meaningful" stuff. But I do think that for an industry that's quite mature now, there are too few truly affecting games out there.

Even the cream of the crop stuff like The Last of Us doesn't come close to the best movies and literature. Sure the latter two are much, much older mediums, but I feel like there's so much untapped potential in games. And given the commercial realities of making them, I honestly question whether gaming's true potential will ever be realised.

Rudy_Manchego

I'm a big fan of story or though based gaming as a medium and I would agree with @getsammyb that the gaming medium as a whole can hone itself and make gaming more mature.

Like any entertainment medium, there are some titles that are accessible and some that aspire to loftier concepts. As @MegaGazz mentioned about summer blockbusters - sometimes you want summer popcorn movies, sometimes you want something more cerebral. I agree but as is the same with summer movies, a popcorn movie can still have a good, well thought out plot and developed characters. The best popcorn movies combine fun with an engaging storyline and characters. You root more for the good guy if you care about them. I think the same is true of gaming - a game may be all shooty bang bang but why does that mean that the accompanying story can't be thought out? Plot is very often at concept level and fashioned to match gameplay. UC4 was just over the top silliness, it had no pretensions to be anything different but it did it with a fun story and developed characters. I am playing Rise of the Tomb Raider and enjoying it but the characters and the linking between set pieces are really generic as opposed to UC4. The Madagascar scene was great because I understood what was at stake for the characters and what it meant to the plot. I don't feel the same in ROTTR.

Of course, a downside to story led gaming is that stories are a personal thing - people can like or dislike characters/plots or narratives because everyone has opinions. I know that UC4 has its detractors because they didn't like the characters or story and if you don't like it then the accompanying gameplay isn't awe inspiring enough.

I also don't think that maturity necessarily means traditional storytelling, I think it means crafting experiences. Rocket League is a great game because it is crafted well - it doesn't have a story but it understands the principals of sport and includes everyone. Skill level helps but doesn't exclude anyone. Some games can tell a story through art or level design - take the Dark Souls series or Bloodborne. VR games are definitely more experiences then traditional games for me and the best have really engaged me.

Gaming has so much potential because it can be so so diverse as long as we don't limit boundaries and try new things.

Now I may be an idiot, but there's one thing I am not sir, and that sir, is an idiot

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Mega-Gazz

BAMozzy wrote:

@Mega-Gazz: I didn't say Cartoons weren't fun

Sorry I should have been more clear, text does that. This was meant to be a light hearted quip not a serious point of debate . The thread seemed to need some levity

get2sammyb wrote:

Even the cream of the crop stuff like The Last of Us doesn't come close to the best movies and literature. Sure the latter two are much, much older mediums, but I feel like there's so much untapped potential in games. And given the commercial realities of making them, I honestly question whether gaming's true potential will ever be realised.

I agree on both points there. As I said above, I think that games are not taken seriously enough in the "adult" world, and therefore doesn't yet attract the people to produce the stuff you're talking about.

And unfortunately the commercial/financial reality is only going to get worse, and getting AAA standard quality of game combined with any sort of literary expression or intellectualism [that may be the wrong word, but its 8am so I'll go with it] is going to be a real tough sell to the executive approving the project.

Mega-Gazz

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