Even before the availability of online gaming, I’ve always considered video gaming to be a social activity. I started playing games with others, huddled around a console passing controllers around, taking turns in beating a particular level or a boss. When online play became widely available, I found myself making new friendships and exploring new worlds through Steam, and Playstation Network.
Buy into the hype! Playing online is fun, it’s how I met a wide group of people that I consider close friends and it’s how I met my wonderful boyfriend. The reality is, single player or multiplayer, any game can be a social game. I grew up playing games by passing a controller around with my cousins, taking it in turns to shoot dinosaurs on my Gameboy with my brother, and playing winner stays on games with my cousins. Even when I played WoW, sometimes I wanted to quest in a group, other times it was fun to quest alone, or just fly around looking at the night sky. Some compare gaming to reading a good book, or watching a good movie because you can become immersed in the world presented to you, invested and involved in the inner workings of it. You use your imagination, but the author or creator can guide you or allow you to roam as they see fit. Really good games, like good movies and books leave you feeling something when it’s all over. Even in the most rigidly defined of media texts, the creator’s vision can be interpreted by the player however they want to, because it’s their choice to. To many adults and teenagers, Grand Theft Auto is a series where you can deal drugs, steal cars and sleep with prostitutes. To a four year old boy, that game can just as easily be about saving lives and stopping bad guys. My point is? Gaming is wonderful because how we engage with the various games, genres and consoles. If we are to view videogames as an artistic medium, we have to be okay with that and in a way we should demand the freedom to make that choice from the content creators.
So when I look at games like EA & Maxim’s latest SimCity disaster and consoles like Microsoft’s newest console offering the Xbox One, I wonder if publishers and developers can really be so out of touch with their consumers. Without regurgitating information that several other news sites have expanded on in great detail, both groups of companies put their bottom line above the needs and desires of the consumer because of fear. Fear and possibly greed. The benefit of living in a free market is that we have choice. I hope that consumers defend that right to make choices by continuing to be vocal against changes which are not in their best interest.