It’s the Simple Things…

Alen Chao, Article No Comments

Alen Chao | May 11, 2012

These days, the gaming industry is dominated by the hype and flash of big development companies making blockbuster games. They were critical in the heydays when video games were just a budding hobby, and mostly responsible for the widespread use today. Every season, new games are coming out, rehashing the previous successes while slapping on an extra “perk” or “choose-your-own” mechanics. Despite the decades of developing games and millions of dollars in financial backing, these games are still hit or miss. Yet, they continue to hold the measuring stick by which popular video games are defined. How to solve this dilemma of consistently obtaining and playing an enjoyable game?

Good news! You do not have to look to the major game developers and big-name companies to find good games. Sometimes, the value of a quality game comes from knowing yourself, with a bit of exploration. Going off the beaten path sometimes could yield great rewards. Nowadays, Indie developers are gaining recognition along with the big players in the industry. They are doing as good of a job in producing games that really reach out to players, if not better. Without the shackles of contractual obligations and primarily pleasing the stakeholders, Indie developers are throwing caution to the wind to experiment with different mechanics and styles to offer players many refreshing options. While they might not deliver the range that a major company would provide, the few dimensions that they choose to focus on are solid and hard-hitting.

I miss the old days sometimes, when graphics and perks were not attainable due to the technological powers at the time. Back then, a game survived the market by its usability and playability. What we consider “classics” now, have operated on fundamental mechanics that we now know make a game truly successful. Collision detection, flow, palatable scenery, usability, and replay value are just some of the factors that were later discovered to be winning formulas. When managed appropriately, these factors result in a good game that can quickly become fan favorites and classics for decades.

These techniques are still being re-discovered today. User-created content in many browser-based flash game sites are making new games every hour. They have evolved from simple Tetris clones into solid game makers that can go toe-to-toe with the big boys. Console offer arcades at reduced prices as a medium for these individuals to share their creation, and for players to explore new frontiers. To reel back even further, enjoyable games can be created by anyone, even without the use of computer programming. Much like children making up the rules as they play along, so have grown ups modding their tabletop games and adjusting old board games. The possibilities are endless when rules are twisted and morphed into something that everyone at the table can find challenging and entertaining.

We don’t have to look to the shelves and empty our wallets for promises. Sure, the graphics might be nicer, and the metrics are more complex. There might be situations where games made by lesser known entities turn out to be a waste of time, too. But, focusing just on heavily-commercialized games would leave a majority of the gaming entertainment realm unexplored. Recognizing the rest might open up a new horizon in inspirations and what games could truly achieve.


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