Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Modern Warfare 2 and the casual gaming phenomenon: the death of real gaming, and fun...

As a gamer I feel the need to express my opinion on the whole situation because I know that if I don’t…. well nothing will happen really… but if nobody else does either then we might have a problem. So:

Over the last few years the casual gaming craze has swept the country like a medieval plague. But what exactly is casual gaming? I don’t know, you tell me. What is so casual about gaming? I remember back in high school when I used to get together with my friends and game. We would spend hours staring at screens of poorly animated and highly pixilated space marines and orcs running around a virtual battlefield shooting bullets, lightning, green goo, lasers, and “plasma” (whatever the hell that is) at each other. Fine. But in order to do this, we had to actually agree on a common location, and.. I’m going to put this on a separate line to make sure everyone reads it:

Bring our (desktop) computers there, plug them all into a router, and create a network

This was the only way to do it. Why am I telling you this? Surely it’s more convenient to be able to plug into the internet and play with your friends right? Sure.. it is. But I’m using this as an example of the spirit of the early gamers. If you were a gamer back then, you were hardcore, dedicated. Just to play the game you had to care enough….not so much these days.

As the title indicated this is a secret Modern Warfare 2 hate rant. Not because I dislike the game (actually I am starting to, very much), but because I feel like it is killing gaming. Here is why:

1) The user interface: Modern Warfare 2 has managed to take all remaining social activity out of gaming. Gaming is a social activity (despite popular belief) because you need friends to play with. Not anymore. MW2 tosses you into a random room with random people to play with. If you don’t like them, you can try to leave and join another room, but it will just put you back in the same room, now full of people who are pissed that you didn’t like them. If you have a friend that wants to tag along, he can come, but for the most part your in-game chats are limited to 1 round and then it’s “forget about everyone you just met and talk to these new 15 people.” The people in the game are basically sheep (that shoot at you) and which you try to shoot back.

2) The way it encourages play: MW2 being designed from the ground up for xbox 360 encourages people to play sitting on their couch in front of the TV, with a beer in one hand, and all their friends sitting around talking about sports. This instantly removes all competitiveness because nobody is taking the game seriously, partially because everyone around also wants to play (hence you take turns, hence you can’t really get your “groove" on) and partially because people are pouring beer down your throat while you’re trying to stab someone.

3) Gimmicky rewards that reward good/lucky players: if every time Hitler’s invading army killed 4,8, and 25 enemy soldiers they were rewarded with a drone fired and electronically guided missile, a heavily armored attack helicopter, and a nuke, respectively, they would have invaded Europe a lot more easily than they did. What happened to fighting for every kill down to the last second? MW2 rewards players for doing nothing. This is how it works - you kill me once with a single bullet to the leg or with a grenade that you blindly threw over a barn. I respawn, you use a laptop computer to guide a rocket directly up my ass and kill me. I respawn, and am killed by a Harrier hovering directly overhead. I respawn, and am killed by a Harrier again. I respawn, and the same fucking Harrier is still there, and kills me again. I respawn, and I pick my soldier with the camo and the rocket launcher to try and take out your harrier, but by that time you’ve called in an AC130, which is out of Stinger range and equipped with flares and 105mm Howitzer cannons powerful enough to kill me and all my friends in a 100 yard radius. AC130 kills me 4-5 more times. In the meantime, you racking up all those kills grants you access to better weaponry, because obviously you need the unfair advantage at that point. FML.

4) No more honor in winning/losing: when you make a game so casual that a single lucky kill can initiate a wave of killstreak rewards, you remove the thick, sticky stuff that brings gamers together between rounds. It used to be that when you gave someone a thorough beating, in Super Smash Brothers for example, you would get props and get a temporary moment of victory until the beginning of the next round when everyone would gang up on you and beat you into mush. Now when I win, instead of being proud of myself I just wait patiently for the next round to begin while strangers insult me with everything from "lucky" to black racial slurs. I'm not even black.

Ugh… don’t think I’m done yet, I will definitely be posting a part 2 to this. But for now I think this is enough. Mo out.

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