Do you feel like you’ve changed as a gamer? Not in terms of the amount of time playing games or other cursory elements like that. We’ve all had changes in our lives that have caused us to shift our gaming habits. I mean do you, at your core, feel like you’re a different type of player than you were 15, 10, or even five years ago? Do you have the same motivations for playing? The same goals? Are you still the adventurous type, or would you rather stick with what you know now? We enthusiasts are often called the “core” audience. I just can’t help but wonder if this “core” hasn’t shifted in one way or another.
As much as I’d love to to be able to make a sweeping declaration about how the “core” audience has changed over the years, I simply can’t. As much as we get boiled down into trends and numbers by marketers and the like, we’re all different individuals with different reasons for what we do. So, I’ll be looking at this through the lens of my own experiences and what I’ve observed in those I play games with regularly. In my case, I know that I’ve changed as a gamer. I’ve mentioned other posts that I don’t care all that much about challenge in my games…but I used to. It wasn’t my biggest reason for playing, but I’d still try to achieve mastery in the games I liked. I finished the Halo games on “Legendary”, got the “Brass Balls” achievement in BioShock, beat all 3 Mass Effect games on “insanity” difficulty, and even completed the hard mode version of “Test Chamber 18” in Portal. If those games had come out now though, I doubt I’d try to do any of those things. In fact, the gamer I am now would probably see doing such things as a waste of time.
I’ve also become much more of a social gamer. If Destiny or The Division had come out 5 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with them. The focus on cooperative play, having to always be online, and not being able to pause would have been a huge deal-breaker. I was all about the solo experience, of absorbing a story and learning more about the world it was taking place in. A cooperative shooter that was more about the basic gameplay and less about building a world and narrative wouldn’t have been very appealing at all. Now though, these sorts of shared-world games are something that I welcome in my library as another means of connecting with friends that I don’t get to see very often.
I’ve seen changes in those I play with as well. I’ve seen someone who was formerly a devoted completionist relax into a player who’s simply happy to finish the game. I’ve also seen someone who was all about the latest and greatest decide to devote their time to just one game. These are just my personal observations, but I doubt I’m the only one who’s seen change in the goals and motivations for themselves and others.
It’s kind of interesting don’t you think? We’ve seen many changes in games over the years, and often we lament them to one degree or another. Our nostalgic notions tell us that games were better in the past, but would we still be playing if video games hadn’t changed along with us? I for one would like to think that I’d be around for all the new adventures and stories regardless of change, but I can’t really be sure. If games were the same now as they were in the eras of the N64 and Gamecube, I could very likely have simply gotten bored and ceased to see value in continuing to play. It makes one wonder just how much we need change, even if we don’t like it.
So, how have you changed as a gamer? Do you think you would still be playing if gaming was a static thing instead of the constantly evolving industry we’ve come to know?