Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Places You'll Go

Something that's occurred to me lately is that gaming puts me in a lot of different places, and not just in terms of game settings, but also states of mind. No one who reads this blog will be surprised to learn that I think a lot about the games I play; not specifically about the games themselves, but about which games I play, and when, and where, and that I think about them in groups of genres or in groups according to their IP, or what have you.

Lately, the new Final Fantasy hitting the shelves and the large pile of neglected DS games I have here (all very Japanese) have been thrown into contrast with the large amount of 360 and PC and PS3 games that are coming out that I want to play, and that I already have and want to play (95% very Western). What I've noticed here is that over the long years that I've been gaming, my tastes have evolved from one type of thing to another. This would hardly be remarkable at all if I were talking about music, films, or literature, but in this case my tastes have evolved and changed right along with video gaming itself.

A large portion of this phenomenon can be attributed to there not being, until very recently, any form of "alternative" gaming, or almost any form of video gaming at all that was outside of the mainstream. There are these machines you play on, and here are the games for them. Some are more popular than others, but by and large they're all available for everyone to access, and most people who play a lot of games are at least aware of pretty much every genre and even series that there is. This mostly holds true even for PC gaming, with the only standouts being independant and totally underground things like the various variants of Rogue or things even more obscure.

There are hundreds of genres for those other media, and thousands of people authoring them, but in gaming there are more like tens, and hundreds. So, it's no real surprise that as Western games have risen in prominence, especially in the console market, that the tastes of your average gamer, caught up in the groundswell, would be swept along for the ride. I've been exposed to new things as new things came about, or within a reasonably short time from their appearance on the gaming scene.

It's just a basic shift in tastes that are, of course, ever evolving, but to see it now because it seems only now possible (or at least more likely), is kind of interesting. I'm left with games I see and feel like I should be interested in, but am not. Mega Man 9 and 10, for instance. All of the recent Zelda titles. Pretty much everything Square Enix is putting out these days. Many of these by happenstance are the Japanese games I was way into 10-20 years ago, but it goes beyond those, even. I've recently kind of decided that I'm not that into super linear, guided-experience games, the way a lot of FPS and third-person action games can be, despite the fact that I have a bunch of these waiting to be played. I'm more into mechanics-gaming, open worlds, and role playing games of the western sort, and systems-gaming than I have been prior to this point. Some of this may be just from delving heavily into PC gaming in the past year. A lot of it probably is.

We'll just have to see where it goes from here.

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