Now when I ask that question, I don’t mean male/25-30/married or whatever. I mean, what kind of games do you primarily play? Because I find it to be an ever evolving process; one I’m currently in the middle of. I’ve recently thought that I was in a bout of something most gamers have at some point; that is, gaming apathy. But that’s not really true. I’m playing the same amount of games as I always have, but it’s just the games have changed. And so have I.
Not that long ago, I was primarily a multiplayer gamer. Now? I can barely work up the enthusiasm to hit ‘start matchmaking.’ Time was I would have enjoyed nothing more than a Friday night in, plonked in front of the TV, beer in hand, playing whatever the newest game out was with my friends, starting around 9 and continuing, more often than not, long into the wee small hours of the morning. It was great fun, and I remember it fondly but these days it’s a Herculean effort to get a bunch of us together to play online (which nicely, makes it slightly more of an event than it would have been normally when it does happen). But this isn’t necessarily a trend that affects all gamers, perhaps just those of a certain age, because one look at the figures for Xbox Live online play shows you that a ridiculous amount of people are still happily shooting each other in the face every hour of every day. But I’m willing to bet that at least 80% of those huge figures are all 11-16 year olds.
You see recently, and maybe this is simply a getting older thing, I’ve come to expect a lot more from my time spent gaming. I want to be invested, I want to be entertained, and I want to be excited. What I don’t want is to be constantly annoyed that I’m having a bad game, and worrying about my K/D ratio (and also getting destroyed by 12 year old American kids). I want to feel like I’m actually progressing rather than simply upping my kill count and you can only get that from the campaign element of gaming. A worrying trend recently in quite a few shooters has been that the multiplayer option is actually the primary choice on the menu screen; this should never be the case in my opinion. In fact, DICE’s Battlefield 3 from last year actually has disc 1 dedicated to multiplayer, while the campaign part of the game is relegated to the second disc, almost like it’s an afterthought. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with online multiplayer (aside from the seemingly thousands of racist, misogynistic, homophobic people)
You see, I love campaigns. I love a good story to play through. I don’t have the time or the patience anymore to sit online and shoot people in the face ad infinitum; I want to enjoy the story the game has laid out for me. I feel it’s my duty to play what the developers put time and effort into. I’m probably the easiest gamer to cater for as I love a good linear campaign. For all the stick Call of Duty gets, it does produce good, strong, and yes, linear campaigns that tell a good, albeit ridiculous, story. I like to feel like I’m getting somewhere in a game; that’s there’s a specific endpoint to work towards. It’s why I get a little bored with open ended games after a while. Yes, I can appreciate the entire world that has been created but with a game like Skyrim, there’s almost too much to do, and no restriction on when you have to do it. It’s very unfocused and again, I do not have the patience to play something like that either, or the willpower to stick to the missions the game gives you; I could very easily spend hours just riding around the mountains killing anything I come across, but I always feel like I’m wasting my time I could be spending elsewhere. In, you know, real life. And while my game experience will more or less be the same as everyone else that plays it, it’s still very enjoyable. It’s telling that the games I’ve enjoyed the most recently are linear single player campaigns, like Alan Wake, Bioshock, Dead Space 2 as well as recent XBLA games Deadlight, and The Walking Dead. Linear is often used as a criticism, but if the game itself is as involving as the ones I’ve just mentioned any such criticism is null and void in my opinion.
So I ask you, would you rather play for hours and hours and hours online in Call of Duty doing nothing more than killing and getting killed, or play and become involved in a good strong 10-12 hour campaign that you’ll never forget? I know what I’d choose.