The earliest games were simple distractions. Games like Tetris, Pong, Space Wars and Tennis for Two were small amusements that tinkering engineers had managed to construct. As the technology evolved, so did the quality of games.
Today we now have games that are the equivalent of blockbuster films in their popularity and appeal. Games like Bioshock, Mass Effect, Portal, Okami and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are examples of games that are commonly appraised as being masterpieces of design, gameplay and storytelling.
Of course one of the challenges of judging games on this level is the fact that there are different genres. And with each genre comes a certain amount of unique expectations. I highly doubt that an RPG like Final Fantasy will be expected to reach the amount of blood-pounding action as an FPS. I’m not saying that there is no action to be found in RPGs, but you won’t necessarily be needing hair-trigger reflexes as you would in a hectic Call of Duty team deathmatch.
That said, some of the best games contain elements of different videogame genres. Mass Effect is a great example of this, with its FPS action, RPG customization and Action-Adventure exploration. All of these characteristics are combined seamlessly with a deep and engaging story to create a novel experience for gamers. After all, who doesn’t love saving the universe from disaster? Though I guess for most gamers, saving the universe from utter destruction is pretty old hat by now.
For me, that involved experience is also what makes gaming so much fun. This is why it has grown so much in the past few decades as an entertainment form and an art form. The interactivity of the experience is arguably the core of gaming’s appeal. In books and movies, we are merely observers watching the action unfold on the screen and in our imaginations. In games, no such wall divides the audience from the action. We become that space marine or wizard or Japanese high school student and their struggles becomes our own. This is especially true for RPGs which focus on immersive gameplay and plots more than the other genres. This also goes a ways towards explaining why so many grown men shed a tear when Aeris died in Final Fantasy VII (I’m not admitting anything here).
Looking ahead, there are a lot of upcoming games that hope to exceed the success of their predecessors
To name a few:
- Mass Effect 3
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
- Batman: Arkham City
I’m cannot wait to see what these and other games hold in store and I’m looking forward to an interesting year in gaming.