5 things we need more (or less) of in video games

Finding flaws in a video game is ten times easier than picking out the things you actually like. And while I’m not advocating for cherry-picking – because if a game is awful it’s just awful and no amount of sugar-coating can fix that – I do think it’s a good idea to focus on what we, as gamers, do like about games rather than constantly moaning about what we don’t.

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I recently did some pretty intense soul searching to define once and for all what I want in a video game.

Not only did this help me pick and choose the games I wanted to add to my Christmas List – don’t judge me, I know you have one too – it helped me, as an aspiring game designer, identify those features and characteristics I look for in any video game I play.

While I’m definitely not representative of the entire population of gamers, I like to think I have some pretty good insights into what a good portion of us what from our games.

Dorkly.com detailed eight things gamers supposedly want in an article by Andrew Bridgman. Two of his eight reasons are no more zombie games and while I quietly agree with him, I cannot completely support his reasoning because games like Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” exist.

He also said that gamers really want the ability to control boobs in video games which kind of discredits his other points in my opinion.

Gamasutra did a study of different populations of gamers and found their needs and wants vary from integrated social gaming to harder challenges with more strategy and in-depth puzzles.

While both these articles raise some good points, I can’t agree with either of them because they don’t address some of the larger issues I’ve found in some games.

So here are the top five features that I want in future games (Note the emphasis).

Less emphasis on social media.

In direct opposition to what Gamasutra’s study group said, I think a lot of games have too much emphasis on social media and sharing (I’m looking at you, Ubisoft). While I can’t begrudge game companies wanting users to share their experience and give the company some free publicity, I can begrudge them their dogged insistence on it.

After every memory in “Assassin’s Creed” there seems to be an option to share and rate the memory, something that I think gets in the way in the immersive experience I want out of games.

too-much-socialization

I don’t play games to socialize with the people I know on Facebook. Source: Technostore.pe. 

More storage.

This is less of a critique of video games than the consoles and systems they run on. I’ve had my Xbox One for less than a year and I’ve already had to buy an external hard drive to store extra game memory because next-gen games take up so. Much. Space.

With the increased emphasis on better graphics, better mechanics and better gameplay, I understand that games have to be bigger to be competitive. But if games are going to take up more and more space, the systems that run them should at least be able to hold more memory.

almost-full-memory

These aren’t the games I’d fill my hard drive with, but my point stands. Source: Youtube.com.

Harder puzzles and more challenges.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise, but I’m not terribly good at video games. I love them more than anything and they will always hold a special place in my heart, but I die. A lot.

That being said, some harder challenges would be welcome in games where a lot of times just the pull of a lever can solve a puzzle. After all, if I really get stuck, there will always be someone who solved it before me and posted a video on YouTube.

it's almost too easy sometimes.jpg

Sometimes it’s just too easy.  Source: Gamepressure.com.

More same-sex relationships.

You would be hard-pressed to pass off Chloe and Max’s relationship in “Life is Strange” as friendly gal pals – the trope often used to disguise female homosexual relationships beneath a thin veil of heterosexuality – but in a lot of other games same-sex relationships are often hinted at without being fully realized.

There are obvious exceptions in games like “Fallout 4” and “Mass Effect” as both give players the option of having same-sex relationships. But those games are made to allow gamers the option to choose between the male and female sex rather than being crafted specifically for same-sex relationships.

This is a direct contrast to the 2013 “Tomb Raider” which featured an incredibly friendly gal pal relationship, one that ended with Lara, carrying her pseudo-bride, Sam, to safety with a misty rainbow in the background. And yet Sam was conspicuously absent from the sequel.

Increased visibility is always a good thing and while all my examples are female relationships, male same-sex relationships would also be nice to see, especially since those type of relationships would help dismantle the stereotypical macho manly man that is often overrepresented in video game titles.

my beautiful lesbians.jpg

Friendly “gal pals” these girls are not. Source: Vice.com and Pfangirl.blogspot.com.

If you’ve kept up with my blog then this last want shouldn’t be much of a surprise. More female protagonists.

The game industry seems to be taking a step in the right direction with more and more titles featuring female leads, but the more the merrier.

“Recore” and “Horizon Zero Dawn” and “Tomb Raider” and “Dishonored 2” and “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” are all recent and upcoming titles featuring female leads, with other games like “Overwatch” and “Gigantic” offering multiple female playable characters.

Although “Syndicate” has its own set of issues, I still think it’s a good example of how female characters aren’t any less badass than their male counterparts and why we need and deserve more of them.

dont have to do the work.png

These are some badass babes, but we could always use more. Source: Themarysue.com.

If I’m totally off base with my conclusions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below and I’ll update this blog accordingly. This is more of a conversation than a definitive set of rules, so if I’ve left something off that you thing is super important to a good video game, please don’t hesitate to tell me.

Until the time comes that all our gaming wants and needs are fulfilled, we should keep playing games and identifying for ourselves what we want and don’t want in a video game.

Because eventually designers and developers will catch on.

So game on, and let the power of Lara Croft be with you.

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