5.22.2013

I'll always be a gamer, but I'm done with gaming.

Does that title make sense? Let me explain.

The Wii U is in the wild, and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are now unveiled.  The next generation of gaming is upon us, and I have never been more bored.

Everything I could possibly say about this coming generation of gaming has already been said by others on the internet. The consensus is, this generation of GAMING has left my generation of PEOPLE behind. This console generation includes "features" like: An always internet-connected console, used games restrictions, a camera that always watches and listens even when the console is off, social bragging as a selling point, no backwards compatibility, and this ridiculous notion that games consoles should also be able to watch TV shows and movies/surf the 'net.  The only people that are behind the new generation consoles are the 21 and under crowd. They are the only people naive enough to buy into this marketing nonsense and call it cool. Don't worry young people, I was dumb once too, and I would probably be falling for this too if I was born in the late 90's.

But, I was born in the 70's, and lived through the 80's.  A time when game consoles were "game" consoles, they didn't need to ALSO play all of your media, and you didn't wave at it or talk to it to turn it on. You got up from the couch and set down your Doritos and soda and turned it on yourself, burning a few calories in the process. A time when the industry was able to survive on system and cartridge sales alone. Back then there wasn't extra revenue to be made on downloadable characters, costumes, levels and features. There weren't extra costs to pass on to the customer like server farm maintenance fees and media content provider licensing fees.

Today's generation just gets fatter and fatter and is cool with $60 per year for Xbox Live. They're OK with games costing $60 or $80 for "deluxe" editions, then tacking on $20-$40 on downloadable content.  They're OK with paying $650 on launch day for their new console, just to have it fail due to documented overheating issues that the company will deny exist.  This is all they've ever known, why SHOULDN'T they be excited?

Unfortunately, I'm unable to get excited anymore.  I'm older, and I've gained a little wisdom over the years by watching my money disappear slowly as corporations chip away at me, a nickel here, a dime there. You don't see it happening until you're suddenly broke.  Every generation has to gain that wisdom on their own over time, and can't be told otherwise. Despite all the negative press, the Xbox One, and PS4 will do fine, because there's always dumb young people for corporations to exploit.

But for me, the mainstream video game industry is dead. Don't get me wrong, I still love gaming, and I still play games all the time. But I won't be participating in this console generation for the first time in 35 years. I've owned them all, I still do. Even the previous generation lost my interest when time and again my expensive consoles would repeatedly fail due to hardware problems.  I have no doubt that history will repeat itself this coming generation.  What will the new "red ring of death" or "yellow light of death" be for this generation? I can't wait to read and find out from the comfort of my problem-free PC.

This is the end of the road.  Gaming has splintered off into many unique branches...  PC, mobile, handheld, Kickstarters, and of course the big three. None of them has sparked my interest wholly like the consoles used to.  The competition is fierce, and the corporations are over-compensating by cramming every possible feature into their systems. It can watch TV and movies, it replaces your Apple TV! You can connect via your mobile device and use it as a second screen, so it's better than Wii U! It has all your favorite music and sports licenses so you can watch the game, while listening to your favorite song and tweeting your achievements to your Facebook friends! Whatever happened to GAME CONSOLES???  Well what happened is, they died with my generation in the eyes of the corporations. Their target demographic is beer drinking American college bros. What use does an old man like me have for anything beyond the game console?  I already have a media box running XBMC, and you'll never show me a game console that beats that out of the box.

I never thought it would come to it, I never thought I'd say these words, but PC finally has the console beat in my mind.  PC games can be played on a mid-level affordable graphics card, and they all support the Microsoft 360 controller for Windows now.  I've found it pretty easy to play a few games I wanted to try like the new Tomb Raider and Sonic Generations on the PC, (in the absence of my busted PS3) and they look BETTER than their console counterparts. No internet required to play, I can sell the game to someone else later, or play their used games.  When I shut down the game, I go back to my desktop, which is clean and free from ads for the latest games, movies and snacks.

I'm also a big supporter of the indie scene and especially open-source.  Microsoft has stated that indie developers can't self publish on the Xbox One.  This is a tragedy.  There are so many great games out there we'll never see because of corporate greed. Consoles like the OUYA and Gamestick are the future for me.  Heck, I might even pick up a Nintendo 3DS XL.  These systems still have a big focus on games, although it's not a perfect focus, it's a lot better than the blurred line between games and media that the PS4 and Xbox One exist on.

My favorite company, Nintendo is even making missteps now. The Wii U has been mistaken as an add-on for the Wii, because of it's awful name. Nintendo is still terrible about localizing a lot of great games that have been released overseas.  Nintendo right now is reminding me a lot of another little company 'round about the Saturn and Dreamcast days. That company doesn't have a game system anymore. Nintendo is headed down the same path Sega was, and I hope they recognize that soon because I'd hate to miss out on the latest Mario or Zelda  because they're on a console I refuse to buy into (like say, PS4 or Xbox One).

Well, I'm sure gaming will be just fine without me. Like Hollywood, gaming has become too big and bloated with corporate fatitude. Guys with ties who don't understand their target audience are now in charge and that's how it'll stay.  All we can do is play along, or choose to go underground.  I choose the latter.  I appreciate a Youtube series produced on a shoestring budget a lot more than a Hollywood budget-buster.  Likewise I enjoy The Little Indie That Could, over Call of Duty: Brown Gravy any day. Is this attitude arrogant or elitist? Do I think I'm better than other people?

Not at all.

A man named Steve Jobs once said I should Think Different. That's all I've ever done.

 

4.12.2013

Video Blog #1: The future Xbox?

I sit down at the angry table and discuss one of the implications of the rumored "always online" requirement of the "rumored" future Microsoft game console.