A lot of people are predicting the gaming industry is going to shrink this upcoming generation. There are plenty of opinions as to why, but here’s my theory — part of the problem is that the video game industry’s older, most stubbornly loyal customers are starting to give up on gaming. As I detailed a while back, being a 30+ gamer isn’t always so fun, and a lot of us geezers are finally throwing up our hands, or at the very least turning to cheap mobile gaming to fulfil our occasional urges. Honestly, if keeping abreast of the world of video games wasn’t my job, I’m not sure what, or how often I’d still play.
But not all is lost! Here are six things the video game industry can do to keep hold of their most lucrative cash cows…
As you get older you simply have more people demanding your attention. Girlfriends, family, kids, co-workers, friends, loan sharks — they all want a piece of you and most won’t take “I just have to finish this level!” as an answer. Ah, but what if you can spend time with them and be playing video games at the same time? Problem solved! Except your wife will only put up with you headshot-ing her so many times, so it’s usually best to stick to co-op.
Unfortunately it seems like most games that offer co-op only offer online co-op, which is fine I guess if all you’re looking for is (marginally) smarter teammates, but it’s useless if you want to sit down for an enriching co-op experience with your kids. Plain and simple, as many games as possible should have co-op and there should always be the option to play locally. Come on developers, if you can make online co-op work, you can slap together a split-screen thing in like, an afternoon.
Online Multiplayer For Grownups
Speaking of online gaming, I don’t do much of it because, well, I don’t like to hang out with 15-year-old Asperger’s cases in real life, and try to avoid it online too. I want lobbies where only folks over 30 are allowed. I want a game that asks me how many hours a week I work and how many hours I play games and only matches me up with people with similar numbers instead of always putting me with the kid who gets 23-hours a day in. I want to be able to push a button and immediately banish anyone who casually uses the word “retarded” or who I sense might have Bieber hair from my online gaming life forever. Basically, online games should be working a lot harder to keep the goddamn kids off my lawn.
Give Me Mature, Complex Narratives or Alternatively, Embrace My Inner Child
As I’ve grown older, I’ve found my tastes have migrated to the further edges of the video game spectrum — basically, I’m looking for challenging, intelligent, narrative-heavy games, or failing that, bright, cartoony, purely fun games. Basically I either want games to be The Last of Us or Kirby’s Adventure in Candyland. I don’t think I’m the only adult gamer that thinks that way.
Unfortunately the vast majority of games are neither. Most games fall in the mushy “made for teenage boys” middle. Too bloody and boob-filled to be lighthearted fun, but too dumb and blatant to qualify as genuinely “mature”. I know you care a lot about giving teenage boys boners video game industry, but here’s the thing — teenagers will watch/read/play things for older or younger audiences if they’re good enough, but no self-respecting adult wants to consume things explicitly for teenagers. Teens will watch Spongebob or Breaking Bad, they don’t care, but no functioning adult wants to watch Twilight. Stop bending over backwards for teenyboppers who are going to play video games regardless, and make some more stuff for us grown-ups.
I spent so much time failing and achieving nothing on this level that I almost gave up on a game about Uncle Scrooge. Uncle Scrooge!
Don’t Waste My Time
As my gaming time becomes increasingly precious, nothing drives me closer to the brink of f–king insanity than putting an hour or two into a game and achieving nothing. Either I don’t make it to the checkpoint, or I don’t beat the boss or I spend an hour wandering around trying to find where I need to be in vain.
I’m not saying games should be made easier or all setbacks for failure should be removed, far from it, but I want everything I do to at least count in some small way. I want all those enemies I killed while exploring to give me experience or loot or something, I want some reward for getting the boss down to a sliver of health before being squashed and for God’s sake, let me save anywhere. In the year 2013 save spots, checkpoints or only being able to record your progress at the end of a level is just straight up bad design. Sorry, it is.
I…could have done without any of this guy.
Assume I Know How To Play Games
Speaking of wasting my time, I’ve been at this gaming thing for a while — I know how to play most types of games, and if I don’t, I have a solid foundation to work from and can figure things out pretty quickly. I should be able to choose “Yes, I’ve played a Zelda game before” and skip the now-standard beginning tutorial village or choose “Yeah, this isn’t my first Assassin’s Creed” and skip, well, the first third of the game. Tutorials aren’t just boring, they’re a slap to the face that screams, “This isn’t for you — this is for young, hip, new gamers. Time to hang it up!”
Do Something New
I hope I haven’t come off as a cynical old crank in this article, because the fact is, all I need is a game that’s genuinely new and innovative and I’m back to being as enthusiastic as a kid on Christmas morning. If you want to keep gamers who have seen and played it all, nostalgia can work to a degree, but surprising them with something they haven’t yet seen is even more powerful.
How ’bout you other, uh, vintage gamers? What does the video game industry have to do to keep you interested?