Computer games have been a most reliable constance in my life. Providing hours of beguiling diversions to distract me from the obstinate tedium that life stubbornly imparts. One of their more affectionate characteristics is to completely negate the worries regularly hurled at you by the world. You can shut off, relax, engross yourself in a virtual world and forget. I’ve grown up with them, and in a way their enduring quality is linked with their own burgeoning maturation. They have become so much more than the mere juvenile diversions they’re so often falsely portrayed as. They can be incredibly provocative, diverse, even nuanced. At times evoking a profound emotional resonance that you’d expect from a movie or television show. I find it fascinating that people outside of our own neglected little congregation just don’t understand that. But recently I’ve began to wonder whether perhaps computer games have sadly plateaued. That as passionate as those in the industry are, presumably influenced by the same games that have nourished my own indebted fascinations, there are some corruptible elements that merely wish to exploit them for financial gain.
Modern games are burdened by the destabilising intrusion of commerce over craft. Unsettling little perversions instigated to swindle additional revenue from consumers by placing restrictive access on specific elements of a game. We know this. And it’s clear from the pervasive supplements that this is what developers/publishers interpret as a positive engagement with an audience, with “gambling mechanics” being an especially lucrative utility. There are vague attempts to condemn the practices, benign protests and disgruntled indignation on social media, almost entirely perpetrated of course by the same people that enable them by purchasing the games! But nothing is done. Paywalls and loot crates are evidently acceptable behaviour, conduct vindicated by the millions who buy them. We are complicit in this, rationalising it as the standard. I don’t want loot crates and paywalls to be established tenants of gaming. I don’t want to worry about whether my Internet connection is going to prevent me from playing a game. I don’t want such a unique and expressive form of art to become consumable goods, promptly attained via streaming to fulfill a finite amount of enjoyment, and disposed with just as readily.
I’m not completely averse to all advances in computer games. The ability to download games is an exceptionally convenient means of gaming. DLC can add significant value to an already comprehensive experience, if done right. But with all of these malignant factors infecting every facet of a games mechanics, I just don’t see myself accepting these manufactured limitations. The PS5 might well be my final games console. The way the industry is going, with the likes of the Stadia emphasising a subscription streaming service that does away with that pesky need to be offline to play your games, I just don’t think I can assent to that. Games as a service isn’t appealing to me, nor are all the other monetized accessories. Perhaps it’s just a sign of age, the inevitable deterioration of one’s whimsical adolescence. But honestly it’s more than that. It’s a doubt that games will ever feel as pure and incorruptible again. The likes of “The Last Of Us 2” and “Spider-Man” give me a sliver of hope. But not enough to convince me that these games aren’t in fact the minority.