Recently I started up the movie “Soldier” starring Kurt Russell on Netflix. I had seen this the year it was released and thought it would be worth re-watching. After all I like action shows. I grew up in the era of the action hero – Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Norris, Van Damme and Seagal. There was never a shortage of explosions, bad puns, round houses and double-handed hip shots in my day. But five minutes into “Soldier” I was done. I started asking myself what had happened. The short answer – my age.
Now I’m not geezer, but I’m also not fresh out of college. My tastes have changed and although I still like an exciting action flick, I need more. Give me a well told story and some character development along side my chase scenes and I’ll probably stick with it. I’m finding the same thing is happening with my game choices.
While my friends like COD and BF for its online battles, I enjoy the campaigns. I love getting sucked into the story, getting to know the characters and finding myself taken aback when something completely unexpected happens. But I had yet to experience that ultimate game until I bought a PS3 a couple of months ago.
It was recommended to me that I buy Uncharted 2 since I was looking for a platform specific game. Never before had I become so caught up in the cut scenes, the dialogue and the development of the characters as I had with Uncharted 2. The game was so gripping and well done, my wife found herself clutching the pillows as I moved from level to level and telling the kids to hush so she could hear what was being said.
This got me thinking back to my recent experience with “Soldier” and how I’m no longer as easily entertained. I’ve been cognitively watching movies about as long as I’ve been playing games (since 1981), so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m expecting more for my $60 game. Yet with the exception of Naughty Dog, I don’t think many studios are paying close attention to the story and characters. We’re witnessing Hollywood and the game industry take similar paths – using more CGI, more special effects, better graphics, etc. as a crutch instead of focusing on the actors and the story. Why can’t we have both?
However I think we’re near a paradigm shift as a whole generation of aging gamers will expect something more in their gaming experience. Yes we still want the mind-blowing graphics, hectic gun battles and realistic driving experiences, but please give us a good story too.