I’m a regular listener of the Evil Avatar podcast ( http://www.evilavatarradio.com ) mostly because I need something to listen to while exercising. But today I came across something in their podcast that SEEMED to be profound.
You can listen to an 8 minute clip from the show here ( http://www.eochu.com/dl/EARsnippet.mp3 ).
In it, the speaker says…that his concept of gameplay has changed fundamentally. He understands that social connectivity is a powerful part of playing games, and he no longer feels comfortable playing single-player games without an added (or integral) umbrella of social connectivity. He doesn’t want games that don’t leave him screen-space AND mind-space to connect with his buddies.
And he goes on to demand that the connectivity functionality be completely controllable and adjustable. He doesn’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling with settings for who can talk to him and who can’t, but he wants to know that he CAN.
Now, he’s only one voice. But he’s a player, and here he is saying what I’ve been hearing Raph Koster, Mike Steele, and others say for years. Raph said several years ago that single-player games, as we "traditionally" know them, are going to become extinct. And MMO designers have been saying for a long time that nothing really matters except socialization and communication.
Is it possible that both players and designers are converging on the conclusion that EVERY game should just be a mini-game, stuck in a sub-window of your chat client? That ultimately, every game is a meal, and eating alone in a quiet room is unacceptable?
It makes me feel like a dinosaur (again). Ever since I started playing games, my most intense gaming experiences were the gripping, cant-think-of-anything-else, all-consuming gaming addictions that drove me into my room and made me play late into the night. As an adult game developer, I’ve found that feeling more and more fleeting, and set my sites on getting that feeling again.
But what if that’s not the future? What if young players don’t get grabbed and choked by the single-player experience anymore? What if they have a completely different concept of how a good game makes them feel, and that connectivity with their friends is an integral part of that good feeling?
It’s of course probable that some will, and some won’t. It’s possible that I’m not a dinosaur because players won’t feel the way I felt, and play the games I played. Instead, the player base has expanded so greatly from my childhood, that it’s just natural that more players will play more games in more different ways.