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Have I Outgrown Video Games?

Well, I’ve definitely outgrown this, at least.

Every year they have this thing called E3. The Electronics Entertainment Expo. This year’s E3 promised a whole slew of video game titles for the latest consoles, consoles which I have yet the funds to throw away on. But then I came to a sudden realization: do I even want to spend money on these consoles in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that they aren’t pretty and powerful and awesome, it’s just that well… I feel like I’ve done this all before. You know, with the last generation (PS3/Xbox 360) of games. See, I’m a kid from who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. So I got to see the evolution of video game technology, and not just the hardware, but in the software as well. New hardware gave us new genres and new ways to play games. The advent of the internet gave us the ability to play with friends as well as strangers from all across our planet, which led to the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), as well as the occasional itch to snipe people from atop of a mountain in Halo 2. We saw as many innovations in the types of games that were being made as we did in the processing power of the PC’s and consoles that ran them.

But alas, in my young naiveté and loyalty to the industry, I never imagined that these developments might actually plateau into witnessing the same game being developed over and over and over again.

Quick, name five games right off the top of your head that DON’T involve shooting someone. Now name five more that were shown at this year’s E3.

Tough, isn’t it?

E3 used to excite me. Really, it did. We used to gather around the TV or computer every year to see what new innovations would unfold, but this year proved to be really lackluster for me. I didn’t feel that pull or burning urge to run to the store and purchase the latest console in preparation for those titles. Why should I? For starters, every game and every game protagonist looks exactly the same.

Personally, I was counting the number of black ski caps.

For the past year or so I’ve been spending a lot less time on my console and more time on my Steam account, and that’s not for lack of unfinished games to play. I’ve got a mountain of them sitting next to the TV. Yet I find myself drawn more to the understated games developed by indie companies, the ones who need a Kickstarter to get going. I spend more time playing the nostalgic titles from my childhood than I do the AAA blockbuster titles of this year. I wince when I think of every time I dropped $60 on a game and didn’t even get a $20 experience thanks to the developers withholding the other half of the game in the form of DLC I would have to purchase later. I shake my head in disappointment whenever gamers defend a company’s decision to not include more diversity in their newer games, despite the fact that they had no problems doing so previously. I fear for the industry and the culture as a whole when gamers harass and threaten their own when an opinion differs from theirs on the internet.

Maybe I haven’t outgrown video games as much as I have outgrown video game culture.  A lot of its baggage does stem from mainstream developers and the people who play them. Why should I play a multiplayer session on Xbox Live where I’ll likely get harassed due to my gender when I can just send an invite to all my personal friends and Skype through a session of Sid Meier’s Civilization V? I derive a lot more pleasure and entertainment through these methods instead, and at the end of the day I don’t necessarily mind missing out on the newest first-person-shooter-AAA-explosion-bullet-time fest.

Still, there are maybe half a dozen E3 titles that intrigue me. Maybe they’ll come out for the PC so I don’t have to deal with the console wars anymore. Wow. Never thought in all my years that I’d end up becoming a PC gamer.

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