11/DEC/13

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Why Do You Play Games?

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Fausk said...
It is rather frequently that I get asked the question from friends and acquaintances, "What game should I buy?" Generally, my first response to them is to ask what genre they play. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to see how insignificant that question can be, especially in more recent times.

The clear genre distinctions we had from the 80's and 90's no longer exists. There are still some clear remnants of those genres. It's pretty clear what a "First Person Shooter" or "Fighting" game are. However, we have so many games, even from back then, that are hard to quantify in any one genre. Games like Zelda and Metroid have almost become genres in and of themselves. Furthermore, there are genre classifications that no longer quantify exactly what the experience may be like.

Case in point, the long running genre of "RPG" is too much of a blanket term anymore. Final Fantasy, Fallout, and Mass Effect all come to mind as games you could qualify as an RPG, but that's unfair and cheapens all of their experiences.

Final Fantasy is on one end of the spectrum, a purely story and character driven experience. You control the characters, but they still are who they are. You don't have much say in what they do outside of battle, except for maybe which path to take or who to talk to. Is it still a role playing game? Technically, yes. It uses systems found in the ancestor of D&D, but has changed and taken them into their own systems now, which get further and further away from their original inspiration with each passing iteration.

Fallout, 3 in particular, is on the other complete extreme opposite of the spectrum. You create your own character, breathe life into them, decide who they are what drives them and what you're going to do. It's a sandbox, you get a world to play in, and you get to decide who you are in this world. There is a story still, but it's generally more 'incidental' to the overall game. It's something that's there, but you're not penalized for not doing it, because you have other things that are far more interesting and in the forefront of your mind. Is it still an RPG? 3 could almost be argued as being a first person shooter, and could play out as such. All in all, however, you are playing a role, in a game. So it's more literal in it's interpretation.

Mass Effect, and other Bioware RPGs, are in their own classification as well. It's a mix of the two. You have the ability to create your character, to select how you're going to interact with a situation. The battle in earlier games was still very much dice rolling, (Especially in Neverwinter Nights and KOTOR). I understand they've moved away from that in Mass Effect 2, but that's just more of that innovation and separation from the original inspiration. Mass Effect, in contrast with Fallout 3, has a story that keeps you on track, directs where you go and when. So in all it's almost a hybrid between what Final Fantasy and Fallout do. More open than the sandbox, but not as restrictive as 100% story driven.

RPGs are only one example of a term that's no longer applicable, and I don't want to waste more of the article in trying to define all the differences in various genres. Instead, when a friend asks, "What game should I play?" I plan to ask the responding question, "Why do you play games?"

There are many good reasons to play games. I, myself, play games for various different reasons as well. Sometimes I focus more on having an 'experience'. Something that couldn't have been done in other games. Heavy Rain's a rather good example of a game that's more of an 'experience'. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories would also be more in that category, in my eyes. Some people play games competitively, which is more grounds for games like Call of Duty, or World of Warcraft, or even the Street Fighter series. There's also people that probably play games for the more all encompassing term "fun". I, too, play games for fun, which will more need a qualifying follow up question of what sort of games someone has fun with. For pure fun, I'd say look no further than Just Cause 2, or maybe even something like WET. There are times when you just wanna go through and mow down tons of people with ease, and I find those are both two very good experiences where you can do just that.

In closing, I point the question to you, users of GamerDNA: Why do you play games? If you'd like to, follow it up with some games that you would give as good examples of the 'why'.
Fallout 3

Fallout 3 (PC)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/First-Person Action RPG
Release Date: 28/OCT/08
Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights (PC)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D Action RPG
Release Date: 19/JUN/02
Mass Effect

Mass Effect (X360)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D Action RPG
Release Date: 20/NOV/07
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D RPG
Release Date: 20/NOV/03
Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D RPG
Release Date: 22/JUN/10
Fallout 3

Fallout 3 (X360)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/First-Person Action RPG
Release Date: 28/OCT/08
Fallout 3

Fallout 3 (PS3)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/First-Person Action RPG
Release Date: 28/OCT/08
Mass Effect

Mass Effect (PC)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D Action RPG
Release Date: 27/MAY/08
Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII (X360)

Genre/Style: Role-playing/Third-Person 3D RPG
Release Date: 09/MAR/10
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15
Comments
It really depends on what mood I am in, why I play games. Although, it seems there are games for everything. When I'm frustrated and angry, I just want to let loose and destroy a town, I play games like Saboteur and Prototype. When I want a more movie-like experience, or am in a story type mood, I play FFXIII or Lost Odyssey. When I'm with friends, its the multiplayer action all the time, whether running quests in GW or shooting people up in MW2. I play for fun, but games are fun at different times.
I take issue with the fact that @fausk limited WoW to a competitive experience. Whle PvP is one feature, it is not necessarily the main one. WoW is as much social as it is competitive and there are plenty of places to experience and explore. Look at the GDNA gamer charts and there is something in there for every kind of player if they enjoy MMORPGs.
The term RPG is not too far antiquated though. It is a genre and within that are subgenres. Just like there is Horror film and there are Zombie movies, which is why for RPGs there are JRPGS, MMORPGS, FPS-RPGS, or the ever familiar other genres with RPG elements.
So to answer the question I would agree with @RickyTicky. It is all about mood. Here are some examples of those moods.

I need to blow off some steam = MW2

I want to escape reality for a bit = Fallout 3

I want to explore and hang out with some friends online = WoW

I want to feel like a badass and mow down enemies by the hundreds = God of War

I just feel like rocking out = Rock Band / Guitar Hero

Looking for a bit of fun = South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play / Geometry Wars

Needing control amid the chaos of life = The Sims/ Sim City/ Black and White

Feeling creative = The Movies

I wanna blow some shit up! = Mercs 2 / Just Cause 2

Feeling sneaky = Splinter Cell / Metal Gear Solid 4
@rawkr I apologize if you took offense to it. But it still mostly boils down to a competitive experience. If you're not PVPing then you're probably raiding for the best of the best gear. And I've heard many a horror story of some guy going against the 'roll order' and needing on something that it wasn't their turn for, and all the arguments and problems within guilds that it causes.

Perhaps that's a thing of the past and doesn't happen as frequently, but there's still competition in every aspect of an MMO, needing the best skills, the best gear, the best builds.

Perhaps there are people that play it more casually, but when you boil down the very basic aspects to them, that's what the design goal in mind is for them. That's how they keep you paying for the monthly fee year after year.
While I haven't played WoW due to my opinion of its absurd pricing, I have noticed that WoW does have that PvP essence, but there are definitely underlying tones of other types of play. You could get on and do a quest for the fun of it, hang out with friends, etc. It's not all PvP.

And to what @rawkr said, I agree with the statement about RPGs. Almost every game is an RPG today, its the subtle differences that have it stand out. Many MMOs are competitive and PVP based, its the little experiences and features, social capability and capacity that effect the success of the game.
I always got the impression that WoW was not as into PvP stuff as Warhammer or Guild Wars.
Depends on the genre I want to play, and what I want to experience. Like....when I want to have an epic war experience with tanks, artillery, and teamwork I go play CoD: WaW.

Sometimes I just want to screw around, see how much fun I can have, and see how I can outsmart people. Left 4 Dead seems like it was made for this.

Then there's like some sort of Zelda or Metroid mood I get into every few years, where I get nostalgic and want to play them again.
I play games because the ones I like have a great story to tell. I don't often have the patience to read a book, but give me a game with a good story line and I will completely immerse myself.
@AlazarRamir That's what got me into RPGs. Personally, I've always adored the story lines in the Final Fantasy games, even if other people tend to say they're not very good. There's other games that have very good stories as well, but it also helps that Final Fantasy gave you quite a bit of 'bang for your buck' being lengthy games that cost the same as many other games, especially when most games tend to go down to 10 hours for 60 dollars.

But that's just me.
Oh I would agree with you. I tend to mainly stick to classic games or oldies - like Final Fantasy; Chrono Trigger and Legend Of Legaia.

However there have been some recent games which have kept me playing through them - Mass Effect; Fallout 3; Time Shift.

If in the first 30mins I am not hooked, then I'm sad to say I won't pick it up again. I can be very picky when it comes to games.
@Fausk I love games that take lots of time to complete. They make you feel like the game was totally worth buying (unless its stupid). I agree with the FF stories as well -- I love the FF story lines.
I play games for the enjoyment of escaping reality for just a little while, doesn't really matter what genre. Also I found out over the years that there has a been a good side affect of helping me release stress. Which is probably why I gravitate to open world games more now. If it's been a especially stressful day I can screw the story missions and just play in the sandbox. I found GTA and recently Red Faction Guerilla to be really good stress relievers!!!!!!!!
@taomaster99 Definitely agree with you there!! Give me an FPS game and I will feel my stress wilt away blissfully. That is of course if the game itself doesn't stress me out as well.
@AlazarRamir yeah, sometimes it backfires and I get more pissed off, lol. That's why I just fool around and not do any story missions!!
@RickyTicki They keep adding to the game though so the fifteen bucks a month isn't completely useless. They add new areas, equipment, fictional holidays, etc. It's not that big a deal if you can find something driving you to keep playing. I just don't have it right now. It is too much of a time sink. My backlog steadily grows whenever I get sucked into WoW, and I am finding that MW2 is doing the same thing to me.
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