April Round Table: Lonely Games

So hey, Man Bytes Blog. Sweet blog. Very well written. Very engaging. Few swears. Lots of measured, careful, thoughtful statements about games and gaming. So, apparently, Corvus does this Round Table thingie, so I'd figured I try a crack at it. The theme this time is finding common threads among your favorite games.

So, favorite games:

Odin Sphere
Any shooter by Cactus
Any shooter by Kenta Cho
God Hand
Dead Rising
Shadow of the Colussus
GTA: San Andreas
Devil May Cry 3
Radian Silvergun
Magic: The Gathering
Texas Hold'em
Dawn of War
Discipline: Record of a Crusade
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

...huh. It's weird seeing all those things together, isn't it. I mean, I constantly talk to myself about these games, but I've never actually written them all down before. Ya know, all as one. Huh. Well I can't see a pattern. So how about games I hate?

Discipline: Record of a Crusade
World of Warcraft
Odin Sphere
God Hand
Dead Rising
Darkened Skye
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

...Yeah. I still got nothing. Let's try observing why I hate these games!

Discipline: Record of a Crusade - First ending I got hurt Otokawa.
World of Warcraft - Grind
Odin Sphere - Grind
God Hand - Half-finished
Dead Rising - Brilliant story-telling technique, stuck telling a B story
Darkened Skye - wasted good allowance money on this
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence - fucking control scheme from the 9th layer of hell
Bioshock - uninspired

... Hmm...Let's go back to the ones I love.

Odin Sphere - first game where I almost cried / I heart Gwendolyn
Any shooter by Cactus - Man's a genius
Any shooter by Kenta Cho - See: Cactus
God Hand - Ballsy design
Dead Rising - Ballsy design
Audiosurf - $10 for a game I'll play for the rest of my life
Shadow of the Colussus - Brilliant
GTA: San Andreas - WCTR
Devil May Cry 3 - 'Fun Factor'
Radian Silvergun - Good ole' shmup goodness
Spectromancer - Ingenious use of cards in digital format
Magic: The Gathering - a blast
Chess - European philosophy in 8x8 squares
Blackjack - Fun/random elements integrated into game of skill
Texas Hold'em - Fun/random elements integrated into game of skill
Dawn of War - Fun
Passage - Art
Discipline: Record of a Crusade - Taught be about player expectations
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence - Sheer craftsmanship

I guess, when I look at it like this...none of these games pull punches. They don't meet you halfway. They don't concede anything. They are what they are, they know what they are, and by god they're happy with it. They're ecstatic even. They don't want to be movies. They don't want to be novels. They don't want anything more than to be just what they are; games. Now some of
them (SotC, Passage) use the fact that they're just games to show us something beautiful, to make 'art'. Others (DMC3, Radiant Silvergun) are content with showing us what we've learned how to do. Some show us the future, some the past. some show where we're coming from, and others give a hint of where we're going. But they're all happy just being games.

And looking at this list of games I hate, I see things that aren't happy being games, or aren't fully realized as games. They're not content. They're so...worried. Anxious. Unfinished. Or worse, they just don't care.

Like WoW. When I was playing WoW, I just got this incredible sense that the game doesn't care about itself much. I mean, I'm out here slaughtering these lizards, and for what? For some levels? If I murder Thunderlizard #3002212379872761, does anyone give a fuck? Does it change anything significant? All that happens is some fucking bright-ass pillar shines on me, I get some skill points, and it's right back the fucking grind.

And Bioshock; shit on a biscuit that game was pissed! It was so constrained, so trapped into what it thought an FPS had to be, into how a story had to be told. Into how combat has to work. It was so held back. Playing that game made me so sad, because all I saw was something awesome raging against chains it put on itself.

And God Hand, man God Hand. It fell apart around the edges. The center the meat, the main levels of the game were fantastic. Beating up wrestling gorillas, spanking hot dommes, suplexing thugs. THAT WAS AWESOME!!! And then you get to the Last Boss, and you're like SWEEEETTT!!! Double the POWER! And then you're like, let's do it again God Hand, this time, ON HARD...And then...the game forgets. I forgets about all those moments that you two had. It
forgets about that time you got BOTH God Hands, and you were like, "take this DEMON DUDE", and he was like "NO YOU HAVE DEFEATED MEEEE!!!" It forgot. How could it do that to me? After all those moments, gone. Did God Hand ever really love then?

So anyway, yeah, that's what I see from these lists. I see games that understand what they are, and games that don't understand what they are. The games I love know what it is that they're trying to do, and by god, they do it. The games I hate...not so much. You know what? I wouldn't even say I hate those games. I just feel bad for them. They're just so pitiful.

They're lost. Lonely.

I think this whole round table has been good for me. I think I'll do more of this kind of taking-my-thinking-on-games-apart stuff. But for now, I gotta go to EEE 120! PI AWAYYYYyyyyyyyyy......!!!!


  1. Hey Pi Powered Dude,

    I stumbled onto your writings from Corvus' round table stuff, and I gotta say, I like your style. I'm a big fan of the casual conversational tone, as is evident in my contribution to this hearty gathering of the Knights (bloggers?) or the Round Table.

    Man, I whole heartedly agree with your sentiments on Bioshock. Everyone I ever spoke to was like "this shit be crunk" and I was like "Nu-uh, it's just K" and they were like "You be WHACK" and I was like, "whatever" and... well... I think you are right.


    Oh, and also, I want to defend WoW - but I can't. It doesn't really care whether that lizard dies or not, but you can. If you want to... I think that's maybe even worse really...

  2. @ben abraham

    At least one of us likes my style! XP

    Seriously though, Bioshock is nice, but if it's the future of gaming, then the future is bleak.

    As far as WoW, I think that most people love it because they have a group of people they play it with. That is to say, WoW is probably more or less an excuse to get together with your pals than anything else. But as for me, even if my friends did play it, I still wouldn't be able to get pass the sheer shallowness of it all. I think it's just a matter of what people want from their games.

  3. I don't actually have any follow up questions for you! It seems pretty clear that the themes you're referring to are industry themes and I completely agree with your perspective. We need more games with some serious substance and focus.

    When I see how much the design of the original System Shock has been diminished with each iteration... it makes me a bit sad.

    While I liked the environments and premise of Bioshock quite a lot, I couldn't get over how flat the gameplay was and I stopped playing long before I got to the end of it.