Written by Ryan Johnson (RyanDJ) Tuesday, 31 January 2012 06:00
This article is the follow-up I promised in two separate articles: "Can I Really Be a Social Gamer?" and "Help! My Wife Stole My Xbox!" Read in to see how the family as a whole is evolving their gaming tastes. Will I get drawn into the throes of Social Gaming? Will my wife finally join me in traditional gaming?
My wife ran off to the hospital with the Xbox. She has been pounding through Street Crimes on LA Noire. Meanwhile, I have the PC and Wii at home.
I have tried to keep up with the 'Villes (she wanted a neighbor in CityVille and a bunch of friends started requesting I join CastleVille). Each time I would log in though, I would be greeted with 40 CastleVille requests and maybe 8 of the original CityVille requests. Given that my main reason for playing CityVille is to play with my wife, who currently does not have an internet connection, it really proved hard to progress, considering I have nobody interested in trading anything.
What has actually been gripping my attention is my WiiWare downloads of Phoenix Wright. Guess I've been watching my wife interrogate on LA Noire too much. Looking for intellectual stimulation. I do still pine for my time gliding Batman through Arkham City, trying to finish those last 20 riddles.
I think I have a few problems with social gaming. As a hardcore gamer, I love to progress. This takes time, sometimes unfathomably long periods of time. I think I've been building the CityVille bridge you see in the above picture for about three months now, and haven't gotten a single piece of material for it in two and a half weeks, even when I continue requesting. Unfortunately, social gaming is like a step away from an MMORPG. At least in an MMO, if you have nobody else on the server, you can go around and have fun. Here, the whole point is sociality (you HAVE to have neighbors to succeed. There is a tutorial "neighbor," but she doesn't send you anything!). If nobone else is playing, you're stuck with mini-farm forever, unless you plan on spending a few thousand bucks of real-world money on the game. Also, as Zynga and others keep introducing new games, they suck people away from the old ones.
Secondly, there's no end in sight. I think this is why I prefer some of my Japanese animation over traditional American flair. Most American television shows are made to milk the franchise. If there is a chance in the slightest to get another season out of something, it will happen. Meanwhile, my favorite animes: Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Big O, and the like, haven't seen new material for ages (although Trigun and Cowboy Bebop recently got one-off theatrical runs). They had a point to get to. An end. That allowed continuity, story progression, climax, and denouement. Most games I like are similar: somewhere to "end." Even for Fit to Game, the repetitive exercise games I play have an "end" in the real world, where I finally reach my goals. In social gaming, I don't know if I know what that goal is. I feel the only "end" will be the exodus of my friends to other games and the slow withering of my city as the rest of the world moves on to building castles, space stations, or whatever.
So, will I continue to social game? Probably. My wife is back home, she needs parts for her buildings and such. Will I be looking at it the same? Probably not. I was getting mad there for a while when nothing, and I mean NOTHING, would come in to help me complete a task in game. (CityVille has been talking about "building buddies" for ages, yet I have seen nothing come of this assistance.) My wife asked for CityVille cash for Christmas. I got her $20 and it was gone in 2 days. She said she only got a few hundred City Bucks out of it, and I saw that I can complete my bridge....for 400 City Cash or so.
But, if you remember my other article, my wife is getting into traditional gaming via LA Noire. I felt so proud a couple days ago when she called me from her bed at the hospital and told me how she was getting better at shooting and such, her least favorite parts of the game. She was racing through street crimes left and right, taking down the bad guys with ease.
Will she continue to be a traditional gamer? Probably. She's back home, as I said. She had no choice but to try to learn complex controls, and that's a good step in the right direction to trying new games with existing skill sets. She's interested in trying others. Popular opinion led to Mass Effect when I polled about what game to have next for her once LA Noire is complete, so I'll be picking up ME1 and 2 soon. They won't feel the same to her, I'm sure. Nothing but LA Noire 2 or The Whore of the Orient (the director's next game...I can only imagine going to the store to order that one!) will be the same. I'm looking forward to writing the next article to tell you where her gaming footsteps lead her once she is done with the streets of 1940's Los Angeles.
It is so neat how video games bring my family together. Through my Evolution of a Game articles, my own personal experiences, and getting my wife in on gaming, we are able to enjoy a mutual hobby. We are also learning each other's favorite tastes; trying something we never would have before. Not only that, but multiplayer games are allowing us to get together as a full-on family for an entertainment night like no other. Video games used to have the stigma of "that thing the kid goes and plays by himself." The era of social gaming, be it the specific genre within Facebook, the multiplayer party games, or just sitting and watching another play a gripping storyline, is bringing people together more than my parent's generation ever could have imagined.