In a world of inclusivity it is good to see that many of the top popular video games are embracing the idea and making games that appeal to all gamers, not just the stereotypical boy in the basement.
Let me start by saying that this editorial is not going to perpetuate those stereotypes. Stereo types are stupid, plain and simple. They may exist but they are based on ignorance and are insignificant in society. Nor will this editorial impart the ultra unfashionable notion that boys and girls play differently. They don’t. Those days are gone if they ever existed at all. Aliens may however play differently, I will be sure to ask should I ever meet one.
Every gamer has likes and dislikes, these preferences are not gender based. These preferences are gamer based and built from each gamer’s life experiences, aspirations and personal ideas on what entertainment means to them.
For many years the most popular video games were entirely one dimensional. They were predictable and based on a simple repetitive program. Little thought was put into the gamer or the gamer’s ability to think for themselves. They also failed to realize that eventually the person playing the game would demand more.
Think of the iconic video games we played as kids at the local arcade. Famous video games like Galactica, PacMan and Space Invaders had the biggest line ups because we had very few alternatives and we, like the games, were easily and simply programmed. We didn’t realize we could experience a richer, more complex gaming experience so we lined up and repeated simple movements over and over again until we figured out the pattern. The top classic games of years ago rocked don’t get me wrong but it was only a matter of time before they rightly started collecting dust in a warehouse somewhere.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE MOST POPULAR ACTION VIDEO GAMES
At some point as more and more iconic video games started collecting dust, game designers came to the realization that the gaming community was tiring of the tried and true classics. They sunk small fortunes into R&D and started to listen. Gamers worldwide began to reap the rewards of this new approach with new consoles and titles that possessed stronger game play, stronger stories and much stronger graphics. Advancements in computer generated imaging created new worlds and new possibilities designed to include all gamers not just the die hard fan. It was a good start.
The industry knew it already had a solid base of gamers but they also realized that they had missed out on a huge portion of the population and set out to change that. For years fans of action games had very limited options. Many titles but little dissimilarity amongst them. The formula that was followed by most of the gaming manufactures sort of went like this:
1) Create a muscle bound mercenary
2) Provide HIM with an implausible load out of traditional army weapons
3) Create a basic canned maze for HIM to navigate through with plenty of deadends
4) Create an onslaught of stereotypical foes for the little muscle head to blowup or shoot
5) Create a really stereotypical, slightly tougher to beat, Boss
6) Defeat the Boss win the game
7) The End
I loved those games I really did but they too became dust magnets so the gaming industry tried harder. Graphics and story lines continued to improve and games had to become more intelligent to reflect the gamers that loved them.
One aspect of the new intellect was the realization that even as story lines improved there was a large portion of the gaming community that bored easily. Playing the story got stalled. So what to do? Enter the side mission.
When a gamer tired of the preordained purpose of the game he or she just used to turn it off. The gamer, the game designer, the game manufacturer and the game retailer realized that was not a favorable outcome for anyone. It was decided that if a game was offered inside the game it kept people interested and side missions became the norm in the majority of the top video games.
Designers also began to give the gamer more control over other aspects of the games as well and the way we game changed for ever. By involving the gamer in the game design itself manufacturers appealed to even more fans.
The advent of alternate skins gave the gamer the ability to personally connect with the game’s hero. Skins not only for the hero’s apparel and accessories but for HIS or HER weapons as well. Many games now give the gamer the ability to choose between two or more characters to act as their game’s hero as well. Gone are the days of a single muscle bound mercenary as the sole choice of action gamers. Today your hero may be one still if that is your preference but you can also have a female hero, a dragon, an alien if you so desire to name a few. Gender or species are only two of the choices the gamer now controls, attributes are also occasionally under gamer control. The speed, skill set, magical abilities and combat styles are more and more being designed to involve the input of the gamer. Once you have perfected the look of your hero, gamers can now match your personalized hero with the specific load out of weapons of their choice and complete their ultimate hero. Gamers 10 years ago really had three choices for a weapon load out and at most could only carry two at a time. Now your hero can carry as many as four or more with the addition of crafting and the types range from almost any known real weapon to a plethora of newly imagined ones that were created by the designer. Your hero, your game and your experience. Mass appeal.
Perhaps one of the greatest advances in gaming is the game play itself. Not only have the heros and the worlds improved the player’s interaction within the world has grown. The single most important addition to today’s game play could very well be the simple addition of stealth. Sure it is fun to just blow things up all the time but occasionally I like to feel I am smarter than the computer or online player that I am playing and take them out when they are not looking.
Gamers are smart these days and demand that their favorite pastime offer them the ultimate immersive experience. The ability to personalize their gaming experience creates a stronger connection between the gamer and the game and that connection creates a more fulfilling entertainment experience. As gamers continue to demand more and game makers continue to listen and push the limits of technological possibility we all benefit. We all need to play and we deserve the best. Keep testing the limits of the storylines. Keep testing the limits of technology. Keep testing the limits of your imagination and the best action games for boys, girls and aliens will only get better.
ABOUT THOSE ALIENS….
Inclusivity means the inclusion of all living things and while the jury is still out on the existence of life on other planets I thought it would be fun to include them. Let’s assume for a moment that all the stereotypes about extraterrestrials are real. Well I don’t want to leave them out do you? After years and years of observing us puny humans blowing them up in video games they probably do what a little payback. According to my imaginary friend who may or may not live on or near an area with a number somewhere in and around the New Mexico area, alien children play video games too. Here is a list of the most popular video games for aliens:
1) Grand Theft Autopilot – Stories of Liberty Galaxy
Synopsis: Aliens hack into the autopilot system of the stupid humans flying machines and wreak havoc on the earth.
2) PokeMAN Payback
Synopsis – Alien children run around with there phones and snatch up puny humans and trap them in little colorful balls.
3) Aliens in Black
Synopsis – Aliens in black suits and funky shades scour their home planets searching for human infiltrators.
4) Flack Man
Synopsis – A small yellow spaceship navigates its way through a galaxy shaped maze chasing little human ghosts and tries to shoot them while stopping for bananas and pretzels along the way. No cherries.
5) Earth Trek – The Final Frontier
Synopsis – After killing their home planets the aliens head to earth to colonize but encounter strange and annoying creatures and use their phasers on them.
6) Earth Invaders
Synopsis – This iconic video game sees wave after wave of tiny humans on bicycles coming down from the top of the screen while throwing sticks at an alien with a super powerful laser blaster.
7) My Little Human
Synopsis – Alien children get to dress up their very own little human and put bows in their hair and give them cute accessories like rainbow tails. They also get to decorate the tiny human’s room and feed it.
8) Final Fantasy 86
Synopsis – We really have no understanding of space and time, it could happen. I can’t wait until it comes out on earth!
9) Roswell Retaliation
Synopsis – Aliens are ticked we shot down one of their own and come to exact their revenge and rescue the survivors.
10) Cull of Duty
Synopsis – Aliens seek to thin out (cull) the earth’s militaries in advance of invasion and total human enslavement.
THE REAL CONCLUSION
No matter who (or what) you are there should be a game that suits you. If there isn’t seek out people who are willing to make it. We ALL will benefit. In my mind the perfect game has not yet been made but every new advancement brings us closer to an all inclusive experience that will appeal and entertain us all. The possibilities are endless and many TV shows and movies are just begging to be made into a new action game and many original ideas are just waiting to be born into the ultimate game. Of the top of my head I can think of five I would like to see right now:
1) Maleficent – Sure to be an epic RPG in all its horned glory.
2) Point Break – Extreme sports, heists, fast cars, say no more.
3) Fairy Tail – Manga royalty. Magic, combat, gender diversity, flying cats. Awesome.
4) Indiana Jones – Any of them. Storyline, treasure, adventure, peril. They really need to make this franchise into an original RPG.
5) Cowboys and Aliens – This movie may not have been a blockbuster but I am sure I would play the game.
Action games for boys, action games for girls and action games for aliens don’t truly exist, all that exists are action games for us, the gamers, and we have helped make them great. Happy gaming EVERYBODY!
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