seawasp (seawasp) wrote,

An Open Letter to Video-Game Creators: We're Getting Older, But We Still Have Money

I've been playing videogames of various types since, oh, 1977 or so when I first went to an arcade (the game that I loved most back then was "Space War") and when I played the text-game "Adventure". I played games on my old Atari computers, with notable entries being Dungeon Master and Sundog. As a player of real RPGs for many years (also since '77) I was pretty doubtful of the worth of "console RPGs", but because I did play things like Street Fighter occasionally, we got as a gag wedding gift a Super Nintendo station... and we decided to order this new game, Chrono Trigger, because the art was by Akira Toriyama, the creator of DBZ. After getting it I decided there was no point in having bought the game if I didn't at least TRY it and sat down and turned it on at about 8pm.

Sometime later, I noticed THE SUN WAS COMING UP. And I knew I was hooked.

I've spent quite a bit of money on games in the years since, having upgraded to different systems (the most recent being a PS3 and the Wii) and bought many games for both. As a professional man with a good-sized family, I and my family represent the best kind of market for videogame products.


There's a lot of popular games out that I would really LIKE to play, but I can't. Because I have neither the almost unlimited hours of time to practice from my youth, nor the reflexes and, at times, eyesight. For example, I got the game inFAMOUS as part of the "Welcome Back" freebies for the recent PS Network debacle (and I appreciate the gesture). But I found that the game, which offered an interesting potential plotline, was swiftly becoming unplayable because it required a speed of reaction, nicety of timing, and sometimes quickness of perception that at nearly 50 I no longer HAVE. I can't afford to spend many hours trying to get past an individual jump-and-grab challenge (something that defeated me early on in playing the most recent Tomb Raider. The very interesting and well-done first Spider-Man game (from the first movie) was an excellent game but I got stuck not all that far in -- not because I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do, but because after dozens of tries I still couldn't complete the required sequence of actions.

This is worse, of course, in the FPS's. Partly that's because the younger crowd HAS usually spent those hundreds of hours training, and most of them seem constitutionally UNABLE to give a newcomer a break, so someone like me simply won't play them, but also because even the automated stuff usually assumes that I have about half the reaction time that I do at my age.

There are also elements of some games, both action and RPG, which include puzzle solving that can become very frustrating if you don't "get" the trick. Yes, you can find an online walkthrough, but that rather breaks the flow of the game.

I think it would be well for the companies to think about this. There are numerous ways to add fairly simple options to get around this -- the ability to slow down the action, the ability to say "Assume I solve this Puzzle", and so on. I cannot imagine such things are particularly hard to program, since solving a puzzle has to be essentially setting a flag properly, and the speed of a game is already set and controlled internally. Adding a Geezer Mode or a Story Mode rather than Action Mode would make a lot of games playable (and thus worth buying!) which currently aren't, and wouldn't make the games any less entertaining for those who didn't want to USE those modes.

There are other specific things I'd like to see in video games -- a lot of them, actually, and perhaps I'll write other posts on those. But this is a sort of global issue. The original generations of gamers are aging, but we're still gamers. You still want our money.  We still want to play. We still even want to play fast moving combat games and action-adventures, we're just not QUITE as fast moving as we used to be. Make it possible
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