Friday, February 22, 2013

More Like PS-Snore, Amiright??

Look at me, jumping on the meme-wagon.
Have you guys heard? There's a new Playstation console coming out this year, and it's going to usher us (along with the new Xbox being announced later this year) into the next generation of video games. I should be totally excited right now, right? Me, the guy who had to force himself to stay away from video games for an entire year. You'd think, at this very moment, that I'd be frothing at the mouth at the mere prospect of a new gaming era...

...but I'm not. In reality, I'm actually surprisingly unenthusiastic about the whole thing.

Following the Wii-U's launch last year, this now makes two new system announcements in a row that have left me feeling vaguely uninterested in something that used to occupy my thoughts nonstop. I waited in line for over 10 hours in the freezing cold back in 2005 during the Xbox 360 launch. I did it again for a somewhat less crazy handful of hours for the original Wii. Granted, this was all before 'Paused.' Surely I must not be the same gamer now that I was back then, right?

Wrong. Sorry. But I promise that's the last time I'll pull the rug out from under you like that.

The only difference in my relationship with games between 2005 and now is that I don't have as much free time as I used to. Nowadays I buy very few games because I know after a certain point that I'm never going to get around to all of them. But when I get into a game, it still carries the same hold on me that it did back when I was a 5 year old kid who had to be pried away from his Atari 2600 before bedtime (I'm pretty sure that to this day my parents still regret getting me that system and starting my video game habit).

I still make time to play board games with friends almost every week. PAX East is a mere month away and I could not be more excited, even though I know I'm mostly going to hang out in the less crowded board game section the entire time. I have a whole system in place for the weekend. First I walk around to all the vendors and ask them what's new and what they've been playing. Then I check out any new games being demoed on the show floor. I dabble in everything I can, and then a short while later I walk out of PAX with the games I enjoyed playing the most while I was there.

It's an incredibly low-fi process, and yet I'm WAY more excited about doing that than I am about the Playstation 4, or Wii U. Why the hell is that? Honestly, I think it's because we're finally reached a point with our current video game technology that simply doesn't beg for the next generation. There's no obvious justification for a new console at this point. Sure, I'd love better graphics, a better processor,a bigger hard drive, and all that jazz, but until I see a game that promises me an experience I could not have on any of the consoles I already own, I don't any reason to swap out one of the old boxes under my television for a new one.

The thing is, it's definitely not going to be a big fat hard drive or jaw-dropping graphics that's going to wow me at this point. And I honestly don't really know what will. It's tough to say what I want out of a new console, but I do know that whatever it is, I haven't seen it yet. I crave new experiences, not bigger, louder ones.

I actually feel kind of sorry for the console manufacturers, who have the unenviable task of trying to convince gamers that we need a fancy new box to get these supposedly improved gaming experiences, when in reality, the only truly innovative gaming experiences of the past few years are coming from everywhere but the traditional console. Pretty much everything I played and loved last year was something I downloaded and played on my PC, my iPhone, or yes, my Xbox 360 or my PS3, but note that none of my favorite games were actually big budget major studio releases. In fact, they mostly all cost me $15 or less.

I know we haven't seen everything there is to see about the new systems. All the details for the PS4 aren't out yet, the Wii U is very early in it's life cycle, and we know nothing about the upcoming new Xbox (my favorite console of this previous generation) yet. A lot could change in the next year. But I really do hope that, in making this big push to salvage what apparently is a very dire situation in a changing consumer climate, the ones in charge realize it takes a lot more than sequels to your well known franchises and new buttons on your controllers to get people off (and then ultimately back on) their couches these days.

So come on guys. Get me on that freezing cold line at 11:00pm in the middle of November again. Metaphorically speaking of course - honestly, that experience was awful.

What I'm saying is: you did it before. Here's hoping you can do it again.

-Matt

PS: Actually, if the video game industry crashed tomorrow, I have a large enough back catalog to get me through the next few years, easy. Decades if I really go back and play everything I ever missed that was worthwhile. Ideally though, this crash would happen after Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us come out.

PPS: As un-inclined as I am to buy the Wii-U, I will say, I've had some real fun playing Nintendoland (specifically the Animal Crossing game) with a room full of friends.

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