Is it just me?
Since the dawn of electronic gaming, I’ve been on a quest for better graphics in my games. I don’t think I’ve been alone in this quest. Games have continually improved, graphically speaking, from 4-bit color to 8-bit color and on up to whatever bits we have now. More than enough, I’d say. Marketing hype for new consoles is based on graphics quality while on the PC, new video cards are coming out all the time offering better resolution, higher frame-rates and more realistic imagery.
But suddenly, I don’t seem to care as much. Yes, I still take some pleasure in seeing a graphically impressive game, but I no longer buy a game just because it looks amazing. I thought about this when I realized I’d been playing Sonny for about an hour this morning, totally sucked in. Here’s a flash game with simple 2D graphics that I’m finding compelling. (Thanks to Tesh for bringing it to my attention, btw.) Last night I spent a good deal of time playing Mount & Blade, another game with graphics that are “fine” but certainly not stunning. And perhaps most significant, I recently was trying Star Wars Galaxies out again (free period for ex-players). I remember the last time I tried going back to it, I couldn’t get past the graphics since the game had “aged” since its initial launch. But this time, the mediocre graphics just didn’t factor in to whether or not I was enjoying the game.
Now normally I’d just assume this was totally a personal thing. Our values change a lot as we march through life from cradle to grave, after all, and I’ve been doing this gaming thing for closing in on 30 years now.
But what about this rebirth of “Indie Gaming” that we’re seeing? Most of these smaller games don’t have cutting edge graphics. Remember, I’m not talking about style here. I’m talking in terms of technically advanced graphics. And what about the Nintendo DS? That system still sells like crazy and the graphics it can push are mediocre at best. People don’t care. I could arguably throw the Wii in here too, but I think it sells on the strength of its “fad” quotient in a lot of cases. People who don’t buy games run out and buy a Wii, play it for two weeks and put it in a closet… but that’s another post altogether.
So *is* it just me, or have we, as “Gamers” (is that even a relevant tag anymore?) broken through some graphics barrier where, sure, cool graphics are nice, but what *really* matters is cool gameplay?