Home > Cod4 mw 2 > Dumbing Down Our Games

Dumbing Down Our Games

Is this who developers think we are?

Gaming: it’s our hobby; it’s our obsession; it’s our favourite pastime. Most of you reading this blog probably play video games every day. You might just be about to, or you might just have finished. Whatever the case, you’re probably aware of the games in your possession. Just think about that for a minute. What games do you own? Just pick one.

I can guarantee that last decade’s equivalent to that game was far harder than the current game you’re thinking of. It probably involved some element of problem-solving or creativity, and required you to think.

What I’m getting at, is that you don’t get this anymore. These days, it seems like problem-solving and puzzles are their own niche. Back in the day (I might only be 15, but I was raised on the SNES), every game required you to consider a situation thoughtfully, and solve whatever problem was presented to you. However, these problems weren’t as simple as ‘Kill the mouthy beggar’, or ‘Climb to the top of the tower’. They might have been less realistic, but they required more thought.

Consider Modern Warfare 2, for example. Could you name me one point in that game where thought was required? Of course you couldn’t. The entire game revolved around pointing and shooting guys, with varying degrees of difficulty.

If you go back many years, to a game like Contra (the shooter of its time), which really should’ve been far less intelligent than today’s MW2, in fact required thought and consideration on multiple occasions. There were many instances in which you would have to memorise a level’s layout, so that you’d retrieve the best powerups at the times you needed them. Not only that, but the majority of bosses had weak points that were quite hard to exploit. In MW2, the biggest complication you have is aiming for a Juggernaut’s head.

And, it’s really sad, too. It kills me to see my games being reduced to simple, boring shoot-and-stab-fests. It’s neither fun, nor engaging, but there’s no alternative, so what do you do?

Another thing to consider in this is ‘Hard’ (or ‘Extreme’, or ‘Insane’, or any variant of the aforementioned) mode. I frequently play games through on Hard mode, simply because they’re not challenging otherwise. Going back 20 years or so, nobody would dare play Hard mode, simply because it was brain-meltingly impossible to do so. The new difficulties I mentioned in passing (Extreme, Insane, whatever) are totally asinine. Hard mode should actually be hard, not just a mandatory romp to unlock ‘Insane’.

As Cranky Kong put it, “Back in my day, you had to finish 90 levels with only 3 lives. You kids these days couldn’t play a video game to save yourselves.”

  1. Viklove
    May 5, 2010 at 6:42 am

    You can’t compare a puzzle game to MW2, you have to compare a shooter to it. Wolfenstein was a shooter, and you didn’t think much either. You only searched for items, and if you want to, you can do the same in MW2.

    Also, just because a game is easier doesn’t mean it’s dumber, it means it’s easier.

    • thatguykalem
      May 6, 2010 at 1:30 am

      I’m not comparing a puzzle game to MW2. I’m comparing the gaming status quo at present with the gaming status quo 20+ years ago.

  2. May 6, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I don’t think games have become dumber. Easier definitely, but not less intelligent. There are a lot of major concepts in most games nowadays that you wouldn’t see ‘back in the day’. The main difference between then and now is that games are now an extension of the entertainment industry rather than a challenge for geeks.

    People don’t want to have to restart a level from the beginning again just because they missed a teeny tiny ledge, or didn’t mash the X button quick enough at just the right time. So instead of only having three lives to get through a relatively short game, you can now make your way through a story line in excess of twenty hours of play.

    It’s an evolution of gameplay entertainment. When games first came out in the arcade it made sense to make them as hard and frustrating as possible so that suckers like me would continually pour our 10p pieces in to get to the next level. It wasn’t until much later that that concept was abandoned in favour of being able to continue, or respawn without any real penalty.

    Although, if you still hanker for some old school pain then you try Ikaruga. It’s better on the the GameCube than on the 360 port though.

    • thatguykalem
      May 7, 2010 at 1:07 am

      “It’s an evolution of gameplay entertainment.”

      It might be an evolution, but is it an evolution in the right direction? That’s subjective, I guess, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

      By the way, good comments, guys. Makin’ me think =D

  3. tropicofanatic
    July 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Good article. Games are being dumbed down, because people are getting dumber. The Call of Duty games are scripted point and shoot. The storyline and characters in them are also dumbed down. Compare Call of Duty with 101st Airborne: Normandy. In 101st Airborne: Normandy, you picked out a squad of soldier, equipped them with supplies, and dropped them into the zone. Many times some of the soldiers would die before impact. Sometimes you had to finish missions with two or three members of a squad. Then look also at the characters themselves. Not all of them were gung ho patriots. They were imperfect characters with flaws. Call of Duty is merely point and kill. No strategy whatsoever and completely scripted. Your actions in combat does not effect the outcome of the mission. The characters are right wing caricatures of the military. Horrible and pathetically dumb.

    • thatguykalem
      July 20, 2010 at 1:25 am

      I absolutely agree with you. That is the total and unequivocal truth. It’s a shame, too, because games have so much potential.

  4. yo
    October 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Yes games are dumbed down massively. The problem is that the average modern gamer today is stupid little no brain moron who screams and quits at the slightest wiff of a challenge. 20 years ago it was the extreme opposite. Gamers were determined little buggers who go through hell to be able to finally get the satisfaction of “beating the game”. Games were often designed to be a real nightmare to beat, throwing incredible obstacles in the way, and gamers lapped up this challenge and loved trying to win.

    I think there is some value in the modernisation of games. I think a lot of old games had got to the point where they were too focused on the challenge and had just become tedious and no longer enjoyable. This could have been tweaked though in to something great, but that didn’t happen. What has happened is that it’s gone 100% in the other direction to the point now where you barely even need to be at the game. Look at something like World of Warcraft and you barely even need to be at your computer. You could macro every battle in the game. You run around the world looking for creatures your level. And then you arrive and you press 1,2,3,4 and they all die. There is no thought involved, nothing to react to, and no challenge. Even compared to EverQuest just 11 years ago it is quite a big devolution, and that is the same with all games of all genres.

    To many I probably sound like an elitist jerk, but the fact is, I’m right. I’m old enough to have seen it change, and it’s very clear to see. Modern games and dumbed down, because modern gamers are dumb and lazy. There is no denying it either, and unless you have played old games from the past, you can’t even appreciate it. Even 15 years ago they were very different. I remember games like the original Rainbow Siz. One shot and you were dead, game over. You also had to plan the missions out beforehand too. Look at that compared to modern games where your health is infinite and it’s constantly regenerating. You can get shot 20 times and all you do is stand by a wall for a few seconds and you are good to go again. You can then get shot another 20 times and it’s no problem. This is modern gaming, and it’s pretty pathetic.

  5. October 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Amen brotha!

  6. Art Catrambone III
    November 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I think that games have dumbed down but by no means pathetic i just think we have found a formula that caters to the largest consumer group. They are easy and if you don’t have palsy you can figure it out in about 5 min. and have fun which is why people play but not that many developers want to try something eles, but they need to think a little bit more like Mike Shinoda (rapper from Linkin Park) many think he is an idiot for changing his style but he doesn’t care he wants to do the music that hes doing now. Thats what developers need to do, some are already like Splash Damage (Wolfenstein Enemy Territory) are now developing Brink which looks orgasmicly good, then theres People Can Fly studios (……) who are developing Bulletstorm which looks like a good game also, the problem is that CoD is raking in cash so many are copying the format while not adding anything original. But there are games that break the mold Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands, Fallout 3 (in my opinion this case an fps is better than the oldschool rpg which i hold dear to my heart), Elder Scrolls Oblivion, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy 13. The thing is that there are so many more games that the amount of good games seems smaller but does it diminish the good games no.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: