Sunday, August 9, 2009

Late Night Gaming Philosophy

Ok so it's the morning but I was up real late playing Warhammer Online and I came to an interesting realization about the nature of most MMORPG games. Which is, they are not challenging in the slightest. They rarely invoke a problem solving mindset where someone has to think quick about how to solve a problem or invent new tactics on the fly. Maybe this is a trend in a lot of computer games these days but MMOs in particular promote "stupid gaming".

This realization came to me after spending several hours in a large group partaking in the RVR missions of Warhammer. Player versus player combat is supposed to inspire seat of the pants thinking. Never once did I see a change in tactics or any players pulling off interesting flanks to outsmart the enemy. Mostly because we were already fighting in the most effective way that the game mechanics allowed for. Get in a large group and focus fire on anything we see.

You can progress in the game without using your brain at all. I could be a level 40 player with all the best gear in the game, but all that it really symbolizes is that I spent a lot of time going through the motions. Warhammer RVR feels more like grinding than player versus player combat. The tactics were the same and there were no surprises from the enemy. Just more mindless hacking and slashing.

One could argue that not needing to think seriously about engagements allows for more socializing while playing. But if that's your argument then the game becomes nothing more than eye candy for a chat client. As a game designer I wouldn't be happy with myself if I had created a game that literally made people use their minds less. We have enough things in society that promote lazy brained people, maybe game designers should think about the morality of their design choices a bit more.

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