WARNING: Post contains a shit load of youtube videos. May load slowly.

I remember back in the day when Arcades were still alive. Going up to machines for Raiden 2, Metal Slug, and even MVC2. I remember the noise of the Arcade rooms being a loud, thundering orchestra of video explosions, screaming, and laughter.

Pocket Change, that was the name of the place. It was such a bad ass place to go to after school.

What it used to be.

Now I go there, I just see a giant, empty room with pay-per-play consoles hooked up to normal tvs in the ceiling where you have to break your neck just to look up and play. Normal sports games, low volume, no psychedelic lights, and just a few snot nosed teens looking bored as hell.

This is basically what it looks like now.

I know the Arcades have been dead for years, but damn! If there’s any reason to want to go to Japan, it would be to have that atmosphere again! For all the shit I’ve given the Japanese, at least they know how to come together and have some wacky ass fun once in a while. Over here, we hate being around people. So much that the idea of sitting with the family around a tv playing a game is seen as the “wrong way to play games”.

Yes, I know they’re talking about the cracka on the floor facing the wrong direction. Work with me.

In a previous post, I noted that Arcade gaming was “social gaming”. When you think back to how the Arcades were, it was an atmosphere breathing with life. You saw every one having fun. You were surrounded by an audience waiting their turn or marveling at your skills. If 2 player, you and a friend went at it. The games were special effects showcases, fast, fun, and damned exciting. The sound effects… hell yes!

Oh Amma, I loved Raiden 2!

Arcade gaming demanded simple controls since several people were going to get in on the fun with lots of quarters going in, and no one seemed to have enough to play. But that was cool in itself. Games weren’t meant to be played for several hours on end.

Then the Console came into existence. The console was meant to be the translation of the Arcade experience to the living room. Consoles these days usually have 2 or more controller ports….or wireless sensors for more than one player. But these days, I ask “why bother”?

Console gaming was supposed to be “Arcade gaming lite”. If you couldn’t find an Arcade in your area or your mama wanted to save gas and not take your hyperactive ass to the arcade to waste your milk money, a Nintendo or a Genesis would’ve sufficed. Blockbuster rentals were the only times you ever got a new game. Got a second controller? Invite a few friends over to rock their shit at Street Fighter or Bloody Roar. Or have wacky fun at Bomberman. Whatever the case may be. Most video games in the early 90s had some form of co-op because developers understood that console gaming was social gaming despite the different context. Spending nights over one’s house playing Bomberman, the kicking the shouting, the screaming, it’s like watching grown men kick and scream at a football game on tv. Arcade gaming, if movies or tv shows didn’t do it, brought people together for some wholesome, harmless fun. Either at a game room or in your own bedroom, whatever the case may be,video games was awesome mainly because you didn’t have to be afraid to be around people. You just had to bring your “mad skillz”.

Mother fucking Dreamcast!

On the other hand, you have Computer gaming, or what I call “personal gaming”. A computer is a device that is exclusively used by one person per session, unless you were like me and tried to cram up on the keyboard playing Sonic 3K on PC as Tails. WASD was not a good replacement for arrow keys, believe me. Computer games usually ranged from RPG, FPS, and Adventure games (usually those shitty point and click games). Then you had the strategy games like Red Alert 2, puzzle games like Dr. Brain and the Incredible Machine. These games were much slower paced than your typical Arcade game, less noisy, and more… well boring personally. These games were less about reflexes and more about tactics and thinking which benefited from the slower pace. But more so, they were only suited for single player gaming. Individual, private, isolated. “Personal“. The only kind of multiplayer you could get was with a modem and that was even more expensive. Multiplayer gaming for consoles and the arcade was already there. You needed nothing more than an extra controller or more quarters.

That kid looks bored.

Computer games also have more complex controls. Seeing as they use a keyboard, different actions are mapped all across the keyboard itself. When Computer games are ported to the consoles, the controls become so convoluted, most people would be turned off by trying to do the most basic actions. Try playing Splinter Cell Double Agent on GCN with a virgin mind and see how fast you adapt to it’s controls.

My uncle would never stop playing Gabriel Knight.

When you look at both sets of videos, the difference in styles of both Arcade and Computer games, it’s clear that certain styles work in different formats. Arcade gaming is a party and a thrill ride suitable for social atmospheres. Computer gaming is more isolated, suitable for a quiet atmosphere where no one is looking. Arcade games were practically made for the populace while Computer games were made with a more “creative” driven essence that expresses the author’s vision.

Console gaming is (supposed to be, anyway) Arcade gaming lite. It’s not as noisy as the Arcades but delivers a similar, though downsized experience. Computer gaming had it’s place on the PC as most Computer brand games (sans FPS’s like Doom) were never truly popular on consoles.

It wasn’t until the late 90s that computer gaming started to captivate gamers. With games like Resident Evil, Ocarina of Time, Tomb Raider, Goldeneye 64, and Final Fantasy 7, genres that were once popular on PC’s almost exclusively started to become a much bigger player in the console gaming realm. While many of these titles gained notoriety from certain gimmicks like FF7’s advertising of CGI, Lara Croft’s sex appeal, Goldeneye being a movie tie-in, the quality of these games were exceptionally high for their time. Thanks to media hype, they became some of the most revered games of that generation.

This would continue with the rise of Online gaming, once a feature utilized heavily by Computer games of the FPS and Strategy genres. With FPS’s like Halo and Unreal becoming twice as popular as anything before it, the most popular games of the previous generations weren’t Arcade brand games (though DDR carved out some cheese nicely), but computer brand games. Call of Duty is currently the world leader in terms of sales and general popularity (even Japan loves it. Goddamn!). The most revered games were not Tekken or Mario or even Marvel vs Capcom 2. Arcade brand gaming became it’s own niche. Instead, the gaming populace swooned over Computer games like Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, COD, Skyrim, etc.

But… something happened. Despite the massive popularity of these games, people were beginning to lose interest in video games. What was once one of the best past times to spend with family and friends became less and less enjoyable. Suddenly, with the rise of online gaming, the necessity of being around people was removed entirely. Now, all consoles need online gaming as a requirement of quality standards. Many of the hottest console titles were single player with the exception of FPS’s. Fighting games, once the definitive realm of competitive gaming, was shafted in favor of the omnipresent FPS. The Action games were bashed over the head for Adventure games, and Platformers had to move over for RPGs.

The Arcades died in the late 90s because consoles were more accessible and powerful enough to emulate the Arcade experience. Essentially, Console gaming replaced the Arcades nicely. But then the Arcade experience was becoming less popular with gamers and developers alike. Suddenly, these games were “casual” and uncool to make.

And now gaming is going into a decline once more. With computer gaming taking over consoles (and claims from PS3 makers that PS3 was not a console but a computer) and online gaming being the dominant source of entertainment, Arcade gaming was dying.

With all of these elements, Consoles were no longer the party machines they used to be. Instead, they’re computers in the living room. But computer gaming is “Personal” gaming. Consoles were made for Social gaming as the Arcades once were. If this element was being shafted in favor of Personal gaming, Console gaming loses it’s fundamental purpose. Personal gaming is exclusionary to one person. “I have online gaming which allows me to play with screen names from all over the world! What do I need local multiplayer for? It’s obsolete!”. As a result, Console gaming has become Exclusionary gaming, the anti-thesis to Arcade gaming.

The Wii was the last bastion of Arcade gaming, and the industry has shown it nothing but sheer scorn for daring to go back to it’s Arcade roots. The hardcore gamers, with their hiveminds driven by rampant marketing machines and not individual thought, scorned the Wii for “abandoning them”. Hardcore gamers demand exclusionary gaming! To get away from the dreaded “casuals”. The casuals are the enemy to the evolution of gaming. There’s no evolution. Simply put, it is nothing more than Computer gaming absorbing Console gaming. The only evolution is graphical progression and “art styles”, nothing beyond it.

Why does the industry demand Console gaming to become Computer gaming? What is the benefit? What is the gain? Certainly, there’s a mindset going on with the industry. That Computer gaming should be the dominant force of video game entertainment. Computer game developers had a hellish time trying to compete with Arcade gaming. When it crashed in the early 80s, Trip Hawkins had proclaimed that Computer gaming was the future. Of course, thanks to the NES, that dream was shat on real quickly. His argument being that developers could be much more “creative” on the platform unlike on consoles which were produced for the sake of entertainment. Hmm… creative games. That sounds like:

Okami

Shadow of the Colossus

Heavy Rain

All of the games that are considered “artistic” and “high quality”. Computer games are more so creative pieces of interactive software. Which would’ve explained their lacking popularity on consoles until the late 90s. Computer gaming is exclusionary as only a few people can “appreciate” the sophisticated value behind these games.

How many times have you heard the argument that naysayers don’t “appreciate” certain games? This is where it comes from.

The industry has been more and more obsessed with it’s own creativity than the entertainment of it’s consumers, something which Arcade gaming had no problem doing. Computer gaming is, in this sense, pretentious gaming. Artistic gaming. etc. But ultimately it is exclusive to certain branches of people.

There’s a myth surrounding the Playstation brand. That Playstation made gaming “mainstream”. Bullshit. Gaming was always “mainstream”. At least Arcade gaming was. Computer gaming wasn’t mainstream. It was exclusive to the nerds who would go online and rant about how much better PC gaming was in comparison to computer gaming. Have you noticed no one bothers trying to prove consoles are better than PC? There’s no need. Computer gaming had to absorb console gaming just to be “popular”. General gaming didn’t become mainstream. Computer gaming became mainstream. Many people would not realize it mainly because Computer gaming was in a different format.

Computer games also have more complex controls. Seeing as they use a keyboard, different actions are mapped all across the keyboard itself. When Computer games are ported to the consoles, the controls become so convoluted, most people would be turned off by trying to do the most basic actions. Try playing Splinter Cell Double Agent on GCN with a virgin mind and see how fast you adapt to it’s controls.

Why did once 2D Arcade centric franchises like Castlevania enter the 3D realm as Computer Centric Adventure games? Super Mario 64 is more of an adventure game as you explore levels and solve puzzles to collect power stars. Sonic games now have little “missions” for the players to complete, a mindless distraction from the main games.

If you want to understand the thought process behind Computer game developers, you would have to listen to the words that come out of Eiji Aonuma’s mouth. The original Zelda 1 and 2 were both hybrids of Arcade action games and Computer RPG games, simplifying the RPG elements while putting more emphasis on the action. Eiji Aonuma commented that he was terrible at these games and often wondered why people liked them so much. He mentioned that he would rather play PC games”

The result was that I was under the impression that the Legend of Zelda was not a game that suited me. So what kind of games did suit me? Those would be text-based adventures. For someone like me who enjoyed reading stories, these were games that allowed you to participate in the story and letting you experience the joy of seeing your own thoughts and actions affect the progression of the story. Plus, these games don’t require fast reflexes and don’t require traditional gaming skills. So, I thought that if I were going to make games, I would like to make this type of game.

These are Computer games he’s referring to. Rarely did Console and Arcade games (outside of Japan, at least) have participation in the storyline outside of “enemies over here, kill them”. But aside from that, check this one out.

In 1991, we released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and followed that a year later with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on that system. With this title the Zelda series once again returned to the top down, isometric view. But, it can probably be said if it were not for this title, the Zelda franchise would never have been developed. It established many of the conventions for Zelda games to come, including those that were refined in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening released for the Game Boy the following year. Even now, Link’s Awakening is lauded as a quintessential isometric Zelda game.

When the Zelda series started having it’s RPG side completely engulf it’s Action side is when the series “became quintessential”. It took on more adventure elements with a bigger focus on puzzles and less on combat. The results speak for themselves.

Arcade Centric Zelda with a bigger focus on combat. Fuck, you even got POWER UPS! It’s much faster paced as well.

Computer Centric Zelda with a bigger focus on puzzle solving. Eww, bug catching. Very slow paced.

And this game won massive awards and adoration from the industry. Why is that? Because the industry is ran by lovers of Computer games. Skyward Sword looks, feels, and plays like a Computer adventure game, and makes “creative” (read: Non-convenient) usage of the Motion plus for puzzle solving. Okami also won awards despite being a flop.

Everyone laments how mobile gaming (cellphones and ipads) will take over gaming soon as a result of why games are not selling. But this is exactly where the industry wants to take gaming. Mobile gaming is “Computer gaming lite”. Every game app looks like a flash/browser game. While the controls are simple for most games, it allows the industry to cream themselves at the thought of being able to make anything, sell it for a dollar, and get rich quickly. They can be as creative as they want to be without any major consequences. Afterall, if people can get rich off of Angry Birds, what do they have to lose?

When people say “Casual gaming”, they really mean “Arcade gaming”. Hardcore gaming is really “Computer gaming”. The marketing ploy is to get as many gamers to hate “Arcade gaming” as possible so that they would go for the big budget Computer games known as “AAA” games and sell them based on a “rite of passage” based mentality. “These games are meant for the big boys (Computer gamers) unlike those kiddies with their Wii’s (Arcade gamers)”. We’ve all been bamboozled. We’re being told that the sanctity of gaming lies on the PC style falsely marketed as “originality and gameplay.” Originality = Creativity, which only has a home on the PC. Through FPS’s, people are easily fooled into believing that Computer gaming is Arcade gaming, mainly because it’s the only Computer genre that doesn’t run at a snail’s pace.

This is what “hardcore gaming” really is. The mislabeling of the Computer game style as “true games”. The mislabeling of Arcade gaming became mini-game collections and shovelware that would get shoved onto the Wii. Somehow, NSMBW, Rail-Shooters, etc. would all get lumped together with that nonsense. It would explain why everyone seems to hate NSMBW and even Sonic Colors to an extent.

“It’s the accesibility?”. Accesibility has been a staple of Arcade gaming (sans fighting games and Virtual-On) since the beginning of time. Why is it a problem now?

Because gaming must be exclusionary. Computer gaming has always been exclusionary to some extent. Only a few people could “appreciate it”. As long as gaming remains this way, the “wrong audience” can be kept out. The wrong audience being the mass market. The “dreaded casuals” as they say. For a time, fighting games served this purpose, but “oh that damned Tekken, Smash Bros. and Soul Calibur wit all them dumbed down mechanics!” This is the mindset of the Computer gamer. They’ve been used to having games to themselves. That mentality has creeped into console gaming now since all the “best games” are single player Adventure/RPGs with the exception of COD. Why must the mass market be excluded? So that Computer game developers can make “creative” computer games without the fear of being judged harshly based on things like “fun factor.” They’d rather be judged on the art. When people say they want “original gameplay ideas”, they’re really saying “I want more Computer adventure games with nifty puzzles” or “Adventure games with gimmicky combat that shows off the art.” Games are being designed for the isolated gaming public. Many gamers today are introverted and slightly anti-social people. Online components benefit them more so than they would sociable people. Computer games take full advantage of online components. Everyone screams “WHERE’S THE ONLINE MULTIPLAYER!?” It’s not enough if a game is good. If it has no online, it’s an instant turn-off. It’s been driven home that online multiplayer is “real” multiplayer. Local is hardly desired anymore. Fucking Bomberman had online only Multiplayer at one point.

Lucky us, no one liked it.

This is the real reason that most people feel disillusioned with video games today. It’s this unnatural mutation of Computer games being the dominant force of entertainment… on a medium that was originally for translating Arcade games to the living room. And the mindset behind the developers is that this is a “good” thing even though companies are losing more money and sales than ever before. When the Online FPS market bubble collapses, I fear that will be it for video games. Because in our minds, that’s the only real genre that matters. AAA Computer Adventure games won’t have it so good, and neither will RPGs not named Pokemon.This is not a “PC gaming sucks” mantra. However, it would be naive to think Computer games have “helped” the industry in anyway. It gave more production values, but it has harmed gamer’s abilities to know what gaming is or even how to define genres. People now believe games are glorified war shooters or interactive movies. Online gaming (a staple of Computer gaming) gave way to bigger stereotypes of gamers due to their own behaviors over xbox live, which has sadly skewered the public’s views of all gamers in general, preventing more people from getting into video games based on those stereotypes (until Wii Sports). People get bored quickly with video games as they focus more on heavy doses of cutscenes, making the players feel as though they are simply the audience to someone else’s “vision”. Developers have abused DLC for monetary purposes rather than to improve the actual product to the point that people are starting to boycott video games. Few people even take interest in Zelda games because they’ve turned into glorified, actionless Adventure games. People become bored of games quickly as everyone is used to beating the game and putting it away in a trunk, because many Computer games were designed for one playthrough, and then you’re done with it. That has REALLY gotten out of hand. None of the games have any real replayability. All of these elements were derived from Computer Gaming. And it’s truly the main culprit killing the industry.In short, personal gaming on a social gaming device is exclusionary gaming. And the rapidly increasing disinterest in video games is attributed to the Computer Game Style being used for the majority of video games today. Of course, the developers are so busy hi-fiving each other on their pretentious ass “video games are art” awards and screwwing over the used games market to give a fuck about where gaming is going. As far as they’re concerned, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ah, “Flow” just won another award!

Like I said before, gaming needs to go back to being awesome catepillars and not arrogant butterflies.

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