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Is Bigger Always Better in Video Games?

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         Views: 1373
2008-10-23 09:03:24     
Article by Brendan Durkin

Where we are today in the gaming world is light years away from where we were just a few years ago. Super Nintendo games that took a couple hours to beat have become intricate and in-depth stories on the XBOX and PS3 that take hours and hours to complete. The gaming community was introduced to the sandbox game when Grand Theft Auto III was released in 2001 and players experienced a level of freedom never before seen in a game. We no longer had to stick to the strict, linear storyline and this idea stuck in the minds of game developers.

Bethesda's Elder Scrolls: Morrowind took the sandbox concept and applied it to the role-playing genre. The area in the game was enormous and it would possibly take hundreds of hours to explore every nook and cranny, complete every quest, and find the best weapons. But the question is: how many people are actually doing that?

As technology increases, developers have given more memory on game discs that allow them to make much bigger and longer games than in the past. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas took the tedium of driving long distances on a highway and put it into a game. Elder Scrolls: Oblivion expanded on its predecessor with much better graphics and a larger area to roam around. The game map is littered with places to explore: dungeons, mines, caves, and towns.

All that area to explore is nice, but a line is usually drawn by every gamer when they realize they've spent too much time on a game, when they realize that no more progress is being made and it is no longer fun. Oblivion become that way when I noticed that eventually, all the dungeons and caves looked exactly the same and it felt like an obligation to explore them. So the big question is: is it worth making huge games that take hours to explore and beat?

My answer is no, a game too big like Oblivion is fun for a few hours but it gets too repetitive and tedious. I consider myself a casual gamer; one who enjoys video games, but doesn't devote himself to completing 100% of a game; contrary to popular belief, gamers have lives too.

When Grand Theft Auto 4 came out in the beginning of summer, I practically played it nonstop for the first couple of days when I finished school. When I beat the game and was still only 60% done with the game, I was a little disappointed. Although players can still play the game after beating it, what's the point? Driving around the city is fun for about an hour, but knowing I don't have anymore missions takes the fun away.

I would much rather see all that extra time and effort used to create in a game an engaging story and deep, complex characters. That is the reason why games like Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoon, and Final Fantasy VII are what I deem masterpieces; they didn't go overboard on exploration, but they kept the player drawn in through the other important elements of a game, great story and great characters.

The moral of the story? Game developers can't lose sight of what makes some games practically works of art. GTA4 and Oblivion are terrific games, but a huge area to explore can actually turn gamers away, or a least make them quickly bored. Video games have replaced books for our generation, but the formula is essentially the same. As graphics get better and more space is available to work with on discs, I hope developers still take the time to keep the player engaged, and not get carried away dotting the map with generic dungeons.

My name is Brendan and I grew up playing video games, so whether I like it or not, they are a part of my life and many other people's as well. It is very fun for me to discuss the topic of video games so check out my website to see more articles that talk about the gaming industry http://brendanigan.com

Specialized in: Bigger - Better - Video Games
URL: http://brendanigan.com
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