How I Turned Into A Casual Gamer. Gaming Will Never Be The Same Again
The billions of contemporary videogame polygons just don’t have the same level of depth as my memories of the pixels of Mario, Ryu and Link.
I remember pouring in hours and hours into The Legend of Zelda – A Link to The Past trying to find every heart piece, each item and beat every enemy. I remember memorizing the layouts of every dungeon, reading every article and being able to recite almost every line in the game.
I remember loving the challenges of Super Metroid, trying to obtain all missiles, bombs and energy tanks. The joy of mastering manouvering through the smallest of corridors. Beating the game as fast as I could. I loved putting myself in a hole and climbing out of it by playing perfectly.
I remember cherishing playing Street Fighter II on level 8. Churning out combo after combo, blocking, reacting and crushing the opposition get me really riled up. The rush! The adrenaline! The feeling of accomplishment!
I could write the same about all the other games I used to play fervently. I spent countless hours of my life with Super Punch Out, Chrono Trigger, Super Gouls and Ghosts, Mega Man, Metroid II, Chaos Engine and many others. I enjoyed the challenge the highest difficulty settings presented and would try again and again to beat and master those games.
As I’ve gotten older though I find myself more and more often opting for the easier difficulty settings, foregoing the art of mastering a game. I have many games now I haven’t even completed. It is a mix of having less time to play games and the gaming experience not being as immersive for me anymore. And that feeling of really being in the game mentally is what I’m missing mostly nowadays.
The apex of an immersive videogame experience for me was playing Street Fighter II on an arcade machine. I was only 13 when I played it for the first time and lost my money very quickly, but wow! This was the game that really got me hooked! Sonic Boom! Shoryuken! Yoga Fire! It was such an awesome game for a kid. The game had eight totally different characters, all with their own sets of moves and specials! Picking a character really meant being that character.
I bought so many gaming magazines with articles and reviews of Street Fighter II. I bought collectibles, guides and books about Capcom’s master piece before I even had a SNES! I drew so many Ryus, Blankas and Bisons that I am pretty certain that I am responsible for chopping down a sizeable part of the Amazon. If it was about Street Fighter, I had to have it.
I have been playing Street Fighter for over 20 years, but I am playing it differently now than 10 years ago. I mostly pick up the controller nowadays to play a bit of Street Fighter IV and I play it either on easy to medium or just the training stage. I haven’t completed all the trials for a single character. I routinely get my ass handed to me on medium-hard and haven’t tried online in ages. Street Fighter for me has turned into a 10 to 30 minute experience. I don’t know all the combos anymore, but still enjoy the game in small bits. But I will never be as excited as before.
The last game I played that really pulled me into its world was Dragons Dogma, thanks to Gransys’ large world, big enemies and fighting tactics. Leveling up as a Fighter and then changing to Magic Knight and then to Magic Archer. Going Dragon Hunting or Chimera slaying is something the world of Gransys allows you to do for hours and hours. But it is flexible enough as well to pick it up for a quick hour. I still enjoy a game like that, but I don’t experience many games like this anymore.
The video game world has changed. More and more games nowadays hold your hands and guide you through the games with on screen tutorials, lineair gameplay and dumbed down AI (yes, I’m looking at you Resident Evil). And while this should suit my gaming style nowadays I just don’t get as enthusiastic anymore. I don’t find myself waking up all excited at 6:30 in the morning eager to play a particular game. I just turn on the console, play for about half an hour and that’s it.
So this is what casual gaming feels like. A perfect fit that doesn’t excite.