Games to play and not to play

This article has been bubbling in my mind for quite some time, and I’ve decided to steam it off. There are games that you must play, like Mario or Contra. Then there are games that you play (Counter Strike, AoE). Some games you wish you could play (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry). Games you should play (Braid, Minesweeper, Spore). And finally come the games you must NEVER play (Farmville, World Of Warcraft, Mafia Wars, School Of Magic and the like). Why this categorization? Because I recently decided to leave School Of Magic on facebook after a week long affair where I reached lvl 15, and was about to get into “thick of things” as they say. Why? Because I realized that SOM is not a true game. A game is supposed to be entertaining, and indulgive. If it tells me to do something, I must do it because I take interest in it. Not to get ahead of my peers. I recently came across an article by Jonathan Blow, my favourite game designer (Braid). He opened my mind to the fact that “A Game is a form of art”.

You may not agree with this statement right now, but consider James Cameron’s Avatar, which looks so close to real, yet is live 3d. It does look kind of gamer-ish, doesn’t it? And we all agree that cinemas, and literature are a part of our culture, part of our art. But as movies get closer to games(Resident Evil, Prince Of Persia), the same is happening the other way around. Games are becoming a part of our art culture. Games like Bio-Shock, and Fear portray the doomed versions of our future. The designer behind these games did not just say, let’s make another FPS, where you kill everything that moves (that was Doom 1,2 by the way). They decided to create a realistic storyline, and a better game play. That is as innovative as it takes to get the feel of the game to the player. Let us now take up some of these categories I defined quickly.

Games You Must Play
These are the kind of games, that each of us has played. They remind us of how we first stared at that green background trying to figure out the next play in Solitaire. Or the joy of ducking under the dragon and touching that axe in Mario. These games still remind us about the giant leap that the gaming industry has taken. For Dave, Wolf-3d, Roadrash, we have reached graphics quality that surpasses HD (Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2)
Games You Play
Skip this if you aren’t a gamer. If you’re one, well you know the games I’m talking about. Nothing beats taking a frag with a deagle. Other than maybe shouting 14 before all those AoE games. Its the thrill, and excitement, and your love of the game that keeps you glued to the seat. I won’t call these games entirely unethical, because the game play here is fair enough, and exciting. You know what you’re doing, and why. And its not just because of that score, or frag. It is also because of the satisfaction that you get after that frag.
Games You Wish You Could Play
Sometimes you Graphics Card isn’t all that powerful, or you just can’t find a torrent/download link for the game. Sometimes 10GB games do seem big. And sometimes, as in the case of FIESTA, the game hasn’t been launched for PC.
Games You Should Play
These are the games that really matter. That form of the core of my “games are art” theory. Games like Braid, Osmos, Minesweeper, Prince Of Persia (not all), Tomb Raider (again not all parts). These games take you into their own world, where you get to learn, listen, think, and observe. Where you play the game because its exciting, and fun, and you want to play it. Not because someone is offering you a “level up” if you click on a button.
Games You Should Never Play
If once is not enough, I repeat, Stay away from these games. Please, these hacked up versions of the same code, or sometimes game idea, do not deserve to be called as games. Mafia Wars, Restaurant, Cafe Shop, and all of those mindless facebook games come here. And so do War Of Warcraft, Travian, NFS Pro Street(that was just a bad game). These so-called-games
  1. do nothing to entertain you
  2. offer you nothing but just-another-level-up
  3. never “teach” something (play braid, you’ll understand what I mean)
  4. have nothing interesting

Then what is the reason that they are so hyped, and most played MMORPGs? The reason is lack of better games. Lack of games that exist on facebook and is not-another-clone-of-mafia-wars. Lack of games that adhere to strict design ideas. Do not take me wrong. There are some serious game designers who are talented, but the truth is that they are forced to make what sells, and what sells is Mafia Wars. Unfortunately. And these people are forced to work for such games. Wasting their talent on such mindless games. And if all of this wasn’t enough read this quote by the CEO of Mafia Wars :

I knew that i wanted to control my destiny, so I knew I needed revenues, right, fucking, now. Like I needed revenues now. So I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away. I mean we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar which was like, I dont know, I downloaded it once and couldn’t get rid of it. laughs We did anything possible just to just get revenues so that we could grow and be a real business…So control your destiny. So that was a big lesson, controlling your business. So by the time we raised money we were profitable.

Read the entire story on facebook gaming scams here. And if you’re with me, try picking up some better titles instead of playing these nonsense games on FB

Published on November 23, 2009