Perhaps I'm not the target demographic for buying game consoles anymore. I admit, Steam, my iPad and iPhone are what I play games on the most over the past several months. I want to play games on my TV again, I really do, but here's how I feel about the big new game consoles.
- I just want a box that plugs into my TV and plays clever new "videogames"- preferably with a decent controller, not a touch pad.
- I don't want to be forced to pay hundreds of more dollars for features I don't want. I don't want a quiet camera staring blankly at me, my family and guests in my livingroom like some corporate Orwellian eyeball.
- I refuse to be forced to over-annunciate commands, gesture, contort or dance in my living room to do simple things or play games.
- I don't want to be charged for services that should be free. I buy games, I already paid $70 for Halo 12, why do I have to pay for a bloated annual subscription for 'Xbox Live' to play online. I subscribe to Netflix streaming already dammit, why to I have to pay more for XB Live to watch Netflix on my Xbox?!
- I don't need to have shiny, gratuitous high polygon, simulated-rubber-humans and bump-mapped-blood-dripping-down-the-screen effects to make my "interactive experience" more "visceral."
- I have no need for the sweat-shop toiled uncanny valley to be jammed into my face wrapped around a ten year old gamey framework of objectives, checkpoints and achievements.
I fear I may be the old man shaking his cane at the atomic powered hot-rods pining for the quaintness of a jaunt in a good old horse and buggy, but I think that other people who also don't relate to the vision purported by the console makers have a legitimate gripe here. People who really love games, who love the interesting, smart things that can be done with them feel sold out by the new consoles. The crusade to conquer the living room with "One Entertainment Box to rule them all!" is just so...excuse me here, f'ing lame.
What my corner of the audience requests is an open platform box that can quickly download and play fresh, fairly-well curated videogames from around the world. I don't care if the games are just made out of pixels, voxels, low-medium poly count meshes, I care more about playing games with soul, with substance. The mainstream games are for the most part getting stale because they are relying on the tech specs of the new hardware to reep an easily quantifiable graphical harvest that numbers-based guys in suits can brag about. What games need is more qualitative and authentically robust souls and visions. New games need new gameplay, new ideas, new genres, new themes and worlds, even if they are "low-fi."
I feel the same way about the offerings of mainstream games that I felt about MTV when I grew up as a young gen-Xer. Sure the cool underground and old school music fans mostly always hated MTV, but many of us at least watched the weekly alternative block of videos "120 minutes" and "Headbangers Ball" for a good laugh. MTV had some edge to it then, it wasn't 100% all for me; maybe 15% was though, and so too now are 15% of console games (and falling). Then MTV started drifting away from me in a similar way that consoles are. There were suddenly more and more commercial things that were simply insulting to my intelligence, less and less content that seemed relevant to what I valued in the original vision of the entity. I felt abandoned, sold out and made "finicky" for wanting content with more substance. I feel the same way about console gaming.
Conclusion? I expect to stick with Steam, iOS, retro gaming and perhaps the OUYA for what I want. I assume that I must not be the target demographic anymore, just like MTV. I fear that if I re-explore consoles in a few years, I may find the game equivalant of "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila." I won't be very surprised.