Monday, February 21, 2011

What is a (video) game? Part 2

Amusement = Time

During my time owning a PlayStation 3 I played some really well made games. Little Big Planet, Uncharted, ModNation Racers, inFamous and NCAA Football come to mind. Each of these games were amusing in their own ways. Little Big Planet and ModNation allow players to first enjoy the main game then turn their attentions toward using a pretty advanced tool set to create their own content. Uncharted and infamous both offered very good, very testosterone driven experiences that kept a Teen rating. Finally, NCAA Football allows you to join 11 other players online to go through the college season together to crown a national champion. Very exciting for average college football fan. Each of these were very good games that I would not be ashamed for someone to see in my library, but what is the cost of amusement? Kathleen, Brittney and I put a lot of hours into playing Little Big Planet collecting all of the “stuff”. In that same time I created two levels and tampered with a third. The two completed levels took nearly 10 hours each. Doing so was really cool, but that was all me, by myself. As were Uncharted 1 and 2 (20ish hours per game), Infamous (15ish hours), your average virtual football game takes an hour…a season is 13 games…multiple seasons…you can gauge for yourself. Any way you cut it that is a lot of ME time. What is the price of amusement? It isn’t the cost of a game. It is the time lost.

Thing is I am not what the gaming community would call “hardcore”. I don’t play the “core” games like Madden and Call of Duty. These are games that many gamers drop millions of dollars into every year and play until they are blue in the face. To give you an idea of what this looks like Activision, makers of Call of Duty: Black Ops, announced in November of 2010 that the game grossed 650 million dollars in five days of sale in the United States and United Kingdom alone. At $60 a pop that is roughly 10.83 million people picking up the game in the first five days. On December 27, 2010 the company announced that players had logged 600 million hours playing online. For my mathematicians out there that is 68,493 years. The game had been out for just over a month. These games are specifically designed to encourage more and more of the buyer’s time. Research goes into how to get players to continue to play and it works. I heard one account recently of a teenage boy who, prior to owning an X-Box 360 and Call of Duty, his mother had to fight with him to get out of bed in the morning. However, when he received the machine and game as a gift he would get up early so that he could get a few online matches in before going to school. No joke. To make it easier on the annual Madden player you can complete your leagues NFL Draft using a computer or even a smart phone, this way you are not inconvenienced by real life. When it comes to games, amusement takes time and companies are working around the clock to figure out how to get more of it. When you look back at your life and count the hours will you have amused yourself to death? Moreover, will you allow you children to?

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