Monday, April 9, 2012

The attractiveness of portable systems; the inscrutability of game addictions; the stupidity of trophies

I love portable gaming. There are at least two reasons for my preference: 1) It's easier for me to immerse myself in a screen that I'm holding and 2) I feel less anxiety about people watching me and judging my performance or the fact that I'm playing a video game.

I said it was immersion that made me prefer small screens, but I think it's also convenience and immediacy. I find it difficult to set aside time to play my PS3 games, but I usually bring along my phone/Vita/DS if I'm going somewhere. And if I'm waiting in line, I think playing a Kairosoft game is a perfectly good way to wait. And if there's a handiman or carpet cleaner around, I don't really want them to watch me suck at some game that is stereotypically for teenage guys anyway. Portable systems are much lower profile and it just seems in better taste to play something in my hands when other people are doing other things around me.

I wonder if the type of games for portable systems is significantly different than for console or PC games. I like playing adventure games, puzzle platformers, and strategy games, and I prefer them to look cute (as opposed to grisly or hardcore). It's possible that none of my PS3 games are cute enough (one can only play so much Katamari and Little Big Planet), and that portable systems are more likely to cater to my cuteness attraction. I'm mystified about why some games can hold my attention for weeks at a time and then I suddenly stop playing them, and why other games are only interesting for a demo's length of time. Am I just becoming so jaded with games that killing another guy in Assassin's Creed seems like a futile exercise, only to be repeated again?

I wonder if mood has something to do with game taste as well. Some days grinding feels like a relief, while other days I just want to get a move on with stories. I'm interested in how games succeed and fail in psychological reinforcement, and I want to understand what motivates me. I like playing games to see what they are--for the novelty of the act. But after the novelty wears off, sometimes I feel too lazy to keep playing. I think, "okay, I understand that this is going to get harder or go on for five more missions, but will it be worth it?"

I love and hate the trophies system. I love it because I think it's fun to try to do crazy things in games and to encourage experimentation, but I hate it because I feel really dumb when I have 0% of trophies for a game (like the ones I try out and don't really like, like inFamous). I believe I have the ability to finish these games, and I do not have the desire. Maybe I'm just getting old and I'm getting pickier about how I use my time, but beating a game to add to my "gamer cred" seems so stupid! Yet I'm strangely attracted to cultivating a levelled "gamer" trophy persona. I wish I had the dedication to be completest with trophies, but in some games it's just not fun.