I noticed an article from Heller about the point of gaming, and yes I think we mostly have forgotten what Gaming "Should" be all about.
When I first started playing games, the good old table top Space Invaders - the main aim of games was to entertain those who played them. We'd gather around a table top of Space Invaders and watch as a seemingly endless supply of people tried over and over again to shoot as many of the little pixel aliens as they could. In a way it was always competitive, we were all trying to get our initials on the high score board, but we had a hell of a lot of fun trying.
I think I may have had my first smoke and my first beer while playing a video game. There was always a friend to play with/against and many hours were spent just enjoying the game. Now we have games in our homes, and not just the old style games like Space Invaders. The game I am currently playing the most of at the moment is APB: Reloaded, and the levels of customization and the visuals this game offers are simply exquisite compared to the games of yesteryear, but the fun and enjoyment factor has largely gone out of games, and I blame a few things for this happening.
1. Game Studios running Game Servers: I think this has been one of the biggest mistakes made in online gaming. When I first started playing online - America's Army was my first online game - I searched for weeks to find a server with people in it that would not only help me with the game, but a like minded group of people that had a similar sense of humour and was a similar age to myself. The Dedicated Servers allowed me to do this, and I ended up playing on a server run by a clan by the name of .-(AUST)-. and these guys taught me how to play, and made the whole experience of playing the game an enjoyable, fun thing to do, but we were also competitive, and cheats and scumbags were simply kicked and banned. These days I miss the simple pleasure of running round with the .-(AUST)-. Guys n girl simply having a ball playing a game.
Now you have to put up with all the whingers, all the losers who are just there to destroy everyone's game and all the plain A**holes the online world has to offer, and there's no way of getting rid of them. The Game Studios won't ban people, because they pay them money. If you have a customer who is a right pain in the butt, but he/she spends money in your store on a regular basis are you going to ban them from your store? Of course not. That's why we see cheats just rerolling characters and cheating some more. Gaming now comes down to the almighty dollar, and very little else.
2. Hackers/Cheats: I don't really need to tell anyone what effect these people are having on online games. They just destroy every game that comes along, and move on to the next 1 and destroy it to. I question if there is enough being done about hackers/cheats. It seems to me that as the hacks have become more sophisticated, their level of acceptance has increased. Now that people who use them have the ability to "Tune" them to appear less like they are cheating, we seem to accept that they aren't cheating more and more. Unlike the old hacks which just had the players avatar spinning round like a top, killing everyone, now it only works if your in a 5-10 degree angle in front of the players avatar. But a cheat is still easy to pick. How many of us can accurately predict where the person we're shooting at is going to go once we start shooting at them? Very few of us, yet there are literally thousands who appear to be able to pull off this psychic in every game we play. Is it a natural ability that Mr X knows I'm going to dodge right, then stop, crouch and shoot back? How could someone on the other side of the world know I am going to do that? It's a really good guess. OK maybe once. But every time I come up against him in that round he knows exactly what I am going to do, never missing a single round, I don't think so. Even if all you can do is move left or right, a guess has only a 50% chance of being right, and sooner or later your going to make the wrong guess. Yet these guys NEVER guess wrong, to me the only way that is possible is with a hack.
Do the Game Devs/Studios actually make an income from Hacks? I think yes, most defiantly they do. If I owned a business and someone was making $40,000 a month selling my product and I wasn't receiving anything from those sales, I'd be doing everything in my power to close that person down. Yet Game Studios let the Hackers keep on selling their hacks and making thousands off them. It doesn't seem right, especially when you look at the lengths that Game Studios go to in trying to make a dollar from us gamers.
I have a great hatred of hackers/cheats and I believe that Game Studios have an obligation to rid us of these people. After all, we pay their wages, we buy their games and we're entitled to a cheat free environment to play in.
3. Achievements: These things have made a big impact in gaming. While I think it's nice to have something to achieve, it also, in a way, ruins the fun of a game. In the past, a lot of people would've put down an OP Weapon and simply not used it till it was balanced out, so the game wasn't ruined. Now everyone uses it as much as possible trying to get the "Achievements" for that weapon before it's "Nerfed". Some people become so fixated on achievements they will do anything to get them, regardless of the effect it has on the game, or other peoples enjoyment of the game. I'd also stick Kill/Death Ratio here as well. people even go so far as to lose missions/rounds just to make sure their K/D ratio isn't affected. Sad really.
4. The anonymous nature of the internet: People can simply bee an A** just because they can. People enjoy ruining others fun and will do whatever they can, whenever they can just to do this. Again Sad really.
Playing games was always fun for me, and still is. But I've gone back to a lot more Single Player games lately, just to get away from all the rubbish that goes on when I play online. We have a wonderful tool for gaming with the internet, and I doubt it will ever die, but people are being chased away more and more by these things, and more. It's our responsibility as a gaming community to do all we can to preserve our gaming environment, and until we as gamers do that, the fun will continue to leech out of games in general.