It's funny. Been playing games for years, and online games for about 11 years, and in some ways it seems like gaming is really going downhill. Most seem to be overly competitive and have lost sight of the simple pleasures of playing a game. Hell, I can remember sitting playing games on the original NES thinking it would be great if you could somehow hook up with people all over the world and all play together.
When I started playing online games, communities were smaller, and there was, or appeared to be, a lot less BS that went on while playing. Not many game servers tolerated Racism, Griefing, Ghosting, Cheating or any of the number of annoying practices that seem to be "The Norm" these days. So what has changed?
In years past, we generally run our own servers. Clans hired severs and payed for them through their members or donations from people who played on their server. This gave the Clan the ability to decide who played on their server and who didn't. In some ways this may even have been a bad thing, people who weren't cheating being kicked and banned for instance, but it was generally accomplished by a vote by all people in the server, at least the kick was, and that was in my opinion fair. If everyone in the server thought you were cheating you got kicked. If you re-joined and continued to be suspect, you were generally reported to the server admin, who checked it out and made the decision to ban or not to ban. This may have led to some people being kicked from servers that didn't deserve to be kicked, but that was what worked.
These days, the Game Studio/Developers have control over the servers. We have relinquished the control in order to have a better gaming environment to play in. But have we? In my opinion - No. These days it seems that anything goes in a server, especially if your a "Premium Member". If you pay your monthly subscription you can pretty much get away with anything. Cheating, Racism, Bigotry, Nazism and just being an Ass in general is perfectly OK as long as your paid up. It seems some Studios/Developers are willing to tolerate all these things and more as long as they are getting paid for it. Cheats get multiple chances to "Play Clean", and just continue to cheat, even to the point of gaining High Levels in the game where it would be then to embarrassing to Ban them after saying that they weren't cheating for so long.
Gamers seem now to be more pre-occupied with gaining that next level and doing anything to get it. It's OK to cheat, grief, ghost or use any low tactic to get a win and gain some XP to get to that next level. The Honour has gone out of gaming. If there is a weapon that is slightly glitched and gives an advantage, everyone will use it, whereas in years past we'd have hung it up till it was fixed. No-one wanted to use these OP weapons because we didn't want to be seen to be using an unfair advantage. Now it doesn't matter, it's win at all costs, no matter what. All to get a new little symbol or tag next to our names. But what does this tag mean?
When we go on a first date, does having a "Gold Level 50" tag in such n such a game help you with your date? Does it help on a Resume when you go for a job? Does it help on a loan application? Of course not. Does it even really have any meaning in the game? Not really. Does everyone congratulate you on your advancement to the next level and fear you for your superiority? Nope. So why does it mean so much to so many?
We have a lot of stress and in a lot of cases, disappointment, in our lives these days. For most, we will never see the Millions of dollars that the small minority of people see. Most of us will never have the adulation that comes with being a Movie Star or a World Class Sportsman/woman. So we go into a Video Game to relax and withdraw from a world that can be not a lot of fun and our lives come into our games. This is inevitable. But the problem is that we end up becoming an annoying SOB in the games we play. We want to be the best and win every round, we want to have some recognition that we are just so damn good. Unfortunately it rarely happens. We generally get less recognition from our gaming peers then we get in our normal lives. If we do play well, we get called cheats, if we play less than average we get called noobs. So we start to rage over voice chat or text chat, which just makes things worse. The "Stat Tracking" that goes on in games these days, while being good to see, is getting in the way of games being fun. What's your K/D ratio in BFBC3? How about COD MW2? In reality I couldn't tell you what my K/D ratio is in ANY game I play. What ever happened to someone say "Nice Shot" or something similar when playing? Now it's just, wow nice hack mate.
To me we need to go backwards to go forwards. Clans need to go back to running servers, even those like APB: Reloaded and other similar games, so that we can all go and find a server that we like playing in with people who we enjoy playing with. People who have the same sense of humour and view on life as us. In this way we can all have a good experience playing games. If Clans still had control over servers we would be able to play in the way that we want, not have to put up with all the hassles and bad elements in the gaming community. It's not hard to "Favourite" a certain server and only play there, where we know that the people we are playing with are going to be playing for fun, or playing to win at all costs.
There is a lack of new ideas in Gaming. Is the lack of new ideas due to the lack of good old fashioned Game Modders? Is it possible that the new way of gaming is hurting gaming in general? How do we move forward if the people developing games are just sitting at a desk with no new ideas to offer? We all know that games have become a huge cash cow for the Game Studios, but aren't we entitled to have that money put back into developing new games with new ideas instead of the re-roll of titles over and over again? Games now seem to have a life of a few months, instead of the few years they used to have. To me this is due to the Game Studios knowing that they cannot, or won't, control the bad elements in their game servers and go to work on the next instalment of their game, probably even before the new one is released, so that when we become sick of the Cheats and Bad Elements in that game, the next one is just over the horizon and we'll just go and buy it, hoping that these things will be sorted out in the next version, which they never are.
I don't know, are single player games like Batman the way of the future? Are we going to see more games like this and less on-line games? Seems to me that is where we are heading, and that would be a really bad thing.
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