Well I’ve gone and seen Twilight, and to my surprise my fingers have yet to shrivel upon writing thus. The movie was entertaining, though not quite for the reasons the creators intended. The evolution of female fantasy’s bad boy/social outcast/passionate lover is just as interesting as the male fantasy’s cubicle worker/secret badass action hero. All this and glittering skin made for all manner of intellectual stimulation throughout. Such things are interesting, sure, but hardly substantial enough to warrant the purchase of a ticket. Instead, I saw this movie for the same reasons wars are waged and men set foot inside Build-a-bear workshops: because a pretty girl wanted me to.
I’d recommend making your peace with what you’d do for the opposite sex now, lest you be surprised someday.
I could get into the economics of human behavior, discussing things like perceived displeasure and net benefit to substantiate my point. In this circumstance, however, I think that you will adequately understand my motivations. Something I would not normally have enjoyed was made delightful through the addition of other factors: great hair, beautiful eyes, and a sharp wit. But I digress.
This can be applied to more than movies. Take, for instance, this wave of “casual” games, which has become the bane of longtime gamers. A number of reasons culminate in traditional gamers feeling abandoned by a market that has moved on to far more profitable and less demanding patrons. For gamers that want the same old gaming experience, this is probably going to only get worse Playing these new casual games puts us outside our area of familiarity. We don’t know what to look for, or how to enjoy it. The trick here, as with watching a supernatural romance, is to find something to sweeten the deal.
Nintendo, the de facto pioneer of the casual game boom, has tried to placate jilted gamers by assuring that the expansion of the gaming market will benefit them in the end. More consumers means more revenue, more money to developers, and ultimately more games. Additionally, casual games lower the barrier of entry that years of iterative complexity have constructed around modern games. The soccer mom tooling around with Wii Fit today may be playing Zelda tomorrow. Essentially, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. These are all long-term promises though, and if there’s one thing gamers are used to, it’s immediacy.
In the meantime, there are some tangible benefits to this casual business available to all gamers, though they may come from unexpected sources. This involves yet another anecdote with another woman on whose attractiveness I am not allowed to comment, as she is not single. Her gaming tastes range from The Sims to expansions for The Sims. This is not the player you find, eyes vacant and jaw slack, tearing into the latest multi-million-dollar game from Micractivony.
The irony here is that she gets way more gameplay per dollar than we do.
However, something curious happened when we all started playing Shaun White’s Snowboarding for the Wii. If you’re not familiar with it, this game uses the balance board as a controller, allowing the player to turn, tuck, and perform tricks by leaning this way and that on the board. There’s no doubt I was out of my element by virtue of the different controls. Years spent building motor skills with analog sticks, d pads, and buttons no longer counted for anything. The immersive quality of using the board is great, but doesn’t quite match the expression of raw skill I can get from a more traditionally controlled game.
However, the novelty of the controls enticed my friend to try. We traded off a few games, sharing the experience. There was laughing, celebration, and discussion of how best to tackle a hard course – in other words, socialization. Would this have happened if I wanted to play a more traditional snowboarding game? I’m sure any long-time gamer would be quick to point out how much better SSX Tricky, SSX3, or Amped 3 are than Shaun White’s Snowboarding. Such a dissertation would involve a thread on a forum replete with poor punctuation, a desperate lack of capitalization, and ascii art of a middle finger. This poor forum troll would miss, as he always does, the social aspect of the situation.
We’ve all asked ourselves the question – how can we share the activity we like so much with our friends/significant others/spouses? Simpler games provide a much warmer invitation than a controller replete with buttons, sticks, triggers, levers, pressure gauges, and riddle-dispensing trolls. Casual games can be an avenue through which we all share our hobby with friends who may not be as into it as we are. It’s not that people that may not have played games before play them now, it’s that they can play them with us.
Bioshock alone or Wii Sports with Grandma? Hey don’t laugh, she has interesting stories to tell!
The shared experience changes the flavor of play. This can be the sweetening factor, the thing that legitimizes the casual experience, the element that makes an unbelievably laborious romance movie enjoyable. Saying that it is better than the traditional games to which we are accustomed is subjective; that will depend on the individual’s proclivities. It is, however, undoubtedly different. Besides, isn’t that what we were looking forward to years ago when this was on the horizon?