The whole graphics in games argument kicked off again recently if you haven’t noticed. I first noticed this re-ignition when Pete Davison over on I’m Not Doctor Who wrote a post on a particular opinion piece that surfaced on GameInformer recently.
I haven’t played Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, so I can’t comment on that particular part of the whole argument. What I want to concentrate on is why people play.
People like to play or rather children do and in the last fifty years it’s slowly become acceptable for adults to enjoy continuing to play games. And I’m not talking videogames here. From sports to Scrabble to Snake – adults like to play, whether it’s in reality or virtually.
Notice how the three examples I’ve chosen don’t lead up to a graphically breaking videogame? That’s because tonnes of people have enjoyed playing Snake on mobile devices for years. But it is technically a form of videogame. Some people have even gone as far as downloading simple smartphone versions of snake.
Again: people like to play. They like to strategise, be challenged, they like to think about things that aren’t about work or study or personal relationships. And if there’s a series of rules, they like it when said rules allow for using strategy and complex thinking.
People also like to pretend and imagine. That’s why with the rise of literacy you’ve now got so many people reading fiction. It’s why you get kids pretending to be doctors and nurses, cops and robbers as they play.
We’ve been doing stuff like this for centuries and – when you consider the limitations of the human eyes – it’s not exactly high scale graphics. And certainly not groundbreaking 3D in the midst of our minds’ eyes.
So, if you’ve got a videogame where the imagination is stretched in a pretend world with a good story and the rules (one could even call them mechanics) work, at least to some degree, then you’re on to a winner. Well, at least you are in my mind’s eye.