My favourite part of games, I've discovered, are the cut scenes; cut scenes, additional info scenes and personalizing a character. I think this may have something to do with my love of sequential art, comics and animation.
Through fussy toe dipping in the waters of gamedom, I've come to realize that I... don't really want to run around shooting things, slaughtering things, magicking things or collecting stuff to bring to someone else so I can collect more stuff or win a prize. Having written down my thoughts on animation and comics, I think I've figured out that I'm not attracted to gaming at all. I'm attracted to the art.
Which means that when the cut-scenes are over, and the art takes three steps down so the engine can run, I'm left quite, quite cold. Which by the way, explains why I adored Perfect World as the first gaming environment I'd been in where that didn't happen - unfortunately there was still a lot of slaughtering and collecting, no matter the amazing personalization, and I got real bored, real fast. Well, that and attempting to explore the environment and go 'ooh shiny' resulted in me getting the crap killed out of me by mobs four levels above me.
Aside: Who the heck decided to call them mobs anyway? What the heck is wrong with monsters, bad guys, opponents, those freaky looking things? I can't believe I actually picked up that lingo. Where's my vocabulary pride?
Now it's possible that gaming just isn't at the technological level to appeal to me. It's not yet sophisticated imagining plus play. I can't pick a character, have them pick a musical instrument and start wandering around in the virtual world, plying my trade. Or maybe I could, in the SIMS, though I'd probably end up less bard and more rockstar and my avatar would be kind of small, and speak sim-jibberish and yeah - not the Holodeck.
Aside: Clearly Star Trek has warped my mind. I want a Holodeck and I keep demanding a PADD and to hell with that iPod thingy.
But it's not just the art I like. I'm intrigued by the stories. My other unconscious gripe with gaming, I think, is the fact that they aren't books.
They have these glorious set-ups, corrupted world governments/corporations, near or actual apocolypse, colonization in space, the fall of the empire, the rise of the empire - and there's sweeping dramatic music and beautiful architecture and cool looking machines -- *buzzer sound*
And then it's time to go running around collecting things and/or killing things in order to reach the right level, collect the right prize to run around collecting more things and killing more things. And I end up spending time slogging in between cut scenes that finish telling me the story - unless it's Final Fantasy 8. I gave the eff up on that when I got told a sidequest was actually mandatory and I needed to go back. Screw that, said I - and I went online and read the damn walkthrough.
Aside: The coolest things online to do with games are walkthroughs and wikipedia. I can get the whole plot in the five to twenty minutes it takes for me to read.
I'm kind of glad I've figured this out. Because for a while I thought it was some kind of deficient attention span mixed with a hate of having to go through the same thing twice. If I pick a different character I don't actually want to have to go through the same intro, and the same set up and I only have marginally less impatience if it's the same intro and set up thinly disguised by race/class and place.
So for a while I wondered if my attention span only lasted long enough for demos. I can remember slipping into a 36 hour obsession with the Pharaoh Demo and then I bought the game and the shine seemed to wear off after about a week because so much of the game was 'expanded version of the demo'. Of course at the time I didn't realize that. I just thought I was cracked in the head for spending 30 or 40 dollars on a game I got bored with so quickly.
Aside: Right now casual games where I can fall into an almost zen like zone like Match3 etc... (particularly Cradle of Rome. I'm gonna actually buy that some day) seem to fare better. I want more levels in those games because playing doesn't seem like grind.
Of course in the midst of writing this realization and testing out my theory by specifically looking for game trailers and cut scenes, I come across Star Wars: The Old Republic and their promo stuff is claiming actual story development for a MMOG with consequences an cause and effect. And here I blink my eyes, because sure, yeah, if you give me story to tie in why I'm running here and thither and yon, it might make me stick around. But then again, I'm haven't bought GuildWars, despite reccs, because I just don't believe the story will be enough. Now that I know I'm not interested in games for the gaming, I understand that if I'm buying/playing for story, then I won't be happy with shoot/kill/hack/slash with story to the side on a separate plate.
Aside: Leveling. I kind of get it came from D&D and yet... You have to be this level to have this armor which is needed to kill this thing, to get that armor which helps on yonder quest to get that level to... The mechanics bore me. To tears.
I admit I may just have been repeatedly exposed to things with thin/weak story elements. If I didn't know what I wanted, I couldn't very likely be making good purchase/try decisions. And in a D&D game there's character interaction and some story to tie the mechanics together. It's just that hasn't seemed true to me when it comes to MMO or even self contained/single player games. Single player games have felt like books with a lot of slush and drag and effort(on my part) in the middle and MMOG have felt directionless and like one big 'exotic'/ masquerade fight club.
Of course, all these lovely game creation companies aren't going to switch to making movies just to satisfy me - which leaves me to try and hunt down possible tie in books, I guess. I had the idea sometime last year when I was really intrigued by the universe of Hellgate. But I wasn't going to buy the books without some sort of recommendations so I tried my library system - things must have gotten lost and I was too busy to realize the books never showed up.
I still have the wonder if the books will satisfy me or be something only those who play the game will be able to fully appreciate. And was I, am I lucky that Hellgate has books? Do other games with interesting worlds have books? Do they have comic books? Because yes, I love story but the whole reason I end up 'ooh shiny' about a game is the look of the thing, and being awed by details and shadowing and the mechanics of natural or unnatural movement.
Aside: Of course there are universes I would never want to play a demo for, or watch a trailer for, but that would intrigue me book wise. I can handle zombies to read Resident Evil books, if it has books (does it?) because there's a kickass female protagonist. And because it's really easy to put a book down when something disturbs , trying to unsee and image? ...
At least as I try to figure this all out, I can always watch Zero Punctuation & Unskippable.