The Joys of Story-less Gaming

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an RPG guy through and through. Even though I can’t run a lot of hardcore stuff on my PC.

Out of My League
Out of My League

Actually, that might be one of the reasons I ALSO enjoy story-less games. To clarify, “story-less games” isn’t a moniker for RPGs that failed, or for something like… South Park: The Game. (I’d say No Offense, but it’s South Park. There’s back atcha.) When I say story-less games, I mean simple, repetitive, endless-cascade games like Ninjump, Line Runner, TETRIS, PAC-MAN – you get the idea.

Badass.

So why do I find these games entertaining? Because that’s what they are supposed to be. I love them for the same reason I love trashy action movies – it’s simple entertainment. They raise the question, or rather the challenge – “Sure you can do [it], but how long can you keep it up?” It’s rather addictive that way.

Secondly, it can foster competition among close friends. Ninjump became a battle with my PG-mates, until the high score got too high for the casual player. Childish competition like this is a great pastime and keeps one young at heart (My readership, being the age they are, might scoff, cough or otherwise write this off).

Thirdly, these fill gaps. We encounter several situations where we are forced to wait a period of time long enough to be unproductive and boring, but not long enough to set up a large game or movie. Most of this type of game and small in size and are supported by today’s smartphone generation. They are ready in seconds and over in minutes (bar the South Korean players who linger at the top of leaderboards. Seriously, those guys have patience.). You can play them in cars, while you are waiting for your turn at the clinic or salon, and several such situations.

Fourthly, the game, by virtue of its nature, doesn’t gravitate you towards itself in the sense that with games following a storyline and usually having high-end graphics nowadays, there is a distracting “I GOTS TA KNOW!” emotion, which is absent in these small games. These games are not dangerously distracting. Not a major point to make, but a positive selling point for parents who refuse to buy their kids gaming consoles (The two major reasons being price and distraction from studies).

Hence, the occasional Line Runner session keeps me awake between sleepy situations and boring gaps, and I hope I was able to make my point without beating around the bush too much.

Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to read my work. Please feel free to comment, criticize, suggest and appreciate. :)

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  • There was a time when every game was meant to be played for “fun.” Sadly it is more about the “experience” now.
    Games are trying to mimic Hollywood in every possible way and developers which are better at graphics and writing than they are at level design are jumping on the bandwagon.
    This is made worse by the fact that the company that most works with these people is Sony, the same company that had the largest console base (more than a 100 million) in the past two generations. This base tends to disregard games that are not doing what Sony is doing as “casual” games meant for “man-babies.”
    So “story-less games” now fall within the category of “casual” games now, a category which was previously reserved for simulators such as Sims and Farmville.
    Pac-Man Championship Edition DX for the XBLA and PSN and Wii Sports for the Wii will be some well received examples.
    Another reason would be the fact that Microsoft and Sony have most of their developers based outside of Japan- the country where the most gameplay techniques evolved and are still worked on. Even Nintendo’s Retro Studios is situated in Austen, Texas.

    I am assuming that this sad state of affairs will be sorted out eventually when we move on from the FPS generation to something that appeals more to a universal audience.

    • Since you mentioned Skyrim, I should add that I have been trying to get myself to play that and Mass Effect 2 (both western RPGs) but I am so burned out with them after 20 hours or so that I would rather play something like Rayman Origins. >_<