With all these hubbub about PSN going down, I started thinking about games in general… And why I don't play games anymore. If anyone read the 'About' page here, they will know that I used to be a huge gamer, back in the day when SNES was the thing to have. Battletoads, Hydlide, Batman, Mickey Mousecapade, Star Fox… Those games were pretty much my whole childhood, teenage-hood, and a small portion of my adulthood. There is a japanese word, 'Otaku', which is used for referring to someone who is obsessed (usually about anime). I was definitely a gaming otaku.
I wept for days. Without eating or sleeping.
But I hardly play games anymore. It's not that I have grown out of it. And it is not that I don't have the time for it. I own all of current generation consoles - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii. It's not me, it's the games these days. Games are too real, and I have a problem with that.
Why do game makers have to keep improving the graphics, to the point where you cannot even tell the difference between objects in a game versus objects in real life? What is the purpose of achieving photorealism in games? I tried playing a popular game called Grand Theft Auto 4 right after it came out, and I almost had to be committed for I was so traumatized. Running over people in cars and killing people with guns! Of course, these acts are illegal in the game as it is in real life. However, it is so easy to get away with in the game that it's really trivial. When I drove over that scantily-clad female pedestrian and then saw those bloody tire marks, I could not stop hyperventilating. My doctor diagnosed me with a minor form of PTSD, and I had to take time off work.
It's not the violence that bothers me; it's how realistic everything is. I have killed many monsters in 8-bit games, but those never bothered me. Those were almost enjoyable. On the other hand, when I played a game called 'Heavy Rain' for PS3, I was so attached to the characters by the end. All those life stories crossing over like a spiderweb was way too much for me to handle. Each time something bad happened to the characters, I really felt like it had happened in my own life. And when I was done with the game, I was so overwhelmed that I wept for days. Without eating or sleeping.
I doubt that I am the only one getting these effects from modern games. Games are too scary and too real these days. Even though the objectives or contents of videos games may not be changed too much from the olden days, the realistic graphics do affect players in a different way. In my case, it fools me into thinking that I was controlling and witnessing a real-life event. Most of the times, I am either killing or getting killed in these games.
It is a widely acknowledged fact that US soldiers prepare for battle by playing war games, such as Call of Duty. This would have been an effective training method a few years ago, with a game like Call of Duty 2 that has bad graphics, but I believe this method is useless now because games are too real. I bet many soldiers have to be carried out during the training process. Games are getting too intense.
I want to play games to get away from my own troublesome life. I need to escape. But if I am playing a game that looks exactly like real life, I am not going anywhere… A silver lining here is that mobile games are brining the 8-bit aesthetics back. I know Alex did not like #Sorcery, but I enjoyed the game. I never got to finish the game, but I enjoyed how unrealistic it was. These games are more accessible than scary games like Crysis 2, so I expect more games like these to pop out in the future. And I will finally be able to enjoy modern games.