Tuesday, February 05, 2013

From Ultraviolence To Rainbow Colors

They say when you have a baby it changes everything. For some people it means giving up the things you used to love. And I would read a lot about people who would drop gaming the moment they have children. I think I was close to doing the same. It's not that I didn't want to game....it's the time commitment of games that kills it for potential-parent gamers.


And that other thing about games, is the violence. I'd be the first to tell you that chainsawing a guy in Gears of War is endlessly fun; but try doing the same thing with your baby in the room, particularly if he's old enough to figure out what's happening...well, games have gotten realistic enough that game violence can be pretty ridiculous now. There's that video, i think it's on Youtube, of "The Last Of Us" where the lead character shoots another human being right in the face; this whole moment rendered in glorious 1080p with super sharp textures and everything. We're practically THERE in terms of gaming graphics now...the realism is crazy. Of course it still looks like a game but in a few years photoreal graphics is going to be a reality.

That said, it's hard not to wonder what effect seeing graphic images like these may have on children. It's easy to say platitudes if you don't have kids..."it's the parents job to raise their kids, not the game console" I've heard that before. Heck I've USED that argument before. Now that I am a parent the simple question is, what would it be like to see all that eviseration in video games for kids? Does it have an effect on them? I can't answer it straight or fairly. I can say of course not! Because i grew up playing games. I grew up playing characters shooting people, aliens, you name it.

But back then they were pixels, they looked fake and it seems to me i can still tell what's real and what isn't. Try comparing game violence now and game violence back then, the difference is rather extreme with the realism that we have now.

I won't say that i will stop playing violent games outright. Of course not. I enjoy them and I don't think I'll miss out on some future titles that will surely have them. It's just that I probably can't play them in the same room with a bunch of kids hanging around. It would just be weird.

I wouldn't call for a ban on violent games. I would instead call for actual enforcement of game ratings by the ones that sell games. I doubt they would actually do it; that would affect their bottom line immensely. But it's a place to start. Outright banning them is not a great idea. Violence exists, it's real. If only we could ask the people in places with wars to stop shooting each other...if it were that simple we'd have already done it by now. But it isn't going away any time soon. So I'm not for banning it. I just think there is such a thing as enforcing what is 'age appropriate' somehow...

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Now, the REAL reason I'm blogging again is because my wife bought a 3DS. Coming from years and years of ultraviolence on 360 and PS3, my wife thought that I wouldn't enjoy a Nintendo console.

I had my doubts as well. Her brother had a DS before. And while I thought it was a good distraction, it never really got my attention as much as the 3DS has.

My first game on the 3DS, well, the first game she had on it, was Mario Kart 7, preinstalled.

I just recently played Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed....so my expectations were pretty high. MK7 is the game that Sonic and Co. are trying to COPY. So it should be much, much better than Sega's attempt at flattering Nintendo.

The first time I fired it up, I had a blast...it was more fun than I thought it would be. Hell, it was more fun than Forza Motorsport. I can't explain it. It's so unrealistic....the physics are 'video gamey' and all the environments are so colorful and bright, WHY DO I LIKE THIS GAME? I'm 33 for cryin' out loud...

This game is just fun. I've been playing a lot of phone games, tablet games...and I"ve read everything that they've been saying about how that phenomenon is going to kill Nintendo.

I think all those guys who write those articles are trying to look cool.

They've probably never touched a Nintendo system or handheld all their lives. Just like me, before last weekend.

I would trumpet the same thing. i would see screenshots of Mario on gaming sites and I would scoff at it, thinking, "MARIO, AGAIN??" It just seemed like Nintendo was out of ideas. They just kept on going for the same franchises year after year.

I learned soon enough it isn't fair to judge Nintendo just like that. One has to actually play their games, without all those preconceived notions to accurately judge what they're doing.

Mario Kart 7 feels fun. Losing a race does not feel irritating like in Sonic All Stars. The AI is not impossibly difficult but it challenges you enough to make you feel like you're working at something. The tracks always have some cool thing going on after every corner. It's colorful. It's pleasant to look at. The music is perfect. The power-ups: perfect. Track design...just perfect. I don't know. It's a complete package. I'm going in after the last Mario Kart game I played was back when I was 12...this is much better than the game I played when I was 12! And it's portable!

I think the Nintendo bug has seriously infected me. These guys are in an entirely different universe from Sony and Microsoft, and maybe that's a good thing.

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Next post: The Next Intergalatic Console War commentary.