I love Dynasty Warriors. It is completely ridiculous, hard to follow, and the voice work is so bad it makes you cringe. Yet, I cannot get enough of that game. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy every iteration of the series, but it is one I come back to every handful of years. It is completely brainless in its action, and it doesn’t take much to understand what the game wants you to do. Its the video game equivalent of a “popcorn flick.” There’s no real substance to it, and that’s okay by me.
Normally, the games I play (and then in turn write about) are the types that are trying to convey some sort of message or tell a story in one fashion or another. Usually, these games are fantastic, and move the art form forward. This is always a good thing. Yet, like the movies, not every game can be Oscar bait; there always has to be a Transformers. A movie, or in this case a game, that reminds us that the medium can just be about “fun.”
Frank O’Connor of 343 Studios said that Halo was about finding the five seconds of fun, and then repeating it throughout the course of the player’s experience in the game. In that game’s case its about that combination of shoot, grenade, melee, repeat. They built a whole multi-million dollar franchise on that simple concept. Dynasty Warriors is about taking on and defeating multitudes of nameless enemies by the hundreds and Gears of War is about chainsaws and “bros.” None of these games are bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, its quite the opposite. Yet, the majority of these are not game of the year contenders either. They exist purely for the fun of the player.
Games like these are good for the industry. They exist as “palette cleansers,” “guilty pleasures,” and many other things. Games like Halo and Gears of War are the summer blockbusters of the gaming world and are amazing experiences. We need games like this. Not everything needs to strive to be a Journey or Thomas was Alone. Sometimes, we just want to play a game.
Escapism doesn’t have to be a bad word, and for many people who play games, that is the number one reason they choose to. They want to experience something fantastic, they want to try something new, to see some strange new world and be the big damn hero. That’s why Destiny and Infamous Second Son looks so appealing to me; they are both taking me to a different place and time and letting me experience something that I never will.
For every Fez, Hotline Miami, and The Witness; there needs to be a Call of Duty, Titanfall, or Ratchet game. There is a place for all types of stories and mechanics in this industry, and with the upcoming generation there will be even more opportunity to see all sides of this entertainment medium explored. So whatever your tastes; now more than ever, is a great time to be a gamer. Enjoy it for how it makes you think…and how is sometimes gloriously doesn’t.