I think we can all agree that gaming has changed a lot from the early days. Even though the fundamental reasons for playing games (having fun, pursuing a goal, and sometimes winning) have stayed the same, the entire medium has been revolutionized in the past few decades. There are plenty of improvements that have been made in the industry, and for that I’m thankful. Yes, there are still many issues, and as time goes on, some die out as new ones come to life. However, seeing how today is Thanksgiving Day here in America, I’m going to focus on those things I’m thankful for, and not on those issues I hope to see resolved.
(These are in no particular order)
1: Improved Artificial Intelligence
It’s no secret that AI have come a long way since “back in the day.” If we applied the basic AI from old arcade games to new titles, we would see many of our favorite titles decimated. As time goes on, AI that once seemed revolutionary ends up being pretty lousy in comparison to current standards. For example, I’ve heard tales that the Halo: Combat Evolved AI for your friendly Marioes was pretty advanced because they could target enemies of multiple factions (Flood or Covenant) and they worked independently of what Master Chief was shooting at. On the other hand, when one looks back, one can see that they were quite fond of throwing grenades; oftentimes irrationally. The forward progress of AI makes games more realistic, more fun, and advances the medium forward as a whole.
Here, I don’t necessarily mean graphics in the sense of “wow; I can see the sweat on his brow!” I mean that the upgrade to 3D graphics absolutely destroyed everything we knew about the industry back in the classic Tetris and Donkey Kong days. When just about every game was either top-down or side-scrolling, it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for improvement or change in the system. Once 3D graphics rolled out, we gained a whole new axis; the z axis. Just think how strange it would be to play Uncharted as a pixelated side-scroller. Would it be interesting? Sure; but at the same time, a lot would be lost. I can’t imagine seeing my beloved Halo series as a side-scroller, but you can forget a 64-player Battlefield match! Impossible! Because of 3D, new genres arose, new types of activities in games became possible, and the existing modes and systems were upgraded. Long story short, 3D graphics made so much more possible in the world of gaming, and for this, I am very thankful!
3: Online Gaming
Speaking of a 64-Player Battlefield match, I’m very thankful for the world of online gaming. Think of how much more amazing early gaming would have been if your friend in another state could have popped into your game of Super Mario Bros. as Luigi way back on the Gameboy Color. Now, we’re moving into an era where players don’t even need the correct system to play video games with a friend (i.e. Commander Mode on a tablet for BF4 or the ctos app for Watch_Dogs). The addition of online play has been fundamental to the core of gaming in the present day. When I used to play Madden as a kid, I wish I had the technological know-how to hook up my PS2 to allow me to play a match online since I didn’t have any friends interested in video games. Now, online play allows for new experiences, and even better, lets me squeeze more playtime out of a game I spent sixty hard earned dollars on, and I’m thankful for that.
With the invention of online play, the mute button is absolutely necessary. I think we all understand why, so you’re probably just as thankful as I am that we can all mute the ragers, the five-year olds, and the music-blaring DJs. Need I say more?
5: Console Wars
This may have caught you off guard a bit. Yes, I’m thankful for the Console Wars, no matter how ugly they become due to the companies or due to the fans. Why? They provide options. The Economics class I took last semester showed me why competition and options are important. When there is competition, companies strive to do better, providing an improved product. In the case of Standard Oil, (an oil monopoly way back when) they could lower prices to drive out competitors, then raise them sky-high to make a huge profit when there were no other options to choose from. Diversity is a great thing. If you want kid-friendly games and nostalgia, buy a Wii U. If you want an all-in-one entertainment system, get an Xbox One. If you want something more gaming-oriented, pick a PS4. Options give a reason for companies to improve as they try to one-up the other, hopefully with a better product, thus bringing them more money as we consumers buy their products. Do you see why I’m thankful for the Console Wars? They help drive the industry forward.
What gaming innovations are you thankful for? Let me know in the comments! Leave a like or a follow if you’ve enjoyed. Most of all, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! Take the time to really think about how blessed you are. You may not realize it, but in a world where half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, the simple fact that you have the internet access to read this article makes you richer than you could possibly imagine. Whether you’re an American celebrating Thanksgiving or not, try to be thankful for what you have; we oftentimes take it for granted.