I was reading the Eurogamer article "Is Palworld actually any good?  Of course not", in which the author pointed out that it was all rather generic and uninspired, just a bunch of systems lifted from other games and thrown together, with barely an interesting element of design to be found.  A lot of readers posited that this was just a case of a type of game Eurogamer didn't enjoy, that there was fun and value to be had.  And perhaps there is truth in this.  Perhaps these endless survival games, in which progress doesn't lead to an end goal, where quests are optional and in the end subordinate to just being in the game world, just don't mesh with what our generation of gamers expects from games.  We've come accustomed to games that take us along for the ride, as is the case with books and movies.  Where there is a clear starting point and end goal with a story sculpted by the developers.  Sure, we'll moan about the gameplay being bland and uninspired, but we'll lap it up regardless.

To us, something like Palworld is strange.  We don't get how it can sell millions in mere days.  There's no real plot.  There's a lot to do, but not much in the way as to why to do it.  It's a game that doesn't care much about originality, happily stealing from whatever source it feels it can benefit from.  It's rough around the edges...  It's a game for a new generation.  A generation who is used to everything being free and available, who care little for authorship and ownership.  A generation of gamers who don't care for top down curated experiences, but who want to play however they themselves want.  In a way, and despite it not being a style of gaming I care for, I admire how it seems to lean closer to what games really are: a form of play.

I've written before about how games in the 8-bit days used to be challenging, because technical limitations meant that making games hard was the only way you could keep poeple entertained for longer to justify the cost of the game.  When technology matured, games could be saved and as a result became grander in scope.  All of a sudden story was needed to tie everything together, to give gamers a reason to keep playing.  As that concept grew over time, the balance between gameplay and story shifted, where gameplay couldn't be too challenging, lest it prevent gamers from fully experiencing the story.  But this relience on story, on curated content, doesn't seem to attract younger gamers anymore.  These people have grown up watching youtube and playing simple F2P games on tablets, their parents wilfully relinquishing control over what their kids were doing for the sake of convenience.  They're less concerned about where their actions in game are taking them than that they are with the question wether they're having a good time right now.  They just want to be entertained.  They want to play.  In a way it seems as if games have circled back to their origin.

Posted by SupremeAC Thu, 25 Jan 2024 13:34:49 (comments: 12)
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