Gamers Make Excellent Curmudgeons

By Gus Mastrapa in Pretension +1
Friday, May 13, 2011 at 9:00 am
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In the future kids won't care about video games. They'll be crazy about laser pills. I'm not entirely sure what laser pills will be and what will happen when you consume them. Consider them a stand-in for some unimaginable technological advance -- another game changer that will turn the world on its ear.

And most of us will be too old and too stuck in our ways to understand the appeal of these laser pills. We'll grouse about the old days when lasers were for Pink Floyd and pills were for keeping truckers awake. And we'll look at our grandchildren with amazement when they complain about having to play Portal for their media literacy class. 

This is how many, Roger Ebert included, feel right now. I get the feeling that gamers will take to the role of behind-the-times curmudgeon like housewives to Farmville. We've been warming up for the job this whole time.

The rapidly changing landscape of video games has groomed us for the role of befuddled old-timer. There are already twenty-year-old kids with "back in the day" stories about their favorite retro-game. PC gamers are the staunchest, bemoaning the rise of consoles with the fervor of the last sons of Dixie. Everybody has a pet peeve about how games are going down the crapper. And they've got a favorite whipping boy to blame for the decline. Roger Ebert has nothing on gamers. His anti-game trolls are cute, but when the time comes for us to beef on the next big thing we're going to put him to shame.

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Unless, that is, the next big thing is irresistible to all of us. My gut (and lower) feeling is that virtual sex will be the first big new tech to put a dent in gaming's supremacy among our demographic. I'd be willing to bet that the Call of Duty massive would abandon gaming en masse if you could plug your brain into some kind of sex-a-phone and experience phony intercourse the way they did in Strange Days

The perfect innovation of teledildonics isn't just a threat to video games. Virtual sex could derail civilization in a way that meth could only dream of. Though in the end I suspect that screwing will just be the door opener. The promise of virtual reality, something that games flirt with more and more, is extremely tempting. Half the appeal of Azeroth is going to another world and having a life there. Because many of our lives aren't half as interesting. 

I've always considered the simulation the biggest threat to the traditional video game. I wonder how our generation will react to games where the rules, win conditions and mechanics are buried so deep as to seem non-existent. Will they still crave the ability to futz with their stats? Or will the visceral sensation of swinging a mace into the face of a minotaur more than make up for the finite control.

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I see several camps developing. One will drop games completely, jumping into new lives and experiences without looking back. Others will use our new Snow Crash second life for matchmaking -- a way to meet new people to pwn. And, of course, there will be those who just don't get it. These future Eberts will refuse to take their laser pills. And they'll become more and more miserable as the world seems to pass them by.

Virtual reality or no I hope I have the curiosity to take my laser pill just to see how it feels.

Pretension +1 is a game column that peers into the future of video games and sees nobody left to care.



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