Monday, November 30, 2015

What Are You Thankful for in Gaming?

Nothing is perfect in the gaming industry, and through drama and disappointments, it is easy to overlook the joys that modern day gaming has to give to us. Instead of focusing on "oh no another Call of Duty" or arguing about the justification of DLC pricing, let us use the holiday season to instead reflect on what we can be thankful for this year:

Always a Party

Putting games online is huge. The ability to hop on to most games and know full well there are thousands of others playing that same game is something you really have to take a step back and appreciate. There was once a time when you had to gather friends, controllers, even televisions just to be able to host a game with more than four people. You can now hop into matches with up to sixty four players or more.

Matchmaking, clans, social spaces; there is an endless supply of resources that make sure when you play, you are not alone anymore. These have even evolved into friendships extending beyond Gamertags or Online IDs. Anytime, day or night, someone else is losing sleep right along with you to hop online for a few hours of playtime.

More Variety Than Your Thanksgiving Dinner

MMOs, MOBAs, Fighting Games, First Person Shooters; there are a plethora of genres to explore. The list is ever expanding, and the sheer amount that is out there to play is astounding. Limitations are lifting in what hardware can do, and it is pretty impressive to be able to tackle whatever you desire. Want to go on a pirate adventure? Maybe Assassins Creed: Black Flag is what you are in the mood to play. Feel like being merciless and trash talking? Fire up some Crucible mode in Destiny. Or perhaps you just want to unwind and explore a vast land? Fallout 4 has plenty to offer.

No matter what mood you are in or what kind of experience you wish to have, there is something out there for you. From the triple A titles to the indie platformers, there is so much out there to explore.

On Demand

If you want to buy a game, you can instantly do that. No waiting for the store, no lines on Black Friday, no worry if a game is in stock; directly downloading a game is a standard. It is a luxury we very easily take for granted.

Be it through the Xbox Store, Steam, or PSN there are pages of games to navigate that you can purchase and download instantly. The ability to be able to delete games as needed for your hard drive and retrieve them whenever you would like is convenient not only to storage space but allows you to keep an expansive library on hand.

Steam Sales

Big name games for half off? Check.
Big titles from a year ago for only twenty bucks? Check
Time to play all the games you end up purchasing? ...working on that.

Whenever a big holiday comes around I always look forward to the sales that Steam offers. From the biggest titles to the smaller indie games, nothing is immune to a price slashing, and the growing library of unplayed games leaves potential for lazy Sunday afternoons.

User Created Content

Mario Maker, Minecraft, and Garry's Mod have revealed that when you hand the tools of a developer over to the gaming masses, you get some of the most hilarious and interesting content you could ever hope to find. From scare maps, to insanely difficulty Mario levels, and even to new game modes; Mods and user generated levels are becoming increasingly popular. Like a kid with LEGOs, the possibilities are endless and new experiences are gaining popularity time and time again.

Mods have influenced some of the biggest games you can play, and may even inspire a future developer to pursue his/her passion. Letting the player craft their own experience showcases the dedication and passion many out there have for this medium.

Competitive Streaming

I never thought I would enjoy watching competitive gaming. Now I look forward to events like EVO every year. Watching professionals at their best is something one could only do by attending the actual events years ago, something that was hard to come by in most states. You can now have a front row seat to world competitions on games like League of Legends, DOTA, Counterstrike, or Street Fighter through streaming websites.

You can even just watch professional streamers casually playing your favorite games. Maybe you want to see how Battlefront plays before purchasing the game or simply like the personality of someone who plays a variety of games. With hubs like Twitch, you can watch any recent game any time.

When you realize how far video games have come over the past decade it truly is remarkable. It is easy to complain about the nuances, but taking a step back to truly see the growth and impact that gaming has had over the years really sets it in perspective. So as you fire up your new games this Christmas, try to take a moment to be thankful for the little things we take for granted every time we turn on our consoles.