As a lifelong gamer who has been playing since I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas as a kid, I have noticed recent changes in the gaming industry. With the advent of the Wii and the emergence of “casual” gamers as a viable source of income for the video game industry, the face of gaming is being altered day by day. As fun as swinging my arm wildly about and pretending to be bowling is, I still consider myself a “hardcore” gamer, who only enjoys an engaging game.
Rockstar Games recently announced it will include a drug-dealing mini-game in the soon to be released “Chinatown Wars,” the next installation in the Grand Theft Auto series. The game will be released exclusively on the Nintendo DS, a platform known as a “casual” gaming hand-held. I find this decision to be in bad taste because of Grand Theft Auto’s history of repeatedly pushing the envelope might have shoved a little too hard this time.
I have pondered for a long while on just what it is that turned me from a defender of violence in games like Mortal Kombat, into an opponent of violence in Grand Theft Auto. Perhaps it’s the fact that in the past, the hyper-realism of Grand Theft Auto made it seem like a cartoon. But now, with the advancement of graphic technology, games are too realistic to be considered cartoons. Or perhaps it has to do more with a personal maturation, as the younger me genuinely thought of video games as just video games and little else.
I know everyone’s tastes change as they grow up they make new discoveries. Most people who enjoyed the boy band trend of the 90s now likely have trouble putting on an N Sync album and making it past the first minute of one song. Maybe in the same way that boy bands dealt with their audience at a rudimentary level, video games used to just appeal to me at a base level. Nowadays, I expect more from a video game than a silly romp about a group of blocky levels. As gaming has advanced, so have my expectations. It’s just that the inclusion of the drug-dealing mini-game is the equivalent of being given ground chuck when you’ve ordered, and are expecting, filet mignon.