I was thinking recently about something that I thought was kind of cool. It was also the best idea I could come up with so I decided to write about it. Now videogames are pretty young if we really think about it. They are only around 40 years old. They have evolved in many different ways as time has gone on and one of the most notable ways is the nature of winning the game. Videogames first appeared in an arcade setting and their major focus was to keep people coming back to play. So naturally, games were pretty difficult to beat. The interesting thing was that what you were trying to beat wasn’t necessarily the game itself. Most games just looped endlessly and kept going until you died and used up your precious allowance. What you were actually trying to beat was your high score. You wanted to get the most out of your money and prove that you had the skills to beat aliens or eat pellets or climb scaffolding or whatever you enjoyed doing. The best part was leaving that there to prove that you were the best in the arcade. That high score stayed up there for as long as you wanted, that is until someone took it away from you. So then the process to get the high score would begin all over again. It required a competitive edge and a mountain of quarters, but entertainment is entertainment. Then things changed. The change was the appearance of consoles in the gaming market. Then they no longer wanted your change, they wanted your dollar bills. The tradeoff was you could attempt the games from the comfort of your own house. However, now the win conditions have changed.
I mean it makes sense right. After all, there is no way you allow a bunch of strangers over your house to play games in exchange for money. Well, technically you can but it would be a terrible idea. Anyway, now games had to offer something more than just endless replayability with an unforgiving difficulty. So they decided to do the unthinkable. They developed game with a clear ending. That is right. You could actually win the game. That was the game changer. Now it was about trying to beat the game and actually see a credits screen. However, they didn’t make it easy. Games back in the day did not have great things such as maps or difficulty curves or good physics so beating them felt like a real challenge. I’ll be honest and say that there are games from those days I still haven’t beaten. Maybe one day. However, now players had a goal. They had something to work towards again. They used whatever they could to beat the game. Some games made things a little more interesting by giving you different endings based on how you played. There were lots of ways to play, but it wasn’t all about single player. There were multiplayer experiences as well where you could compete against each other where the winner would be decided through a nice and fair competitive match. At least that was how it should go, but not everyone plays the same way. I’m not saying there was foul play, but there may have been some injuries after the fact. So some games were testing your skill against an opponent while some tested your skill against the game itself. While the method of doing so was different from the days of the arcade, the results were still the same. The major difference was that there was an actual goal to work towards and you could have better control over how much you played.
Now you would thing that beating the game would be enough right? WRONG! Haven’t you ever heard the phrase winning isn’t everything? That isn’t the case, but it is about how you win. Game have gotten a lot bigger and have a lot more content, most likely as a way to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Games implement different achievements that you could earn to show that you had completed certain tasks. Some people choose to complete all of the tasks the game asks for various reasons. Sometimes they want better endings, sometimes they just want to have the satisfaction of collecting them all, and sometimes they just want to brag to others about their progress. Whatever the case may be, it isn’t just about winning anymore. These days a lot of people who play games will try to challenge themselves when playing games people are familiar with and they do this by imposing rules on themselves before the game begins. Either that, or they have soemone mod the game for them so they don’t have to worry about breaking any rules. There are so many ways people can experience games these days thanks to mods and creative minds. This upsurge of challenge runs may be due to games starting to feel easier or maybe less broken. I can’t really say for sure, all I know is it is just another way for people to have fun and play games in new and interesting ways. Whether you play to unlock everything, whether you play to beat your best time, or whether you play to just enjoy a game, you are having fun while playing. We have gotten to a point where gamers can set their own goals on what it means to win. I’d say that’s pretty cool. Game will continue to evolve and we wll continue to play and beat them. The question is how many ways will we choose to play? See you next week and have a great night.