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As we stand on or over the cusp of the next generation of consoles, I wonder where my gaming lifestyle will intersect with the future of gaming. Gone are the repeated days of marathon gaming sessions. I don’t have the ability nor the inclination to come home from work, fire up the Xbox, and play until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. with only the Taco Bell dinner interruption.
With the dual constraints of time and budget, gaming now often consists of manageable, bite-sized sessions consisting of rounds in Hot Shots Golf or Tiger Woods, the Halo Tuesday appearance, an occasional Jeopardy! practice. They do not require large investments of time or attention. It’s not that I’m not willing nor is there a lack of titles to play. But there are going to be limits, what will crack the rotation needs to be something special and therein lies the challenge to and for the next generation of consoles.
During the years since the 360’s release, I’ve logged more hours than I care to know. While I have loved my time alternating between enlistment with the UNSC and COG, it has been the non-staples, the not AAAs, the unexpected titles that have most captured my heart as favorites of the system. Certainly, I have been impressed with Red Dead Redemption and Modern Warfare, but it’s the likes of Kameo, Rockstar Presents Table Tennis, Halo Wars, Rayman Origins, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown that are stand outs. In some ways, I believe the same to be true for the Vita as well. Gravity Rush has been my most memorable game experience on the handheld even if it hasn’t received all the play time of say Hot Shots Golf.
There have been shorter experiences (and cheaper) but still classic and memorable. Geometry Wars, Rez, Shank 1 and 2, Trenched/Iron Brigade, The Walking Dead, Catan, Castle Crashers, Mark of the Ninja from XBLA. Sound Shapes, Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, Motorstorm RC on Vita. I haven’t played much of Guacamelee! and Retro City Rampage but have heard good things about these titles as well.
I understand we’re in the age of the .99 iOS download and I appreciate the addictive qualities of Angry Birds and Temple Run as much as the next guy. I don’t expect free-to-play though rumors exist that maybe it could work (Phantasy Star Online 2). I think there’s something to be said about what a developer can bring when not faced with the pressures of creating a AAA title. With such high stakes involved, it’s much easier to churn out Madden X than it is to release Child of Eden.
I want something that will foster my online community, in-game and out. I want portability and the opportunity to immerse myself in game discussion, info, stats, on-going developments. I want choices that have meaning and effect. I want others to play and influence what I see, how I play. I want cross-platform. I want noob friendly but interesting and challenging enough that games are difficult to master. I want shiny graphics but also compelling story and characters. I want to play with friends cooperatively and competitively. I want games that can be taken in small bits but are engaging and varied enough to sustain marathon sessions. I want precise controls that aren’t overwrought or complicated. I want flexibilty to adjust difficulty, turn off and on voice or motion controls, save or sleep when and where I might need unexpectedly.
Most of all, I want something I don’t even know I want yet. I want something new. Is that too much to ask?