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Video games have gone soft.

I mean this generally; avid victims fans of the Ninja Gaiden games, for instance, would argue against any leniency in modern video games, and may very well be correct. However, I am looking at games over all. There are some subtle, and some obvious, ways in which games have gotten easier on us. The rise of “casual” games being too obvious an example to discuss at length, it still protrays how video games are now designed to appeal to people who don’t play video games. Video games used to be for gamers.

However, my favorite example is the end-game screen. In the old days of arcade and some early console games, what happened when you lost all your lives? In most cases, you saw a screen that said two words.

GAME OVER”

How often in the last.. three to five years, have you seen that screen? Here and there, I’ll admit, but when you consider the sheer volume of games? Not terribly often.

Those were powerful words. They meant that you had lost, failed, and you had to start from the beginning and do it all over again. Everything you had been working towards was suddenly brought an abrupt and heart breaking halt. That, however, was the addiction. You lost, so you try again. And again. And again. You kept going until you beat it and you’d feel damned proud when you did. You had to work for it, which brings us to another end-game screen. These days, when you beat a game, you’re treated to a cinematic, a cutscene, or some visual display of your epic heroic awesomeness. It made you feel special, while at the same time, made it so that it was a natural thing. You saw the conclusion of the story, because you beat the game. But really, you were always going to get there, the story had to end somehow. Go back to some of those crazy-hard games that would take a dedicated gamer months to beat, and quite often the only thing you’d see would be along the lines of:

You beat the game! Congratulations!”

Maybe some kind of cutscene, maybe a little victory video, but mostly it was just the credits rolling.

And oh, how good that felt. The feeling of accomplishment and victory that came with that screen. Modern gamers are spoiled, because its getting easier and easier to get to that screen. It’s almost unheard of to play a game that you can’t beat in under a month, maybe even a week. Continues, save points, extra lives and health bars all contribute to this.

Another trend in gaming: regenerating health. Halo, Gears, Call of Duty, so many recent games have a system where you can take a few hits, and if you can manage to remain unhit for a little while, you gain your health back. Arcade games? One hit, you are dead. Extra lives were a blessing, a gift. You would sometimes risk your current life in order to get an extra one, or something to help you along.

Galaga, anyone? Do you take out the alien ship nice and safely, or do you let it take your ship, so that you can try to get it back and have 2 ships, thus increasing your firepower? It was always risky, and you had to have an extra ship in reserve to do it. But if you miss and hit your ship, you just lost a life, and what a blow that felt like. Especially since it was all your fault.

Modern games don’t have “game over” screens. They have “Continue?” screens, or “Go back to the last save point” options. Tools that would enable you to progress with only a slight hindrence. Games used to be made to be hard to beat. Now they’re designed to be easy to beat. They even have difficulty settings, so that if you can’t beat the game, they will make it easier to beat.

Today’s gamers are spoiled by games that are made to be beat. I mean, come on, dynamic difficulty? Automatically adjusting the difficulty of the game to custom cater to the individual gamer. It will change the difficulty for you based on how badly you’re failing.

The thing is, all this is smart investment. As games are becoming increasingly popular and more “casual”, even the hardcore games need to be able to be played by a wide variety of gamers.  After all, most gamers will not admit to having to play a game on easy. Everyone wants to be able to beat a game on its hardest setting; the appeal of that top “elite” ranking is what sells games to a lot of people. People don’t want to have to work for their achievements anymore; you can purchase, for cash money, MMORPG characters that have already been upgraded and leveled up for other people. You can skip the work and get right to the part where you’re awesome.

I play games because they’re challenging. They make me think. However, its less and less common to see Game Over. Now there’s always a backdoor.

Modern gamers are spoiled. Video games have gone soft.

Think Deeper”

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Good morning, afternoon, or night, depending upon the time you are sitting down to read this. Or, standing up on a crowded bus, checking blogs on your iPhone or Blackberry or whatever new doohickey you all use these days. Maybe you’re at home, or a local library, or a coffee shop, enjoying the benefit of free wireless access.

See, the thing about the internet and the modern world, is that you never know who is going to be reading your content, as well as the context of their reading, and the individual themself. Really, its a very vulnerable thing, a blog. However, Avery and I are here to expose ourselves. We are going to try to tell our story, share our thoughts, our feelings, and most likely our frustrations as well. By reading this blog, I do not promise to provide insight, or wisdom. I do not promise it will have the usual dose of snark or sharp wit that keeps the masses entertained. Nor will I ever say an unfair criticism of another individual or group. (Which is not to be confused with fair criticism). So let me make it clear; this is a blog about video games, as an industry, as an art, and our progress in trying to make one. We are not video game critics, and while I will often make comments about trends or games individually, its not with the purpose of being cruel; of luring in readings and commenters by breaking down a piece of art that I had no part in making.

I merely want to make my intentions clear. So now that we know all the things I won’t be doing, what precisely will I be doing? I will be providing my opinion on games, trends in gaming, individuals in gaming, as well as general writing/story ideas, thoughts, tips, and reviews on books, movies, and games as they relate to a particular point. I will also probably be singing the praises of my partner, Avery Tingle, from time to time.

Moving on, now, to the actual point of this particular post. To introduce myself to the readers, let you know who I am and what precisely I am up to.

My username is jsnf. That is because my name is Jacob Steven Nicholson-Fitzgerald. I am the President and Co-Founder of Modern Magic Enterprises. I am also one of the creative writers, though that title may or may not be official. In any case, I am one of the forces behind Modern Magic’s current project, Flight 271, and the primary force behind the sequel, Survival Instinct.

I am nineteen years old, with a science fiction novel currently on the backburner while I work two part time jobs and get myself through college, majoring in Multimedia Design. With only one day a week off (which is usually spent with the girlfriend, which really doesn’t count as a day off), the majority of my posts will be written late at night; tonight’s 4 am draft tonight is evidence of that. So if you get lost in the cornucopia of words, don’t blame yourself.

Basic information covered, I think that’ll do for this post. I thank you for your patience and your time, and I hope you enjoy reading along with us as we try to find our way along this winding path.

-Jsnf

President/Co-Founder

Modern Magic Enterprises

“Think Deeper”