The Future of Gaming: Me and my Tomb Raider…s?!

 

Hello, is anybody out there? I hope not…

One of the titles I’m really looking forward to this year is the reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, if only from a nostalgic point of view. Without giving away my age, I can only say that I was very young when I met the adventurous Lara Croft and she soon became my heroine. She was the first memorable female gaming character and for someone not even in her teens, the concept was mind blowing. Lara Croft had shown me that the girls can do it too and I spend many, many hours staring at her back, blowing away bad guys and making a reasonable dent in the animal populations of Peru and China.

In all that time, I had never found myself thinking: Boy, I wish someone could play this with me. I wish I could share in this experience. I simply liked running around through creepy tunnels or diving deep to face Jack Sparrow’s Kraken on my own. It was part of the charm of the game and one of the reasons a game such as TR: Legend received so much critique. People didn’t like the other two characters constantly giving tips in their ears. It ruined the experience. And, don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed TR: Legend thoroughly, but I enjoyed TR: Underworld more because I could do it in silence. I don’t want someone yelling in my ear when I’m lining up to make a difficult jump or butchering a spider that’s escaped from Lord of the Rings.

It was therefore with a touch of dismay that I read the Square Enix’s newsletter of January in which they announced quite proudly that the new Tomb Raider will now come out with a multiplayer component. I could not help but feel that they were seriously selling out. If there was ever a game that didn’t need multiplayer, Tomb Raider was it. I can’t even begin to imagine how they would integrate it into the game. Will you have many Lara Crofts running around comparing scars? Or, will it be like a dating show where you have many other characters running around competing for her affections by seeing who can butcher the most deer… In all honesty, there’s never been a game least suited to play with other people than the one featuring our lovely little British vigilante.

The problem is that it’s not just Tomb Raider that’s moving this way. If you look at most of the major release titles of 2012, nearly all of them had a multiplayer component. Some have been met with unpredictable success such as the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and other… well… not so much (Hello Star Wars: Knight’s of the Old Republic). Regardless of their claim to fame, it’s clear that the companies are more interested in developing this component than they are the single-player campaigns.

I don’t know why gaming companies are so obsessed with forcing me to interact. Is it because the developers spend their geeky childhoods in the lonely isolation of wasteland high school? Have they decided to try and make up for it by ensuring that all those geeks and gamers who come after them will have a decent chance at know how to strike up a conversation?

So… I’ve introduced myself, now what?!

But of course, I actually do know why.

It’s about the money.

With most of the online multiplayer games, players have to purchase a pass or subscription in order for them to participate. If they want to play more missions, they need to purchase new downloadable content. Gaming has become lucrative and business is rottingly good. EA games, who I believe is secretly planning to become the Godfather of all gaming industries, reported a growth in their digital revenue of 40 percent. Mostly thanks to the online component of games such as FIFA 13 and Battlefield 3. By the end of their second fiscal quarter, more than 2 million people had subscribed to Battlefield 3 and FIFA 3 had sold more than 7.4 million game units, generating a digital revenue of over $115 million for the first half of fiscal 2013.

It paints a dreary picture because people always go where the money is.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with multiplayer gaming. It has its time and place. But, what I hate about it is that it’s setting a trend again, much like high school really, that if you don’t have popular friends to play with, you better sit this one out. As a nerd who sought for solace in games during the majority of high school when jocks and popular girls made it incredibly difficult for anybody just vaguely smelling of geek to interact with other people, I’m beginning to pick up that same vibe with gaming.

My outcast nerd days are over of course but I still find myself needing games to find some solace. I enjoy nothing more than to come home after a challenging day at work turn on my PS3 and spend endless days walking through the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3 or arguing with a snarky artificial intelligence in Portal. And, I like to do these things on my own because I’ve quite frankly had enough of people. And, I’m not even going to touch on the challenges of connecting to a foreign multiplayer server with a less-than-average internet speed. To imagine going online to organise another group of strangers, some potentially under 13, is my picture of horror.

“Silence just isn’t golden anymore, you know?”

Yet the industry is trying so hard to convince me that it shouldn’t be.

With the new PS and Xbox rumoured to include a compulsory online connection for gaming and the continuing expansion of games’ multiplayer campaigns instead of the single players’, which gave rise to their fame, I’m once again getting the feeling the future of gaming is heading down a path that I cannot follow. I’ll never find any joy playing games with others (the only exception I’ll make to this is Portal 2’s co-op , but VALVE has taken my soul so I’m not sure that counts) and see no point in installing an expensive high-speed internet connection just so that I can interact with other people (it puts me in the mind of an escort service really).

I’d rather stick to the lonely Lara Croft that I know, bashing through the forests of Bolivia on my own. Even if it means not being able to participate in any of her future adventures. Somehow, I can see her understanding, as the lonely Tomb Raider that she is.

 

Sources

http://nerdtrek.com/future-gaming-part-it/

http://www.gamespot.com/news/fifa-and-battlefield-are-eas-most-profitable-franchises-6399207

Images credit: www.tombraider.com

 

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About Alyssa C.

Having never quite grown up out of her nerd phase Alyssa spends her life between being a technical advisor for a pharmaceutical company, playing console games, reading anything she can get her hands on, tweeting as @alyssc01 and occasionally declaring herself Supreme Ruler of the Universe. She's a freelance writer willing to take on any challenge with numerous grammatical errors. The first three is always free.