So Plants vs. Zombies 2 updated sometime in the last week or so, introducing the new "Future World" portion, which had previously been unavailable. I noticed that it was now playable, and so I started playing it.
It just wasn't fun.
In fact, such games haven't been fun for me for a while. Angry Birds. Temple Run. PvZ. These are all the new "classics." Why don't I like them?
And then it hit me. The games we play on mobile devices are fun, goofy, overly simplistic, sometimes rely on hand-eye coordination, and have no plot to speak of. Those are exactly the reasons why I never played games on the Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, etc. I mean, sure, I'd play things occasionally, but it was never fun enough to merit actually owning a console. I consistently died on Super Mario World, Level 1-1.
I really like games that are more movies than games, more interactive story than hand-eye coordination tests. It has to be like a PlayStation or an Xbox to really have that kind of game. I remember watching my friend Allan play through Metal Gear Solid, and it was like watching a movie. When the time came to go home, I didn't want to, because I wanted to know what would happen next. The gameplay itself didn't interest me. The storyline did. You want to drop my character on an ancient artificial ringworld, abandoned for centuries, and have him figure out its mysteries while dodging attacks from pursuing aliens, who are themselves trying to figure out the mysteries of the Halo world? That's interesting. You want me to set up a character in a huge world with multiple quests, personalities, world events, zones, and an overall sense of continuity that is quite fun and allows me to role-play, even if in my own head? I'll be addicted to such a game for years! You want me to play a game with a redeemed character that goes slowly back to her dark ways, yet with a new, human twist? I'll play that too.
I guess I'm surprised that it took me so long to realize that the newer iteration of video games, mostly on mobile devices, by definition cannot be the more complex, story-driven games that I enjoy. Mobile games are kicking the living daylights out of consoles; EA Games now makes more money on Apple's App store than any other platform. I thought that this was a good discussion on the positives and negatives of this development. I hope that things like the Xbox do not ever fully go the way of the dodo, because you know what, PvZ just ain't doing it anymore. I no longer have any games on my phone. I'd rather read a book. (If I had an Xbox, Susan would be a Halo widow, or at least a Mass Effect widow. I'd rather play those kinds of games than read a book.)
Also, I try not to look at my phone when I'm in the bed in the morning, because this article hit home to me. "By checking your texts or emails first thing [or Facebook], you just let someone else set your priorities before you've had breakfast," indeed. Besides, if smartphones aren't good for kids, maybe we should all take a long, hard look at how we all use them. Lately I use my Franklin Planner to set up my to-do list for the day, and if I don't get all of the "priority A" things done, I owe the NRA $.25. It's a one-month trial adjustment to the contract I have this year with Susan (which is working great, by the way, since I fit into all my shirts again). To make sure I'm productive, I block the internet sites that I waste too much time on, and even deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone.
Because you know what? It's better to use the phone as a tool to help me with my life, instead of letting it take over my life, which I'm sorry to say it does too often.