When you think of the term “die hard gamer” or “hard core gamer” (or any number of these labels that are thrust upon the gaming consumer that relate to people who really love video gaming) you typically have a mental picture painted. Some 18-29 year old, living in their parent’s basement – wired up to a cerebral brain implanted headset trash talking to “friends” they’ve never met. They are probably still in their underwear; chewing on a piece of day-old pizza – playing the latest rendition of the endlessly spawned first person shooter. No sunlight is allowed in the room – the windows implicitly covered. If they have a car, their gaming rig probably costed more than it did – a big screen, low-latency flatscreen and some receiver special ordered because it has 4 HDMI inputs instead of 2. Every current and last gen console (except those made by Nintendo because, like – those are kiddie systems, dudebro) is rigged up and there are discarded Live, PSN+ and various redemption cards scattered on the floor.
How am I doing so far? Fairly representative?
While I’m sure that scene is definitely being played out in parental dungeons everywhere – truth be told, there are “hard core” game enthusiasts that do not fall into this mold. While playing video games in your underwear is every American’s God given right, most of us don’t live in our parent’s basement. We’ve had sex with actual women (some of us are even married to them). Day old pizza doesn’t hold the appeal it once did – and many of us actually know the people we play games online with.
… and many of us own Nintendo consoles.
Why? Because we’re comfortable enough with ourselves to admit that a game can be fun, engaging and entertaining – even if it isn’t at 1080p and has more than 5 shades of gray or brown as a color scheme. The gay community likes to say that the biggest homophobes are the ones that are probably closeted in their sexual orientation. I dare say this might apply here. The ones that lash out the most at Nintendo’s “kiddie gaming” are probably those that secretly want another stab at a Zelda dungeon or want to take Mario and Luigi along on their next adventure.
But I digress. I promised to tell you why Nintendo jaded me as a gamer. In order to do that, you had to understand that I am a hardcore gamer. I own just about every gaming system (sans the PS4 and Xbox One) – portable and console.
When a piece of hardware has compelling games I want to play, I get it. Occasionally I’ll pull the trigger on launch day on Nintendo hardware because I know at the very least, my young son and I will find something to play together on it. But when it comes to the games themselves – I play everything from Call of Duty to Pokemon Trozei and a little bit of everything in between. I’ll play games on mobile devices if the game is properly suitable for the controls; I’ll even pair up a controller to play Dead Trigger 2 or emulators on my mobile devices if the mood strikes.
Overall, I’m an equal opportunist gamer. A die hard gamer (been at it for over nearly 35 years). But also a gamer with a dilemma.
I don’t want to play games on my TV anymore.
Wait, what? That’s right. The TV is no longer my desired destination for my gaming urges. I just got a new 60″ plasma, and I haven’t played a full game on it yet. The reasons are multi-fold.
When television programming by and large sucked, there was nothing to watch. But now that we have paid networks like HBO and Starz showing top notch TV – as well as “cable channels” like FX and A&E pumping out some quality television – I often enjoy catching up on TV during my limited free time. If I play video games on the TV, I have to decide; TV or video games? If I’m not playing on the TV – I can do both. Makes sense, right?
Ask any married guy in his 30s or 40s – especially one with a family – how often during their limited free time they are in control of the TV. The answer? Very infrequently. So pair my little free time with my little access to the TV and you will better understand why gaming OFF the TV makes sense to me. Sure, you could put a TV in another room and play your games – but now you’re taking away what little free time you have with the family. If I can play quietly on the couch or my easy chair, I can at least be accessible to my wife and kid.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Good thing there are portable game consoles like the 3DS and Vita!”
Obi-wan used to think as you do.
Truth is … despite the nice screen and capabilities of the Vita, the screen is small, and so is the system. If you have big hands like mine, trying to play anything with any sort of vigor (you know, like action games that PSVita likes to churn out) gives me serious hand cramps. Yep, I have those add on grips to ease the pain, but damn that screen is small; especially when my gorgeous Samsung Note 10.1 tablet with better-than-Retina display is sitting right next to me. While we’re at it, let’s be honest. PSVita caters to the “console in your pocket” crowd; which I’m really not.
3DS was great; when there was stuff I wanted to play on it. Luigi’s Mansion, Resident Evil Revelations, Zelda … all AMAZING AAA “10.0” games for sure. I finished them all (some multiple times). But as of late, the gaming on the 3DS has left me a bit hollow.
I’m not really interested in any of the current offerings – and worse yet – future offerings of interest are limited to a handful of titles such as Yoshi’s Island and the new Pokemon Trozei. To make matters worse, I have to deal with Nintendo’s reversal of 3D technology and games are starting to come out that pretty much ignore 3D altogether; leaving me with just a lower resolution, lower powered portable that isn’t playing the games I want to play anyway. Or worse yet, micro-transactions (damn you, Nintendo).
When Wii U hit, I was really excited about the “second screen” gamepad. The asymmetric game play possibilities – game dev potential – was just through the roof. But what really sold me was the fact I could game with full, HD resolution games on a generous sized touch screen that sits in my lap.
Suddenly, my TV issues were solved; play on the couch. My cramped hands were solved; Wii U gamepad is damn comfortable. Games I wanted to play of all genres (and third parties) could finally be played on a Nintendo system – and better yet – in my lap. One console to rule them all.
Soon, that’s all I did was play games on my Wii U; playing Zombies in BO2 in your lap with a friend or two online while you laid back on the couch, TV showing some great programming like Orange is the New Black or Spartacus. Sheer bliss.
As time when on, mobile games started maturing and some even including physical control options on games that had ZERO business using a touch screen as a controller. Top titles like Modern Combat 4, Dead Trigger 2 – slews of classic gaming and arcade emulation – all available on a fantastic 10″, better-than-HD screen with a real, rock solid controller? Wow.
That’s when I became jaded. I became the jaded gamer you see before you.
I don’t want to play games on my TV anymore. Honestly? I’m not really all that excited about playing games on 3 to 5″ portable console screens. I want AAA gaming in glorious 7-10 inches on a personal screen and let my TV play my favorite shows while I do it.
The problem is – thanks to Nintendo’s failings with the Wii U and worthless IAP based mobile gaming – I still have nothing new to play. There is maybe one game on Wii U coming I have interest in (heck, you can count the coming games on one hand – and most of those are remakes of Wii, 3DS or existing games) and mobile gaming by and large simply sucks.
But what do I do now? I’m spoiled. I’ve had AAA titles like COD: Ghosts and Rayman Legends to play on my lap. I’ve had top notch mobile experiences like Dead Effect with real, solid controls. What’s more, I had it all without ever turning on the TV.
How do you go back to small screen gaming? How to you go back to limiting yourself to short bursts of TV availability or being forced out of your living room because you want to play a video game?
Jaded. Jaded, I tell you. I knew going in that mobile gaming was a mess, despite finding a few gems in the pile of dung. But Nintendo has really let me down. My “one console to rule them all” has 1% of developers wanting to make stuff for it and Nintendo churning out HD remakes and “more of the same”. Thank God for indie developers making fantastic stuff like UnEpic and Trine 2 so I actually still have SOMETHING to play on my Wii U.
To ease my suffering, I’ve turned to gathering up all my original Wii discs and playing some of those fantastic titles (ExciteTruck owns on gamepad screen) in my lap on the Wii U gamepad; but Nintendo couldn’t even give me that right – insisting I use Wii controls instead of the gamepad’s controls – even if the game didn’t need the IR bar.
As someone who has regularly played games for over 30 years, it is really a kick in the crotch to have tasted personal screen gaming – then essentially have the rug pulled out from underneath you. So while I’m “enduring” playing good games (that would be a ton better on my Wii U gamepad and/or tablet) like TxK on PSVita and Retro City Rampage on my 3DS – I long for what I had just a short time ago. Sure, I still play Ghosts and some choice Wii U games in my lap and I’m level 41 on Dead Trigger 2 on the tablet, but the future of gaming looks bleak to me. Mobile gaming isn’t going to come of age anytime soon and the Wii U is apparently one foot in the grave – gasping for air.
What’s a hardcore personal screen gamer to do?