If you pick any of the Call of Duty games, I can tell you that I am not good at them. I really wish I could describe exactly how bad, but you should probably just listen to this song by Miracle of Sound. But I’m not on some mission to insult Call of Duty. It’s just a game that I am not good at.
Although… now that I think about it, I’m not really good at any first-person shooter. Goldeneye, Doom, Battlefield, Painkiller, Borderlands… I am bad at all of these games. They are games that generally rely on fast decision-making and being able to find out what you need to do in a chaotic environment. I’ve never been able to do that in a video game. The problem with being bad at FPS games is that there is always a little thought in the back of my mind that reminds me that these games are going to be harder, simply because I am an unskilled player for this genre. In fact, all of the games I’ve listed have strong aspects to their design, be it mechanics like Call of Duty or Battlefield, comedy like in Borderlands, among other great design choices. But I still suck at all of these games, and that is important.
While most video game players may not think about it, being good at a game, especially a popular game like Call of Duty can make your experience playing the game that much more enjoyable. And playing a game poorly can have the opposite effect. Since I’m on the subject of Call of Duty, I might as well say that I’m not a fan of the series. It’s not because I think it is a bad game (Although their single-player campaigns have pretty unimpressive), but the combination of not playing the game well and not particularly enjoying the competitive environment of the multiplayer. It’s just not my thing. I don’t have fun playing that type of game, which really only means that I shouldn’t play those kinds of games.
But this brings me to the point of making it publicly known that I am terrible at something; niche gaming. I doubt that I am the only person in the world who sucks at shooters. And the same can be said for any type of game. A character and dialogue driven RPG? Some people suck at those. Survival horror? Some people suck at those. Those app-based games, like Angry Birds? Some people suck at those too. But for every type of game you might be bad at, there is a game that you’re good at. This is true for a lot of people, if not everyone. And the video games industry should try to reflect that in its development of new games. There will never be the universally perfect game. It can’t happen. The demographic of ‘people who play video games’ is way too diverse, especially now. So developers and publishers that are trying to create a game to ‘appeal to everyone’ should disabuse themselves of the notion that they can. In fact, isn’t that supposed to be financially bad? Trying to throw your whole development budget of a universally loved game is going against the whole ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ thing. And that makes sense. If you try to take the risk of making a game that needs to be universally liked (and bought), what happens if (read: when) that game can’t live up to the financial expectations? Isn’t it better to diversify what games you make? I know that the probability of any of those games being a financial gold mine is slim, but you can practically guarantee sales within a niche market. There will always be gamers who will buy survival horror games because that is their thing. That is their favorite type of game. There will still be a nice big fan base for Call of Duty, but maybe they don’t need the entire development budget, or market strategies that try to make Call of Duty the standard of what gamers play.
There will always be niches in the gamer demographic. That isn’t going away. But it seems harder and harder to find games that are trying to show how diverse gamers really are. This is a mistake that should be (hopefully) fixed. Gamers could get the diversity to satisfy all our niches and desires, and the developers and producers get to see a profit. If that isn’t a win-win outcome, I don’t know what is.