Friday, September 7, 2012

Are we becoming less smart day by day?

I started to wonder this a few weeks back when I was playing a modern RPG game and realized that, even if my mind was preoccupied with very different matters than the game itself, I was still very successful in slaying the monster and advancing trough the level.

Heck, all I had to do actually was to double click constantly in the left side of the screen or the monsters and from time to time on the bad guys. That if my pet companion didn't manage to take care of them by itself.

I realized the harder decision I had to take in the last hour of playing was if to wear that armor with 15 hp and no spells or the one with 10 hit points and 3 magic proprieties. Difficult choice indeed :)

The rest was just moving on the predefined path the game creator made level by level with the occasional dying and reviving in the same place just to get more items and higher level to allow me to kill more powerful monsters.

Try to remember last time you played something that actually required you to think?

I'm looking at a list of top games from last year and most of them seem to share the same attention to graphics, rendering, shadows, etc, but very few actually have a gameplay that puts player in a decision making role (more than should I kill the dragon first or clear that cave). A lot of them are just moving forward in a predefined path and killing what gets in your way, or moving to predefined locations and, again, killing bad guys there.

I remember my first contact with video games on an old 486 computer in early 90's, back then I spent half a day to figure, together with a colleague of mine, how to pass through some part of a level and find the handle to open the door. To actually finish that game you had to play days and days going back and forward trough the level to open doors, disable traps, get weapons. Even closer to year 2000 I played a lot of games where you really had to think to be able to advance to the next level. There were tens of different corridors and ways to approach a quest. We did not have any map showing us where the next character was. We had to figure this out on our own from the dialogues, or just pure exploration. I admit sometimes it was frustrating, but the joy of finally figuring it out was tremendous.

Then something happened and we started seeing less and less mind puzzling game and more "oh you handsome orc go in that forest and kill 10 goats for me!". Why, maybe because supply is controlled by demand. And probably today the demand is for games that you can play with your mind totally shutdown. Which leads me back to the question in the title of the article? Are we becoming less and less willing to put our mind to use and we do not find the qualities that lead human race where it is now (exploration, curiosity, intelligence) interesting anymore?