In searching for new video games, I often feel like the Man in Black chasing the maze in Westworld. “The maze isn’t meant for you,” he is told over and over. That’s me in the big black hat, being rebuffed by the video game studios as they release one not fun game after another.
I don’t like shooting things. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid passion for other people or that shooters shouldn’t be a thing. It is and they should. But they shouldn’t be the only thing. Even No Man’s Sky for Christ’s sake. I had to shoot things in No Man’s Sky, which to me seemed like it would be a pure exploration game.
Doom: first-person shooter battling demons from hell. There’s not a single appealing word in that sentence. Nor is there an appealing moment is this trailer. Next.
Overwatch: first-person shooter multiplayer game. I should start by saying that I’m a total Blizzard homer. WoW and Hearthstone are my jam. I love the characters on Overwatch and am so digging on the whole Tracer romance thing. I’m giddy to love this game, but this maze wasn’t meant for me. Sad panda. Next.
Titanfall 2: first-person shooter with a big mechanical exo-skeleton so you can kill more things.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: an “action adventure” game instead of a pure shooter. But this great story still requires shooting, grenades, fisticuffs and adrenaline-invoking survival techniques.
And finally, the last nominee, Inside. Inside was surprising. This indie dystopian game isn’t a shooter. It’s a puzzle platformer where your unfortunate character, a young boy, dies over and over again in pretty gory and unpleasant ways. The boy mind controls zombie-like humans and solves puzzles while attempting to survive in a North Korea-esque landscape.
In one scene, the boy (i.e. you) has to pull a writing worm out of a living pig’s, um, hindquarters. Between this game and finally watching Black Mirror, 2016 has been a year of pig-related trauma for me. So, while I found Inside to be playable and intriguing, I didn’t really find it enjoyable.
I don’t want to fight for survival at every turn. Or, if I must, I’d prefer a game like Don’t Starve, where I’m relying on my wits and preparation – not my ability to shoot someone in the face.
And it’s not that I always hate fighting in video games. Some games do it right. Witcher 3, for example. Geralt’s combat style was heavily customizable so I could choose how and when I wanted to fight. The world and story in Witcher 3 was rich enough to make fighting worthwhile. Though, I thought being forced to play Ciri – a non-customizable character – for long stretches at a time was not a great addition to the game. Sure, she’s a strong and talented female character in a game full of awesome female characters. Score. But I still would have rather watched a cut scene.
And I love melting faces into angry floor puddles with my shadow priest in WoW Legion. WoW combat, more than perhaps any other game, is an endless set of choices for how you to prefer to play. Heck, you can even max-level in WoW just by picking herbs – though God help the guy who did that.
I don’t get off on the adrenaline. I don’t want my heart to be pounding as I stick a knife in a guy’s jugular so he doesn’t choke me out first. That’s not fun to me, and I would guess many of the 41 percent of women who game would agree with me.
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I love video games. I just want more innovation in the kinds of games being released. And it’s starting to happen, primarily with PC gaming. Steam is my safe place, where I can find story-rich games like Long Live the Queen. But I have to dig for them. I want a big studio to bet the farm on a game that meets the desires of women like me. And for the record, 2015 stats showed that the average age of women who frequently game are 44. I’m guessing us 44-year-old moms are probably not spending most of our time playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. We may be playing casual games because Big Fish and app-based companies are the only ones actually trying to take our money right now.
I am hopeful for the future and can’t wait to review some of the new games I’ve played lately and a few of the exciting titles coming out in 1st quarter of 2017. I hope this doesn’t read as a rant against people who prefer shooters or pure combat games. It’s not. Studios will make what people buy. I just happen to think the market, or the maze, is a lot bigger than the industry is giving it credit for.