• urbanstar

      Urban Meanderings-Consoles Competition 1

      9 years ago

      With the launch of the Xbox 360 today ushering in yet another video game console generation, I cannot help but wonder (as most gamers undoubtedly are) which console will entrance the fickle public and gain dominance throughout the land….or at least which one will be plugged into the back of the most television sets. With every new generation speculation from the media, fans, and marketing firms try to shape and approximate which system will define and rule over all others. And every gamer once again prepares for the five year onslaught of fanboys on message boards banging on their keyboards, with a passion not seen since having to choose whether one was part of the union or confederacy, as to why the machine they insert optical disks to play games on is greater for the congregate of mankind than Buddha, Shiva, Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, and Miss Piggy dipped in chocolate. So as this ritual is starting to take shape, with the Nintendo fanboys claiming that the “Revolution†is truly revolutionary and not just a more technologically advanced rendition of a Xavix, and Microsoft 360 fanboys trying their hardest to silence the tiny voice in their head that is telling them that the games they have seen so far are pretty but really do just look like slightly higher resolution Xbox games, and as Sony fanboys…well Sony fanboys aren’t saying anything, they’re to busy building a good credit rating…gotta afford that Playstation 3 somehow; I am beginning to wonder what exactly are the advantages to video game consoles competing with each other. How does this competition affect game development, the larger video gaming scene, and most importantly we as gamers.

      Being of the mind that you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve come from- and a fan of clichéd, folksy colloquialisms- I am inclined to look back at previous console generations including the now fading Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation 2 era. This generation has refined a central theme in the world of video gaming that started to emerge during the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo days, and that is the importance of console exclusive games. Back in 1992 we may not have had the luxury of being able to slowly fritter away the few decades we have on the planet by arguing on virtual message boards about why Samus could once and for all rid Raccoon city of their zombie problem, but we did know if we were Sonic people or Mario people. Today gamers know if they prefer assuming the identity of a kid who carries around a sword dressed as a green elf trying to save the same girl for the trillionth time, if they like to dress up in green armor and ride around in buggies under a large semi circle killing aliens, or if they want to walk down fictional counterparts of New York, Miami, and Los Angels putting bullets into cops heads. Most video gamers know which franchise they adore; not like, not enjoy, but without hesitation must own. Be it the aforementioned Zelda, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto series, the average gamer knows that certain systems will be the exclusive home to these titles, or at least be the exclusive home for a few years, and most will make their console purchases accordingly. Sure the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat had blood and everyone knows that Street Fighter II Turbo for SNES was way better than the generic Street Fighter II Championship Edition, and yet I am sure very few people made the decision of buying either system based solely on the quality of multi-platform games. Rather, it was the exclusive titles that made you grab your six button controller or flick that tiny purple power bar on. Now sure their were exclusive titles before the Genesis or the Super Nintendo but that particular console war was the true beginning of real company loyalty amongst gamers and the polarizing climate that made a game released for either system a direct lob at their opponent . What with the brash, load, voice screaming out SEGA! at the end of every Sonic commercial or a man in a Mario suit whacking a blue hedgehog with a plunger the scene was being set for what started to progress soon their after like a Playstation being thrown off a building…somehow proving that the Sega Saturn is a better console (although in its defense the Sega Saturn can levitate in the air for sometime) or Crash Bandicoot outside of both Nintendo and Sega office building with a bullhorn. Companies were beginning to rationalize that to yield the highest profit to be had; a video game console had to compete against their rival tit for tat. Each system must have the same game released for it, or at least a similar version of the same game along with in-house, first and second party content. This structure of cross platform gaming, along with first party titles has remained in use today.

    • urbanstar

      Urban Meanderings–Consoles Competition 2

      9 years ago

      So the fundamental question is why, if most gamers do know that certain companies cater to their particular gaming needs best, do we as gamers, along with the video game industry, continue to pit home consoles against each other. To me the quandary with the “console wars†apparatus is the fact that despite each company having certain exclusive titles that truly sell their consoles, the exclusive games themselves vary to such degrees that comparison seems more like an endeavor in trying to vindicating the philosophies of free market competition rather than what would actually benefit the video gaming world. Meaning that I feel that to a certain degree the console wars exist for the sake of existing. Grand Theft Auto sells Sony’s video game systems be it the Playstation 2 or the PSP just as Zelda sells Nintendo systems be it the Gamecube or the Gameboy Advance, but besides both being video games, and world renowned franchise at that, they are nothing alike. In reality the Nintendo Revolution and the Xbox 360 have one basic thing in common, the ability to play games; that’s it. Both of these consoles engage and have the player interact with content differently. This fact is at the heart of why I think that having consoles compete with each other doesn’t stand to reason. To elucidate this point lets take a recent game like Tony Hawks American Wasteland for a home console and compare it to Tony Hawks American Sk8land for the Nintendo DS; while they are both in essence the same game (barring the more kid friendly title for the DS) the way in which you play the games is slightly different. The DS version is obviously scaled down and optimized for the hardware that it runs on and to allow for a more appropriate version that lends itself to portable play. Now most gamers know not to compare a portable system to a home console, and why is that? Because most gamers know that the platforms are different and the games released for them are intended to conform to the limitations of each system’s parameters which ultimately leads to different ways of playing a game. The way that one interacts and plays games differs on a portable system in comparison to a home console, common knowledge, and yet to extend that basic understanding to home consoles seems impossible for most to understand.

      The difficulty of having gamers realize that consoles don’t have to compete is due largely to video game companies wanting competition among their products. Through competition a company has the ability to compete with another console and, if everything aligns, can knock off another console thusly opening up the ability to rake in more money into their coffers. We have all seen consoles fall by the wayside and it is usually sad, especially if you invested hundreds in purchasing the console and games; the common rationalization is that the console failed to meet what gamers wanted or could not compete against a more solid competitor. Realistically, however, there is no reason that many consoles cannot coexist but the way the market is set up, for sole dominance, it won’t allow such a thing to occur. I like to think of cars as a great parallel between video games; like video games there are many different varieties and makers, and they all manage to serve the same basic service, getting from one place to another, but do it in many different ways; much like there are many different video game makers but they all serve one purpose to entertain, but do so through different genres. Some people need a mini van because the lifestyle they lead demands a sturdy vehicle with lots of storage capacity and the ability to load numerous occupants others however want a flashy, fast car that makes a loud aesthetic statement while dripping style hence why some drive Ferraris. Now lets transpose the mini van and Ferrari into the world of video games, the Ferrari driver would be making fun of the mini van drive and the mini van drive would be looking down on the Ferrari driver neither paying any mind to the fact that each owns the car they have because of personal preference. But in the video game world what your gaming preferences are take a back seat to why your gaming preferences are better than others. So we are left with the environment we have now, endless bashing, name calling and a general undercurrent of unfounded resentment for other consoles and those who play them absent of any consideration as to why gamers choose what they choose and respecting the difference that exist between systems.

    • urbanstar

      Urban Meanderings–Consoles Competition 3

      9 years ago

      So through fierce competition amongst systems video gamers are actually left with fewer choices rather than more. Due to the need to be dominant companies must create homogeneous, generic games that ape the style of the most popular titles to try to maximize their market share. The causality of this is generally originality and innovation. The one argument that is always made as to why competition is good is because it forces innovation and furthers creativity, and yet I have found that console competition has stifled not help nourish true gaming breakthroughs. Sure every generation we get better light processing technology and new media management capabilities but nothing that really pushes gaming to the left, or take it to a plateaus that no one ever though of. This is caused by the daunting nature of creating a system that cannot easily compete with other consoles in playing multiformat games or causing a gradation in the traditional mores of what a gaming system must be. After all, if you create some wacky system that does not conform to what your competition is doing your more likely to be left out in the dust. On the rare occasion that a company does decided to take a risk it is usually fueled not by the need to be the dominant console but rather to survive as a company. The Revolution is a fairly innovative machine that does not conform to convention however Nintendo has decided to explore the use of ones movement to control game play rather than merely pressing buttons on a pad not because of competition but because they have lost their position as an industry leader and now must try to expand their audience. On the surface this seems like Nintendo tried to compete, lost, and is now trying something new which in turn leads credence to the belief that competition did lead to innovation, however it is more plausible that Nintendo needed to innovate not to compete against other consoles, rather they had to innovate to cater to new audiences who are not already loyal to one company or another. It is more a rejection of the current competition and a way of seeking those who are not already locked into one company. Because of their decision to use a new method in which players interface with a game they will most likely be left out of most multiplatform games because of the need to reprogram and specially configure most games that run on other consoles to run on theirs’. So by innovating they are more or less likely furthering their downward position in the console wars, however, they are, theoretically, enlarging their user base by drawing in those who normally have not played games. Even in gamers minds the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are viewed to be more on par with each other and the Revolution as something…else. Where companies not beholden to the constraints of competition their would be a willingness to take more risks because the fear of alienation of certain gamers would not shake their goals of being the alpha system.

      To further the analysis of why companies would like to continue the console wars it should be noted that third party developers are able to subsidize the ever growing costs of a game by releasing them on every console imaginable to recoup the principle investment. At a time when the cost of producing a game is rivaling that of major motion pictures it makes finical sense to have as many consoles as possible available to release your product on, and the logic that is used is that the console wars provide an avenue for a game to be released on many different consoles with a minimal cost associated with porting them. The cost to the gamer however is one less original title to play.

      I have used the Nintendo Revolution as an example but the Playstaion 3, what little is know of it, and the Xbox 360 are also fairly different from one another. The Xbox 360, much like the original Xbox, puts great focus upon community, creating a microcosm of gamers who can talk, share scores, and play against one another. Microsoft’s console is about connection, and the technical aspects of the system while impressive are a bit secondary to the furthering of Xbox live integration into all 360 games and functions. Where as the Playstation 3, so far, is looking to be a graphical monster that puts its focus on providing a gaming experience that is visually unlike anything seen before. Each system wants to do things differently and yet they must compete against one another as though they were the same. To go back to cars, a Formula 1 racer against another Formula 1 racer is fine, but a Formula 1 racer against a NASCAR isn’t exactly apples to apples.

    • urbanstar

      Urban Meanderings–Consoles Competition 4

      9 years ago

      The console wars have also neutered the growth of who makes up the gaming community. Young males are the largest buyers of video games and creators of games therefore most games are made to cater to their tastes. Now one question that is often not asked is why are young males the largest demographic of gamer players; is for some reason the act of playing a video game intrinsically connected to testosterone, or is their a correlation between the Y chromosome and a start button. To pin the lopsided gender gap upon console wars is not entirely accurate, however the aforementioned lack of variety that is a direct out growth of the war is a large contributing factor to why girls are as rare in the gaming world as a mint condition copy of Rez for the Dreamcast.

      To be fair one can look at the PC gaming world to see that despite their being no war between competing systems the variety of games and the demographic of game players mirrors quite closely that of the home console world. I think that this is due in large part to the larger PC world but that is a analysis for another day. In addition one cannot ignore great, original titles that do come out and are successful like Katmari Damacy but those are the exception to the rules not the norm. I guess the counterpoints to my entire writ up is essentially that the video game world is a reflection of what gamers want, but one must question how much of what gamers want is being shaped by the gaming industry itself. Moreover there are certain gamers, myself included, who own all the systems they can and love Mario as much as Sonic, and have a place for the revolution along side their newly purchased 360’s, next to a open space for their PS3s’. I would also be remised if I gave the perception that I view video gamers to be close minded tools that eat up what ever drivel a company shuffles at them, no, most gamers are level headed and not fanboys; just as with any generalization of a particular group it does not apply to all. (So in short this paragraph renders everything I have said before it pointless :)

      A sometimes civil but more often vitriolic gaming community, a stagnation of variety, creativity, and innovation and the creation of a homogenous gaming population are some of the attributes that the console wars have given us. I must state however that economically, and realistically, it is difficult to provide a plausible alternative to our current environment. Companies like the profit, gamers love to be loyal and overall for whatever ills the console wars have brought it is never dull to watch the fighting. So now it is time to play the best system ever created in the history of gaming…the one that you enjoy the most.-urbanstar

    • urbanstar

      2015 years ago

    • urbanstar

      2015 years ago

  • About Me

    I am 14 years old. My proudest moments are playing a key role in drafting the Treaty of Versailles and being 2nd key background artist on “A Bug’s Life†for the Gameboy Color. I have served in both the Taft and Buchanan administrations and was head of communications for the McGovern presidential campaign. I have a tattoo of Louis Farrakhan on my lower left bicep and a large tat of Abigail Adams on my chest. I like video games; not enough to marry them, but enough to have a casual friendship with moments of lustful awkwardness.

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  • Comments (9)

    • gameboi

      gameboi

      8 years ago

      Glad to see that you are still around. Aweful quiet though....

    • gameboi

      gameboi

      8 years ago

      Just checking in to see how your doing. Haven't heard from you in a while....

    • gameboi

      gameboi

      9 years ago

      *chuckles* I see your well versed for a 14 year old. Nobody will ever pin you down smiley0.gif

    • Beenova

      Beenova

      9 years ago

      Good to see you around old friend! It's been a long time! Hope you've been well.

    • Jabroni

      Jabroni

      9 years ago

      Hey there urban... what is happening? Why no pics of yourself? you shy? heh... wellhave a good one, don't be too shy...

    • MarkJFerreri

      MarkJFerreri

      9 years ago

      Hey, ol' timer, what's up?

      I'm very embarrased about how the Amazon board went bad. I don't know what i could have done to repair it. We aquired a cancer that kept going until the board is now on it's last breathy. I haven't deserted Amazon.com, but it's dying. I feel like I owe you, Porter, Sci, and many others an apology. I'm sorry.

      Acccept my 'friends' invitation!

      I hope that we can get back together in sharing knowledge and debating opinions at this board also. It, too, can be a fun place.

      Oh, and here, you can finally see what I look like.

      Mark.........................................................................................................

    • gameboi

      gameboi

      9 years ago

      Glad to have a legend join us.. You'll find Mark, Dark, Tex, and a few others on my friends list, if your interested.

    • urbanstar

      urbanstar

      9 years ago

      yeah, its me gameboi

    • gameboi

      gameboi

      9 years ago

      Urbanstar from Amazon.com message boards?

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