Gamer column: For love of the game

BY TYLER LYON | AUGUST 25, 2009 7:05 AM

DI Arts reporter Tyler Lyon knows all the latest video-game tips, tricks, and releases, and if you know the right key combination, he might just unlock his secrets for you.

My dad said it best after he heard my uncle describe the Wii Fit he got for his family: “They would find a replacement for oil if they spent as much time as they do researching entertainment.”

I thought about the comment and realized how much digital entertainment, particularly video games, are a now part of our daily lives — especially compared with my childhood.

Unlike my peers, I didn’t spend afternoons or weekends searching for warp zones in Super Mario World, and I never did play through Goldeneye as Oddjob. The only console I had was a Game Boy, which my parents allowed because we traveled a lot (and my mom loved Tetris). And while I was kept up to date with every model of the handheld through the Color model, it wasn’t until I was 14 that I finally got an Xbox (which I had to win from Taco Bell).

This lack of experience made home consoles my own holy grail — the unattainable. I spent a large portion of my time reading about games I would never play, first in the local library’s subscription to Nintendo Power. As I got older, this interest led to a similar curiosity in the business and marketing as well as the games.

( Daily Iowan video feature )

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While the market used to consist of a divide between gamers and everyone else, it has now broken down into “casual,” “hard-core,” and “everyone else” (the latter is progressively smaller every day). Graphics aren’t as important as they used to be; it’s now all about the experience.

While I’m not one to fight change (I switched to Vista), I have yet to fully embrace casual gaming.

There is no depth to the majority of games, a requirement to keep my interest. I will always choose Madden on the Xbox 360 rather than a Wii because it’s the type of playing on which my friends and I grew up — the four-face button controller is more “casual” than swinging a nunchuk will ever be.

Ultimately, whether something can be deemed as casual or not is relative to the size of the learning gap. Both Microsoft and Sony have their own motion-sensing devices on the way, and, hopefully, they will be able to do more with it than Nintendo has done so far.

But regardless of how the games are actually played, I know I’ll be there — as long as there’s an alien to blow up or a Koopa to stomp.

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