I predict the first thing many gamers will tell you if you are interested in gaming is, “You should play the classics first, like Super Mario Bros.”. There is merit in this recommendation, the classics have a simple interface and rule-set. However…have you played Super Mario Bros…lately? Let’s make a list, shall we?
For the novice, a classic game like Super Mario Bros.(SMB) may be:
- Very difficult. In order to increase the play-value games, designers often created them with a high level of difficulty that rewards the skilled (a leftover from the arcade days) and those with the patience to master them.
- Uninteresting: The storyline in SMB lacks narrative and character depth. If story is important, there’s not much there.
- Graphics and Sound: This may be a matter of preference. Many new indie and browser games are not graphic intense, but the look of SMB may turn novices off.
- Lonely: Some games were two-player like SMB. Some were fun to watch with friends. However, many games like Legend of Zelda and Metroid were strictly for one person.
- NO SAVE: Even if you skip levels using the “warp zones” in SMB, you have to complete the game in one attempt; if you lose all your lives, you have to start over.
- Potentially expensive. Unless you are willing to use emulation, a virtual console, or flash versions, you will have to pay for an old console and the separate games. Some of these may be collectors’ items.
In part one I covered the practical basics of what to consider before getting into gaming. Now I get into the parts that deal with gender, genre and preference.
NOTE: In the interest of dispelling any notions of stereotyping and complaints of sexism, I’m taking gender into consideration because it is a real part of the decision-making process. Individual tastes may differ regardless of gender. When I write “gender”, I write of gender identity.
Gender (are you tired of reading that word yet?)
According the Nielson Research Co., a large amount of PC gamers are women. Many females gravitate towards Massive-Multiplayer Role Playing Games or MMORPGs. They often do so because of the large amount of social interaction and narrative-rich environments. Many men play MMORPGs also, but if you are female, this may be a great first stop for you. Although settings slightly differ, most of them take place within a fantasy world (although some are based in Science Fiction).
My wife’s favorite part of any Fantasy Role-Playing Game is the character creation. Character creation hearkens back to pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. Many MMORPGs require you to create a character with a unique name and attributes. Character attributes describe how strong or weak someone is in a particular area (e.g., Physical Strength, Intelligence and Dexterity) Often, these attributes are based on the selection of a particular race e.g. Dwarves and Elves (Ever see Lord of the Rings?); the player’s attributes are also based on a selected class (a type of vocation) that develops over time and experience. These classes vary from game-to-game, but they share some similarities. Some of these classes may include:
- Fighters: Specialized in mêlée combat; skilled in the use of arms and armor. Usually physically strong but weak with magic use.
- Wizards/Mages: Poor skills in martial combat, but excellent with using magic spells to attack.
- Priests/Clerics: Often the healers of a group of adventurers, they also may cast defensive spells.
- Rogues/Thieves: Often relying on their stealth and dexterity to stay safe, they often can set off traps and pick locks.
Experience and in-game money is earned by completing errands or going into battle. Many missions can be completed alone. However, as time and difficulty increases, you may have to join a “party” of players to accomplish a particular goal. Often guilds (specific groups) form out of players that hail from different parts of the country. Virtual friendships can rise out of cooperating with others. This is one of the most appealing aspects of playing an MMORPG. Often, experienced players will help out a newbie (n00b) find their footing if they’re polite enough.
The cost of MMORPGs may include the initial purchase of the game and a monthly subscription to stay in the game. Right now, this may apply only to the wildly successful World of Warcraft (WoW). There are many alternatives that are Free-to-Play (F2P) that offer similar experiences. The F2P model is based on micro-transactions. The basic game is free to download and play. However, premium content (further customization, more items/weapons/armor) and more access to areas will cost money. Many of them are high-profile and former subscription-based games that have found success on the F2P model.
- Lord of the Rings Online
- Dungeons & Dragons Online
- Star Trek
- Star Wars: the Old Republic (Free-to-Play coming soon, but you can start now up to a certain level)
The wonderful aspect of playing one of these games is that you get to play a part in universes that been part of popular culture for several decades. No, you don’t get to play as Gandalf, Capt. Kirk, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Though, it’s far more exciting and satisfying to carve out your own story in these exciting worlds. It’s also a great opportunity to play with others who share the same interest.
I believe that this part two will need a second part.