Mainstream gaming: regression or evolution?

Having treaded in online gaming communities for much of my young life, I know there exists a certain innate contempt for what is commonly deemed the “mainstream gamer.” Such an individual tends not only to be less engaged in the culture that surrounds gaming, but also eschews the traditional genres for more formulaic fare – best typified by the sports genre and the first-person shooter.

It lately occurred to me, most recently when I found myself putting off work to indulge in the demo for NHL 11, the latest hockey game du jour on the Xbox 360,that I had lately regressed in certain key areas into something very much resembling the reviled “mainstream gamer.” What would my fifteen year old doppelganger think of me, with a paltry four video game purchases this year, two of which are sports game that consume the majority of my gaming time?

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized what was happening was less a regression into lower forms of gaming and more an evolution both in the micro and macro level. What has happened is that games like NHL 11 take the love I’ve always had for hockey going back to Ice Hockey on the NES, and infused it with a flavor injection from other genres that captivated me growing up: the role-playing game and the team-based multiplayer game.

Why would I play Final Fantasy XIII, a new multiplayer simulation, and a sports game separately when I can play a game that tickles my urge for stats-based character building, camaraderie with fellow players over the Internet, and lets me indulge in the on-ice fantasies that I was never able to have as a kid with a heart problem?

It’s a no-brainer. That EA has neutralized my need to purchase more of their games in the process is really just gravy.

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