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View Poll Results: Why do you play Sci-fi games?
I like all sci-fi; games, books and films 3 20.00%
I prefer games with a sci-fi setting, but it's not vital 4 26.67%
If the game is good, I play it. I don't care if it is sci-fi or not 8 53.33%
I don't play games 0 0%
Voters: 15. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 3rd February 2012, 05:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Why do you play Sci-fi games?

As suggested by TheTomG in another thread, I'm doing a poll on why people play sci-fi games (or don't).

I've also put the same poll up on another sci-fi forum and two gaming forums to see how the results differ. Hopefully I can share some of the responses from each

For me, a sci-fi setting is a bonus, or often the thing that first grabs my interest in a game. I'll naturally gravitate towards screenshots of nebula-infused starfields and laserbeams streaking through the void, but more important as to whether I end up playing it is the quality of the game (the strength & execution of the storytelling and/or the game mechanics).

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Originally Posted by TheTomG View Post
I can easily see that those in love with SFF and SF novels may find games too restrictive, seeing things brought to life in such detail with little room for imagination, or finding a lack of emotional depth, etc.
Not wanting to colour the debate, but I'm really keen for anyone who can expand on this point made by TheTomG, as this seems to run counter to the commonly held view amongst game developers that games are a richer medium because they can give the player the freedom to make a moral choice and live with the consequences, and even go back and make the other choice
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Old 3rd February 2012, 05:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

I actually tend not to play Sci-Fi games; or at least, not space age games. I go for fantasy settings. Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, the Elder Scrolls series, Dragon Age, that sort of thing.


The last Sci Fi game I played, under guise of space age, was the first Starcraft, something I'm not even able to install on a computer anymore.
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Old 3rd February 2012, 11:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

Interesting, this one made me stop and think now it's a poll. I had thought I don't play many SF games, but on weighing up, I guess I do. I like my fantasy games more, but when I count up the games I've played, far more end up being SF than Fantasy after all.

So while I don't go out looking for SF games, I have to in truth say that I prefer them after all, based on my actual purchases.

We do become an active participant in a world rather than passive observer, but the world is pretty well dictated for us. When I read Lord of the Rings, I had my own idea of Rivendell, and this gets lost when it becomes a movie or game and someone tells me what it looks like.

And my moral choices are the ones laid out in advance by the developers of course. Does this illusion of freedom prove more irritating than a novel where there is no such illusion? Does having the world created for you restrict imagination more than when you read a book (when there may be all sorts of "if that was me, I would do this..." or where we imagine our own character in the world we're reading.)

Dunno Myself I love emergent properties, things that were never planned or scripted and just emerge from out of the game universe. We're just getting to that point I think - an example for me was Red Dead Redemption (see, not all games I play are SF!) and I was skinning an animal, camera of course pans down to play out the skinning action of my character. There happened to be an amazing sunset going on behind me, and exactly at that moment, a tumbleweed blew past the camera.

It was very cinematic, and best of all, it was not planned. The tumbleweed was just following the rules of the universe it inhabits and it was pure chance that it happened to blow past just so at that point in time.

Call me crazy, but I like that sort of thing - and the bigger those emergent events get, the more interested I will be in games. One example was the Corrupted Blood "infection" that spread throughout World of Warcraft, something unforeseen arose out of the rules of the game world.

Once games are rich enough that those things start to happen on large and small scales, affecting behaviors of in game characters, maybe even affecting buildings or towns or countries, then things will be very exciting! I had hopes for things like Spore to bring that about, but never even got close.

Ooops I'm rambling... ok stopping now and going to vote!
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Old 6th February 2012, 07:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTomG View Post
We do become an active participant in a world rather than passive observer, but the world is pretty well dictated for us. When I read Lord of the Rings, I had my own idea of Rivendell, and this gets lost when it becomes a movie or game and someone tells me what it looks like.

And my moral choices are the ones laid out in advance by the developers of course. Does this illusion of freedom prove more irritating than a novel where there is no such illusion? Does having the world created for you restrict imagination more than when you read a book (when there may be all sorts of "if that was me, I would do this..." or where we imagine our own character in the world we're reading.)
Depending on how the world is first presented to you, there will always be gaps for your imagination to fill in. If you saw the LOTR films first, you probably wouldn't spend time imagining middle earth scenery, but rather the characters and events that take place off screen or before/after the films are set.

Maybe games are advertised as giving the player a real choice to affect the outcome of the game or the world around them, when actually they haven't developed far enough yet to give more than superficial either/or choices
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Old 11th February 2012, 05:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

Update: Here are the results from the other forums as promised:



Surprisingly for me, you guys rated 'a good game' well above preference for the genre, especially compared to the other 'gamers' forums
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Old 1st May 2012, 05:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

I am just interesting in playing good games which entertain me just...Not Interested rather it is or sci-fi game or any another.........
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Old 1st May 2012, 05:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Why do you play Sci-fi games?

I think the genre of the gameplay (role-playing, strategy, first person shooter, puzzle, tower defense, etc) matters a lot more than the genre of the setting. For most gamers I know, most purchases are within a narrow game-genre focus, and they'll occasionally step outside it for truly great games that transcend genre - the Portal games come to mind, for example. However, I don't know anybody that plays, say, Mass Effect games but not Elder Scrolls games because of setting.

As for the moral choice issue, there traditionally isn't one as far as most gamers I know are concerned. I had a discussion yesterday with a friend where we were discussing choice within video game narratives, and we both acknowledged that we tend to look up online the in-game results of the choices to determine the 'optimum' path we want to follow, either because of an arbitrary point-alignment system, or to keep a character alive/achieve a certain ending, or to receive a tangible benefit down the road. In that context, narrative choices become only marginally different from skill or item choices, since utility is usually the determining factor.

What matters most to me is a sense of character advancement and development in a tangible, substantial manner. I want to look at my character and feel a sense of pride in his achievement, progression, and his power-gain. Moral choices in games are (so far) very arbitrary - a fact observed at length in Neal Stephenson's very good novel Reamde. Side-quests, skill trees, narrative choices - these are all simply varying devices that allow me to feel like I'm amassing power and making progress. The biggest reason, I think, why open-world RPG's are preferred as compared to a more linear game (final fantasy XIV-1 was heavily criticized for this) is because merely following a predetermined rail-narrow path doesn't give you nearly as much a feeling of personal accomplishment. It's going out and finding that hidden item, getting the extra character for your party, or finding a secret spell that creates real warm gamerfuzzies.

One quick disclaimer - all my comments center around RPG-influenced games, from MMO's to action-RPG's to traditional console RPG's. World of Warcraft, Old Republic, Skyrim, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy - those are the games I'm mainly discussing.

Finally, narrative in video games had, in my opinion, a brief and unique golden moment in Mass Effect 2. The choices you had made in previous games related to the game you were playing (inclusion of certain characters, exclusion of others, access to a few items, etc), and the decisions you were currently making had outcomes and repercussions you could not yet determine. Whether or not you chose to save the Collector Base at the end of ME2 was possibly the first video game choice over which I agonized, because I couldn't tell how it would play out in the future. The major failure of ME3, in my opinion, was in making those choices relevant.

I could speculate on the future of video game storytelling - the possibility of specifically designed episodic content where decisions impacted later content in ways you could not predict, for example. However, that is both outside the question and a topic at which I could ramble for pages. I imagine I've gone on rather too long already. The whole video game narrative topic is just too damn fascinating.
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