Everybody wants instant gratification, don’t they? After all, if it only takes the drag of a thumb to update your variety of social networks then it would be foolish to simply relax. Dare to enjoy the moment and within minutes you’re left behind, out of date with the breaking news stories that millions of others have digested and are already deliberating. We are encouraged to maintain a constant connection without regarding its effects on not only the way we live, but also play videogames.
I think Facebook and Twitter are fantastic inventions; they allow for discussion with people you have never met while acting as an invaluable source of news, opinions, and references. Twitter is my Premier League goal-ticker on Saturday, and my videogaming discussion centre throughout the week. It’s this adaptability that draws its 465 million users back time after time, and is why the service is integral to many morning and bedtime routines.[drop] To combat this connectivity, print is looking to adapt to the speed at which we approach and absorb content. i, produced by The Independent, thrives on providing a concise national newspaper for twenty pence, and it’s circulation (423,000, September 2011) suggests that consumers have welcomed it into their lives. It conserves the print format and only uses it for what’s necessary, ensuring that there is still space for a daily newspaper in our smart-phone addled lives.
Virgin Media have also recognised our increased need for speed by recently announcing that it will be boosting its top broadband package to 120Mb, and doubling the speeds of over four million customers. The former allows a music album to be downloaded in approximately 4.4 seconds, and a high-definition movie in roughly five minutes.
Waiting – the definition of which has seemingly been forgotten – is no longer acceptable outside of public services, so what does this instantaneity mean for our videogaming habits?
We have witnessed the growth of Apple in the portable gaming sector, and apps such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope suit our evolving society much more fittingly than titles such as Skyrim, which demand hours to achieve completion. However, the dragon-slaying RPG shifted 3.4 million units within two days, suggesting that we still have the ability to devote ourselves to an experience that may not be able to provide the satisfaction of a finale for weeks.
It’s difficult to see that being the case forever, though. The combination of modern life and instant gratification asks the infamous question; what came first? Our need for small shots of satisfaction could be a result of our busy lives, meaning that we naturally invest our spare time in things that take minimal effort but exude maximum gain. Alternatively, we may have become so fearful of being left behind by the Internet that our mindsets don’t allow us time to relax.
Only a crystal ball is able to pour some light over the future of videogames and how they will continue to meet the ever-increasing demands of the modern consumer. Smaller titles, like smartphone games, need minutes for a close to continuous reward, whereas full retail titles need hours for the profit of a climax, and this fundamental logic has the potential to change the way in which studios approach development.[drop2]Hopefully we’ll see that there is no harm in disconnecting and being left behind if it enables us to relax. Videogames thrive on immersion and if you are tweeting throughout playing them you’re not allowing yourself to be whisked away into a fantastical world where anything is possible. The same can be said for all forms of social networking; our perceived need to maintain an online presence is having a detrimental effect on our videogaming experiences.
Have you checked a social network since you began reading this? If you answer positively then you have proved my point. We are becoming unable to live without something new, whether it is in the form of a Tweet, Facebook status, or purchase. We complain when we are sold short games, but it could be the way forward to ensure the survival of the studios that make them.
We don’t need to subject ourselves to an onslaught of immediate content to satisfy ourselves. By switching off and devoting our time to a singular entertainment form – without the so often stressful distractions of modern life – we are enhancing the time we spend in front of our consoles. They may not provide the instant gratification that we have become accustomed to, but reach the final credits immersed, and you’ll begin to question the satisfaction that you gained from tweeting in the first place.