I have a feeling the video game industry is about to post some of their biggest success stories yet, with "Modern Warfare" and "Skyrim" launching this week and with a new "Assassin's Creed" just around the corner, hot on the heels of the launch of "Arkham City." The money being made by some of these A-list titles is incredible, and in some cases, Hollywood's got to feel a little jealous of the action.
As these experiences get slicker, it's apparent that they're not competing directly with Hollywood as narratives, but instead are offering something much more visceral in the idea of the interactive experience. When I think back on my favorite gaming memories from the last decade or so, it's no longer like the game memories I have from when I was a kid. Today, there's an eerie virtual reality quality to high end videogames that I think starts to get a little scary in terms of the kinds of release people are being offered. I remember great gaming moments as actual experiences, with a tactile quality that is very different than the passive act of watching a movie.
On Friday, Ubisoft made an unusual move this week out of fear of piracy. They were told that they could expect a leak of a certain sizzle reel, and they decided to take the initiative to release the footage instead, as well as a major press release announcing "Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots," in which your military team is pitted against American fundamentalist terrorists.
Cool, right? I've enjoyed a couple of the "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six" titles so far, and I think a military style first-person shooter set in Las Vegas is still one of the great gaming ideas in recent memory. This is a series I trust to deliver a certain kind of experience. I was eager to check this out, but I was a little surprised by just how grim the footage is.
In this sequence, you actually find yourself in the shoes of a suicide bomber for part of the gameplay, and this is one of those moments where it feels like a game designer is consciously using the unique nature of game play to challenge the player on a moral level. I think the more we do this, the more exciting gaming becomes. And considering this is early footage and just a hint of where they're going with this title, this is promising stuff.
And, yes, it happened while I was on vacation, but I was plenty excited by this trailer as well…
… which sort of throws the entire idea of considered moral choice as entertainment out the window, doesn't it?
As thrilling as it is to be a gamer right now, it must be exponentially more thrilling to actually be making the games, helping to define the medium.