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So why do I bother?

January 2nd, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

The thing with gaming blogs is that there is always more criticism than joy. This is probably inherent in the form itself. Blogs are very personal and driven by a small number of motivations. It is easier to make a gripe interesting than a celebration. Plus, criticism more easily provokes discussion than praise.

Bruce Geryk has posted a couple of interesting posts on the limits of strategy games in the last couple of weeks. He has written that strategy games aren’t really able to create new and original worlds. He has also written that strategy games are generally poor tools for education. Considering that these are counter-intuitive for the great mass of strategy gamers out there, it could be seen as undercutting the Positives of Gaming camp that seeks to defend a media form that probably doesn’t need all that much defending.

I agree with much of what Bruce says in his posts. I quibble with his argument on the inability of games to communicate new geographies (milieus de novo he calls them in all his academic splendor), but his case is well reasoned and eminently defensible if not precisely correct. I’ve been making the same education argument he does for some time now. But in spite of these limitations, strategy games remain my genre of choice with only sports management games competing, and it’s not a close competition.

So here is a celebration of what strategy games do for me.

1) FPS and RPG games let me be a hero, but strategy games let me be a god.
2) Even if they fail to truly educate, strategy games allow me to appreciate what I know on a deeper level.
3) Random maps – there really is no comparison in any other genre to the thrill of pushing back a black shroud and finding something new every time you play.
4) Replayability and setup options means that a single strategy game can satisfy me much longer than a game with a beginning or end.
5) In RPGs, evil means insulting a merchant, usually with little cost. In strategy games, evil is a way of moving your country further ahead faster – and there is almost always a cost.
6) Every multiplayer game is different since so many players have different play styles. Admittedly, this is less true at the highest level of MP RTS competition, but I’m not good enough to play at that level.

There are probably more.

As time goes on, I will return to my regular bitching about clumsy interfaces, stupid patches and Cossacks. But for today, I will revel in my good fortune at the range of strategy games available to me.


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