Wolfenstein Revelation: Oh Right, Gaming is About Fun

Sometimes we forget that video games are supposed to be fun, and that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously.
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In the midst of playing Wolfenstein: The New Order today, a thought struck me:

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“Well, holy sh**. This is the sort of fun I’ve been missing… and I didn’t even realize it.”

Yes, there are very different forms of fun, especially when it comes to this particular hobby. There’s the fun that comes from conquering an especially difficult challenge, the kind that comes from playing with others, the kind that comes from solving complex puzzles, and the kind that comes from playing a relaxing, breezy adventure. They all evoke contrasting reactions and emotions from the player.

But there’s a certain kind of fun that has fallen by the wayside in recent years, in my opinion. I found that fun again in the latest from MachineGames.

“Geez, shooting Nazis again? … Wait… this is like a blast and a half!”

At first, I was wary, making bored comments to myself, many of which besmirched the age-old concept of gunning down Nazis in a first-person shooter.  I remember saying once, “Haven’t we moved past this yet?”

The answer, which came a little later, surprised me: “Actually, yeah… but we shouldn’t have ‘moved past it.'” The reason is that this industry has really started to take itself a tad too seriously in recent years. Think about it; the arcade-style sports games have all but disappeared, leaving us only hardcore simulators; the more fantastical shooters were replaced last generation with mostly gritty, military-style shooters, and the most acclaimed titles typically dealt with very mature – and even complex – subject matter.

It got to the point where it was hip to hate anything that felt “rehashed” or the same ol’ same ol’. What we didn’t realize is that in doing this, we left behind a freewheeling form of entertainment that is exemplified in The New Order. No multiplayer, no attempts at mixing in other genres (with the exception of the ill-advised stealth segment); just good old-fashioned shoot-’em-up fun.

Seriously, what’s wrong with enjoying a tried-and-true formula once in a while?

Innovation is essential. If you don’t innovate, you stagnate and eventually die. Without new ideas, everything starts to feel stale and uninspired and as a direct result, the entertainment level falls. It’s certainly true that we’ve seen plenty of stagnation in the FPS genre and one could argue that Wolfenstein is actually a step backward. After all, it doesn’t do anything new–it utilizes a bunch of outdated stereotypes, and really, it’s mostly a brainless shooter (with a halfway decent story).

Therefore, why should we praise it? Well, because it’s fun. How about that? Even if we all admit that the game doesn’t advance the industry, shouldn’t we also admit that it’s not necessary for every single game in existence to make that forward progress? Can’t we have a few games that simply do one thing really well? Can’t we just grin and forget the troubles of daily life for a few hours?

Come on, what’s wrong with that?

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.