Are They "The Boss Of US"?

By Mr. Bill (April, 1999)
Pardon us, but we beg to disagree with those producers and developers who are telling us that we, the adventure gamers of the world, should want and buy the new "mixed genre" (adventure/action/strategy/role playing) computer games. That's like telling us we should buy a certain make of car or like a certain kind of food.

We understand that they believe this is "the future of adventure gaming", and we realize that this is the current popular consensus of opinion among them, but we feel that there are several points that these developers are neglecting to consider as they compete for a piece of the console gaming market.

Some of these points were finally addressed (and "extremely well") in a recent article "At What Price 3D?" by Cindy Yans in Computer Games Strategy Plus Magazine. The article clearly reflects the feedback that we also constantly receive from adventure gamers worldwide: i.e., that there are many, many gamers out there (us included) who simply DON'T LIKE "action" in their games or having to run around shooting things (it makes us nervous), are not enamoured with the current blocky look of 3D graphics, don't like using the keyboard to navigate (and are not necessarily interested in a joystick), and their idea of a relaxing thing to do after a stressful day at work is NOT playing an equally stressful game. They do not enjoy "testing their reflexes", and have never been particularly interested in the strategy and/or role-playing games, especially the combat aspects. What they DO enjoy is a game that challenges their intellect, is a break from the daily stress of the "real world", makes them feel better about themselves, and hopefully also educates and/or enlightens them about something along the way (and/or enthralls them with a good story). These are the "adventure gamers" that have been buying adventure games since the days of Infocom and, contrary to the prevailing opinion among publishers and developers, there are still millions of us worldwide.

Since we have a website devoted to adventure gaming entitled Mr. Bill's Adventureland we know, from constant feedback, that many, many people are absolutely desperate to find non-gory, non-violent, non-"action" adventure games that DON'T insult their intelligence and/or are something that they feel comfortable buying for their children and grandchildren. And, as a result of the dearth of such games in the U.S. marketplace recently, most of them are being forced to go back to the older games or to try to order recent ones from those European companies who are still producing true adventure games.

However these points address only the current situation for the millions of EXISTING adventure gamers. But the MOST IMPORTANT POINT that we feel that producers and developers are missing, in their rush to produce 3D action/adventure games, is one about the TRUE FUTURE OF GAMING, and is staring any intelligent observer in the face. A light perusal of any predictive demographics is quick to point out that the age of the general population is rapidly changing and that, within the next 5 years, there will be more retired baby boomers than there are young people. These are people who DID NOT grow up on the action of console gaming and so have no great love for it. But these are ALL people who DO love computers (they've been using them for years at work) and who will suddenly be sitting there with time on their hands and LOADS of discretionary income to spend. Even AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) is beginning to see what's happening, having just recently completed a survey of their membership (most of whom are far older than the baby boomers) and found that 90% of them like and use computers and the internet (more so each day).

All of this reminds us of something that happened several years ago: Recreational Vehicles were a relatively small market, being built for and promoted to young families with children for camping, until it suddenly occurred to some bright person that all the free time and discretionary income belonged to the retiree. So they changed their marketing focus to the older person and a giant profitable industry was born. SURELY there is SOME publisher out there with the same foresight.

Copyright © Mr. Bill 1999. All rights reserved.