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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    People still buy, play boring games


    Think about your favorite video game, then think about why you love it. It’s probably chock full of exciting gameplay, awesome graphics and an engaging story. Now think of the game you play most often. It’s probably boring as shit.

    Didn’t realize it, huh? The truth is that a surprising amount of video games are specifically designed to be boring.

    Look at most gaming apps for mobile devices and there’s one common trend: None of them are exciting.

    Sure, developers don’t have a lot of leeway to design super exciting games for a phone, especially if they don’t want to charge an obscene amount of money no one would pay. But that isn’t what’s driving them, because people are happy to play really boring games. Take a look at the newest installation of the Angry Birds series, “Angry Birds Space,” which reached 10 million downloads in less than three days, according to the game’s Twitter account.

    To be frank, while “Angry Birds Space” has some differences from the original, the fundamentals are the same — and anyone who’s played any Angry Birds game can attest to the fact that you do pretty much the same damn thing over and over again. Despite this, I bought it the day it came out. Why? Sometimes it’s just nice to be bored.

    Not a good enough example? Fine. Think about how often you’ve played Solitaire, Minesweeper, or another of the free games preloaded onto every computer. Sure, they’re free, but they also are unproductive. They’re fun in a mindless way, but they still don’t serve a useful purpose.

    All of those too simple for a real comparison? OK, look at any Pokémon video game. They’re relatively fun at first, catching, evolving and breeding all the different Pokémon, but eventually there’s nothing left to do besides run through the Elite Four until either someone has an aneurysm or all of your Pokémon are level 100. But people still play these games repeatedly.

    Want more complexity? Take any game with a good story and replay it within a year of having beaten it. If the option exists, there’s a good chance most of the dialogue will get skipped in favor of getting straight to the action. But that’s predictable because it’s familiar. Then it’s just about crushing the game on the same difficulty or kicking it up a notch. Challenging, like the other games, but still boring.

    The essence of video games is creating something entertaining, but also playable with little thought. That minimalistic principle is at the heart of most games. Games don’t have to be engaging, they just have to be something a person can lose themselves in.

    Sometimes people just want to zone out and do something mindless. That’s where Solitaire, or those gaming apps, or replaying video games but skipping half the content comes in. It’s just a matter of being comforted in the ease of playing.

    Yes, many hardcore gamers demand more from their games, but most people aren’t hardcore gamers at all. They’re people with an iPhone or an Android who just want something to do in class instead of listening to a lecture. They’re adults who don’t have the time to learn to play anything more complex. They’re kids just learning the concept of what a video game is.

    Most video games these days are boring on purpose, and you pay for them — sometimes a decent amount of money — with a smile on your face. Or you would smile if the games weren’t busy distracting you with how boring they are.

    — Jason Krell is the assistant copy chief. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatArts .

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