At certain times I am struck by how my experience of entertainment and media has changed. This applies to both my physical engagement – my mode of consumption, and the product itself. If I look back over the last few years it is quite clear how pointless my cable subscription has become.
I wouldn’t say I am watching less TV, but that I have finally rejected any concept of scheduled watching and now watch at the time and in the place of my choosing.
The delivery device varies. It could be on my TV in my sitting room, it could be on a laptop in front of the fire; it makes little difference to my overall viewing pleasure.
Although I probably still watch a similar amount I can notice a difference in relation to the type of programme I watch. My family and I have our preferences. Some we champion individually and some we watch together; I have introduced my daughter to Buffy and Arrow and am working my way towards the entire series of Star Trek. Oh, lucky girl.
To avoid giving the impression that my viewing covers purely US horror and sci-fi series, I have also been expanding my taste to European detective series, and have enjoyed The Killing and Hunted.
The trend that I am seeing, however, is that the act of conscious choice means that I am less likely to catch something by chance. I will happily watch things that have been recommended that do not fall into these particular categories, but I no longer sit down to watch one programme and end up watching a random documentary about salmon breeding.
So, if this narrowing of focus has happened to my TV viewing I was wondering if any kind of pattern had started to emerge out of my game playing habits. Well, there is the family fun-time, Just Dance-kind of playing that was initiated by our purchase of a Wii.
Other games also seem to be exhibiting certain tendencies; Journey, Dyad and From Dust for example. All of these games, although containing certain aspects we could call ‘game-like’, would not be described as ‘typical’ console games. Although becoming more common, these games are good examples of a trend I believe is becoming more and more popular: game playing for the shear pleasure of it.
The movement of games into a more mainstream space over the last few years, along with the massive advances in computer technology, has made games far more prevalent and more visible.
We have gamification, with aspects of game mechanics being brought into other forms with achievements, rewards and even embedding smaller, casual games within all sorts of products. If we remove these more goal-orientated aspects, we are left with the experience itself; the enjoyment of playing. I have often enjoyed games with just a hint of a goal such as Flow and Flower – being a confirmed Jenova Chen fan.
A lot of the casual games seem to be full to overflowing with game mechanics and drivers to push us towards more engagement, there are others which are moving away from this entirely.
These are games which are reducing the frantic nature of our engagement and providing a much more chilled, sensuous experience.
What I am describing is an experience of media consumption that is reflective of all the shifts that are taking place within modern media development, both technical and creative.
The devices we use to access these seem to be less relevant. As films and games move onto our phones and our consoles can be used to access television, the attention seem to be moving more towards the content and the experience. All of this before we even consider the affects of storytelling on gameplay and the influence of games on films. But that’s another story.