The other day I read an article about a new trend happening in commerce/retail - they say consumers are moving from ownership of products to non-ownership. This is interesting concept for me given my experience working in retail for many years. I found personal comfort in ownership of items and collecting special special edition games, movies, game items, and action figures and game statues, among others.
Ownership was conditioned to denote success and surrounding myself with lots of purchased items seemed to be a way to show this. This also fed into my obsessive-compulsive drive to have all my entertainment items readily accessible. The idea of success through ownership is a concept that was driven home for me as an American youth, reinforced by the strong emphasis on ads and the idea that I "need to buy" and "buy to feel good".
Starting early on the commercialism bandwagon, I found myself confusing needs vs. wants and would use "need" for anything I was purchasing even if it was not actually a "need" or "necessity". I did not learn I was doing this until I ended up going to school for psychology and my colleague pointed out that I was using "need" for everything.
Purchases also became a need for dealing with life stresses. If stress arose, I would go buy something to alleviate it, but was not aware that it had become an issue until it was pointed out that I had "stuff" and "clutter" everywhere.
Through time I applied my psychological background to my own situation and found that removing clutter was therapeutic rather then the buying of the tangible objects. The digital era made this process possible through advances in technology with streaming services, online digital markets, storage increases. Without the need for physical ownership of tangible objects such as music, games, movies and more, clearing up the clutter was made easily done.
So, simplifying is helpful and having a lot of physical objects present that are owned is not as necessary, however, the article point out the idea that maybe we do not truly own the objects we have that are purchased and present on distant company servers and other company locations we cannot access. Owning something means control over the owned object, but if we cannot fully control these purchases do we truly own them? This is also connected to other purchases in general where renting is favored over buying. With media we purchase now on the external sites and stores, it is only accessible through registration and monthly payments. Without paying the access fees, the content cannot be accessed even after its bought, so do we really own what we buy and is this a problem?
Owning is important and visualizing the objects owned helps with this on a digital arena since objects purchased can at least be seen on these sites that are owned, so maybe this allows comfort knowing these items are owned and provides more non-clutter in living and work spaces. I agree there is a trade off, but should every important items such as a living space and car be placed in the same category? Nostalgia is one part in my ownership of objects that gives me joy since I love to look back at the past, but these days it makes more sense to have a living area that is more easily live-able.
Here is the Forbes article for reference:
Today's blog is connected with a Gamasutra article I had read some time ago and a topic that was recently brought up again to myself at a gaming event that brought some good discussion and valuable points:
Single player gaming has always had a primary place in my heart, however, this was not always the case. As a kid during the late 70s and early 80s, gaming started as a social activity. This included going to public quarter-operated arcades and playing lots of couch co-op with friends when possible in the early days of Atari, Commodore 64 and Nintendo.
This continued for quite some time but it was not until my teenage years when I found single-player gaming to take on more importance.
Moving into the the angst of teenage years, I found solace in the world of the computer games and in A. I. The world, seeming so unbearable in reality, was welcoming in fantasy and so I became even more hooked. The first time this clicked for me was notably when I first played Squaresoft's Final Fantasy II on the Super NES. Finding a truly deep narrative, along with memorable characters and superb gameplay, added to the experience of the world and dramatic story crafted by the developers.
Games continued evolving and, despite awesome advances in gameplay with multiplayer platforms and titles, games continued to pull me in especially within the RPG genre.
The second notable game that truly made an impact in this genre and showed the complexity that could be had with single-player gaming was Origin's Ultima VII: Part 2 Serpent Isle. The game actually had one of the very first guidebooks I can remember that came with the game - a necessity for completionists given its complexity. Guidebooks are all to familiar with walkthroughs now, but at that time a large guide book was something to be seen when companies provided players tangible materials to go with the game and a cloth map to boot.
The third game that truly showed the evolution of the experiences to be had from single-player gaming was from Remedy's Alan Wake. A game from a developer who had been involved with the Max Payne series from Rockstar Games, they had yet another superb title. This game takes the elements from three areas and hybridizes them: Stephen King's style, Twin Peaks the TV show, and Twilight Zone the TV show. This combination created a deep and rich experience, and tied in with the battle mechanics of light vs. dark, and voice acting and the art and soundtrack.
Each of these games have something that is more present then in a multiplayer experience - true uninterrupted immersion into the Magic Circle created by the developers in each of these game worlds. This circle is a term in game design that refers to the immersion into a game world by the player that is designed to keep them there. A single-player game does not have the direct breaks in the circle that are directly present while playing.
In the end, single vs. multiplayer gaming comes down to what the player is pursuing when they are playing the game. From the article, it seems that there is the idea that single-player gaming is not going to be around, but in my case as others there are times when I do not want to play with others. Also, there are games I want to play for the story rather then the socializing and gameplay that comes working with other real players. To say that story-based games are not going to have a place is something that seems odd given the popularity and increasing quality of games that developers continue to provide that are quite enticing.
This is the case not only with AAA - gaming but also with many Indie - gaming developers who continue to introduce new ideas into the gaming industry. This has been increasing in prevalence as can be seen by the AAA Indie offerings on their stores on the platforms. Their place is recognized by the big companies as filling a need and I do not believe this is going away.