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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: How have your tastes in video games changed?
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War – do you have time for it?

GameCentral readers discuss how their video game preferences have shifted over the years, from the types of games to the consoles themselves.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked whether you’ve noticed a change in terms of the types of games you play, or major franchises you’ve changed your opinion on?

Many people mentioned they have less time for games as they’ve got older, with a tendency towards playing less games for shorter period. But others insisted their tastes haven’t really changed that much, just evolved with the technology.

Short, controlled bursts

My tastes in games has changed without me even realising. I am now the proud father to a four-month-old boy, so time and exhaustion play a massive role in what I want to play. Previously I would be chomping at the bit for the latest massive open world action role-playing game that I could sink hours into, so a week into my paternity I decided to treat myself to Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War. Bleary eyed I stuck the disc in and started. Cut scenes began, but I could hear the rumblings of a baby crying. Pausing a cut scene appears to be a luxury in games these days, so the choices were to skip it and have no idea what is going on, or restart the game.

I opted to skip and pause at the first opportunity, so I started on the back foot with no investment in a Tolkien world I usually adore. A few more hours in and I just couldn’t care less about playing. There is too much to do and I just don’t have the patience any more to pretend collecting runes gives me any joy. I fought my own feelings and soldiered on for a few more hours, but lost interest.

It appears now that short bursts of games are not only what I physically have time to play, but look forward too, with the Switch now being my far and away favourite platform – being so commute friendly and all. Dragon Quest Builders is a story-light, chunked up game that I am playing to and from the office and I am loving it, despite having played it on the PlayStation 4 when it first came out and trading it in.
Joe Throup

Happy days

My attitude to games has changed a lot over the last few years.

I used to be a massive GTA fan, spending hours just mucking about, going on rampages, etc. but I just don’t enjoy them anymore. I don’t like the cynical edge and the fact that most of the characters don’t seem to care about anyone around them.

I also prefer games now with a happier vibe, so while I played The Last Of Us I won’t be playing Part II!

I think this change in taste is due to personal circumstances I’ve had to endure the last few years, as all I want from gaming now is a happy escape from it all for a while.
LastYearsModel09 (PSN ID)

Preferred era

My taste in games doesn’t change often, really. When I was in my twenties I was for some reason obsessed with flight simulators (and SimCity 2000). Throughout my thirties and forties however I’ve mainly favoured third person stealth games, tactical squad shooters, and arcade racers.

I think a gamer’s taste in games is also strongly influenced by what dominates the market at the time. Back in the ZX Spectrum days, for instance, text adventures were very popular, but I can’t imagine that type of game would satisfy me now because of advances in game design and technology.

Saying that, I play sixth generation games more than I play new ones. So I have an enduring taste for the PlayStation 2/original Xbox era. Maybe this choice is comparable to record collectors who have a fondness for certain time periods when it comes to music.
msv858 (Twitter)

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Unbroken bond

I used to hate first person shooters, they made me feel claustrophobic and restricted, so I never played them. I’d play third person games (Prince Of Persia, GTA, Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted) as I felt more able to explore and take in my environment. Now I love the first person aspect, as it allows me to be fully immersed in the world around me.

Maybe it’s due to the addition of larger and larger TVs into our homes, but I find them easier to play than I did several years ago. Also, back in the PlayStation 3 days I played a lot more online FIFA and Call of Duty but on the current gen I just can’t be bothered to stick on my headphones and shout at the TV (having two kids now makes this less appealing, don’t want to wake them!). Which brings me onto free time.

Clearly having kids means less free time, but I do still play games several times each week. Also, now I’ve got my six-year-old daughter into my old PlayStation 3 games I’ve been playing Lego and Burnout Paradise with her. It’s brilliant seeing how much she enjoys this and it’s a bond I never imagined I would build when I started out playing games all those years ago!
Billy Robson

Evolutionary path

My buying habits have definitely changed over the years, in that I probably buy a more varied selection of games now than when I was younger. This is mainly down to more disposable income and so more willing to take a risk on something I may not like. The genres I enjoyed most as a kid though, I still enjoy to this day.

My first ever computer 30 plus years ago was a Sharp MZ700 and I remember my favourite game, Dragon Caves. A Dungeon Master style romp and I’ve enjoyed this genre throughout the generations from Eye Of The Beholder on the Amiga through to Legend Of Grimrock on my laptop. And loved Shining The Holy Ark on the Sega Saturn.

Also, remember all-day sessions of Kick Off and Sensible Soccer with my mates. This has evolved into games of FIFA with my son. Always local multiplayer though, never got into online.

I would say though that family and work commitments have meant that I appreciate the pick up and play simple stuff a lot more these days. I have a soft spot for cheap hidden object adventure games such as the Enigmatis and Eventide series. They’ll never win a game of the year poll but I enjoy them nonetheless. This may also be why I prefer Horizon Zero Dawn to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Not that it’s in the same category of simple as the ones I’ve just mentioned, but I definitely found it more accessible from the start.

Good Hot Topic, and it’s made me realise I need to get back into a more complex role-playing style game. I’ve got Divinity: Original Sin and Shadow Tactics in my backlog, so one of these next I think.

Easy playing

As I have gotten older, my gaming tastes have definitely changed. These days, even though I think I probably still have more free time than most other people due to not having kids or a partner, I have still found myself gravitating towards shorter games that can be completed in a few hours.

Therefore, I tend to play more indie games and a lot more platformers and Metroidvania style games that can be dipped in and out of in short sessions and still feel like I made some progress. I still do enjoy playing the longer games but pick and choose which I play, and they normally take me a lot longer to get through.

Sometimes, after a long day at work, I want to play something but not something too taxing, which is why games like the stuff from Telltale have been great as they kind of like just watching a TV show.
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)/trukkurt (Steam ID)/Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Wolfenstein II (PS4) and Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

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Online decline

From December 2005 the games I played most leaned towards online games with the release of the Xbox 360, this made online console gaming possible for me. I had always been interested and dabbled with online with the Dreamcast, but when I played online on Quake III it was lagging badly and I would shoot a rocket and it would take over three seconds before anything happened (this could have been my Internet connection at the time to blame).

Xbox Live on the Xbox 360 allowed you for the first time on the platform to get online without needing a credit card (which I didn’t have so couldn’t get online on Xbox before this), using prepaid codes I jumped in and would play online regularly.

Now on the Xbox One most of my time is now spent on single-player and only occasionally online, I feel I’ve come full circle from single-player to online and back again.

I don’t think my taste in games has changed as I still play and enjoy a wide variety of games just as I always have. Although online gaming is declining for me, due to regular team mates disappearing off the scene.

The format I use most has changed over the years, the first console I bought was a SNES and Nintendo was always my go-to gaming machine up until the Wii. I didn’t care for the direction they took after the GameCube, so moved to Xbox as my main platform and it’s been the that way ever since. I’ve always enjoyed PlayStation as a second option and continue to do so. Nintendo has now become interesting to me again with the Switch, but I’ve yet to join the bandwagon.

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