OK, full disclosure here: I was never a big LEGO person growing up. K’nex? I built that roller coaster in 2 days. I know they aren’t in the same category, but I was all about 3D Puzzles too, I built the so-called “most difficult puzzle” of New York City in 5 days. But LEGO and I never really had a longstanding relationship. That being said, I have a fascination with these LEGO video games. All of them. And I think they offer a promising future to the video game industry.
First I want to see if I understand how this industry is supposed to work. They make the games, we buy the games. The more games we buy, the more games are made. Obviously this is a gross simplification of how the process works, but I think it’s a good foundation for the rest of my sentences. Now that we have that basic premise under our belts, do you think it’s safe to assume that the video games that are able to generate purchases of more product in the future are a positive thing? It makes sense that we, as the more enthusiastic gamers, be open and welcome to the so-called “entry drugs” to this rather expensive distraction that we love so much, right? Since it is hard to interpret through written word, yes, those were rhetorical questions. Yes, games that can foster future sales and serve as an entry drug to the new gamer are a great thing for this industry. Yes, this includes the most recent, and future LEGO video games.
The most recent LEGO video games have been able to mask a traditional game that seasoned gamers are familiar with, but with a LEGO coat of paint on it. Sure, every mechanic might not be included, but there is no sense in overwhelming the newly converted. LEGO Rock Band might still be the same music game with the same plastic instruments that crowd our entertainment centers, but the aesthetic appears to be enough to lure the younger demographic and not scare away said demographic’s parents. Once they get hooked, it will be hard to get them to put the game down. LEGO Battles has been described as Warcraft 3 with LEGOs, on a DS. Portable Warcraft 3? Sign me up. Again, if an unsuspecting gamer picks this up and enjoys it, all of a sudden they have taken the first step to enjoying games like Warcraft, Starcraft, Company of Heroes and other RTS games on the market. All it takes is a little exposure.
And I can’t leave out LEGO Universe, possibly the most potent entry drug among all of these LEGO games in development. I don’t anticipate this game approaching “WoW Killer” status; personally, I’m holding out for The Old Republic to take up that impossible task. But I think this is the perfect example of a game bringing people into a genre they’d never experienced before this entry drug. It starts with a LEGO MMO, but that kind of experience has the possibility of ending with these gamers doing battle with a Lich King. I think this sounds like the perfect stepping stone into the online gaming universe and in to deeper, richer, and more complex gaming experiences.
I’m not in favor of specifically targeting a younger demographic with the hopes of securing a generation of gamers for a longer period of time. These kids don’t need an addiction at a young age. But if the simple, family friendly, at-a-glance appeal of LEGO video games can bring in more gamers in general, I have no problem with that. These types of experiences can prove that games aren’t the “devil,” as some lawyers and law makers have quipped, and have the possibility of enticing future purchases of consoles and software. I’m resisting the urge to quote ‘Mo Money’, but you know where all of this is going. Bottom line: ALL of these LEGO-based video games are a good thing.
But you didn’t think this editorial was going to be all rainbows and butterflies, right? I do have a little bone to pick with the complaints that I hear about all of these games. I have heard and read all kinds of frustrations with the types of games available on the market. I’m sure you all have heard, or even voiced a version of “Why is this game being made?”, “Why are there so many games out there?”, “Who would play this game?” To put it bluntly: get over yourself. Just because a game is released that you are not interested in does not mean you have to criticize its very existence. If a particular game does not apply to you, ignore it. You are not obligated to purchase every piece of video game software on the market. If you are not interested, don’t buy it. It is that simple.
I think the bigger problem is that “we, the gamer” think that the gaming industry revolves around us. We think that our opinions are the only ones that should matter. This sense of entitlement is quite perplexing. Yes, there is a great diversity of software available. Yes, every game out there isn’t for you, or me. No, you are not obligated to buy every game released. Just because there is a flood of games does not mean that we have to get on top of our soapboxes and shake our fists at the heavens. Embrace the games that are worth your money and stop complaining about the rest.
For your viewing pleasure, a list of Lego video games (via Wikipedia)
Did you know I write and podcast for Talking About Games (dot com)? It’s true.