It’s not often that you come across something you honestly think is going to change the way things are. Therefore, on the rare occasion that you do find something like this, it can make things a whole lot more exciting.
In my fairly limited time on earth, I can think of a handful of events that have changed things. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 obviously had a huge effect on travel, and in particular flying. The death of Princess Diana united people in a way I had never seen before. The introduction of PlayStation gave people a whole new way to spend their free-time. My first experience of a PlayStation was at my older brother’s flat in the 90s. We played Golden Eye and Frogger and I remember the exact way my sister and I felt as we experienced the world of 3D interactive gaming for the first time. The graphics at the time were amazing, and the fact that you could move the realistic 3D character around the screen was both very alien and very exciting at the same time. Throughout the years that followed, I experienced first-hand the rise of PS2 and (much later) Wii, and the birth of PS3 – each of which brought about its own changes (good and bad) to the way we played and used our consoles. Since my first encounter with a PlayStation, I’ve been exposed to countless games ranging from your standard fps, to racing games, to sport sims, to rpgs. And over the years, it has been very rare for me to come across any game that is different enough to warrant a shift in the games industry landscape.
Looking back, the first game I remember being aware of that did this successfully was SingStar. Obviously I’m biased now, but even in the very early days I remember visiting my brother in London, and listening to his tales of parties whereby people would get together and play this game. It became almost a social phenomenon in my brother’s house, and paved the way for other fantastic social and music-based games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. (Incidentally, I’m hearing some great things about DJ Hero, which have got me pretty excited). And since it’s launch on PS2, SingStar has proven to be one franchise that continues to grow and evolve with the times. With its launch on PS3 came the introduction of My SingStar Online, which encourages users to upload videos of themselves playing the game. I’m not sure anyone was really prepared for just how big this particular feature became (I’m hoping everyone has seen the dancing Chewbacca and numerous granny videos!), but that’s the joy of being innovative and brave in your approach – and in the case of SingStar it really paid off. Similarly the SingStore, although plagued by problems at the start, has evolved to become an integral part of the SingStar experience. It gives us a brand new way to consume SingStar media, and has completely changed the way we behave as a gamer, in that you can now “snack” on content, rather than having to purchase a disc for that all important song. Right, enough about SingStar, now let’s move on to other games…
The first game I got really excited not only about working on, but also about playing as a gamer, was LittleBigPlanet (yes it’s all one word, as is SingStar, and if you spell it any other way I’ll hunt you down!). LittleBigPlanet was the turning point for me, in that it showed once more that games are fun. The entire aim of the game was nothing more than to get you to enjoy yourself. Of course, there is the option to be competitive, but the beauty of the game is that it allows you to mould it into whatever sort of game you want it to be. It was also one of the first games I was aware of that had such varying levels of depth. It was simple enough that my 7 year-old niece as able to play through the levels (albeit with help), with relative ease and, more importantly, she really enjoyed it. You could play the game on your own, or with up to three friends. You could play either with people in your own living room or across the world via the game’s online component. If you were in need of more depth, you were able to pick the levels apart and build your own. And, for the uber-gamer amongst us, we had the option to share these creations with the rest of the gaming community online! I can’t think of any other game that had such high expectations pre-launch, and managed to surpass these when it was finally released.
LittleBigPlanet was released in November 2008, and since then there have been hundreds of releases of games from different genres, on different platforms, and aimed at different people. But, leaving out hardware (we all know how Wii and DS have opened gaming up to the mainstream), there haven’t really been many games that have made me read every article I can find about them, let alone watch every video. Scribblenauts is that game.
Scribblenauts is different. And no matter what anyone tells you, Scribblenauts will change the world. (Or at least the world of games). And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at these videos: