In the past, there were three distinct forms of video games. There were arcade games, PC games, and later on console games. Console games are games that are unable to be played on PC and the arcade. The first true console game would be the original Legend of Zelda. It was too elaborate to be an arcade game, but too fast paced to work on the PC. As Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter revealed the game, it was the ‘best of both worlds’. While many pre-16 bit games were arcade ports or PC game ports, many fully fleshed console games came to be. You couldn’t play Super Metroid in the arcade. But it doesn’t work quite right on the PC as well.
What IQ is there needed to play a video game? Very little in fact. This is evident in that children playing video games. PONG does not require a high IQ. I’ve noticed the lower the IQ a game has, the more it grants in ego or false accomplishment.
The home console games lost their edge when the Internet allowed all maps and hints to be easily revealed.
Today, console games are something else entirely. They are like PC games stripped of all mechanics and gameplay. I find most console games to be unplayable today.
But with the PC, did PC games cater to lower IQ people over time? We have gone from Apple IIs to Commodore 64s to IBM clones all the way to smartphones. Since it required more money to buy a PC back in the day and more time to set it up, one could make the argument that IQs were higher back then for PC gamers. But then again, PC games haven’t exactly been simplified. A MMORPG is far more complex than the early RPG games. Starcraft 2 is far faster paced than Starcraft 1 and Starcraft 1 wipes the floor with Warcraft 2 in its complexity.
One thing I don’t remember is people spending so much leisure time playing video games. The largest, beefiest games then were games like Ultimas or Civilizations. But compare Civilization 1 and 2 to 3, 4, and 5. It takes a week to play one game of 3. It wasn’t that way with 1 or 2. An Ultima game can take a good month, but it was not that different from an early Final Fantasy game in time usage. It was a meaty open world game. Ultima Underworld was amazing. But the game did not go on forever like Minecraft.
Then there are the smartphone games. No one will argue these smartphone games are the epitome of IQ. But it is not evidence of lower IQ.
What I believe is happening is not that games are dumbing down or that gamers are getting less IQ over time but…
Gamers are becoming less and less interesting as time goes on.
And do you know why, fair reader? It is because as gaming, as a leisure time, grows and swells to occupy people’s time, they have less time to do other things and become interesting.
Gamers used to be prolific readers. This is why adventure games were popular and why early RPGs had mountains of text in them. There used to be big beefy manuals. Today, gamers are not stupid because they do not read, gamers simply devote more time to gaming instead of reading (or whatever).
Gamers of the past used to go on more real life adventures. The Atari 2600 did not keep guys from meeting girls. However, World of Warcraft does.
Another darker way to look at this is that as a people who are getting poorer in society. With inflation adjusted, the minimum wage of the 1970s would equal the purchase power of $25 today. As people become poorer and poorer, they spend more and more time inside the Virtual World.
Is gaming becoming the medium for poor people? Look at your popular streamers. They can barely afford their rent. With things like Free-To-Play becoming more prominent, it is harder to hide the fact that to be a gamer is to be a poorer person. The hardcore gamers are the most uninteresting because their life achievements are Virtual World achievements.
And the big reason why commercials wouldn’t work in gaming is because gamers tend to be too poor to afford anything.
Gamers do have to eat and drink. Hence, this is why the marketing is doritos and mountain dew.
The growth of gaming in a person’s week of time comes in part of the decline of television and other hobbies. Games can still be interesting why television has become terrible. Even many books have become terrible so why read them? People tell me, “Malstrom, the gamers are not going to the woman. How do we fix this?” I say to them: “Why assume the problem is with the gamers? If a flesh and blood woman cannot compete with a video game, then something tells me there is a big problem with the woman. Is she fat? Does she have a crappy personality and not fun to be around? These would all be reasons for gamers to keep gaming.”
While gamers have increased their gaming and have become less interesting, the alternatives to gaming have really gone to the crapper and become uninteresting.