While reading Part 2 of My Life as a Night Elf Priest I was thinking about how Nardi goes back once again to McGonigal’s main point that video games offer solid concrete opportunities at progress and ways for us to visualize this progress. While discussing this, Nardi says: “It always, satisfyingly, moved upward. In real life, progress is up and down when there is progress at all.”(40) It struck me when I read those sentences that when I play video games it is often the fact that you cannot move backwards that leaves me wanting more.
When playing more realistic video games, it is the satisfaction of advancing and maintaining your advance that makes me exciting, but in how WoW is being described to me that is not a possibility. To better illustrate what I am talking about, in many real time strategy games like Age of Empires, you level up your technology while expanding your empire. Often times, the more advanced your technology the more requirements there are to produce that piece of technology. Sometimes you require a certain number of city centers or more resources. In that way it is possible to lose your footing with an advanced technology and have no way to actually produce it even though you have attained it. Similarly when you are expanding your empire, simply because you have expanded your borders doesn’t mean that you will hold those borders. If you expand too far your units will be stretched too thin and it will be an easy task for an enemy to breach your borders.
As a gamer, it is this aspect that these cultural revolution games which are being mentioned time and again seem to lack, which also explains why I have not invested much time in most of them. We have already seen games that offer this moving forward and back capability, but I wonder if that will be the next big thing in video games.