Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Technology and Gaming

It's funny. I love technology. I love all of the doors it's opened for us. I love the possibilities it has presented to us. Both in gaming and in the rest of our lives.

But I'm still resistant to games with a required technological component. Take, for example, Fantasy Flight's XCOM game. By all accounts, it's a phenomenal game. Players seem to love it. But it requires the use of a smartphone app.

It's not like One Night Ultimate Werewolf, where the app facilitates play, but isn't actually required. You flat cannot play XCOM: The Board Game without a smartphone.

And yet I have no problems playing in campaigns where the GM requires the use of Obsidian Portal.

Or playing Space Alert, which requires a CD player. And - as MP3 files take over - CD players are in process of disappearing from homes. When I bought my current computer, I had to pay extra for an optical drive. Because those are slowly disappearing, too. Microsoft Office? It's a subscription program, now. Not a CD with an authorization code and hoops to jump through. And I can access most (if not all of it) online. When even Office doesn't require a CD-ROM ... well ... 

Wizards of the Coast has keep the 4e D&D Insider tools up for those of us who want to keep paying for them. It costs them a pittance and brings in some subscriber fees even now. And (honestly) I've found it much easier to track my character online than the old-fashioned way with pencil & paper.

I have a smartphone. Like most smartphones, it's crazy-powerful when compared to the computer my family had when I was a kid. It's more powerful than the computers we used in school. And I trust Google. I actually have a couple of apps on there that aren't in the Appstore anymore - but when I upgraded my phone a few months ago, Google transferred them for me. Automatically. I didn't have to call anyone. I didn't need to go online and track down some obscure file to install the apps on my phone. They just installed themselves on the new phone.

So I don't know why the app has been such a barrier to entry for my interest in XCOM. But somehow it is. And that makes me feel like a total Luddite.


  1. I think the biggest problem is your enjoyment of that game is now tied to variables you no longer control. FF might lose the XCOM license and the app could be pulled as a result. Or they could lose their development team and the application could suddenly cease to function on newer OS / Hardware combinations. Sadly being computer-folk we've seen this first-hand. Worse, this is a form of DRM on your game since it's unplayable without the application. You've tied your fortunes in playing this game with how well FF can maintain factors outside of their control, and will be penalized if they can't keep up.

    Worse, board games don't magically evaporate like DRM-encumbered apps do. So you'll have a stark reminder on your shelf; a husk of a game that you might have enjoyed but now have to figure out what to do with once the app disappears. You now have to worry about creating a living-will for the possibility of owning a vegetative shell of a game.

    1. +Craig, I think you've nailed it, there.

  2. Allow me to join you in throwing my wooden shoes into the machinery.