There’s an odd feeling of Christmas whenever games like this come out. On Christmas morning you pretty much know the rigmarole that everyone you know is going through. On the day of release of Trials Evolution, meanwhile, you know that the majority of your gaming friends are swearing at a bike that’s the wrong way up and, probably, a severe neck injury. All of a sudden your Friends list is packed with people playing the same game – and with a wondrous creation like Trials Evolution they’re very much within your game experience too.
(In all honesty, it’s rather dispiriting being proved so much less talented than almost all of my peers at riding a bike. Then again, at least I can always rely on a slight smirk when I see Christian ‘slowcoach’ Donlan appears on the leaderboard in dismal last. If there’s ever an apocalyptic disaster that results in humanity depending solely on motorbikes for transport and culture, you know which member of Hookshot you shouldn’t recruit into your tribe. That’s all I’m saying.)
Anyway. The reason I gathered you all here today is because Trials Evolution is a true ‘event’ game. It’s an example of shared enthusiasm shown by a multitude of gamers, all at the exact same moment in time. Friend lists are suddenly blanketed in motorbikes, just as they once were in Call of Duty or Skyrim. The catalyst to writing about it, though, is that the last game that this happened with (a mere week ago) was Fez. In fact, Fez had almost double the amount of my friends playing simultaneously.
I live in a strange world (everyone I work by nature is an extreme gaming aficionado) but I consider it a sign of the times that Hookshot Inc’s preferred tipples are increasingly the ones that spread over Friends lists like a bad rash. Things get even more hot and heavy when you tie into in the phenomena of games like Draw Something, Words With Friends or Angry Birds. Fanaticism for these seemed to grow overnight, then continued to multiply to the point at which everyone you knew (gamer or not) had fingers that were a blur.
At the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, the big games are getting more and more entrenched. In the world of the download genre doesn’t matter, everyone plays everything if it’s good: motorbikes, North African hats, drawings, cross flying animals… whatever. It’s like the 1990s all over again.
In the world of AAA, however, franchise and genre matter – which severely limits the number of people you know playing them. The co-op mode for, say, Splinter Cell: Conviction might be excellent – but it was a real challenge to find someone else you knew that was playing it. Not quite so hard with the wide-open asynchronous play of Trials Evolution, is it? With the big bricks and mortar titles people play tribally, yet with downloadable games we increasingly move as one.
So anyway, just wanted to say WE ARE THE FUTURE. I know you all know that already. Sometimes stuff just needs underlining in red…