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Pie and I have been engrossed with XCOM: Enemy Unknown lately, making the silly mistake of giving it a whirl right before the launch of WildStar. It was foolhardy, I'll admit, considering how much praise it received I should have figured that there would be no such thing as a quick foray into the game. Procuring alien remains for pleasure and profit is rewarding in so many ways outside of the simple exhilaration of foreign plasma extraction.

One of the more interesting looking games at E3 this year was No Man's Sky, a beautiful, randomly generated space exploration game that wants you to discover everything it has to offer without holding your hands to do so. The promise of a vast galaxy, persistent elements, and what appears to be autonomous AI that breathes life into the game is quite an interesting concept.

I adore exploring games, but I feel that randomly generated content is somewhat void of intrigue. Exploring for the sake of seeing something new and creating your own stories based on what you find is fun, but only to a point. Inevitably, it starts to creep into mind that exploring something that is generated by a computer is lacking in soul and I start to crave exploring worlds that were meticulously crafted by hand. As random content generation escalates, I find myself yearning to see the things that artists wanted to create, the stories they wanted to share and the secrets they wanted me to find. It lends itself to a sort of personal connection with the creators.

The developers of No Man's Sky claim that the older generation of gamers look at them and expect something in return, some narrative, achievement or something to collect; a purpose, if you will. Then when talking with younger gamers, more the Minecraft generation, they respond with a boundless wonder about what the possibilities are and what can and can't be done. The idea behind the developer's notion is that a new generation of gamers is hungering for something else, and I take issue with that.

I believe that it is more about young people being young; they want to create their own things, to build, to romp around in their infinite imagination and they want to be unbound in possibilities. As people grow up, I feel it only a natural part of aging that we look for more narrative and more purpose; experiences with substance. Since not all of us carry the passion to create into our hectic adult lives, or simply want to be entertained by others, we rely on other creatives among us to share their wild visions. Many people grow up loving Lego's, but that doesn't mean we all keep playing with them into adulthood; tastes change as we age.

XCOM: Present Unknown

june 14, 2014