Of Micropayments and Walking Simulators: Economics and Zen in Gaming

I am fond of saying that eventually we will be micropaymented to death. To Netflix, $9.99. To Hulu, $11.99. To Amazon $100 a year. To Google Play Music, $15 a month. Soon it all turns into the scene from Black Mirror’s 15 Million Merits where the toothpaste dispenser takes micropayments per cc of toothpaste.

At Intelligent Economist, there is an interesting article on how mobile games have brought about bad games, because the money isn’t found in the selling in the games but making the impossible parts of it possible if you buy a weapon or the in-game currency to get such things. As the economic questions of many markets are disrupted and they begin to land in these micropayment systems, what happens to art when the economics say leave people wanting the good stuff until they pay for the upgrades.

But on the other side there is a great article at Salon about “walking simulator” games. These are games that aren’t filled with action or repetition and have storyline and archs. While a large chunk of the gaming world are worried about how to turn game churn into a profit center, indie gamers are creating art. These games are redefining the narrative, immersive art and games themselves into an art for future generations.