EVE Online is Ameritrash.
This occurred to me this morning while reading a definition of Ameritrash in Greg Costikyan’s Uncertainty in Games. With it’s long, fiddly play style, emphasis on PvP, and broad swaths of rampant uncertainty, EVE Online would probably be a big-box, 8-hour tabletop game, were it such a thing.
World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online are, in their PvE modes, rather more Eurogames, albeit still highly complex and long-playing for that label. They’re like a lot of tiny Eurogames strung together. Quests, or even quest chains, are little Euro-style experiences.
The trick is not to think through this exercise by medium, genre, or format but by specific title. First-person shooters should be taken individually, for example, not as a group. But imagine your favorite video game in a box, packaged for immediate and finite play, and think about how much it takes to get its defining experience out of it.
Sometimes complexity or volatility is added to extend the gameplay loop or the number of gameplay loops you’ll pursue — without actually adding complexity to the game’s core experience. (I’m thinking of MMOs here, right now.) Sometimes complexity or volatility is part of the game’s core identity. This varies despite the perspective and activity of play.
Mass Effect 3’s single-player campaign and multiplayer game can be seen as different products, for example, in which one is an American-style RPG and the other is a robust mix of Eurogame and American short-play elements.
This’ll be in the back of my head throughout the day, now, as I start thinking about other video games in analog terms again.