Games need to move beyond the arcade era

Flower shouldn't be good. Its scenario of dreaming house plants sounds like an idea even a New Age self-discovery workshop might reject and its goal o

Its scenario of dreaming house plants sounds like an idea even a New Age self-discovery workshop might reject and its goal of guiding petals around the countryside sounds dorky at best.

Yet Flower's relaxing and unchallenging action is very good. So good in fact that Flower is easily one of the best games you can download onto a PlayStation 3.

Like Peggle and World of Warcraft before it, Flower is part of a new wave of games that are shedding the trappings of arcade games to focus on the pleasure of the experience rather than the challenge.

Arcade games had one purpose: to extract coins from players as fast as possible. And yet, the ideas these games introduced way back in the 1970s and 1980s still linger on in today's games.

From high scores and multiple lives to excessive difficulty - all were born in the arcades close to 30 years ago. Yet many games still use these features without a second thought, even when it makes no sense.

Why, for example, should Super Mario Galaxy only offer a limited supply of lives? And why should people pay for a game only to find it's so bastard hard they'll only see a tiny part of it?

Isn't it time game designers moved on from the days of the arcade?