Monday, November 8, 2010

Mini Cast: Love and Hate Gaming

So after a brief hiatus, not that I deserved it, I'm glad to be back behind both the mic and the keyboard. Just this past weekend, I went hunting for the first time. I sat in a tree-stand for hours, barely moving. I was cold, my butt fell asleep, and I didn't even see one deer. Though they probably saw me.

But while sitting in the tree-stand, I had some time to think about gaming, gamers, and the game industry. I've been gaming for a long time, and ever since my brother got Wolfenstein 3D, and my dad brought home the EGA edition of King's Quest 5, gaming has intrigued, amazed, and entertained me. I threw myself into the wonderful world of video games and haven't looked back. I love gaming. I think it can offer so much intellectually to the player. Easily as much as a good movie, and even a good book. Imagine if, someday, instead of doing book reports, we did game reports! Which brings me to the ugly side of gaming. Because as much as I love games and gaming, there are parts of it that really aren't pretty. Two big ones, really: Fanboys, and a general sense of entitlement by the core, mainstream crowd.

You might be surprised I didn't say anything about industry stagnation, or lack of innovation or originality, but that's because I don't think those are huge problems. I think the industry is doing great, and I think we are moving forward creatively. Not every game has to be or have some crazy, never before seen feature or innovation, or deep-rooted story that tugs on the heart strings. Sometimes we innovate quickly, other times we innovate slowly. But we have always been, and continue to be, moving forward as an industry. If you can't see this, then you're blind.

Now my problem with fanboys should be pretty obvious. I mean, fans are fine. I love Baldur's Gate, for example. It's my favourite RPG series of all time. Your favourite might be Final Fantasy, or the Gothic series, or Diablo, or whatever. Even if I hate your favourite RPG, and you hate mine, that's ok! That's why we have so many different games and genres. Different people like different stuff.

But fanboys are the scum of fandom. They are the ones who claim, objectively, that whatever they like is the best, and you're an idiot if you disagree. Now, whether these people are insecure about their purchase, or just plain jerks, is kind of up in the air. But the point is that they ruin gaming. Seriously: They ruin it. Not only are they so overly zealous that they miss out on potential gaming gems just because it isn't just like their favourite series, but outsiders and new gamers who are introduced to these morons will more then likely be put off gaming, especially if the games that the douche enjoys aren't their cup of tea.

Now this is hardly news. Let's be honest, any rational person listening to, or reading this will probably just nod along with me and agree. But this doesn't just include the fanboys we love to hate. The loud obnoxious ones are the worst, but hardly the only ones. The Valve fanboys who claim Half-Life is the pinnacle of FPS storytelling, or that Team Fortress 2 is the only first person game worth playing online, or the Final Fantasy fanboys who give you the most disbelieving look when you say that Aerith dying in Final Fantasy 7 meant as much to you as some guys getting hit in the balls on America's Funniest Home Videos. Being a bad fanboy isn't just when you outwardly look down on someone for not liking your favourite games, but when you inwardly think less of them for it. The appeal of games is subjective. Nobody is more right then another. Get over it, and get over yourselves.

The next thing that bugs the crap out of me about the gaming industry, is the sense of entitlement that the core crowd seems to have. Let me explain in a few examples. First: Minecraft. Besides the fact that everything can be explained through minecraft, the event I'm referring to took place shortly before the big Halloween update. Some people did a denial of service attack against the Minecraft server, taking them down. The reason, they claimed, was because Notch wasn't updating the game enough. So their way of saying 'make the game faster' was putting a bigger workload on him trying to get the servers up. Now, I won't go into how stupid that is, but this is a perfect example of that sense of entitlement that gamers can, and do, have. These people honestly thought that this was within their rights to do. Never mind that the Minecraft purchase page says, plainly, that you're buying the game as is, and any updates that come are an extra bonus and free, these people felt that they had the authority to hurt someone else's business because things weren't going their way.

Now not everyone is that extreme, of course. Not everyone would actually go to the lengths to attack a website in order to make sure their temper tantrum was being heard. But the less extreme ones have just as much of a false entitlement problem. Take a look at Notch's blog, and look at his updates. Now look at the comments. Practically every comment section on every blog post he does is a war between those who are waiting patiently for the next update to come out, and those with the same BS attitude as the morons who took down the website. It's probably split about 50/50, and just because they aren't taking down the site, doesn't mean they are any more wrong.

Let's jump over to something a little more mainstream: Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's Move. The core crowd as pretty much said over and over how much they hate motion controls. Yes, there will be the odd one who doesn't mind them, or even likes them, but, for the most part, the core gamer is quite content with their gamepad or mouse and keyboard. That's fine. That's not a problem. The problem is when they actively want these things to fail. These core gamers can't seem to wrap their head around the fact that something like Kinect or Move, something that two huge players in the gaming industry are putting a huge wack of money behind, just might not be for them. You know what that's like? That's like a kid saying he hates sweaters, and so his parents buy a nice sweater for his little sister who likes sweaters, and then this kid gets all mad as his parents for buying the sweater.

Get over yourself! Heaven forbid something not be for you. It's not like we want more and more people enjoying our favourite past-time, so that ridiculous laws like the one in California would never see the light of day, because everyone games, right? It's not like we want our industry to grow and reach more markets, so that gaming is less of a social faux-paux, and more of a family, social, or even community-wide event. No no, let's stop trying to reach new audiences. Let's keep it 'niche', because that's what makes games cool and fun.

Or we could not be retarded, and embrace the fact that the industry is spreading it's arms to get more and more people involved in our bad-ass hobby.

But what do you think?
Think I missed anything about fanboys?
Think Kinect and Move are just bad for everything and everyone?
And what do you love, and hate, about our industry?

Let me know!


  1. I think that all everyone needs to calm down and play what they want to play. You don't see active readers telling other readers there books are stupid.

  2. Sweaters! Classic.