Hey everyone. It’s been a good long time since I’ve sat back and really gotten a chance to look at the industry, culture, and playing population behind the games from a broad point of view. Lately I’ve been trying to paint myself a picture of what we are and what it is, just so I know that what I’ve gotten myself into is worth the time, money, and soul dedication. So today, I’m going to play doctor. And instead of making you remove your pants behind the village oak tree I thought I’d diagnose a problem and offer my own homegrown prescription.
But Tarabisu!, some of you are eagerly saying, There’s nothing wrong with games culture at all! We’re perfectly healthy. Well much of my “research” has been sulking around the comments sections of Kotaku, IGN, Gametrailers, The Escapist, etc looking for common trends, because, you know, the internet provides such a good estimation of humanity. Nonetheless, I’ve deduced that we take our medium to a number of dangerous extremes, and I think it’s makes for a valuable discussion.
By my article’s title alone, you’ll likely assume that I mean to argue for some kind of radical change in the way games are developed and marketed. Like there’s some secret I happen to know about good design that the clueless folks at EA and Activision have neglected and overlooked over the years. Yes, games do need to improve and change and grow. But you know what? I’m getting sick of arguing, complaining, and defending. It’s affecting not only my mental health, but also my relationship with games in the first place.
When you’re on a forum, comment section, or youtube, it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of why we game in the first place. Back in 2007 and 8, youtube was a pretty good place to view the salacious, unhealthy nature of our collective mindset. Back when poorly made videos screamed console superiority in our version of drive-by shootings. And yet here we are, with both consoles neck and neck and basically doing the same thing. What a load of wasted effort and high blood pressure.
Seriously, I know games are great. Believe me, I know game are great. But are they really worth getting so bent out of shape over? Like to the point that some of us actually get mad at a gentleman for writing about how he sold off most of his collection to pay for his wedding? It’s like some of us see any attempt to contextualize games in the grand scheme of life as an attack on the medium and our freedom to enjoy it and that’s just asinine. What should have been taken as a heartwarming story about someone who sacrificed something he loved for someone he loved was melted down by the comments and converted to a statement about how women are bitches for making us give up our games. Disgusting.
Are we forgetting that games are meant to be an enjoyable pass-time? One used to soothe ourselves out of life’s troubles for an afternoon and get lost in fantasy worlds and hopelessly compelled by solid design? Of course poor decisions in the industry deserve examination and critique, but we don’t need to get so butt-hurt we resort to death-threats to try and get what we want.
What the animosity ultimately comes down to is defensiveness. We feel there are too many outlets and pundits out to get us, because, quite frankly, there are. But they aren’t a threat. No one is seriously going to try and tell you can’t play your games anymore (unless you’re Australian, in which case anything goes, I guess). The NRA can scream and cry and the oblivious older generations can sit and wonder what it is we’re all doing, but they don’t have any real power over our culture so we don’t need to be so, so ready to send punches back. Just sit back and enjoy what you enjoy. When the threats come from within the industry, vote with your dollars and refuse to support what irks you. But please, for the love of god, respect other people’s right to decide otherwise. Yelling at someone for legitimately liking something you don’t is like being the stereotypical vegan who hates on you for enjoying a cheeseburger. Yeah it may be bad for you and the environment, but it’s your damn right to enjoy it otherwise (for the record, I myself am a vegetarian).
We don’t need to constantly be on the defensive, because in reality no defensive tirade should ever overshadow the object being defended. Games are games. Sure, they have history and significant meaning, but they’re GAMES. In the grand scope of the universe and even in the smaller scopes of our entire lives, do they really take up so much of our global perspective that we need to use the very same energy people once used to incite revolutions and dethrone kings to make a point to EA about its business practices?
So let’s make the culture of games one of celebration, and not flame. I know that may be too much to ask of the internet, but, you know, I’m willing to at least try. Criticism and complaints have their place, absolutely, and I am no stranger to having things that make my skin crawl with hatred (here’s to you, GameStop), but let’s remember what it is we’re dealing with. If something we play for fun can be related to feelings of intense, uncontrollable rage, then is it really fun anymore? If DLC gives you stomach ulcers just thinking about, then video games just likely aren’t a healthy choice for you. That shit’s not going away and no matter how you whine or scream on comments and youtube, you will only make video games less enjoyable overall for you and everyone you come in contact with. Just try and go back to when you were a kid, and the world of video games was so wide and mysterious. Try and get lost in what made them so powerful and personal. Let’s make the games community about the games, and not specifically our grievances and hatreds.
Well that was a bit much from me. In an effort to make my life a little healthier, I’ve decided that this will be my final Point of Contention. I’ll be moving my writing efforts to a new weekly feature entitled The Retrospective, in which I’ll play old retro games I missed out on back in their day and discuss their relevance to today’s crowd. Sounds a little more fun than just tired, bitter rants, no? Hope you’ll look forward to it next Friday.