Editor's Note: Editor's Choice

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To further belabour Russ's automotive metaphor (to the breaking point, as you will see), many things which he said sound a lot like the manner in which car owners thought in the early 20th century. So they had those clumsy, clunky, fragile, horribly complicated machines which only a select few could afford and even less could handle. Bear with me here.

I'm fairly certain that, when automobiles started "going mainstream", if you will, those gentleman racer types complained to holy hell about how their beloved pastime was being dragged into the gutter by the unwashed hoi polloi, while still carrying out their fanboy battles about how Auto-Union was so much better than Packard-Bell or something. Even today, when people put electronic safety or control systems into cars to make them both faster and safer, you have purists complaining about how it's all becoming too easy. The Beetle was the Wii of the 1930s. Every housewife had one.

So cars have been streamlined and mainstreamed. You don't need an engineering degree these days to start one (although you damned near need one to repair a modern car), but would anybody argue that the "soft", "dumbed down", "your mother could do it", "mainstream" Porsche 997 of our days, hell, even a bog standard VW, was a WORSE car than something from the dawn of motoring?

The same applies to gaming. Yes, I still reminisce longingly about old PC mainstays such as Ultima VII, Wizardry VII or Falcon 4.0. Yes, I do think that Halo's popularity is a sure sign of the aggregate gaming IQ having gone down. Yes, I do believe that for all their technical proficiency, many game genres have become stuck in cliché and formula. And yes, I am that bloody old.

And then, I pop in Shadow of the Colossus, and stop caring about all that. You know, nobody forces you to play Halo or the other dumb-arse FPS du jour, just like nobody forces you to drive a bloody Camry (or Vectra). People complain about gaming going to hell, but while I do not care for brain trainers and cooking sims, or 13 year olds saying nasty things about my mum on XBL, does that maje Mass Effect any less of a bona fide classic?
In a field with so many enthusiasts at the creative end of things, there will always be products aimed at enthusiasts and purists. So stop bloody complaining about games you are not going to play anyway, and support the guys who bring you titles like Okami, for crying out loud. The gaming equivalent of the Lotus Evora is out there, and unlike purist sports cars, those games cost 40 quid (or 60 Euros/dollars) like all the others.

I have not and do not intend to purchase MW2. No I don't hate it. it just holds no interest for me.

Games like this, that seem to have the potential to be big sellers, tend to get over-hyped to the point where they get fanatical followings before people buy the game or even hear reviews from people who have.

If, then, it turns out to be complete rubbish; a lot of people yell even louder about how good it actually is to drown out the little voice inside their head that says "I was wrong to buy this game."

I actually place some of the blame onto demos. Either they are rubbish which hurts the sale of a decent game, or they are too good and people expect the whole game to be like that or better. Whereas most of the time it ends up being more of the same, but suffering from repetitiveness. Of course, occasionally you get no demo at all - something everyone should see as a warning sign.

Some good examples are:

Gangsters 1 (Cast your mind back) an old PC game from the 90s. The demo was complete rubbish; it basically left you with no idea what to do. This was because they decided to put the tutorial text into the manual of the game. A mistake. But a few years after release I bought a pack of 12 games and it was one of them. Waded through the tutorial and found a decent game.

Stolen, on the other hand, was a game that took the no demo route. Another PC game, though not too old, I liked the sound of it before release: I am a big fan of the Thief games. I awaited a demo. A month after release there still was no demo. I decided I couldn't be bothered waiting any longer and bought the game anyway.

First, there was no auto-run on the disc and when opened, the Readme file had "Insert readme text here" in it and nothing else. But that was quite good quality compared to game itself. The graphics weren't too bad admitidley, but the interface was clunky, the controls unresponsive, the stealth mechanics finiky and just generally bad all over.

A good demo that produced a Meh game? F.E.A.R.. I just wasn't that impressed with Fear to be honest. Standard shooter with a freaky girl in a red coat. That seemed to be everything to it; I had already gotten bored with bullet time from Max Payne. To the point where I hardley ever used it in any of those games.

There's a lot I could say on the proliferation of the popular over the innovative, but I think this post has gone on long enough. :)

Archangel357:
So cars have been streamlined and mainstreamed. You don't need an engineering degree these days to start one (although you damned near need one to repair a modern car), but would anybody argue that the "soft", "dumbed down", "your mother could do it", "mainstream" Porsche 997 of our days, hell, even a bog standard VW, was a WORSE car than something from the dawn of motoring?

No, you couldn't say that they're worse cars. However, some of us still desire TVR Cerberas and Ariel Atoms, as uncompromising and specialist as these vehicles are.

Archangel357:
So stop bloody complaining about games you are not going to play anyway, and support the guys who bring you titles like Okami, for crying out loud. The gaming equivalent of the Lotus Evora is out there, and unlike purist sports cars, those games cost 40 quid (or 60 Euros/dollars) like all the others.

That's a fair point, and I do end up playing a certain number of these games. However, just as the existence of the Evora doesn't stop me criticising the Toyota Camry or the Hyundai Accent, the existence of Okami hasn't stopped me from criticising mainstream games which I have felt to have failed. For every Bugatti Veyron, there are several Perodua Kelisas and more Nissan Primeras.

When a totally average shooter that stands out only because of what it does not include makes so much money for a company vocally dedicated to "taking the fun out of games" it's bound to attract a certain level of ire. Gamers are perhaps too vocal and too pasionate a group but it's plain to see from where this hatred stems.

Imma gonna openly admit that I am that kind of 'nerd gamer' with an encyclopedic knowledge on MGS and RE. I don't see it as being a problem, after all what really is the difference between us 'hardcore gamers' who worship video games like a religion and football (soccer for non-Brits) hooligans, well aside from the fact that gamers don't trash football grounds and towns.

I find myself despising the mainstream more and more and it probably is because I'm just that kind of person. As a teenager (17) I'm still struggling for individuality (at least according to Erikson and Vygotsky :P) and that's probably why alot of us act the way we do, dissing popular things because they're popular.

However I won't deny that I genuinely dislike MW2 for the same reason I dislike CoD4, I just don't get my moneys worth because I don't spend so much time online. Also I can honestly say, playing the Moscow Airport mission I was rendered completely indifferent. I took a brutal approach to everything and it didn't bother me in the slightest, it's fiction and not even good fiction.

Archangel357:

So cars have been streamlined and mainstreamed. You don't need an engineering degree these days to start one (although you damned near need one to repair a modern car), but would anybody argue that the "soft", "dumbed down", "your mother could do it", "mainstream" Porsche 997 of our days, hell, even a bog standard VW, was a WORSE car than something from the dawn of motoring?

Actually, as someone with an engineering degree, I'd say you need one AND to work at the designing company, OR have the in-depth repair manual and access to the non-standard spare parts (especially the PCBs).

Edit: As for the metaphor about cars, I'd have to say that in most cases, making the controls of a car easier doesn't reduce the 'performance factors' (i.e. speed/reliablity/capacity - whatever it is that you look for in a car).

With gaming, however, we've seen gameplay and game stories/story telling drop in quality with simplifying of gaming. Expections exist, of course - I'm not saying simpler gaming == must be a lower quality game; Half-life 2, for example, has simple controls, but good story telling - what I'm saying is thats the expection rather than the rule.

That said, the dip seems to be reserving now, and *hopefully* we'll see gaming reach further than ever before. I doubt it, of course, with money tight and most big studios so anti-risk they barely allow new IPs out of the studio for 8 seconds.

Wow, I'm not the only one who thinks the first modern warfare is better than 2.
Didn't those millions of commercials sway your opinion? (sarcasm)

I really enjoyed the article> I was thinking something alongside this last week, about how some people like to be "alternative", we know those people in our daily life, the indie music fans who happen to dress like hippies and such, who love a very strange and unknown band or songo, untill it reaches fame, then it becomes S**t to them. I guess some of the gamers have minds like those too, and don't want our hobby to become popular at all, because then a new alternative hobby would have to be created. And that relates a lot to gamers turning their noses on Wii and it's games, making gaming popular, how dare you, Nintendo! We liked you a lot more when you were some unknow japanese company, and back when japanese companies where unknown and mysterious.

Really, we gotta open our minds and remember the ultimate goal of "our" hobby (the quotes are there because we don't really own the hobby, as some people think) is to have fun.

image

This article is right on the money. Always, always trust a member of The Escapist staff to force people into the right way of thinking with the sheer power of words and correctivity.

I dont know, I laughed my way though the No Russian level, I could not take it seriously when I realised that the civilians only had three types of shirt between them and the same pre-scripted routines.

Modern Warfare two is the Michael bay of the gaming industry. lots of spectacle no substance

Not everyone who was on the MW2 boycott bought it. I did not buy the game and I never will.

This is a great read. It's about time someone with sway in the gaming community said "fuck up and stop whinging." For a group of people to whom games are supposed to be one of the more enjoyable facets of life, we're very rarely happy, let alone content, with them.

I feel in some ways this article is missing the point.

Nevertheless an interesting an hard to swallow thought.

ThisNewGuy:
Game sales DO NOT REFLECT QUALITY. That is to say that MW2 is the most bought piece of entertainment in history doesn't mean that it's the best piece of entertainment in history. The article raised a fair point about how gamers don't buy games that we don't like. However, the hype of the game, the promise of its premise, the glorified perfection that is the first MW, more than justify this sequel to be easily like-able. So it's the hype, the hope that sold the game, NOT QUALITY. At least, not for me or for most of the haters, if I can speak on their behalf.

The simple fact of opinion is that for me, I hate MW2's single player because it just sucks. I know that this is a weird concept, to hate a game for its quality since the game journalists of our day factor advertisement and sponsorship into the consideration, but coming from Uncharted 2 and just finished Modern Warfare's single player, MW2's single player simply sucks. It's shock and awe comes merely from the immediate imagery of the opening of each level, after that initial shock, it's just a very mundane shooter. It's almost as if the developers simply reskinned the opening training obstacle course for each level.

The story was more convoluted than if Yahtzee was commissioned to explain the entire Metal Gears story in a 5 minutes episode of Zero Punctuation. The shooting mechanics is very impressive, but that's simply copy and pasting the original Modern Warfare. The set pieces had a 5 second shock moment, then it's just boring. And the levels and mission objectives are repetitive and boring. It almost boils down to two things, defend this spot or follow a guy.

No, gamers don't love to hate and gamers don't hate to love. As a gamer, I hate MW2's single player because it simply sucks.

While I won't be this... uncompromising in my words, I agree.

It's amusing, the gaming culture has grown to be so broad yet this discussion here is just what a friend of mine and I were arguing of the other day. Everything is all love it or hate it. The game either gets an 8, 9 or 10 and MUST BE BOUGHT GAME OF THE YEAR OMFG!!!, or is 5-7 "dude it's not worth the disc it was burned on". It is absolutely ridiculous that we've lost any sense of in between.

Yet when it comes to gamers as a whole, I find they've broken into many groups. There's the "hardcore", and then there's the "mainstream". These can each be broken down further, where you have hardcore gamers with a stick up their ass and look at anything like Halo as being absolute garbage despite any argument against. They are so full of themselves that any game which doesn't approach their ridiculous standards is trash. Then there are those that are extremely critical but play a lot of games anyway. Then there are those that simply love games. Holy crap, who knew?

Until the Wii, the mainstream has been the dirty frat boy demographic. I feel I should emphasize this since so many people are, well, short-sighted. The whooping howling frat boy demographic did not begin with Halo. They've always been there. The only difference is now they are actually calling themselves "hardcore gamers" instead of beating kids up for following that label.

Before Halo, they played Counter-Strike. Before Counter-Strike they played Mortal Kombat. Before that they played Mario, just like everyone else. But no matter what their standards were driven by the same values that forces them to see Michael Bay's Transformers. A lack of sophistication. They dress and talk like they are on MTV and play for the competition, not the artistic integrity.

There is no one thing that brought them into the mainstream. As stated, you can trace it as early as the Genesis trying to be cooler for an older audience and allowing blood in Mortal Kombat. It could be viewed with Counter-Strike, which is, at my best guess, the origin of tea-bagging (for all I know it started with Quake 2 or Unreal Tournament, though. Then again, those games had people exploding to bits, didn't they?). You could look at it as Sony's advertising the Playstation as an entertainment device for "cool teens" rather than a games console.

Either way, the gaming industry has always sought to grab that mainstream appeal. In the 90's people tried to have a million and one fuzzy animals that ripped off Mario and Sonic both. Then it was a constant ripping off of Mario 64. Now it's a ton of shooters copying Halo. It's never existed with artistic integrity at the fore front.

But you know what's great? The Nintendo Wii. All those competitive controller jockeys are unhappy that games are being made for grandma and kid sister, even though such moves will only push the industry forward. There will always be developers looking to push for artistic integrity. We'll always have the System Shocks, Assassin's Creeds and Psychonauts of the games industry. But by having everyone try to find success in the widest of mainstream audiences, we get something we desperately need.

Variety.

This is the major problem that Russ Pitts is bringing up in his article. We want gaming to be precisely how we want it. We don't want to change the games industry to resemble television or Hollywood. We want it to remain independent forever, despite demanding so much technology and budgets out of developers.

Gamers need to just shut up and accept their place. Just as the number of movie buffs are minimal compared to the mainstream that just goes to see movies for the Hell of it, the number of gamers that actually care about design and plot are minimal in games. But you know what? That doesn't mean our hobby will be lost. It just means there will be a lot more types of games out there. So what if a lot of them don't appeal to you? There will be something for you as well.

Just shut up and enjoy it.

This piece is exceptionally insightful, even finding myself questioning some of my own thoughts and views about gaming. Still, I can't help but feel sad that this fastest selling game in history sits in a genre and possesses themes for which I don't care.

EDIT: It just hit me: I think it makes me feel sad because I feel like somehow I'm less of a gamer because so many popular titles don't resonate with me.

EDIT 2:

zamble:
I really enjoyed the article> I was thinking something alongside this last week, about how some people like to be "alternative", we know those people in our daily life, the indie music fans who happen to dress like hippies and such, who love a very strange and unknown band or songo, untill it reaches fame, then it becomes S**t to them.

The term I've heard and thus used for those blokes is "backpackers."

EDIT 3:

ccesarano:

Until the Wii, the mainstream has been the dirty frat boy demographic. I feel I should emphasize this since so many people are, well, short-sighted. The whooping howling frat boy demographic did not begin with Halo. They've always been there. The only difference is now they are actually calling themselves "hardcore gamers" instead of beating kids up for following that label.

Before Halo, they played Counter-Strike. Before Counter-Strike they played Mortal Kombat. Before that they played Mario, just like everyone else. But no matter what their standards were driven by the same values that forces them to see Michael Bay's Transformers. A lack of sophistication. They dress and talk like they are on MTV and play for the competition, not the artistic integrity.

Well said.

I think that you overstate the effect of the "No Russian" level. I was not affected in any way. It has been said over and over again so I feel redundant for saying it, but the "You could do all of that in Grand Theft Auto 3 almost a decade ago." argument is pretty valid. There is no buildup to make you care about who you are playing as or what you are doing. They throw you in there without any context and have you start shooting. Sure, it was a shock because I wasn't expecting it. But I am "shocked" when someone sneaks up on me for a quick kill online because I obviously wasn't expecting it. After the half a second it took to get over it, I treated it like a shooting gallery video game.

So no, I was not "affected". And if I was, it was no more than I would be after playing duck hunt.

Rack:
When a totally average shooter that stands out only because of what it does not include makes so much money for a company vocally dedicated to "taking the fun out of games" it's bound to attract a certain level of ire. Gamers are perhaps too vocal and too pasionate a group but it's plain to see from where this hatred stems.

You say that it's a "totally average shooter", but what would be an "above average" shooter? The only argument I've ever seen is the auto aim. Maybe you can explain it better. Nobody has yet to present to me an argument that can justify what shooter is average and what isn't. And this is not counting the lack of dedicated server support.

Rock on in the second-to-last paragraph.

MW2 numbers are its own reward, it's own justification. Hardly any reason to given any mention of those trying to cut through the hype machine.

Maybe every game can be just like MW2 and we will see where the videogame industry goes.

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