Why are we gamers all so picky?

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Most everybody that calls themselves a hardcore gamer started playing when they were a kid, myself included. It didn't matter that I practically never, ever got through a whole game, I was just having a blast pushing buttons.

Now that the generation that cut its teeth on the NES and Sega are older they want the same instant, manic gratification from an industry that hasn't existed as we knew it for decades. And we want to feel that same delight in ourselves long past we're capable of producing it.

That sounds a lot more cynical than I intend it. What I mean is this: I mentioned that I hardly ever actually got through a game as a kid, and that this never bothered me. That's because when you were that age, regardless of your feelings now, videogames were toys, and you wanted them to be toys.

Now, however, I've come to embrace gaming not as an expensive toy but as a new and rather reluctant form of media. I look at video games the same way I see books and movies and television. I don't really think this is true of a lot of gamers my age. Coming out of college now, gaming still hasn't become a new form of media for a lot of gamers- it's still a toy, and all the expectations and connotations that go with that.

Take Mass Effect for example. Taking it as a form of media, you can draw a lot of parallels to the movie Pitch Black. Both original IPs at their times with a hostile but compelling alien setting, conveyed by a cast of interesting and varied characters that tried a number of clever ideas technically with varying success.

But a lot of people dismiss both of these out of hand. I tried getting one of my friends to see Pitch Black. Know what they told me? "I don't watch action movies." I told them it wasn't an action movie. "I don't like horror movies either." I told them it wasn't a horror movie. Finally, they said "I don't really like sci-fi." I was wondering at this point what kind of movies they actually watch. (As it turns out, buddy comedies. That's all.)

You saw the same thing with Mass Effect. "I don't like action shooter games." Well, it isn't really just that, you tell them. "Well I don't like roleplaying games." But it's not just that, either. "Oh. Well scifi is stupid." Thanks for breaking out of your comfort zone, really. I didn't realize only third-person platforming games were up to your discerning standards.

The gaming culture is an aggravatingly factious one. One of the Escapist writers observed that seeing the little cliques of genre devoteesgo at it is a lot like watching people who only eat at McDonald's argue vehemently with people who only eat at Subway, and I think that's a pretty dead-on statement. And as harsh as it is, it's because gamers, when you get right down to it, are shallow.

A great injustice I see perpetrated every day is the sum of all attention being paid to the way gaming media are presented and not the presented media itself. Sales confirm it time and time again: if a game can't be fit easily into the consumer's conception of what games are to them, they will reject it immediately. The slightest hint of even mixing genres or, worse yet, defying genres altogether proves time and time again to be a waste of a publisher's money. Things like Psychonauts and Ico, brilliant titles both, that no one wanted.

I use Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to point out the disparity. They're both great games. Ico is better. Shadow of the Colossus is more fun. I'll explain my reasoning. Ico was a marvel in its time, and always will be. It's simplicity and subtlety convey emotional moments and desperate struggles with not an intelligible word spoken between the two leads. It stood as a monument to the 'show, don't tell' method all good storytelling strives for. But the game's downfall was where its priorities were set: gameplay and a sense of raw fun took a definite backseat to storytelling and bonding to the characters.

Gameplay in Ico consisted of two things: pushing, pulling and climbing your way through a maze of a castle to lead a girl out, and beating off shadowy enemies with a stick. Ico was a pre-pubescent kid; he couldn't double jump, he didn't have any flashy combos to juggle enemies, and he doesn't get a single one-liner. If you saw the game as a way to keep yourself entertained in the same way Mario or Halo keeps you entertained, you were probably bored out of your skull. The game just doesn't give the kind of constant gratification to your fun receptors that a lot of gamers look for.

But here's a few things to point out: the simplicity of the mechanics meant that they all worked flawlessly. It's one of the most intuitive games I've ever played. The controls were unique to the game, but felt as familiar as if I'd always played with them. The focus of this game is to immerse the player into the beautiful yet alien setting and to invest their interests with those of the characters, and once it had you, it had you- period.

But the tragedy is that you can never experience this if you're just playing Ico as a game; taking it as anything less than a form of media just like books or movies will result in you viewing the game through a very physical and technical lens: Ico isn't caught up in a travesty larger than himself, he's just your man. Yorda isn't your companion or your charge, she's just an object to be moved through the castle. And that's a tragedy- I know that this is a 'true Scotsman' argument, but I'll say it anyway: if you got it, it stuck in you and sticks with you. If you didn't like it, you didn't get it.

But when you get it, all the little details take on meaning far more than their worth in code. You break into the windmill green and Yorda starts chasing doves, and you think, "Yeah, this is a good spot to take a breather." And you swim in the little lake and it just feels great to have some momentary reprieve, even knowing in the back of your mind you're both still trapped. And when you finally pick up, of all things, a real sword? Then you feel more than just powerful: you feel vengeful.

But it doesn't matter cause no one bought it. Apparently- Team Ico claims- because of the box art. Which, on my more cynical days, I'd probably believe.

But they were the little team that could. A few years later, they made a prequel to Ico: Shadow of the Colossus, a game at once quite similar and very different from its predecessor. And boy did it sell. In a lot of ways, it was mechanically very similar: a lot of the run-jump-climb handled and felt like it was straight out of Ico- and it was. But in this game, you weren't pushing boxes and guiding a girl around: you were using almost the same control scheme to mount and slay enemies thousands of times your size, the eponymous Colossi. Why? Because this will apparently bring a girl back from the dead somehow.

And let me tell you, this game was fun. Slaying the colossi is every bit as awesome as its description would indicate, and you really can't conceive it until you do it yourself. But this is where you get into the biggest difference between the two games: it isn't the amount of action, it is the action's role. In Ico, as I said, the action is very simple (thought thougt-provoking and often tricky) because its role was to serve the story and characters. In Shadow of the Colossus, the story is very much in service to the action, and it suffers for it.

The entire reason for the protagonist's trials is his desire to raise a girl from the dead, but I wouldn't blame you for forgetting that by the third colossus- which is an awesome fight, by the way- because when you get right down to it it has absolutely no impact on the game whatsoever. It didn't have to be a girl, unjustly slain- it could have been anything or anyone. It could have been his mother. It could have been his dog. It still would have had absolutely zero impact on the plot because that's exactly how much of a role she's intended to play: get the kid in there so he can fight the colossi. That's all, thank you for your time.

Let me ask a question: did anyone care when she finally came back to life? Actually, let me ask a better question: which character did you care most about: the girl, or the horse? It's probably a bad sign for the story in SotC that most players ended up more attached to the horse, who carried you around the map, than they did to the dead broad. The one you're fighting thousand-ton monstrosities on the behalf of.

Now, I'll clarify something here: there isn't anything wrong with this, really. Any reason is a good enough reason to go giant slaying, even for me. If that's the kind of game it is, then those are the merits it deserves to be judged upon, and this game was judged very well. But here's the kicker: it doesn't last. After you go through two or three times, maybe even climb the temple and get to the garden, you've already mastered the game. Nothing can really stand before you. You know how ot bring down all the enemies in record time, and the colossi are now no more intimidating than goombas. So if your enjoyment of the game is all from the thrill of the hunt, well... sorry. That's over for you. Time to get a new game to pass the time, maybe come back to Shadow in a few months or years, probably just let it sit in a nox or trade it in.

But if the worth of a game is in its intangible and personable aspects, like Ico, it has far, far greater longevity than a game enjoyed for the successful pressing of buttons. Bleak House was released by Charles Dickens in 1852 and is considered by many, myself included, to be his best work. Guess what? It's still one of the best books in the English language. It's not that the plot and characters of Ico won't wear on you if you play it into the ground. It's that the aspects of the game that make it special and give it its core value will not diminish over time; you can enjoy it as a touching fable, and- and this is the cool thing- your grandkids could, too. On the other hand, games that are carried on the strength of their mechanics and raw fun value alone will be trite and outdated just a few years or, unfortunately in a lot of cases, just a few months on down the line.

But the mechanics, the code and tech aspects, are precisely what the vast majority of gamers concern themselves with. The desire to see gaming succeed as a form of media is entirely absent. The few valiant successful attempts to make gaming more than an expensive toys industry do nothing to assuage the fact that, like it or not, gaming as a form of technology and entertainment leaps ahead and ahead while gaming as a form of legitimate media is little improved from what it was in the nineties.

All genres are guilty of it, including yours. Actually, if you didn't immediately have a genre in mind when I said 'including yours,' you don't count. Infinity Ward's efforts aside, first and third person shooters are exactly the cesspools of redundancy, unoriginality, shallowness and failure to innovate as its detractors claim it to be. I remember in 2004 when Halo 2 came out, people were losing their minds over- can you believe it?- the ability to dual wield weapons, which, along with a sword, were the two biggest draws of the installment set to 'revolutionize' the genre by nicking two elements from Goldeneye 007, a game seven years its senior and which is now probably more fondly remembered than Halo 2, seeing as how it actually did revolutionize the genre when it released, whereas Halo 2 was just the latest excuse to slam a Dew and ignore your midterm. But even Goldeneye isn't going to be appreciated by gamers that didn't play it when it came out because it's appeal was- you know where I'm going with this- purely mechanical, and my how those mechanics have aged poorly!

No sniggering from the RPG crowd, either. I never noticed any animosity between devotees of western versus Japanese RPGs until very recently but it's rather pointless because the biggest problems with both sects are the same- an intractable devotion to game mechanics that were outdated a decade ago. Western RPGs, to be as uncharitable as possible, can be divided into two main groups: Diablo clones and Elder Scrolls clones. Diablo is old as dirt, and its mechanics are apparently not even changing for the long awaited third entry into the series.

Morrowind was the first Elder Scrolls I played, but that came out in '02, and there's still a big line of developers more than willing to try and strike it rich reverse engineering gameplay mechanics from when a lot of us were in middle school or high school.

JRPGS need not even be classified, as JRPG serves very well as its own classification. The problem with the genre isn't that they're all the same- it's sadly pretty natural for genres to made up of a handful of bulls and a thousand imitators. The problem with JRPGs, king of kings in the genre Square-Enix is mired so deep in its own mess that you need look no further than this site's recent headlines to see that the company acknowledges its genre of choice as dead. Although, a few red flags should have been raised when the main selling points of the latest installment of the series that carries its genre upon its back are, in order, a move away from gameplay mechanics it introduced in 1987, and a lead character acknowledged by the company to be a female redesign of the lead from a more popular installment.

And then of course there's the curious case of Nintendo and its platformers and adventure games, a company more than willing to rake in the money from games the main selling point of which is their hostility to innovation in any way more than graphical- if even that.

But this isn't what's wrong with gaming. If it was, I wouldn't be posting it in a thread about what's wrong with gam-ers, after all. The sum of gaming today is as paltry as it is because gamers simply wouldn't have it any other way. The devotees of these genres nod their heads in accordance with the criticisms leveled at any area other than their own, and recoil when you suggest that enjoying the same thing from your own stagnant stock is hypocritical. All the attention is on the mechanics, the code, and the technology. People will accept a good story and strong characters only if they come in a package as familiar and unstimulating to them as the taste of their own tongue.

When a game is bought, there isn't any sense of opportunity or wonder. Games are bought for the specific wants and needs they are intended by the buyer to fulfill. Their is a colossal sense of entitlement among gamers- a sense that the developers and the games they make owe you something. And if they don't receive what they bought the game to get, they feel betrayed, as if they had been denied something precious owed to them. If what they wanted was strong, cohesive narrative, natural and intelligent character development, and rich, immersive settings, this wouldn't be so bad- except that all game companies would soon fail because this is next to impossible to accomplish consistently in a project as large as a video game.

But that isn't the case. The majority of gamers want exactly what they already have. They want an embittered soldier who plays outside the rules, takes no prisoners, regenerates health behind waist-high barriers, and can't carry more than two guns at time to drive out either the Muslims or the snakemen at the expense of his best friend's life. They want a 5-foot ten blond with alabaster skin to take up his sword against a man wearing a purple wedding dress and save the world through the power of slogging endlessly through an endgame swamp for an item to make his ultimate weapon, supported only by a seven foot jive-talking Negro and a stepsister that hugs the lead just a bit too closely. They want a princess to tell them to gather three items and a sword which they will gather just in time to accidentally complete the villain's plot and have to gather seven more things and a better, non-legendary sword to play tennis with the final boss. They will get all this because they deserve it. And they will complain that the industry is spinning its wheels and that the greatest era in gaming has faded away to memory.

Most game studios are a single flop away from bankruptcy. All it takes is one game attempting to break out of its chains and really open up people's eyes to a new experience to put a building full of people out of work for their arrogance. This is, in effect, a billion-dollar industry commanded by people who demand to be sold things they already own, and who will not settle for anything better because sixty dollars is too much to risk on progress. Sometimes a risk works out, like for Mass effect. The majority of the time, a lot of proud artisans pull up the classified ads and bust out the sipping whiskey.

I knew this kid who would only eat two things: cheese sticks and chicken nuggets. He treated the idea of eating anything else, and I'm not exaggerating, anything else at all, the way most people react to blind links to /b/ threads. But that wasn't the aggravating part. If you actually had this stuff ready for him, he'd get insulted and cry because he realized everyone knew he was a dull, shallow, selfish, ungrateful little prick that made everyone else have to accommodate his own retarded, hair-narrow standards of suitability. And then if they ask him what he'd rather have instead he had nothing at all to say. Nothing. He'd rather have the blandest, dullest, safest, most boring and innocuous option he could choose than to risk having anything at all worthwhile, refreshing, or fulfilling. And when he gets called on it, he'd rather have nothing at all than to risk censure.

I see this kid every single day I log on. If you only read fantasy novels, if you only watch action movies, if you only play FPS'es, only play JRPGS, only play injection-molded Nintendo-loaf, I think I speak for the majority of the gaming community when I say that every day you only serve to self-righteously ruin it for yourselves and for everyone who truly feels the cracked edge of vast potential rusting unburnished from abject disuse, and we fucking hate you for it.

Kill yourselves.

we bitch and moan about games because they do not live up to the hype, if a mediocre game was released with all the reviews saying "Meh, it's alright, not the worst thing ever, but it kills time" instead of "Excitingly original, great gameplay, excellent character detail, top notch voice acting *more ass kissing statements that are completely exaggerated* 10/10!!!" maybe we couldn't bitch as much because we went into the game knowing it wasn't going to be the revolutionary masterpiece it was hyped to be.

As far as rushing and delays go, I just vote developers stop giving deadlines and say "well...it will be released when it's finished and polished and not a moment sooner, but we promise we're working on it, heres a couple samples along the way"

TheRocketeer:
*MASSIVE snip*

christ dude, you wrote more than the OP...

I am quite fine when a game does not descend from the heavens and lead us to the starborn ones or something like that.

I tend to ignore hype, and keep my expectations realistic. I wouldn't expect a movie to always be the greatest thing I've ever seen, or a book I've read, or a TV show, or a gig, or an album, why should games be so different? They're made by people, who make mistakes, and so I feel like we should just appreciate the fact that someone did this and released it, through the heartrending process that is the creative art.

I'll just take my hippy agenda and set up over here, thanks.

Because gamers are selfish, ungreatful, whiny twats. "WE WANT BETTER GAMES" they cry as they swarm for shitty games and eat them up like so many hot pockets. Then when a "better" game is released they just pirate it because it isn't the safe and familiarity of their generic WW2 FPS and the company goes "Oh bugger this game has been a disappointment, lets just make a generic game now"

Stop generalizing. Everyone is not too picky.

Think about it like this. Gaming is one of the most productive industries in the world (not the most productive pastime but stay with me). Literally hundreds of games are produced every year and as such gamers become more critical of the product simply because there are so many games both good and bad. Thus, it can be frustrating to see so many games that are good having the same flaws over and over again while minimal changes are being made.

It's because videogames themselves give gamers a false sense of self importance by making them the hero, main character, point of interest, center of attention, and this feeling of importance is carried unknowingly over into the real world. They have this "me,me,me" mentality becaue they are accustomed to it, and when something doesn't go exactly in their favor they act like a bunch of brats.

or

Lots of games don't have social lives, so when the only thing they really having going for them doesn't deliver they take it personal.

This is because it's so much easier to be critical as we get older. It's just our desire to demand that all things be amazing and that we get them *exactly* when we want them. I've actually been actively trying to not be as picky or critical of games, movies, and books. I agree completely, people can be such dicks when it comes to being consumers and they often forget how much time, effort, money, and thought goes into those $60 discs. They do it for our entertainment and we spit in their faces. Many of them indeed only do it for the money, but there are several out there that are passionate about the games they make and want to share that with us. Let's lay off and let them do their jobs!

I really don't care if it's "perfect", I just want it to be fun. if it is literally not fun, then I do hate it, but not if it has a few flows.

Because not everyone likes everything.

TheRocketeer:
Most everybody that calls themselves a hardcore gamer started playing when they were a kid, myself included. It didn't matter that I practically never, ever got through a whole game, I was just having a blast pushing buttons.

Now that the generation that cut its teeth on the NES and Sega are older they want the same instant, manic gratification from an industry that hasn't existed as we knew it for decades. And we want to feel that same delight in ourselves long past we're capable of producing it.

That sounds a lot more cynical than I intend it. What I mean is this: I mentioned that I hardly ever actually got through a game as a kid, and that this never bothered me. That's because when you were that age, regardless of your feelings now, videogames were toys, and you wanted them to be toys.

Now, however, I've come to embrace gaming not as an expensive toy but as a new and rather reluctant form of media. I look at video games the same way I see books and movies and television. I don't really think this is true of a lot of gamers my age. Coming out of college now, gaming still hasn't become a new form of media for a lot of gamers- it's still a toy, and all the expectations and connotations that go with that.

Take Mass Effect for example. Taking it as a form of media, you can draw a lot of parallels to the movie Pitch Black. Both original IPs at their times with a hostile but compelling alien setting, conveyed by a cast of interesting and varied characters that tried a number of clever ideas technically with varying success.

But a lot of people dismiss both of these out of hand. I tried getting one of my friends to see Pitch Black. Know what they told me? "I don't watch action movies." I told them it wasn't an action movie. "I don't like horror movies either." I told them it wasn't a horror movie. Finally, they said "I don't really like sci-fi." I was wondering at this point what kind of movies they actually watch. (As it turns out, buddy comedies. That's all.)

You saw the same thing with Mass Effect. "I don't like action shooter games." Well, it isn't really just that, you tell them. "Well I don't like roleplaying games." But it's not just that, either. "Oh. Well scifi is stupid." Thanks for breaking out of your comfort zone, really. I didn't realize only third-person platforming games were up to your discerning standards.

The gaming culture is an aggravatingly factious one. One of the Escapist writers observed that seeing the little cliques of genre devoteesgo at it is a lot like watching people who only eat at McDonald's argue vehemently with people who only eat at Subway, and I think that's a pretty dead-on statement. And as harsh as it is, it's because gamers, when you get right down to it, are shallow.

A great injustice I see perpetrated every day is the sum of all attention being paid to the way gaming media are presented and not the presented media itself. Sales confirm it time and time again: if a game can't be fit easily into the consumer's conception of what games are to them, they will reject it immediately. The slightest hint of even mixing genres or, worse yet, defying genres altogether proves time and time again to be a waste of a publisher's money. Things like Psychonauts and Ico, brilliant titles both, that no one wanted.

I use Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to point out the disparity. They're both great games. Ico is better. Shadow of the Colossus is more fun. I'll explain my reasoning. Ico was a marvel in its time, and always will be. It's simplicity and subtlety convey emotional moments and desperate struggles with not an intelligible word spoken between the two leads. It stood as a monument to the 'show, don't tell' method all good storytelling strives for. But the game's downfall was where its priorities were set: gameplay and a sense of raw fun took a definite backseat to storytelling and bonding to the characters.

Gameplay in Ico consisted of two things: pushing, pulling and climbing your way through a maze of a castle to lead a girl out, and beating off shadowy enemies with a stick. Ico was a pre-pubescent kid; he couldn't double jump, he didn't have any flashy combos to juggle enemies, and he doesn't get a single one-liner. If you saw the game as a way to keep yourself entertained in the same way Mario or Halo keeps you entertained, you were probably bored out of your skull. The game just doesn't give the kind of constant gratification to your fun receptors that a lot of gamers look for.

But here's a few things to point out: the simplicity of the mechanics meant that they all worked flawlessly. It's one of the most intuitive games I've ever played. The controls were unique to the game, but felt as familiar as if I'd always played with them. The focus of this game is to immerse the player into the beautiful yet alien setting and to invest their interests with those of the characters, and once it had you, it had you- period.

But the tragedy is that you can never experience this if you're just playing Ico as a game; taking it as anything less than a form of media just like books or movies will result in you viewing the game through a very physical and technical lens: Ico isn't caught up in a travesty larger than himself, he's just your man. Yorda isn't your companion or your charge, she's just an object to be moved through the castle. And that's a tragedy- I know that this is a 'true Scotsman' argument, but I'll say it anyway: if you got it, it stuck in you and sticks with you. If you didn't like it, you didn't get it.

But when you get it, all the little details take on meaning far more than their worth in code. You break into the windmill green and Yorda starts chasing doves, and you think, "Yeah, this is a good spot to take a breather." And you swim in the little lake and it just feels great to have some momentary reprieve, even knowing in the back of your mind you're both still trapped. And when you finally pick up, of all things, a real sword? Then you feel more than just powerful: you feel vengeful.

But it doesn't matter cause no one bought it. Apparently- Team Ico claims- because of the box art. Which, on my more cynical days, I'd probably believe.

But they were the little team that could. A few years later, they made a prequel to Ico: Shadow of the Colossus, a game at once quite similar and very different from its predecessor. And boy did it sell. In a lot of ways, it was mechanically very similar: a lot of the run-jump-climb handled and felt like it was straight out of Ico- and it was. But in this game, you weren't pushing boxes and guiding a girl around: you were using almost the same control scheme to mount and slay enemies thousands of times your size, the eponymous Colossi. Why? Because this will apparently bring a girl back from the dead somehow.

And let me tell you, this game was fun. Slaying the colossi is every bit as awesome as its description would indicate, and you really can't conceive it until you do it yourself. But this is where you get into the biggest difference between the two games: it isn't the amount of action, it is the action's role. In Ico, as I said, the action is very simple (thought thougt-provoking and often tricky) because its role was to serve the story and characters. In Shadow of the Colossus, the story is very much in service to the action, and it suffers for it.

The entire reason for the protagonist's trials is his desire to raise a girl from the dead, but I wouldn't blame you for forgetting that by the third colossus- which is an awesome fight, by the way- because when you get right down to it it has absolutely no impact on the game whatsoever. It didn't have to be a girl, unjustly slain- it could have been anything or anyone. It could have been his mother. It could have been his dog. It still would have had absolutely zero impact on the plot because that's exactly how much of a role she's intended to play: get the kid in there so he can fight the colossi. That's all, thank you for your time.

Let me ask a question: did anyone care when she finally came back to life? Actually, let me ask a better question: which character did you care most about: the girl, or the horse? It's probably a bad sign for the story in SotC that most players ended up more attached to the horse, who carried you around the map, than they did to the dead broad. The one you're fighting thousand-ton monstrosities on the behalf of.

Now, I'll clarify something here: there isn't anything wrong with this, really. Any reason is a good enough reason to go giant slaying, even for me. If that's the kind of game it is, then those are the merits it deserves to be judged upon, and this game was judged very well. But here's the kicker: it doesn't last. After you go through two or three times, maybe even climb the temple and get to the garden, you've already mastered the game. Nothing can really stand before you. You know how ot bring down all the enemies in record time, and the colossi are now no more intimidating than goombas. So if your enjoyment of the game is all from the thrill of the hunt, well... sorry. That's over for you. Time to get a new game to pass the time, maybe come back to Shadow in a few months or years, probably just let it sit in a nox or trade it in.

But if the worth of a game is in its intangible and personable aspects, like Ico, it has far, far greater longevity than a game enjoyed for the successful pressing of buttons. Bleak House was released by Charles Dickens in 1852 and is considered by many, myself included, to be his best work. Guess what? It's still one of the best books in the English language. It's not that the plot and characters of Ico won't wear on you if you play it into the ground. It's that the aspects of the game that make it special and give it its core value will not diminish over time; you can enjoy it as a touching fable, and- and this is the cool thing- your grandkids could, too. On the other hand, games that are carried on the strength of their mechanics and raw fun value alone will be trite and outdated just a few years or, unfortunately in a lot of cases, just a few months on down the line.

But the mechanics, the code and tech aspects, are precisely what the vast majority of gamers concern themselves with. The desire to see gaming succeed as a form of media is entirely absent. The few valiant successful attempts to make gaming more than an expensive toys industry do nothing to assuage the fact that, like it or not, gaming as a form of technology and entertainment leaps ahead and ahead while gaming as a form of legitimate media is little improved from what it was in the nineties.

All genres are guilty of it, including yours. Actually, if you didn't immediately have a genre in mind when I said 'including yours,' you don't count. Infinity Ward's efforts aside, first and third person shooters are exactly the cesspools of redundancy, unoriginality, shallowness and failure to innovate as its detractors claim it to be. I remember in 2004 when Halo 2 came out, people were losing their minds over- can you believe it?- the ability to dual wield weapons, which, along with a sword, were the two biggest draws of the installment set to 'revolutionize' the genre by nicking two elements from Goldeneye 007, a game seven years its senior and which is now probably more fondly remembered than Halo 2, seeing as how it actually did revolutionize the genre when it released, whereas Halo 2 was just the latest excuse to slam a Dew and ignore your midterm. But even Goldeneye isn't going to be appreciated by gamers that didn't play it when it came out because it's appeal was- you know where I'm going with this- purely mechanical, and my how those mechanics have aged poorly!

No sniggering from the RPG crowd, either. I never noticed any animosity between devotees of western versus Japanese RPGs until very recently but it's rather pointless because the biggest problems with both sects are the same- an intractable devotion to game mechanics that were outdated a decade ago. Western RPGs, to be as uncharitable as possible, can be divided into two main groups: Diablo clones and Elder Scrolls clones. Diablo is old as dirt, and its mechanics are apparently not even changing for the long awaited third entry into the series.

Morrowind was the first Elder Scrolls I played, but that came out in '02, and there's still a big line of developers more than willing to try and strike it rich reverse engineering gameplay mechanics from when a lot of us were in middle school or high school.

JRPGS need not even be classified, as JRPG serves very well as its own classification. The problem with the genre isn't that they're all the same- it's sadly pretty natural for genres to made up of a handful of bulls and a thousand imitators. The problem with JRPGs, king of kings in the genre Square-Enix is mired so deep in its own mess that you need look no further than this site's recent headlines to see that the company acknowledges its genre of choice as dead. Although, a few red flags should have been raised when the main selling points of the latest installment of the series that carries its genre upon its back are, in order, a move away from gameplay mechanics it introduced in 1987, and a lead character acknowledged by the company to be a female redesign of the lead from a more popular installment.

And then of course there's the curious case of Nintendo and its platformers and adventure games, a company more than willing to rake in the money from games the main selling point of which is their hostility to innovation in any way more than graphical- if even that.

But this isn't what's wrong with gaming. If it was, I wouldn't be posting it in a thread about what's wrong with gam-ers, after all. The sum of gaming today is as paltry as it is because gamers simply wouldn't have it any other way. The devotees of these genres nod their heads in accordance with the criticisms leveled at any area other than their own, and recoil when you suggest that enjoying the same thing from your own stagnant stock is hypocritical. All the attention is on the mechanics, the code, and the technology. People will accept a good story and strong characters only if they come in a package as familiar and unstimulating to them as the taste of their own tongue.

When a game is bought, there isn't any sense of opportunity or wonder. Games are bought for the specific wants and needs they are intended by the buyer to fulfill. Their is a colossal sense of entitlement among gamers- a sense that the developers and the games they make owe you something. And if they don't receive what they bought the game to get, they feel betrayed, as if they had been denied something precious owed to them. If what they wanted was strong, cohesive narrative, natural and intelligent character development, and rich, immersive settings, this wouldn't be so bad- except that all game companies would soon fail because this is next to impossible to accomplish consistently in a project as large as a video game.

But that isn't the case. The majority of gamers want exactly what they already have. They want an embittered soldier who plays outside the rules, takes no prisoners, regenerates health behind waist-high barriers, and can't carry more than two guns at time to drive out either the Muslims or the snakemen at the expense of his best friend's life. They want a 5-foot ten blond with alabaster skin to take up his sword against a man wearing a purple wedding dress and save the world through the power of slogging endlessly through an endgame swamp for an item to make his ultimate weapon, supported only by a seven foot jive-talking Negro and a stepsister that hugs the lead just a bit too closely. They want a princess to tell them to gather three items and a sword which they will gather just in time to accidentally complete the villain's plot and have to gather seven more things and a better, non-legendary sword to play tennis with the final boss. They will get all this because they deserve it. And they will complain that the industry is spinning its wheels and that the greatest era in gaming has faded away to memory.

Most game studios are a single flop away from bankruptcy. All it takes is one game attempting to break out of its chains and really open up people's eyes to a new experience to put a building full of people out of work for their arrogance. This is, in effect, a billion-dollar industry commanded by people who demand to be sold things they already own, and who will not settle for anything better because sixty dollars is too much to risk on progress. Sometimes a risk works out, like for Mass effect. The majority of the time, a lot of proud artisans pull up the classified ads and bust out the sipping whiskey.

I knew this kid who would only eat two things: cheese sticks and chicken nuggets. He treated the idea of eating anything else, and I'm not exaggerating, anything else at all, the way most people react to blind links to /b/ threads. But that wasn't the aggravating part. If you actually had this stuff ready for him, he'd get insulted and cry because he realized everyone knew he was a dull, shallow, selfish, ungrateful little prick that made everyone else have to accommodate his own retarded, hair-narrow standards of suitability. And then if they ask him what he'd rather have instead he had nothing at all to say. Nothing. He'd rather have the blandest, dullest, safest, most boring and innocuous option he could choose than to risk having anything at all worthwhile, refreshing, or fulfilling. And when he gets called on it, he'd rather have nothing at all than to risk censure.

I see this kid every single day I log on. If you only read fantasy novels, if you only watch action movies, if you only[/] play FPS'es, only play JRPGS, [i]only play injection-molded Nintendo-loaf, I think I speak for the majority of the gaming community when I say that every day you continue to self-righteously ruin it for yourselves and for everyone who truly feels the cracked edge of vast potential rusting unburnished from abject disuse, and we fucking hate you for it.

Kill yourselves.

I read your novel and enjoyed it :P

Eggsnham:
I read your novel and enjoyed it :P

My novel isn't published, you couldn't have read it. :P

I actually posted it incomplete at first since I accidentally hit Post instead of Preview.

Thanks for reading it though.

I'm only picky about games because if I spend $60 (U.S.A) it better be worth it.

Because most developers today are just pumping out disappointing games that aren't as good as the first...and even worse, most non-hardcore gamers love this. The other day I heard my Xbox fanboy friend say "Oh my god Bad Company 2 fails compared to Modern Warfare 2. Just look at the graphics, they suck!"

OHNOZ THE GRAPHICS ARE BAD EVERYONE DONT BUY THE GAME THE GRAPHICS ARE BAD! THATS ALL THAT MATTERS YOU KNOW!

-.-"
Whatever happened to gameplay?

I wouldn't say gamers are that picky.

If a laggy buggy glitched up game like Modern Warfare 2 can sell so many copies, then there's definitely a lot that devs can get away with.

TheRocketeer:
Snipinsanity.

You speak for every gamer? It's the Kanye West of gaming. If people only stay in their niche then that's their choice. Save your hate for something worth it.

Fappy:

almostgold:
Because games cost $60

A men

I saw the title and that's all I thought.

It's 60 dollars PER game, then there's DLC to buy if you want that adventure extended. So it can be 100 dollars if you want that better game (Fallout 3). We're picky because for 60 bucks, it better be good. Movies can be 10 bucks, that's not such a gut turner when you find out if it's shit, plus sometimes bad movies can be good.

Honestly, gaming is expensive. You don't want to pay that much money on a sub-par game, you know? Now the whole thing about rushing and delaying has always been a bit silly to me. Someone once said "A delayed game is delayed for a couple of months. A bad game is bad forever." Really, people need to lighten up. All I'm asking for is a creative and fun experience with a good community...

Fappy:

almostgold:
Because games cost $60

A men

If a game were $2 we probably wouldn't expect too much. But when a game costs as much as an 8 hour shift's worth of work, people are going to be expecting a lot. Besides, why would I want to buy a game that doesn't entertain me? A game has to be better than watching a television show, a movie, going to the zoo, walking in the park, fishing, or any of 100 other possible pastimes. If it isn't, then it will fail to make sales. And that is the bottom line. Remember, the customer is always right. Give the customer what he/she wants and you will get profit as a benefit.

TheRocketeer:
Now, however, I've come to embrace gaming not as an expensive toy but as a new and rather reluctant form of media. I look at video games the same way I see books and movies and television. I don't really think this is true of a lot of gamers my age. Coming out of college now, gaming still hasn't become a new form of media for a lot of gamers- it's still a toy, and all the expectations and connotations that go with that.

I see this kid every single day I log on. If you only read fantasy novels, if you only watch action movies, if you only play FPS'es, only play JRPGS, only play injection-molded Nintendo-loaf, I think I speak for the majority of the gaming community when I say that every day you only serve to self-righteously ruin it for yourselves and for everyone who truly feels the cracked edge of vast potential rusting unburnished from abject disuse, and we fucking hate you for it.

^
This.

Most "typical" gamers are picky because they're immature. While the double-meaning also implies "childish" (regarding games as toys), I use it primarily in the sense of being uncultivated and undeveloped. They don't have the exposure to or familiarity with the full spectrum of what games can be -- perhaps they choose not to, perhaps they're indifferent, but this type of gamer generally has one thing in mind when they buy a game: instant gratification. They fall into "sheep mentality" and rely on megacorporations to tell them what's good, what's bad, and lack the experience to make their own, genuine judgments on things.

The flip side is that other gamers are "picky" because they are cultivated. I've played my share of games and have been continually disappointed with the more popular titles not living up to expectations set by their classic predecessors. I don't consider myself to be hardcore or picky. I am discerning. I look for games that will have higher meaning to me than escapist pleasure, and will serve a longer-lasting and more fulfilling purpose than amusing wastes of time. Likewise, I can enjoy a game that's been deemed a critical failure (or mediocrity) because I can see and appreciate its true qualities. Even if I may agree that, overall, it's a bad product, I feel good for having played it because I've expanded my palette and am therefore more cultivated.

Because when we play a game and ask ourselves, "What if..." the things that could've made the game more enjoyable seem so obvious and so easy, that we can't help but be angry at the developers for not including it.

Gyrefalcon:

Fappy:

almostgold:
Because games cost $60

A men

If a game were $2 we probably wouldn't expect too much. But when a game costs as much as an 8 hour shift's worth of work, people are going to be expecting a lot. Besides, why would I want to buy a game that doesn't entertain me? A game has to be better than watching a television show, a movie, going to the zoo, walking in the park, fishing, or any of 100 other possible pastimes. If it isn't, then it will fail to make sales. And that is the bottom line. Remember, the customer is always right. Give the customer what he/she wants and you will get profit as a benefit.

Agreed with that. Except walking in the park, thats the most EXTREAM STUFF EVER!! :P

Because we pay good money for it. That and we love our hobby. We are passionate and we expect the best. So we call out bullshit when we see it, and we will see it. And we really push for quality. Sure we are harsh. but that shows how dedicated and how much attention we put into it.

And now i want beer and doritos, curse you Eggsnham!

we're all really just trying to help each other by suffocated them with our opinions when (and it may be hard to believe) that a lot of those people already have opinions of their own

TheRocketeer:

Eggsnham:
I read your novel and enjoyed it :P

My novel isn't published, you couldn't have read it. :P

I actually posted it incomplete at first since I accidentally hit Post instead of Preview.

Thanks for reading it though.

Tis no problem.

it's part of gaming culture to critique what you're playing.

To make an opinion, supportable or not, is part of being a gamer really, at least for me.

TheRocketeer:

My novel isn't published, you couldn't have read it. :P

I actually posted it incomplete at first since I accidentally hit Post instead of Preview.

Thanks for reading it though.

Readed it too. A nice read and you raise an interesting, if slightly pessimist(IMHO)point. But a good point anyway.

I can only say that you should maybe take a look a indie games being made these days, if the mainstream clones arent cutting it, some indies are making innovations and experiments.

DustyDrB:
It's the Kanye West of gaming.

Shigeru Miyamoto doesn't care about white people.

Twad:
Readed it too. A nice read and you raise an interesting, if slightly pessimist(IMHO)point. But a good point anyway.

I can only say that you should maybe take a look a indie games being made these days, if the mainstream clones arent cutting it, some indies are making innovations and experiments.

I'd like to point out once again that there isn't anything wrong at all with playing games just for enjoyment. Taking a look through my stack of games reveals most of them are made for this purpose.

The problem arises when the desire only for this type of game stymies the development of more ambitious titles and slows the progress of the medium as a whole.

Indie games are definitely an answer. But indie developers are often massively unreliable, in terms of putting out quality products and in putting out product at all; most indie games never get beyond planning stages just because the people involved are more focused on the high concept of their game than on the formidable work involved.

Both of these problems are greatly alleviated by the sheer volume of product delivered by the indie movement as a whole, however, and publishers and distributors are becoming more and more comfortable at letting the elite among the crowd do as they please rather than try to integrate them into the industry, and streamline the delivery of the content so that it costs next to nothing for all parties involved, making risktaking less risky.

Whether or not you actually liked the game Braid, it's obvious to see that its exposure represented a healthy step forward into content promotion and delivery. So it is nice to see when something comes through for the little guy.

Another option that's even better in my opinion is the utilization of smaller, tighter teams within the large game developers to make simpler, cheaper games. That's how Portal got made, so there is definitely something to be said for that model.

If a small team is given the liberty to use company common resources like engines and development kits to produce smaller, cheaper titles, it gives a developer an avenue to explore new territory both technically and conceptually. If gamers are willing to drop around fifteen or twenty bucks on a neat, small game they saw a story about on the Internet from a completely unknown group, how much more willing would they be to spend the same amount of money on the same kind of game developed with the same design philosophies but backed by the talent and technology of a large, well-known developer like Valve, Bio-Ware, or Square-Enix?

Given that these games could be produced for a fraction of the time, budget and manpower as a behemoth title like Modern Warfare 2, Final Fantasy XIII, or anything Valve or Blizzard busts their fans balls waiting for and dropping a day's wage on, these smaller titles would serve not only to explore new concepts and systems on a small scale for a cheaper option, which is great for gamers, but to generate supplemental revenue and keep the company in the forefront of gamers' minds between the larger, flagship launches, and that's great for developers. How much more excited about Final Fantasy XIII would gamers outside of the series' hardcore fans be if they had bought or even heard about anything worth playing from the company in the last four or five years?

Beyond that, there is a movement currently among developers, or at least there had been based on the rugby concept of a 'scrum.' For people who don't know what that means, and I sure as hell didn't when I read about it, it refers to a small knot of people that congregates around the ball, and is used in the business sense in a similar fashion: some developers are now trying to re-evaluate a lot of their corporate and design techniques to facilitate better communication and a clarity of purpose between all the many and diverse groups that participate in the creation of a battleship-scale game.

This will help reduce and ideally eliminate the breakdowns in communication, mixed signals, and crossed purposes that can occur when you create a single product with a building full of people you may hardly ever work closely with, and allow the game to take shape more efficiently, and therefore more quickly and cheaply. The end product is hopefully a game that ships on time with all the screws and bolts tightened up sufficiently, and without the dead feeling of committee design that often plagues large titles, even ones with earnest spirit put into their design and creation.

So why is this relevant? Well, I think of it this way: last night, someone remarked that Japanese gaming has been struggling in recent years not because of a decline in quality but because the types of games they're putting out simply don't appeal to people outside their own borders. My response was that that's a problem for the developers, not the consumers, and that it's disingenuous to think that the industry should be turned around by people dropping money and time on products they don't want and, allegedly, won't enjoy.

And that bears on this dialogue, as well: consumers aren't going to broaden their own horizons until the horizons of the industry itself are broadened, and that regardless of how unfair or ignorant the consumer's standpoint is, it is ultimately the obligation of the industry itself to change those attitudes with their own actions. And I think a lot of these changes creeping up on the industry could certainly accomplish this- though no one should think it won't be years down the line.

Some mindsets simply don't go away until the people that hold them do. The people that are entering gaming today will inevitably eclipse the old guard, which is vastly overrepresented in the petty, factious, self-defeatist demographic of gamers. But the mindsets and perceptions these new gamers have will shape the rest of their gaming lifestyles. If what they see and play makes them as insufferable to the the next generation of gamers as my own generation surely is to the wide-eyed newbies that audaciously see gaming's reach as exceeding its grasp, then the blame falls squarely on the state of the industry that inculcated those mindsets and perceptions: the industry we produced in our generation.

The responsibility falls on both the developers that shape the industry and on the gamers who embrace or reject it to together mold a medium truly worth exploring and that will affect our antecedents in a way that we ourselves would appreciate.

Hehe... "Gameplay in Ico consisted of... beating off shadowy enemies..." I'm so witty.

Jandau:
First of all, many people only play games so they could have something to bitch about.

Second, it's apparently cool to the "Rebel" so if anything is popular, certain people will nitpick endlessly about it just to impress others on the Internet.

Third, many people have yet to learn that just because they don't like something, that doesn't mean it's bad. I don't like Valve games, but I don't say L4D is a bad game.

Fourth, not all complaining is bad, some of it is actual constructive criticism and to be honest, this is a forum for DISCUSSION ;)

Sums it up, well, I think, though I'd throw in "people who are vocal on the internet frequently have an overwhelming sense of entitlement, as though the world owes them something" for good measure.

Sturgeon's Revelation.

Susan Arendt:
Sums it up, well, I think, though I'd throw in "people who are vocal on the internet frequently have an overwhelming sense of entitlement, as though the world owes them something" for good measure.

Hmm, on one hand, this is one of the points I tried to make.

On the other hand, the staff is on to me. I'm found out!

*busts through ceiling with rocket pack*

Have you seen the games that sell the most?

If anything gamers will take anything that is sold.

Though, I did purchase Modern Warfare 2. HOWEVER, I do not own any other Call of Duty games.

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