Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hating the Video-Game Industry


That I even own and continue this blog is proof of the opposite concept so don’t give me that positive aspects bullshit. That and I think those reasons are more-often indulgences that most can no longer afford to even hear now (as all it does inspire lethargies). Keep in mind the wording and perspective this is coming from as well. As a consumer I ‘hate’ the collective world of gaming and this a just a short list rattled off the top of my head.

The Rationalizations From Growing Up

Many people begin to complain of burnouts and changes that stem not from games, but their own inability to recognize that their lives aren’t the same when weighed in tandem to how they experienced games many years ago. If one is in college, has children, or even a semi-demanding job, the lens through which they view video games will become irreparably affected by them. Given that the average gamer is over twenty years of age, it’s safe to say that they’ve all crossed a threshold where life’s responsibilities have begun to weigh in on them. What gets under my skin here is that inability to recognize that plenty of a game’s demerits are no fault of said game. Indeed design has started to change because of this, but it’s been a sporadic and indirect process over the past ten or so years. For example, games such as Portal have benefitted almost disgustingly because of such a landscape (i.e. gamers with less time on their hands).

The Homogeneity That Accompanies Gaming As a Sole Passion

"If we all reacted the same way, we'd be predictable, and there's always more than one way to view a situation. What's true for the group is also true for the individual. It's simple: overspecialize, and you breed in weakness. It's slow death."

If one has no interests outside of gaming, it will be apparent almost instantly. This will almost always form an overreliance on games to bring form or meaning to a person’s life. When one has no other interests, gaming is left holding up baggage that doesn’t even belong to it. There are plenty of games that exist which can easily be mined for years of experience, and every gamer has come across at least one game that can accompany other passions that are arguably more valuable to that individual’s life (even if said individual would seek to deny such a claim). When there’s a co-mingling of different experiences, new ideas and appreciations are created and less of a focus is demanded of so many titles. Speaking of…

The Retarded Pace At Which The Industry Moves

A favorite of mine is watching people attempt to keep up with each other in terms of what and how they play now. Given how hyper-connected gamers are allowed to be these days (i.e. the Internet, online gaming, social networking, etc.), it was only a matter of time before the snowball began gathering momentum. It’s a form of peer pressure taken to absurd lengths. It extends far beyond the simple nature of rebelling against playing what our friends are too (which most can’t accomplish as is, leaving the discussion to end there). Many ‘news’ sites benefit from this in a horrible manner (some of them knowingly perpetuating it), stringing along gamers to play ‘what’s hot’ and in turn---generating an army of pseudo-critics who don’t have the access or funds to keep up with them (which is simply a status-contest and/or simple dick-measuring anyway). Not only that, but a sense of entitlement begins spewing from every party involved, corrupting any sense of happiness, satisfaction, or contentment they’d claim to be seeking to begin with. It’s one thing to play a game you’ve been waiting years for on day one. It’s another entirely to aimlessly wander around throwing money at titles, making an already-fat industry more bloated than necessary, all in the name of a superficial self-satisfaction. People who ‘like everything’ are just as dangerous as the person who only plays Call of Duty titles, their damage ending up more destructive in the long-term scheme. Generally speaking, If one’s personal intake of new titles exceeds ten in the span of a year (and I’m being generous), they’re most-likely part of the problem.


The Clueless Consumer

An immediate sister to the pacing issue is the general gamer that will complain about the nature of games and then proceed pay money that they often don’t have for their next 'fix'. As ludicrous as the addictive games accusations can be, gamers sure do provide ample ammunition for their beloved medium to be pegged as such. Actions speak louder than words and this industry a solid proof of concept. Most of us simply can’t grasp the concept of talking with our wallet because we’re afflicted by the above sole-passion dilemma or are hopelessly bound by the superficial leash of being guinea pigs (look at the next section). Gamers are also even more entitled to think they’re above playing flawed (or even significantly flawed) games. Part of the ‘Rationalizations’ section that belongs here is that many audiences have unfairly hiked up their standards to unreasonable expectations, letting hype, publishers, and even nostalgia color their every opinion.

“Dur, remember when I could play a game for hours on end?!”

Yes, I also remember when climbing a fucking tree and masturbating provided the same joy for free (for even longer!). Luckily for me, I can consider the age I was then and the age I am now and I account for the variance myself. I don’t go around wantonly blaming developers for failing to keep up with every subjective vagary relevant to my life. Yes games have changed, but they haven’t changed to the degree to hold a forum vigil/lamentation/eulogy for them every goddamn week. Most don’t even consider that they might be the problem---and that’s the real problem.

Developers Absent-Mindedly Exploring With Technology

With the aforementioned hyper-connectivity becoming more and more prevalent in today’s gaming landscape, it’s easy to pinpoint the effect that developers and businesses are having on each other. There’s the easy target of how the consumer is prone to bandwagon, champion, and suck off companies with extreme bias, but the gray area truly starts in how the games are made. The 7th console generation for example, is ripe with this type of exploration, the type of fumbling in which gamers are buying experimental products---almost flagrant attempts by some publishers just to see what they can get away with .

HD-optimized consoles, 3D-novlety visuals, sub-par motion control, petty DLC---all of these are gamers being used as guinea pigs for trials that costs them more than they gain. The tech could be used to actually make gaming more efficient, enjoyable, and lasting---but it’s instead less user-friendly, time-guzzling, and transient. I honestly don’t like the righteous tirades about ‘way back when’ but consider the following analogy; from the early nineties to early 2000s gaming was the equivalent of spit-balling a wall to see what stuck. However, for the last decade or so, the transition has been so that the paper-wad has been removed entirely---leaving so many just blowing water out of straws and acting genuinely surprised at how quick the effect evaporates and vanishes.

When the Culture bends to Stereotypes

Let this sentence serve as the redundant warning that I usually try to steer clear concerning this particular exasperation. It keeps increasing in pervasiveness (or at least my perception of it) and I can’t seem to stamp out the growth either. The narrow range of creation with games is based almost solely around culturally biased, racist, and sexist foundations and nobody seems to care. If they do care they certainly don’t mind launching righteous blogs about it and then continuing to purchase said titles (and just in case I sound too accusatory there, I do include myself in that category). Generally speaking though, gaming has been just yet another manifestation in where my general ire against white people feels vindicated (particularly the males who deny, ignore, and perpetuate it). 

What’s really ridiculous is that I’m not even a racially proud person, yet I always feel like I’m being wacked across the face with Western male pride in every game I play now (EVEN THE GODDAMN ASIAN GAMES). It really does irritate me to no end that I now side with the morally righteous (i.e. people whose beliefs fly in direct conflict with my own) out of necessity and sanity. Ever get put in that group in school that was composed of all closely-knit friends excluding yourself? That’s where I am now and I’m quite pissed off about it. Pulling my redundancy card again, it’s not even the existence of such games that gets under my skin, it’s the abundance and acceptance of them. It’s the nigh-active will to undermine any type of diverse paths for games to take mechanically, narrative-wise, or just in a general artistic sense.

The Neglect of Already-Existent Technological Gifts

Despite the fact that we’re not flying around in cars just yet, gaming has made significant leaps and bounds in the past twenty years. For example, did you know we’re about to get a pocket-sized PS3? It has multiple touch screens wireless capabilities that can put some cell-phones to shame. Yup. Oh---but did you also know that such a ludicrous media device is completely unnecessary by even today’s wacked-out standards? *nods head* What almost left me in complete shock is that both Sony and Microsoft have made no significant attempts to fix their backwards compatibility hiccups. Particularly the Playstation 3, with all of its financial woes---can find no better plan apart from shitting out a completely useless iteration of the PSP in order to fruitlessly keep up with Nintendo. 

Sony could easily carve out a chunk of the market for themselves by making PS2 Classics for PSN (or at least fleshing out the PSOne’s section). Last I checked, the PS2 had one of the largest game libraries in existence, but I guess that accounts for absolutely nothing. I don’t really care to hear legalities in these situations either, as more is left to be lost by a game being held back because the rights are being held by some dumbass with a ‘property issue’. With corporations like Gamestop trollfacing the entire industry, such a true digital boom could easily undermine their often-cited ‘financial fuckery’ and it would go a long way towards making someone like me (i.e. a physical media whore) actually trust the changing digital times. Personally, I’d pirate a hell of a lot less if I could simply buy reasonably priced older games on PSN, XBL, Steam (btw, at least Valve tries), or the Wii Shop channel without feeling the lubrication of some publisher being slathered in my backside too.

When the Bottom Line Leaves the Medium as What Most are Insecure About…

…and transient distraction. That’s really all games have been seen as for the past two decades and I’m starting to care even less about that pigeon-hole now (and that’s saying something). Misplaced apathy, cognitive bias, selfish perceptions---they’re a given in the gaming industry be it developers, gamers, publishers, critics or even people completely unrelated to games. The entire industry has become a satire---and it’s jumped the shark.