Disclaimer: this is a rambling, loosely focused rant that will probably expose me as a hypocrite. Up front: hypocrisy confirmed. I need to get a few things off my chest on this snowy Friday afternoon, though, so won’t you indulge me?
I’m not yet 30, but I’m already a grumpy, old douchebag.
This feeling crept up on me out of nowhere, but there’s no denying it now: I kinda hate everything about the modern video game industry, and I feel more disconnected than ever.
With every faux-controversy that blows over in a week, every “me too” Kickstarter announcement, every thinly-veiled press release masquerading as an article, I grow increasingly weary. I have no patience for this shit any more; it’s the same story, over and over. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was legitimately excited about something related to video games. It was probably this:
Look, I get it. There are just things out there that aren’t meant for everyone. Cultures change and leave people behind in the dust. Sinatra fans were once fired up about some jerks from Liverpool with long hair, but they had to get over it and move aside. You have to say “Ok, that’s not for me” and move on to something you actually enjoy.
There’s not much that I actually enjoy about modern games, though, at least not in mainstream releases. This feeling is brought into even more stark contrast by lists such as this one, the top games played on Xbox 360 last year. The list is dominated by the “shoot dudes in the face” genre, a constant parade of perks and kill cams and the endless, monotonous grind of competitive multiplayer. The list is also full of sports games, which I haven’t really appreciated since NBA Jam. I love sports in real life, but sports games have become much too complex and I don’t have the patience to learn all the systems. That one’s on me.
Almost every time I turn on my Xbox, my friends list is filled, top-to-bottom, with people watching Netflix or playing FPS games. Any time I volunteer to host a game for Friday Night Fights that’s not a FPS, nobody shows up. Because of this, I find myself retreating further into single-player games and niche genres, like fighting games (Street Fighter), strategy games (XCOM, Final Fantasy Tactics), “retro” stuff like Mega Man (‘cuz we all know how much love the Blue Bomber gets these days), and quirky outliers such as Spelunky, FTL, and 10000000.
What’s more alienating is that I can’t relate to the average gamer any more, or at least not with the ones that comment on video game websites. Sure, there are incredible, unique, hilarious, caring people to be found (you know who you are), but all too often they’re drowned out by the din of the entitled masses. I’m fed up with fans feeling that the world owes them something for buying a dumb game. I was ashamed by the Mass Effect 3 backlash and the venom that people unleashed on Bioware, whether the company deserved it or not. Impotently thrashing around online and spewing vitriol (take, for instance, the very words you’re reading on this blog) aren’t helping anything.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. I’m getting older and things are changing? Let me stop here before I drift further into Andy Rooney territory.
I’ve seen plenty of similar blogs during my years at Dtoid, with guys getting burned out or disillusioned with their favorite hobby. My usual advice was to go back to what you loved as a kid, to the games that got you hooked in the first place to rekindle the flame. Maybe I just need to break out the NES and play some RBI Baseball. Or, have I finally reached that moment where I hang up the controller for good and devote my time, energy, and money to more worthwhile pursuits that will have some tangible benefit to my career or my place in life?