I think it should be pretty clear that since I'm here, I'm a gamer and I would love to discuss them. Just like everyone else, I have my opinions about the current state of gaming and how I think it's good in one way and bad in another way. Quite frankly, I think the gaming community in general is pretty awful, like with console fanboys, but Destructoid looks to be different. However, don't expect to find me on the forums since I plan on sticking to the main site and the c-blogs. I should note that I'm very opinionated about stuff. I can easily find flaws in just about anything even if others donít agree with me on them. To an extent, I'm also a perfectionist.
I own the original PS2 model, a Wii, 80GB PS3, Pro model 360, and the original DS and PSP models. Just because I own all of them doesn't mean I value them all equally. I don't own too many games and I rarely buy them. I mostly play games by renting through GameFly since even the really good ones don't keep me playing long enough to justify buying them. I'm not just able to easily replay a game a second time through even if I really enjoyed the first time. I tend to only buy games that I feel will have great replay value, which usually means getting a game on the PC that can be heavily modded.
Iím also rather lonely when it comes to my friend lists on the 360 and PS3. Anyone mind helping out?
The following games I'm looking forward to playing off the top of my head include:
Fallout: New Vegas
Metroid: Other M
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The Elder Scrolls V (although not officially confirmed yet)
Game(s) that Iím playing now:
Left 4 Dead 2 (360)
Red Faction: Guerrilla (360)
Game(s) that I'm currently waiting for GameFly to ship out...
For the second half of this c-blog, Iíll go more into depth when it comes to the various arguments from people, mostly other gamers, to defend the lengths that publishers will go to try to kill off the used game market.
ďA used game sale is a lost sale for the publishers.Ē I feel this is an age old argument that applies to other subjects as well that doesnít hold water very well. This argument assumes that if someone couldnít buy a game used, then they would have brought it new. Now granted, some people would buy a game new if they couldnít buy it used. On the other hand, many people would just wait till the price drop, which would be less money for the publisher than if the customer brought the game sooner. Others would rent the game, trade it for another game, or simply not get the game at all. So in other words, publishers may only get some extra sales if buying a game new were the only option. A small difference, but not quite as big as they seem to be hoping for.
I feel that this is a form of entitlement. Publishers tend to act like they deserve every last penny of their games if someone as much as plays them. I have a feeling this might be a pretty big factor in why certain current gen games donít feature multiplayer on the same console, even if previous games in the series did. They said that some games are too powerful to handle split screen. They expect us to believe that?! How does that kind of downgrade happen for something thatís been common even going back to the beginning of video games? So the almighty PS3 and 360 canít do something that the Wii can this generation?
Itís like they want to reap Capitalism for all itís worth, but as soon as Capitalism works against them, they want nothing to do with it. Instead of taking the bad with the good, like customers tend to, they only want to take the good and not deal with the bad. Why do publishers deserve to get a cut of the profiles off the same game disc more than one? As far as I know, other industries have to deal with this as well, but they donít seem to be up in arms about it unless I wasnít paying attention. I feel this comes down to quite frankly, whining. Because the system doesnít always work like how they went it too, they throw a hissy fit at customers that used the system in a way that didnít totally favor them.
Some have even gone on to say used game sales are worse than piracy. WTF?!
ďDevelopers need the money to keep releasing great games.Ē Well, maybe itíll be a wakeup call to consider what theyíre doing when it comes to development. This could mean theyíll have to do more with less, like figuring out how to make great games without putting millions upon millions of dollars into each game. Putting more money into a game doesnít automatic make it better, especially since a lot of that money is used for graphics. Iím not saying graphics are not important and shouldnít matter, but less money means they would have to focus more on game play if they want high sales. Not every game a developer makes have to be a huge blockbuster with a development time of three-five years. Square Enix must have spent tons and tons of money on FFXIII, but they managed to release lower budgeted games as well. So not every company has the money or manpower to develop multiple games at once, but the ones complaining about used game sales the most usually are big companies. If $10 or $15 games can prove to be great fun and cost a lot less than full blown retail games, why canít they do something similar on a larger scale?
ďIf you canít buy a game new, you donít deserve to play it.Ē Excuse me?! What right does a customer have to tell another customer what they can do and canít do with their money? The money from a used game may not go back to the game industry, but it doesnít mean a customer still isnít allowed to use other legal means to get it. What, are gamers supposed to be saints that give fully back to every single game they play? If publishers donít like it, they can always find another business model; instead of acting like they can do no wrong and that anyone who buys a used game is the poison killing the game industry. In fact, they already are working toward other business models that become more of a reality day by day.
ďVideo games have a shelf life of a few months compared to other products.Ē Compared to movies, books, and other media that people keep interested in a lot longer even many years later, video games tend not to do that, likely due to the rapid advancing nature of it. Even thatís not completely truth since there is the whole retro fever going on these days and older games being sold as downloads. On the other hand, how likely are you to find new copies of games from even five years ago, especially GameCube or Xbox games? Really, are you supposed to not just buy them because the developers and publishers wonít profit from them? Are you supposed to wait years and hope for a re-release, something that only a select few games will get?
ďBuy our games new and there will be cake.Ē
ďUsed games donít have the same wear and tear issues as other used products.Ē People often mention that used video games can work just as fine as new ones. Yes they can, but not always. Just like how used movies are not risk free due to how the disc can skip parts of the movie, used video games are not risk free either, even to the point of failing to read the disc properly, making the game unplayable. Cartridges had it worse back in the days.
ďThe developers are just being nice to those that support them by giving extra content.Ē Oh yeah, the same way that Microsoft is nice to Gold members by offering downloads a week sooner. Oh wait, Silver members just get the downloads a week later. The same way that content already in the game, but costs money for the 108kb download, is a way for customers to support the developers. Not to mention the ďchoiceĒ to pay for cheat codes that were free a generation ago. I had no idea being nice meant not offering the full game for full price.
Publishers will pass off the download codes that come with the DLC as extra content. Come on now, letís be realistic, is everything people say 100% truth? Of course not! Itís more like ďthis always was part of the game, but we blocked it off with a unlock keyĒ. Business, especially when greed is part of the mix, isnít 100% honestly. So between the time that the game gone gold and reached retail, developers had enough time to put in content worth $10?
The way I see it, publishers have been testing the waters for years, slowly building up to where we are now and where they plan to go. They are slowly getting people to accept spending far more on games or dealing with having less content for full price.
You could do a swordless run till you reached GanonÖ
ďThe content that was taken out and put up as DLC isnít vital to the game experience.Ē Yes, thatís what the publishers want to hear, people being okay with slowly losing bits and pieces of a game that wasnít brought new. Why not just keep removing content till everything that isnít completely vital to the core experience costs more? Why not just take out all the side quests in RPGs for those that didnít buy it new? Brought Call of Duty used? Thatíll be $5 to unlock multiplayer. Rented God of War III? $10 for the non-standard weapons. Want that fancy car on the cover of a racing game? Buy it new or hand over $5.
Keep going and you could have a bare base game if you didnít buy a new copy and end up downloading the rest of it for $30 or $40. People may argue that it wonít get to that level, but even now, would we have been discussing something like this five years ago? Who would have thought back in 2005 that small bits of the core content would be missing for non-new copies? This reminds me when Michael Capps, president of Epic Games, got mad at used game sales and wanted to charge $20 on used copies in order to face the final boss in Gears of War 2. If you seen the final boss, would you want to pay $20 for a ďbattleĒ that lasts around that amount in seconds? This could become a reality in Gears of War 3 at the rate things have changed between now and late í08.
ďDonít like it, donít buy it.Ē / ďSpeak with your wallet.Ē I donít think many people consider that if enough people do just that, than how will the developers make enough money to break even, yet alone make a profit? As proven by the boycotts alone in the previous year, many gamers donít resist buying something they said they wouldnít buy. I feel that publishers will keep seeing how much money they can get from people till they had enough. They need us, we donít need them, since without people buying their products, theyíll go out of business, but weíll just find other games or means of entertainment.
Often, this is just said as a cop out argument to not actually want to discuss things. All after, itís much easier just to act like people who donít like something donít have a right to talk about it than to actually debate the issue. When thatís all people can say without anything else to backup their words, itís a pretty good sign that their saying ďI donít like what youíre saying, so stop saying it because I have the right to tell you what you can say and canít sayĒ. Combined this with ďno one caresĒ, which is often when itís an opinion someone doesnít like, clearly does care if they give extra attention to it, and you have one of the many reasons I donít have that great of viewpoint toward the gaming community in general.
Even simply not buying a game wonít get the message across to many publishers. Theyíll find some other kind of excuse if their game(s) donít sell like they expect them too. They may push even further to get more money out of fewer sales. They could even fall back on developing ďsafeĒ games. Should that fail, they could always pled to gamers to buy their games, act like victims, and act like something is wrong with their customers for not buying their games. At the end of the day, theyíll still be greedy to the point of turning heads.
At this rate, I have a feeling that weíll be looking at another video game crash down the road unless the greed is toned down. In fact, I think there already are examples of core content (and not minor stuff) being put up as downloads. I feel like itíll be a matter of time where physical copies of new games cease to exist and publishers play entirely on their own terms by going full digital to cut out the middle man and without ever worrying about people re-selling. I would like to see more great games, sure, but I also fear my favorite hobby will become super costly and tear apart the gaming community even further.
With this c-blog, Iím gonna try something different, splitting it up into two parts because of how long it is, much longer than I originally intended. It should help for people to get overwhelmed with thousands of words and possibly not comment as a result. Should also help to keep things more focused.
Entitlement has been talked about a lot in recent years, mostly last year, usually because of boycotts that have yet to work. People talk about the entitlement of customers quite a bit, but here, I want to focus more on whom I feel acts entitled as well but donít get called out on it as much; publishers. I feel publishers treat people more as money bags than customers, especially these days. I feel like they expect customers to treat them with respect, but in return, they barely do the same, often pretending to respect customers.
So the new excuse for publishers to pretend not to be greedy and to blame on poor sales is used game sales. Okay so ďnewĒ in this case is about a couple years old or so. Notice how itís never the publisherís fault if they didnít make the desired sales? Never mind the lack of advertising and/or enough people simply not being interested in a game.
His karma is due to buying used games.
Just because a game is good doesnít always mean it will sell well. I know people donít like to see games they enjoy like Beyond Good & Evil or Psychonauts getting poor sales. However, does calling people stupid and such really help the rep of those games? Itís almost like such fandoms of great games that sold poorly act like elitists in a few ways. For one, they act like they have greater taste in games because those particular games werenít shooters or other mainstream titles. Second, they act like those who didnít buy the game somehow have lower intelligent than those who do. Just because you brought a great game that sold poorly does not make you better than the next gamer. If people are not interested in those two games mentioned above, theyíre just not interested and badmouthing them isnít suddenly gonna make them more interested. There are more positive ways to promote a game without having to come off as rude and elitist like writing positive reviews and suggesting it for those that ask what their next game purchase should be.
Have we forgotten about the recession thatís been going on for some time now? People left and right lost jobs, including many people in the gaming industry. Basically, thereís loss money to go around compared to the start of this generation. Itís like publishers want more money when itís a lot harder to get it these days.
At least this stops Nintendo from getting greedy on the DS, except the hundred extra models.
Why is it okay for publishers to get greedy, but not the customers? Customers may not be entitled to a publisherís product, but publishers are not entitled to a sale either. If publishers want to make extra money, people will defend them to the death, but if customers want to save money on a product, thatís no good. Now Iím not saying that being greedy is bad in itself, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. For gamers, the line is often drawn at piracy. Where is the line drawn for publishers? Thereís a reason why greed is one of the seven deadly sins and Iím not saying that to bring religion into this, but because I think thatís the best way to explain it.
No longer limited to PC games and music.
So it seems like console games are catching up to most PC games that have means to make resell undesirable. PC games already have this down to a science, especially with the increasing DRM not just to prevent piracy, but also to prevent used game sales.
EA, not content with no longer being the evil empire of video games, looks to want to claim that throne once again, kind of. I know Activision held that title last year, but would have they done this year toward that? EA are currently in the process of Project Ten Dollar which basically means that all their upcoming titles, at least starting in 2011, will come with a download code if you brought the game new, but otherwise will be missing some content that costs $10 to get if you rent or get the game used. I have a feeling this will only affect a small minority of buyers, which to the publishers, would be better than nothing. How many customers are even aware of DLC and how many will care to be missing out on a small bit of the game?
Weíre already starting to see examples of DLC that comes with a game if you have a new copy, but would otherwise cost some money to get. Youíre told that this is a thank you gift instead of likely being content disabled the last minute and put up as a unlock key. Right now, this only applies to minor content, but how much longer will it be before this applies to core content? The Saboteur is one such game that does this. Like many other things, this is carefully set up to make it look like anyone that complains is in the wrong. While a few features are included with the unlock key, the one that gets the most (and only) attention is the topless option. This makes naysayers look perverted and who wants to take such people seriously? Publishers are quite good at mind games.
At this rate, the digital-only future looks more likely by the day. Do publishers really expect to be rolling in the same amount of money in the event that games go full digital and can only be brought directly from them? Would customers want to deal with not being able to borrow, take to a friendís house, rent, trade in, or even sell games? What about the same price that may not ever drop except for rare sales? Do publishers consider that these customers may simply just not buy their games and leave them out of the money they could be making? Get too greedy and itíll backfire one way or another.
GameStop according to many people, especially developers and publishers.
Canít really talk about used game sales without bringing up GameStop. People have claimed they stolen money through used game sales. Excuse me? Stealing? I swear the meaning of stealing has gone all over the place. Even if you were to argue that selling used products is unethical, that doesnít explain how itís illegal. After all, stealing tends to be illegal doesnít it? Did GameStop found some amazing loophole that allows them to legally steal money? Just because you may like how GameStop makes money off used games doesnít mean they are stealing.
Thatís not to say Iím here to defend them. I know they give you crap deals on trade ins and sell used games for like 10% off new prices, but thatís more of an issue with GameStop itself and not used game sales in general. Would legal grounds would publishers have against GameStop? Even if GameStop could be removed from the picture just like that, what would stop other retailers from selling used games or people going to eBay, for example, to buy used games? Will publishers update the ToS for their games to state ďyou agree not to resell this productĒ?
Will publishers directly target game rentals next? For $10 in about a few days, you can play a game long enough till you get bored of it. Should Blockbuster be banned from having rentable games? What about GameFly, which I currently use to play about 95% of the games I do today? I managed to play and finish many games without giving a penny to the publishers.
Used games and rentals give many people a chance to otherwise experience games that they couldnít have or didnít want to drop $60 on. Maybe Iím poor, but $60 is a lot of money for the average game that I find low replay value in, especially without multiplayer. Another factor is that if someone is impressed with a game they got used, they may look at the other games from the developer and consider buying them new. Now that may not be very likely, but thereís that small chance which can help in the long run.
Part two of this c-blog will cover various arguments that people use to defend publishers that I feel get way too greedy only because they can get away with it and pass it off as not being overly greedy.
This c-blog is pretty short compared to most of the others I written since there really isnít a whole lot to say.
If thereís one thing I noticed from various opinion articles on this site, from both the staff and community members, is that this c-blogís title is what most of them boil down to. Thatís not to say that makes the points made in those articles or c-blogs invalid, but I think thatís something worth pointing out. Generally this tends to happen on a wide range of increasing controversial video game topics. Itís almost like you canít defend your views of a topic without at one point or another not just simply disagreeing with the other side(s), but pretty much saying that their side is so bad that they shouldnít even say anything further about it. Personally, I find it harder to take someoneís side of an argument even if I agree with it because of the elitism that often comes with it. But you could argue that elitism comes with almost anything even when expressed in the nicest ways possible.
For those that it applies to, do you really think that telling someone you disagree with to STFU will suddenly cause them to do just that? Do you really think you can just silence the other personís opinion (no matter how stupid) and effectively win your side of the argument? You wouldnít stop your side of the argument if someone told you to STFU now would you? So I donít know if people who say STFU really expect someone to just stop whatever their saying or just letting out anger.
This is not just limited to what people find downright stupid, but even somewhat annoying. Oh who am I kidding? In video game communities these days, almost everything is serious business. This is subjective much like many other things said, but wouldnít your side of the argument look better if you appeared more levelheaded? I know you can still get tons of people to agree with you if you flat out rip the other side a new hole and there are people who enjoy seeing others getting ripped apart with the harshest words possible.
However, does it really help the angry gamer stereotype? Now I know everyone doesnít care what non-gamers think of gamers, but if you donít like that angry gamer stereotype, then does venting your anger at every random person online you think is stupid help disprove that stereotype? Canít have it both ways. I mentioned that because I feel large aspects of the gaming community are creating these stereotypes which in turn many gamers react even angrier too, further fueling the stereotypes.
Although it could be read as such, Iím not telling anyone to stop. In fact, it wouldnít be my right to do so especially since I donít have authority over anyone on this site. People will keep fighting over anything that can be fought over. I just merely want to bring this light, even if considering how popular I am around here, very few people will actually see this (especially with no pictures) and even then it doesnít mean they have to agree with me or even tell me not to STFU. This whole last paragraph could even be me attempting to come off in a way that shouts ďdonít flame me!Ē Maybe, maybe notÖ
When I sit down and really think about it, video games rarely star a main character that isn't a white heterosexual male. Iím talking about mainstream games here, basically, any retail or downloadable game that can be found on consoles or PC that isn't restricted like hentai games. You may get a white heterosexual female every once in awhile, but otherwise, it seems like developers won't expand outside the majority when it comes to gaming's main characters. Even female characters make up a pretty small percent of main characters, despite them being just about as common as males in real life. Racial minority characters are even less likely to show up than females, even when it comes to secondary and supporting characters. LGBT characters rarely show up at all, even as very minor NPCs. In fact, compared to other media, video games are the least diverse when it comes to this. Maybe I could be proven wrong on this. People may argue that video games are still young, even after 40 years, but I personally don't find that an entirely valid argument. Unlike when films were becoming big and were still young prior to Citizen Kane and beyond, we're not living in an era where racism was very strong, women had limited rights like not being able to vote, and LGBT people were hated even more so than nowadays. So why are the majority of main characters a white heterosexual male? There seems to be numerous factors for this.
Mario, proving that you can be popular and a minority.
Now, Iím not about to get all politically correct here and act like video games must include all kinds of minorities in every game in an attempt to make sure that ďno one gets offended or feel left outĒ. Itís almost like developers think that their target audience canít relate to a character that isnít like themselves or that they have to relate to them in the first place. Never mind that most minorities wonít match whomever their playing as, but they seem to still get by just fine. Still, wouldnít it be nice to know that developers can think outside the box? On the other hand, how many gamers can relate to being a soldier or the over-the-top male rage that makes up many male video game characters? Thereís also the factor that many games come from Japan, which tends to be what, 99% of one race? If art is a reflection of life, than this certainly holds truth here as well.
Many video games... they come from here.
We don't have to go the route of having a near equal male to female ratio, every race on Earth, and the whole LGBT range, including intersexual people, just to make sure everyone feels like their being included and that no one is offended. Ever felt like a minority character felt out of place compared to the rest or that they were hardly developed? It's a double edged sword. It's bad if you do it and bad if you don't. For games in a real world setting that primarily has one race, do we have to put in someone of another race altogether that would basically be out of place? In a war setting that is basically all men out on the battlefield, does there have to be one random woman out there whom would look really out of place?
How about more playable animals?
This is going mostly by human characters since I think itís more trouble than itís worth to argue what race furries or robots are ďsupposed to beĒ aside from voice. Think, how often has a nonwhite heterosexual character been the main star in a game? Again, I'm talking about the main character, not a main character or major supporting character, but the star of the game, the one that you will likely play as the most (if not the whole time), the one who is advertised the most, and so on. It's already rare enough for a female to be the main character, but even rarer for a racial minority character to star and pretty much non-existence for a gay character to be the main character. Another thing to make clear is that this is for pre-defined characters, not those games where you can create your own character. In that case, it would be quite easy to have an old fat Russian lesbian and otherwise be able to create a character to suit yourself almost exactly. That also depends if the character creation system allows you to create females and not just males. Also, race is more complex than a skin tone slider, although games nowadays with such features often give you almost complete control over the facial features as well.
Let's not count out those who wear glasses.
I could go even further, like appearance and disabilities, but this is mainly focused on race, sex, and sexual orientation. However, I'll quickly mention appearance and disabilities. While many male main characters will be average or even ugly looking, that's very rare in the case of female characters, main or not. Most will be pleasing to the eye, at least according to the Male Gaze. To be fair, I think even many female players would have trouble accepting a female main character who they don't think looks nice, based on the idea that women are supposed to look pretty. Most video game characters tend to be idealized after all. Many males would prefer to play a male character that is strong and not considered a weakling. As for disabilities, how often does that ever show up in video games? Maybe physical disabilities have shown up, but mental ones? Couldn't that lead to more interesting characters and story where everyone isn't "normal-able" or super-able? In fact, I think disabled video game characters are even rarer than LGBT characters. What about hovering wheelchairs equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers? Surely that's been done. However, characters with disabilities does pose a great risk of backlash if done wrong, like with any other kind of minority, but maybe even more so.
Somehow Chell got away with not falling high on the pretty scale.
I think that many developers are too scared that they might screw up a character that is part of any minority. The more of a minority a character is, the more of a risk it is. How many developers want to work on a big budget game that's supposed to be "the next big thing" for over three years and risk getting blasted by tons of gamers and the media when they can play it safe? It's already hard enough to make a female character, that even if not sexualized, will have some aspect that will lead to backlash from certain people. A black character? Well, gonna be extra careful there. Iíll get back to that in a moment, especially due to a certain game that got a lot of backlash for racism, real or not. A gay character? Good luck getting great sales since many people don't like homosexuality and most of them are the ones looking to buy the game. A transgender character? Forget it. Many people don't even know what that word means. Even a lot in the gay community would have trouble accepting a transgender character or just flat out hate such a character. Just because the LGBT community has the name LGBT doesn't mean all the letters of the community get along that well. 'Course, any community has a chance to not get along that well, but just saying.
Beyond race & ethnicity.
On the subject of racial minorities, how many are the main character of a game that isn't an IP from another media or 50 Cent? Now I'm not saying that 50 Cent's games were designed to appeal to blacks because that's what the developers thought the community wanted, but instead, may have been designed more for well, 50 Cent fans. Many black characters often tend to be supporting characters or NPCs. Black characters also tend to be "gangsters" or comedy relief. Not saying that's always the case, but it's there.
Might as well cup a feel out of this before things get ugly...
I think Resident Evil 5 might have a big factor in this. I know this is digging up a dead horse that everyone pretty much decided where they stand on the issue, but how can I talk about race in gaming without bringing this up? After all the backlash it got, how many other developers want take a risk like that? The first trailer has a white man (Chris Redfield) fighting a bunch of black people. Well, we know how well that went over with certain folks. Nearly a year later, we would learn that Chris has a partner who is non-white and other races show up among the enemies. The developers claimed that this has nothing to do with the backlash, but how many people brought that, including those who defended the game? Later still, we found out about Sheva's bonus outfit and enemies later on in that game that dress like tribesmen and throw spears. Regardless of where you stand on the subject, the end result is that I think many developers won't want to get near a subject like that for a while.
Rockstar Games has a habit of having diverse playable characters, at least males.
I donít want to make the big mistake of talking about race and acting like only whites and blacks exist. There are other groups too, like the Hispanics, Latinos, Spanish, French, Russians, Germans, and more. Heck, one of gamingís biggest icons is an Italian-American, along with being shorter than average and somewhat fat. Fighting games tend to feature a wide range of ethnic groups. While fighting games tend to lack a truth main character, the closest thing to them will often be one or two characters that will likely be Japanese or American.
Hey ladies, these games are what you gals like to play right?
As for women, well, that's still rare. Even "noble" efforts to apply to females have been highly stereotypical. Look at how many games "for women", especially on the DS, imply that women are interested in cooking and other household duties instead of punching someone's face in or putting a bullet through their skull. Even the better rated ones and those that a guy would actually admit to playing, like Super Princess Peach, managed to do something wrong, in this case, the stereotype about emotions and women. Like I said, the difficulties of reaching a certain audience. It still basically comes down to "designed by men for women" instead of "designed by women for women". Even then, if we somehow got a development team of women only, would they end up doing something similar or just focus on making a great game without worry about directly appealing to women? To go over this briefly, as this isnít a c-blog about marketing to females, shouldn't more effort be focused on just making a great game without worrying about if men or women will play it? Naturally, certain types of games like shooting games will draw in more males than females, but it doesn't mean that isn't any women that don't like to play such games.
On another note, how often does a female main character in a game get any kind of romance? For genres like RPGs where it's common for there to be romance, a male main character often gets into some kind of relationship. For female main characters, this is much rarer. Are the writers just unable to figure out how to write romance from a female point of view? Maybe they don't want to mess it up, so they just avoid the subject altogether. Really, couldn't the companies just hire a couple of female writers. In fact, couldn't it be argued that a really good writer can write from points of view other than their own?
When it comes to LGBT main characters, well, that's pretty much non-existence. The few LGBT characters that exist tend to be supporting characters. No, I'm not about to take a "quick trip" to TVTropes to find every single mention of homosexuality in gaming, since there is no such thing as a "quick trip" to that site. Most gay video game characters are male, likely to avoid the backlash of "cratering to heterosexual boys with hot lesbians" and to look like a ďmore seriousĒ take on the subject. Really, itís almost like lesbianism doesnít go over as well as male homosexuality since it doesnít seem to be viewed as seriously. In most games where you can have a gay relationship, it's through a character you shape yourself and isn't pre-defined. In fact, there is only one main character that I can think of that was gay and that's the main character of Fear Effect 2. It was more of a "hot lesbians" thing than anything else. Otherwise, that would lead to far too many problems for the average developer looking to minimize risk and maximize profit.
They're not female, really, they're not! They just happen to look that way...
Even Bioware, who commonly allowed gay relationships (at least lesbian ones), suddenly acted like the first Mass Effect had no lesbian sex. The second game to my knowledge features no LGBT content. To be clear, I'm not saying that just because most of their games had a gay option doesn't mean that all of them need one. Let's see, there were unused clips for gay options in both games, so clearly they thought about it and even at least somewhat came close to putting it in. As for the Asari race, Bioware can tell us that they are mono-gendered and not women, but who's buying that? All of them that we seen look and sound female, not to mention they get addressed by female pronouns. Just because they can reproduce beyond normal female ways doesnít mean they still wonít be treated as female otherwise. They couldn't just say "we avoided gay relationships in this game to avoid backlash again", but instead, dodged around the issue.
Although I keep hearing about how the average gamer is an adult and that up to 40% of gamers are women, the Internet tells another tale that I'm far more likely to believe. Games would get hit so hard with "what's the point of the main character being gay?" that it likely isn't even worth it for most publishers. The usual racist, sexist, homophobia gamer would go into nerd rage. Fox News will be all like "won't someone think of the children?" Even many in the LGBT community will be like "a character shouldn't just be gay for the sake of it".
Let's not be ageism here. Old timers can keep up as well.
So how much longer will video games play it safe before attempting more diverse main characters that isn't forced, stereotypical, or in a side role? Surely among the community here, someone has more examples of minorities being the star of a game and otherwise a step closer to the gaming media being taken more seriously by ďoutsidersĒ.
So what is ageism, a word I made up? Nope, but it is a word that I rarely hear these days, but a concept that happens all the time. It basically means discrimination against someone solely based on their age. It applies to young children and teenagers, but it can even apply to middle aged people and the elderly. Itís more acceptable toward youth than older people. People that do this may not even be aware of it themselves or they are aware, but keep doing so anyway. This is something that happens just about everywhere, but in this case, Iíll just stick to the gaming community, as much as I can anyway, since a lot of this wonít be strictly related, but possibly on topic enough to not be NVRG. To be clear, this doesnít directly apply to me since Iím not a teenager myself, but it still doesnít mean I donít find it annoying to see it happen anyway.
He hasn't reached adulthood yet, which means he sucks, right?
How often has someone treated someone else as stupid and immature, simply because of their age? Now Iím not denying that adults are generally more mature and wiser than younger people, or at least are supposed to be. Iím also not denying that the stereotypical 12-year-old racist, sexist, homophobia, loudmouth doesnít exist in Halo matches. Iím not even denying that in my personal experiences that I largely dealt with teenagers that I felt like punching in the face. However, it has gotten to the point where younger people are treated like those people even before they act like those people. Itís like young people are guilty before proven innocent by default. Itís like you basically suck just because youíre not an adult. Its one thing to be treated a certain way for acting a certain way, but itís another thing to be treated a certain way for being a certain way. Seriously, this is almost everywhere in one form or another. How often have people said someone was stupid just because they were young? How often do people say stuff like ďyoung people shouldnít have mics because I find their voices annoyingĒ? How often do people act like M rated games will rot the mind of anyone under 17 (or even 18)?
Have us adults forgotten that at one point or another, we were not adults ourselves? Sure we can look back and see that we were not as wise back in the days as we are now. However, did we liked to be treated like crap just because we didnít hit 18 at the time? Did we enjoyed being told we were annoying and stupid because we didnít live long enough yet? Do we want to relive the times where adults thought they were better than us because we were not adults ourselves yet? Of course, everyone likely gone through this and may have accepted it because the adults ďknew betterĒ. Just because there are people out there who do feel it was for the best to be kept away from certain stuff based on their age doesnít mean everyone else will or should feel the same way.
So yeah, we matured and gotten wiser and realized that we didnít know everything like we thought we did. However, how did this newfound wisdom lead us back to treating children and teenagers poorly? How did we turn the tables or saw nothing wrong with some of the treatment we may have gotten? How does this cycle repeat itself over and over? I guess with ever changing generations, especially with the Internet likely not being a part of our history, this issue can get super complex.
I think one of the reasons that teen rebellion is so common is because of ageism. Of course if someone feels like they are being mistreated, they will act out against it. Itís like ďyou have very little rights and freedom and I expect you to behave yourself and obey without questionĒ. Are we seriously expecting teenagers to not act out if we treat them like crap before they even done any wrongdoing? Put someone in a corner, especially for something they have no control over (like age) and they will likely want to get out of that corner, especially by those that put them in said corner. No wonder they turn to older friends to get stuff from and find a place to belong. Now Iím not saying children (or even adults for that matter) should be able to get something just because they want it or that they are entitled to anything besides whatís required for staying alive.
Its one thing to protect young people from stuff that adults think will negatively affect them growing up, but I canít help but wonder if weíre becoming over protected. I think an example of this are the ESRB ratings. Not so much the ratings themselves as how they are being treated. For what is only supposed to be a guideline for parents is being treated as if it were law. Look at how many people are trying to pass laws making the sale of M rated games to youth illegal. I even heard stories where adults may not even be allowed to buy M rated games if any youth is with them, because surely the adult must only intent to use it to poison the youthís mind right? Basically, this is such a sacred cow that I notice it hardly gets challenged without being told that you want to ruin our future since after all, todayís youth will be tomorrowís adults. I know various stores may not sell M rated games to those under 17, but to my knowledge, that is there choice, not something required by law.
Hidden sex mini game on top of everything else in this game? A must have!
Now granted we do have many parents who act like they are not smart enough to notice a big M printed on boxes that also reads Mature +17 on them or even look at the back of the box for more detailed information on the rating. Even so, what the game looks like right from the cover isnít usually enough to tell what itís about? Do they even deserve to be parents if they canít tell a game named after a major crime that shows guns, drugs, and other stuff right on the cover might just feature that content? These parents tend to have no problem with realizing this stuff when it comes to movies, but many are still under the misguided belief that games with mature themes simply donít exist or are just ďa kidís toyĒ. Since in their mind, they are never at fault, they tend to blame everyone else.
On the other hand, not all parents are like this, but regardless, if they get a M rated game for their child, they are automatic labeled as bad parents. Sometimes even discussing such games with children is considered too much by many. Itís like there is no such thing as anyone mature enough under 17 that can handle such a game. Have we became so over protecting that fourteen year olds will forever be ruined if they even know a M rated game exists? How it is even possible to go by for long without knowing games like the GTA series exist? Itís like smart parents are not even allowed to make choices for their children anymore that doesnít strictly fall within idealized standards that may have a lot of fantasy involved. Again, isnít the rating just supposed to be a suggestion so that people will know what they are getting into? They say the content may be unsuitable for anyone under 17, not will be unsuitable for anyone under 17. Iím also aware that games have generally gotten more violent and such over the years and that many of the edgy games back than may be tame by todayís standards.
This will only be appealing once you're at least 17.
How many of us avoided playing a M rated game till we were 17? How often does someone say ďdespite me playing M rated games when I was underage, I donít think others should do the same thingĒ? Itís one thing to have a bad experience and encourage others to avoid it, but this seems to be more of ďIím a special case that played GTA at 12 and turned out just fineĒ. No, youíre not the only ďspecial caseĒ out there. Of course people tend to make themselves look better than what they really are and I think this is just one such case. Itís like we set up this unrealistic fantasy where we act like we were saints when growing up and expect others to be the same. Itís like there is so much lying about this stuff, I find it hard to separate reality from fiction. Iím not saying I myself never made myself out to be a better person to people than what I am, before someone claims Iím on a high horse.
Iím aware that ďthe line has to be drawn somewhereĒ and 17 or 18 is that line where a person is supposed to be mature enough to handle such content. After all, it is much easier to assume that someone will be mature enough around those ages than for a much more complex case by case basis. However, I still canít help but wonder if itís getting so out of hand that we look much more at a personís age than how they act.
"I get to be a man that gets to choose what women I can have sex with? Count me in!
Many people do understand that even adults may be offended by certain content, so warnings are given before hand and told not to go further if they find the content offensive. Itís also accepted that adults will simply have self control in not further seeing content that find offensive, like walking out of a movie theatre. However, itís assumed that non-adults will automatically be offended by the content and should be kept away at all costs. People tend to be very serious about this and will act like itís your duty to do everything in your power to keep non-adults away from content like a nude body. As much as people like to make fun of Fox News from overreacting to the sex in Mass Effect, see how many of those same people will get pretty angry themselves if they knew anyone under 17 saw it. Itís like younger people shouldnít even be given the chance to ďwalk awayĒ from content they donít like. Itís like we expect them to be in this fantasy world for 18 years to avoid the harsh real world.
How are we expecting teenagers to not be interested in this game?
Based on what I see, itís natural that teenager males will be interested in blood and boobs. Now just because something is natural doesnít mean its right. Do we really think that M rated shooters are only popular among adults? How many teenagers want to play Modern Warfare 2? Being a soldier that runs around and kills tons of dudes is relative to the interests of many people, including teenagers. What is the difference in many cases between a T and M rated shooter? In most cases, the difference in blood and swearing. The swearing in M rated games tend to be the same words that many young people speak every day, especially among friends.
No teenager would ever use a nude mod for this game, right?
Why are so many people so shocked and surprised that heterosexual teenage males have a sexual interested in women? Do people really think that teenage males are not downloading nude skins? Are we to believe that teenage males are not running around fantasy settings or wastelands as women who wear little or nothing? Are people really expecting teenagers to not lie about their age to download such mods? If anything, this is setting up such concepts as forbidden fruit. The more youíre not allowed to have something, the more appealing it becomes. ďNo, you shouldnít see this because youíre not ready yetĒ is quite common. Thatís not to say its right to feel entitled to it, but something that just happens. No wonder why one of the reasons that sexual content is considered so dirty, itís because itís treated as such. Itís like the teenager is meant to feel that having sexual thoughts is wrong and dirty, so it puts them in a difficult position. Itís like a dark secret that they end up keeping and not discussing with anyone but close friends. Either they do their best to fight against their bodyís urges or go for the sexual content in secret.
"How dare you be a sexual being young man! I was never one growing up, really.
What, are we expecting teenagers to be perfect little angels? They are not little children anymore. Now thatís not to say they wonít risk running into something they find disgusting. However, people assume that anything they find will be disgusting. If thatís not the case, they want to completely protect them to avoid the risk of finding something that they feel like throwing up if they see. Since teenagers tend to be aware that sexual content is something that their not supposed to be interested in according to many adults, they will end up hiding it. They will pretend that they donít have entire families with nude lesbians or ranking up a frag count as a woman dressed only in boots and maybe gloves as well. Sexual interest is just one of the things that happen as a part of growing up and yet people unrealistic expect teenagers to not want to fulfill their sexual desires in any way. Of course we should maintain self-control, but I have a feeling this attempt to keep teenagers anyway from almost any sexual content can lead to greater problems. Like ďjust deal with bikini women for the next few yearsĒ is really gonna work.
So to not go too far off topic, at least with the gaming part, Iíll just quickly mention Iím aware of the risks like STDs, having unrealistic standards for women (and even men), being a parent while still being taken care of by one or two, and letting it rule your life. However, dodging the subject isnít gonna prevent these problems.
Iím hardly a popular member around here that carries a strong voice with anything I type or have my personal ďpromote to front pageĒ button, but it doesnít mean I canít catch someoneís attention and at the very least get them to think about this more. On the other hand, I could be very wrong about this and called out on it.
Since I last talked about elemental weaknesses, I figure that the next thing to follow would be status effects. Status effects are just as common as elemental weaknesses, if not more so. Many RPGs tend to have standard status effects like poison, darkness/blind, sleep, confusion, and silence. Even many of those with their own unique status effects will usually still have these common ones. Just like with the other stuff I talked about so far, I think there is room for improvement. At least they can change the tie of battle a lot more than the common elemental weakness systems that are damage only like I talked about last time.
The thing about status effects is that it can often be annoying to be on the receiving end of them, especially those that can almost or completely disable you. Confusion especially can be dangerous if used on any of your heavy hitters, since party members tend to do a lot more damage than enemies. On the other hand, a healer under confusion can be amusing when they take off like two HP from you. I think one of the most annoying of them all is when an enemy uses a spell that has a chance to cause death on all party members one by one.
Another annoying factor can be curing status effects just to get caught in them again. So you could be facing one or more enemies that poison you which lead to a couple of main ways of dealing with it. You can take up a turn to heal it, only to possibly fall under that same status condition again the very next turn. You could also just deal with it till the offending enemies are gone. I have a feeling this might be done in very few or even no RPGs, but what about having a cool down or grace period after getting healed from a status condition? Say after youíre cured from darkness, you canít fall under darkness again for two or three turns? That should take out the annoying factor of falling under it again right away just after getting cured.
The other problem about status effects is that regular enemies tend to not live long enough for it to matter much. If it takes three attacks to take out an enemy, why bother poisoning it when you could use that time to attack instead? Basically, a battle would have to last long enough for status effects on enemies to make much of a difference. An enemy could also be really powerful even if they donít live very long to make up for it. For example, an enemy that does powerful physical attacks, but doesnít live long, could be blinded to keep you healthy and that one action could make a big difference. Not to mention thereí isnít much of a chance of status effects working when used on regular enemies compared to player characters. Do I really need to get started on bosses? Itís rare that status effects will work on them at all. I understand they would be too easy if status effects worked the same on them as regular enemies, but what about having less of an effect? Poison could take off less health from them, they could recover from sleep quicker, and such. At least the status effects wonít be completely worthless on them.
At times I question the nature of status effects themselves, although Iím hardly the first. For example, darkness blinds you and sometimes youíll get lucky and hit the target, but it doesnít explain a couple of other things. For one, seeing isnít the only way to determine an enemyís location. Canít whoever is blinded hear where the enemy is at, especially in turn based battle systems where everyone stays in place? I guess hearing the enemy could factor into the limited chance you can still land a blow. Another thing is that this only effects physical attacks and not spells. Unless spells have a chance of missing (aside from status effect spells), the character affected by darkness will still be able to aim the spell perfectly. Then again, darkness seems to be sort of the physical counterpart to silence that Iíll get to in a moment.
Sleep must be some kind of deep magical sleep since itís the only way I can think of that characters can sleep through the loud noise of battle. For some reason, physical attacks tend to be the only attacks to get a character out of sleep and not magical attacks. Isnít it a bit much for Cloud to slash his huge sword across Tifaís even huger tits to get her to wake up? Silence might be the biggest offender here, all because of the name. How many RPGs does silence actually prevent characters from speaking? RPGs that may have one liners during battle can still have the characters speaking even when affected by this. Silence is supposed to be based off the idea that characters chant to cast a spell and being unable to speak would prevent this. This seems to be a left over from tabletop RPGs, since in most games, including with one liners, characters just simply cast a spell. Wouldnít a name like ďmagic disabledĒ or something work? I guess that wonít happen, since status conditions tend to be one word long and just about any RPG player is familiar with what silence does, so developers keep the name.
One thing I think would be more interesting to see are status effects that are both positive and negative. This can add more strategy and thinking on the playerís part. I think the closest thing to something that exists like this in some RPG is the Berserk status, at least when it increases attack power and not just simply force you to attack. On one hand, this could be positive and make physical fighters more deadly, but on the other hand, those that depend more on spells and such would be at a disadvantage. For example, you could use this on an enemy that likes to use spells a lot. Another positive and negative status effect could be one that blocks all damage, but also makes you unable to act. I suppose this wouldnít be much different than a technique that can do the same thing. Get where Iím coming from?
Thatís it for now. Maybe sooner or later I could spice up these entries with pictures, assuming I can find some that are related to what Iím talking about.