My itís been a long time. Some of you may know me, others may not (hi there, nice to meet you =]) but Iíve been a member of this fine community for over a year now and as of late due to a horrendous schedule, crappy university internet and various band/photography projects Iíve been absent for matters of weeks at a time. I think itís about time for a partial return as my schedule has lightened slightly and my tolerance for the universities internet has grown significantly.
Anyway enough with the boring introductions and onwards with the meat of this cblog. My daily schedule involves waking up, going to university, coming back, looking at some web sites, doing some work and sleeping. I tend to read the same websites so surprises are very rare. Destructoid gives me informative, funny and regular news, Kotaku has Brian Crescente, Engadget is pretty straight news barring one or two contributors etc. What I am getting at is the fact that most days are the same, predictable styles of conveying the same styles of stories. Every once in a while, however, I stumble across great articles and one that really intrigued me lately was one on Kotaku.
Now before you kick me off the intertubes for such heresy, hear me out. This article was an original by the ex-toider Leigh Alexander. It was about how we as ďhardcore gamersĒ think that everyone that plays ďcore gamesĒ is as informed as us. She then compares us to the cultural elitists that obsessively follow the underground music or film scenes. Reading every possible morsel of information that they can grab, talk with each other in forums about the merits of their favourite artistís new album. To be frank with you I have never realised this gulf between us, gamers and non-gamers.
There are many people I know who play games a lot, many of them WoW players, yet never know anything about the latest games, the latest PC hardware or anything. It even frustrates me at times where I have to sit and explain things that I think should be second nature to gamers. They donít know who developed the latest indie title; they havenít played some of the best games on their hardware of choice. It is scary to realise you are in a different sub culture to the people you thought were on the same level as you.
The one case that worries me though is one person, who will remain nameless, who plays Rock Band every night for many hours, to the point of breaking his drumís pad sensors. He has no idea about the new selection of band games coming out and was about to splash all his money on the new Guitar Hero: World Tour game, new instruments and all. I told him about the compatibility chart that is available for these games and he seemed totally clueless about it. There he was about to spend £160 on a whole new set where he could potentially save himself some money. I then inquired about the reviews of these games that he was considering purchasing and he said he had read none. The best part was that he was totally unaware about Rock Band 2 coming out, even though it has been out here for a few weeks. This scared me a lot, the thought of people blindly handing over cash at the counter to receive a game that is quite blatantly not for them. In my own experience I have found game store staff lacking in more areas than just personal hygiene. Some of them clearly donít want to be there, there are others who know some things about their chosen platform but precious little else so I doubt they would suggest to a customer all the available options so that they get the right game.
Reviews I know are a very contentious area; however I find them to be pretty useful in many ways. They point out to me the general idea of the game, the basic setting, the good points and the bad points. Sure they still attach an arbitrary number on the end in most cases, basically boiling a game down to a number, which can be compared with other games on an arbitrary scale. Good reviewers give you a lot of information on the game as opposed to how they enjoyed it. Sure they will point out if they liked the game or thought it was less worthy of being in their presence than a used tissue but theses are secondary things to the technical aspects. If a game is broken on any level I want to know about it, for instance last year's Pro Evolution Soccer was broken on the PS3 so i stuck with the PS2 version whereas my friend went with the PS3 version and was deeply disappointed. I would only have figured this out after I had bought the game without reading the review.
To me it is second nature to get as much information on up-coming games as is possible, so that I can buy a game that I know will be good, or at the very least interesting. To others it seems this is an alien practise. I am currently looking at the impending releases of various music games, trying to figure out which is the best course of action and even for me it is a tough decision. There is a lot of choice in song lists, the way you play the game, the quality of peripherals, the amount of songs available through DLC, the deals they have in place etc, and it is truly a daunting task but hopefully one that will bring me many months of pleasure. I suppose the old saying is true, ignorance is bliss. This lifestyle is a burden, one of constantly trying to find out the most you can about games you want, trying to find latest screenshots and even the art of broken street dates.
Being a game aficionado, if you will, is a poison chalice in many ways yet at the same time is defines who I am and how I go about researching new games. I would never for a second trade my burden of knowledge for an ignorant gaming lifestyle as it would totally change the way in which I choose games, how I arrange my day, how I entertain myself amongst other things. I love being a game aficionado and I hope never to change, itís the best way for me to be, plus it brought me to Destructoid!