I've been a gamer since I was 5, and what started as a fun hobby has now become an interest as well. I frequently write game critiques (many of my reviews are available on Audioscribbler.co.uk) and I'm overjoyed to see my hobby finally becoming accepted by the masses and media.
I love action / adventure games, first person shooters, graphic adventures and arcade games, especially the more recent downloadable titles, which are now worth more attention than some of today's desperate-looking retail releases.
In my spare time I write horror stories and comedy editorials (for fun rather than profit...at the moment), though I hate writing bios, hence the rushed appearance of this one. I'll pad this out by saying that The Damned are the best band ever, peanut butter Kit Kat bars are delicious, and Deadly Premonition must be played by absolutely everyone. Peace out, y'all!
When the Monthly Musing asked us to think about just how bad we thought 2010�s gaming scene was, I struggled to think of anything particularly laudable. I could sit all day and talk about the mess that was Quantum Theory, the rush-release that was The Oddbox, or the wasted potential of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but we�ve read these opinions, and we've heard the complaints countless times. We may have disagreed with them, we may have disputed them, but spending so much time writing a blog about how wrong a certain review was, or how disappointing such-and-such a title was is predictable, not to mention pointless.
That�s when it hit me. 2010 was an excellent year for gaming, with such stand-out titles as Alan Wake, Dead Rising 2, the relatively low-profile Amnesia: The Dark Descent, even the rickety yet endearing Deadly Premonition. Yet browse any online forum or comment section and you�ll find that many gamers cried foul of certain games, or accused reviewers of �bias� when their views didn�t match their own. Heated disputes ended up spiraling into full-on flame wars, with users hiding behind their internet anonymity to hurl abuse; a cowardly attack in a conflict of little consequence. Obviously, with 2010 baiting so much controversy, it dawned on me that perhaps there really is no worse time to be a gamer. Because, you see, in that short year, we�ve proven ourselves to be juvenile, hostile and ungrateful.
The games of 2010 didn�t suck, but the gaming community certainly did.
What did 2010 bring us, especially? Well, with the arrival of the Kinect and Playstation Move, we had motion controls bought to every major console, making gaming yet more accessible to non-gamers and expanding the choice for the core crowd. We had major new games and consoles revealed, including established favorites like Zelda, or exciting new hardware like the 3DS. We even had Sonic the Hedgehog revived in the 2D adventure we waited over 16 years for.
How were they received? Kinect and Playstation Move made gamers react as if Sony and Microsoft had kicked a heroic puppy down a stairwell. They panicked for the future of gaming, terrified that motion controls would replace our beloved joypads, that the hardcore crowd would be forever left in the dust. Not once did anybody think, reasonably, to let their money do the talking. Nobody was forced to invest in these motion controllers, and �core� games such as Fallout: New Vegas and Call of Duty: Black Ops continued to fly off the shelves. If we�ve waited so long for gaming to no longer be stigmatized as a hobby for geeks and children, can we really complain when the mainstream are given an opportunity to game alongside us, without having to meet the expectations we set for them?
The long-awaited returns of certain franchises spurred equally ludicrous complaints and outrage. Sonic the Hedgehog 4, while far from perfect, was the subject of uproar after a mere 30-second promotional clip was released. You see, the problem was, his eyes were too green, a point so often bought up that I risk contradiction if I delve into the argument myself. The game itself was a fun yet short romp, and, yes, I too noticed the somewhat clunky physics. What I didn�t do, however, was take to the internet in a strop, like this distinguished gentleman:
Sonic 4[/i] may not have been perfect, but the complaints arrived long before anybody had any right to dismiss it, and the resulting frenzy no doubt spurred more over-the-top reactions like the video above. It wasn�t the only reboot caught in the knee-jerk crossfire of elitist fans - SSX, Tomb Raider and Devil May Cry were all given dramatic reboots - and all received a pummeling from angered traditionalists, basing their opinions on aesthetics that were yet to be finalized or given any opportunity for context. Is this the same crowd that are constantly denouncing the lack of originality in gaming? Or are these two sides of an internet argument that�s yet to reach boiling point?
Still, the gaming culture�s descent into idiocy can�t be blamed entirely on the gamers, as developers too have proven themselves to be experts when it comes to the violent removal of toys from prams. Hydrophobia developers Dark Energy Digital are well-documented for having demanded answers from (or implied the out-and-out incompetence of) game critics everywhere, harassing the reviewers of various magazines and websites with letters and insistent phone calls when their game didn�t get the glowing reviews they expected. Entire companies, such as Activision, filed lawsuit after lawsuit under glaringly facetious circumstances. Microsoft and Sony got themselves embroiled in a hyperbolic tug-of-war, constantly denouncing one another in the race for motion-controller supremacy, far too insistent on cut-throat slam-dunking to let their products do the talking. Competitive marketing has been around ever since the Genesis had done what a Nintendidn�t, but the 90�s are long gone, and gaming is no longer marketed to boisterous adolescent males�
Do developers and publishers think so little of us to assume we're susceptible to such trite advertising as this? Or is this as good as we deserve when we've proven ourselves to be a gaggle of bickering, spiteful...well....Marcuses? Neither answer is satisfying, but either is a possibility. Both, however, demonstrate the atrocious attitudes of both consumers and publishers.
There was a time when my hobby of choice was met with laughter and ridicule, but now that gaming has just started to captivate the masses and gain recognition as a profitable, fast-evolving art form I�m overjoyed to see my hobby being shared by so many - I can work alongside people who will laugh along with me when I share my Left 4 Dead anecdotes, or talk in equal excitement over the plot of Mass Effect 2. But if we continue acting like spoilt children, that mainstream audience we�re so eager to captivate may not like what they see. They may well learn of the selfish, immature nature of the community, and the industry, and once again write our hobby off as geeky and childish.
And no doubt, when that happens, we�ll have a good old-fashioned whine about it.