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For all the feel-good platitudes thrown about these days promoting “cooperation over competition” and insisting that “if you give your best effort, you’re always a winner”, I think it’s safe to say that the message, all things considered, hasn’t found much of a foothold; if anything, a belligerent counter-movement has largely stolen its thunder, shouting down from the mountaintop that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, and demanding that losers “man up” and either make sure to do better next time or don’t bother trying again. “Real life doesn’t give consolation prizes”, as the saying goes – “and if you can’t handle that, you just plain suck.”
So why in God’s name am I putting up a blog with such a seemingly sacrilegious title? If I’m really on board with the previous paragraph, shouldn’t I, as a gamer of little standing and few real accomplishments, be content to just sit down and shut up? Well, for starters, just to be clear, I wrote from the heart when I typed up the introduction you just read; while I understand that not every child is the next Einstein, I do not believe that the presence of willfully unmotivated students within the school system should be accepted as inevitable, let alone “a testament to variety and tolerance”. I do not believe that signing empty-headed pretty faces to lucrative contracts in any way improves the state of the entertainment industry. I do not believe that politicians who run on “personality” instead of expertise should be taken seriously in a field that affects the lives of so many, and that the state of the world is the worse for having not adhered to this principle.
Assuming you’ve regained consciousness by now, allow me to repeat myself – please note, I did not say the gaming industry, I said its culture. I’m not talking about the hapless and much-maligned consumers who continue to send the most obvious cut-rate crap on Gamestop’s shelves to the top of the best-seller lists, hopefully lining developers’ pockets enough to result in higher-quality output once in awhile for The Rest Of Us. The economic angle is hardly a blip on the radar in this discussion - my “blasphemous” statement above finds its mark squarely within the realm of the gamers themselves, the people who genuinely play, and experience, and watch, and discuss, and live some portion of their lives with a controller resting in their hands. No matter the system, no matter the genre, no matter the era, I maintain that for gaming culture to thrive, it NEEDS sucky gamers.
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