Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Mass Effect 3

Talking to Women about Videogames: Fear for the future

4:00 PM on 10.18.2011 // Jonathan Holmes

[Talking to Women about Videogames is a series where Jonathan Holmes talks to different people who are women about the biggest videogame news of the week for some reason.]

Like sex, hate, family, and most other concepts based off of leftover animal instincts, fear sells. That counts for just about everybody, though it seems to be an ever increasing presence among both the videogame press and readers/commenters who engage with the gaming press on a daily basis. That's part of why stories about Nubageddon, online passes, motion controls, tacked-on multiplayer, Capcom's Mega Man game cancellations, and other "scary" videogame trends make such a big impact. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to... irrational obsession and Internet ranting.

That's not to say that the fear that starts that cycle off is always unfounded. I can understand why people would be fearful of multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. Imagining that a beloved, narrative-focused series could slowly turn into another online frag-a-thon must be quite worrisome to fans of the first two games in the series or of the genre in general. Honestly though, I feel like that fear isn't all that productive. Fear helps us protect ourselves from threats, but in this case, the threat probably isn't real.

In the end, most of our fears (about videogames or anything else) are usually for nothing, though that doesn't mean that we're wrong for having them. Here are some thoughts on fears of the modern gamer and how best we can deal with them.

How about a little autobiography to start with?

When I was just out of high school, I studied the in-game artwork of titles like Street Fighter III, Darkstalkers, Earthworm Jim, Mega Man X, and many others, much like how people study a textbook. Sure, I read up on more conventional forms of animation as well as "fine art," like sculpting and sequential art, but sprite-based videogame graphics were what I really loved. I'd spend eight to ten hours a day designing walk cycles and standing animations for various videogames characters, trying to make them looks as expressive and original as possible. At that time, I considered the quiet, simple elegance of Cyclop's standing animation from X-Men: Children of the Atom to be a masterpiece.  

Then polygon-based videogames came along. Yikes.

I'm not sure if people in their teens or even their twenties can imagine what this was like. Picture a game that you feel has the best looking polygon-based graphics, be it Gears 3, Uncharted 2, or Final Fantasy XIII, then toss them in the garbage. Next, replace them with the shoddiest, crappiest, most broken-looking crap you can imagine, and that's what it was like for me when polygon-based graphics blew up.

Are you a Gears fan who hates the Nintendo Wii? Then imagine that, one strange night, your copy of of Gears of War 3 suddenly transformed into Gears of War Mii; a cute and wacky mini-game collection designed to be played by the whole family (for five minutes a week). Are you Final Fantasy fan who hates Jersey Shore? Then replace Lightning and the rest of the cast of Final Fantasy XIII with Snooki and her gang. All your semi-turn based battles and adventures in a beautiful, futuristic world would be swapped out for battles over who gets the last squirt of styling mouse and "adventures" of mean-looking men lying motionless for three hours at the local tanning booth. That's what it was like for me when the polygons first took over.

I'd be lying if I haven't had a few contained "I told you so moments" in the years that have passed since then. Now that there is more or less a consensus that games like Super Metroid and Street Fighter Alpha 3 have aged much better than the original Tomb Raider and Virtua Fighter titles, I feel like the rest of the world finally sees what I saw all along -- these newfangled "3D" games are just plain ugly compared to their sprite-based predecessors. Back when those games were first hitting the scene, though, I wasn't so contained in my contempt.

While there was barely an Internet to rage on in those days, I was quick to seek out other outlets for my fiery despair. I found other 2D gaming loyalists via the letters column of the old videogame magazine Diehard GameFan, and we united in our disgust with the polygon. We had arcade parties where we grumbled that "this 3D gaming thing is just a fad" and swore that "if 2D gaming dies, we'll give up on gaming forever" all night. Trust me, it was way more fun that it sounds.

Why the emotional reaction to something as skin deep as videogame graphics? The answer is simple: we were dumb, dumb with fear that the games we loved were going to die. We didn't know what else to do with that fear than to make a bunch of generalizations and absolute statements. I suppose that at the time, talking like that made us feel more in control of an industry that we loved, an industry that was headed in a direction that we despised.

If you swapped out the words "polygon-based graphics" with "motion controls," "tacked-on multiplayer," "$1 apps," "stereoscopic 3D displays," or "over-priced DLC and/or online passes," then I suppose that our old anti-polygon conversations might sound a lot like some of the fear-based commiserations you see amongst gamers on the Internet today. Also, just like the today's scared and angry gamers, my polygon-hating pals and I had nothing to worry about.

Sure, the kinds of games that I loved the most became pretty hard to find for a while, but I learned to adjust. Part of that adjustment was learning to dig deep for the kinds of games I truly wanted to play. If I had 2D games spoon-fed to me during the PS1/PS2 eras like I did in the NES/SNES days, I might have never found Ikaruga, EinhanderViewtiful Joe, Guardian Heroes, or Metal Slug 3 (to name just a few). Would I have bothered to try those strange and unfamiliar games if I had big-name titles from familiar franchises in the same genres, mushed up on my face on a daily basis? No way! I would have just stuck with Final Fight and Gradius, and I would have potentially missed out on some of my favorite games ever as a result.

You might have notices that a few of the games I just mentioned (gasp!) feature polygon graphics. That's because I also learned to stop being so judgmental and absolute in my thinking about videogames. For example, I may have hated the idea of polygon graphics at one point, but I loved the idea of zombie movies. Therefore, I just had to try Resident Evil, and it was love at first sight. Overall, I'm still more attracted to sprite-based visuals than to polygon-based ones, but even back then, I could see that those "dead-eyed" polygon characters were perfect for a zombie game. The polygon era (temporarily) made some of my favorite genres endangered species, but it also ushered in the world of survival horror, and for that, I am eternally grateful. 

The same could be said for a lot of the trends in gaming today. You have to learn to pick out the good from what, at first glance, may look like an endless sea of crap. That's the only way to experience the best of what gaming has to offer. If you swear off a game/console because it utilizes motion controls, multiplayer, or friend codes, because it doesn't have multiplayer, or (perhaps silliest of all) because it's made by a developer you're angry with, you are screwing yourself over. Hopefully, that's all common sense by now.

If you just can't find anything you like in that endless sea of crap, remember that "this too shall pass." It took a long time, but all my favorite genres ended up making a comeback. Aliens: Infestation just came out, and it's one of my favorite sprite-based action games ever. This is hot on the heels of a new Shantae game, several BlazBlue and Cave Story releases, original titles like Tempura of the Dead, Half-Minute Hero, the entire Bit.Trip series, retro comebacks like Mega Man 9 and 10, Super Meat Boy, and countless other "old school" games. On top of that, we've got Skullgirls, Retro City Rampage, Mighty Switch Force, FezThe Iconoclasts, and tons of other sprite games still coming down the pipe. Sure, the polygon still rules the gaming world, but it's a big world now, and it's only getting bigger.

Whatever kind of game you like, and however you like to play them, there is room for you.

We'd do well to remember that, historically, trends always drift toward the benefit of the consumer. People didn't think the PS3 was worth $600, and now it's a third of that price. People didn't like that  Friendster took too long to load, so MySpace stepped in and replaced it, and then Facebook replaced that. People didn't like that the 360 had a horrid failure rate, so Microsoft put out a more death-proof model. People didn't like third parties putting their smaller, less marketable games on the Wii, and now we have Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders 2, and Tekken all coming to the Wii U.

The market will bend to our interests eventually, but only on one condition: we can't become chumps.

Once the series that we once loved goes in a direction that we don't want, we can't blindly stick with them. We have to be proactive in our purchasing practices. We can't just lie back and take it if Mass Effect turns into a multiplayer-only experience, or if the next Call of Duty requires an online pass in addition to a paid subscription. That doesn't mean we should get all pissy and boycott an entire company because it made some decisions that we don't agree with. That will only lead the company in question to produce even fewer games that we want to play, and more games for the people who are still willing to buy their titles.

We'd do well to keep fear, anger, infatuation, and clan-like loyalty away from our love of gaming. Don't fear Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. Assess it, then either accept or dismiss it. If you try it and don't like it, then don't buy the next Mass Effect game if it's got a multiplayer focus. Maybe more importantly, don't just play through the next Mass Effect game because you're loyal to series. Only play it if it's fun! With a market this big, you only have yourself to blame if you're playing a videogame that you think is overpriced, overrated, or otherwise unenjoyable.

Is this pep talk working? No? Well, how about this: next time you get upset about a new trend in gaming, remember that there was a time when I begged for the 16-bit era to go on forever. If I had gotten my wish, I'd still be paying up to $10 a week to experience the closest thing we had to online multiplayer (the arcade), paying $80 for new games that feature no multiplayer (online or offline) at all, and dreaming of the day when I could download an inexpensive quality game, some even more inexpensive quality DLC, or a (gasp!) free quality demo from the comfort of my living room.

Now I can buy an online multiplayer game like Minecraft for $15 and be entitled to a lifetime of free content and updates (including dragons). In the 90's, that kind of deal was literally like a dream come true. And don't get me started on M.A.M.E.! I was wrong for wanting the 16-bit era to go on forever, and I'd be wrong if I wanted this current era of gaming to go on forever too. As long as consumers are willing to take risks on quality new products and don't succumb to blind brand loyalty, flashy-but-ultimately-meaningless gimmicks, marketing ploys, and fear of change, then things are only going to get better from here.

Speaking of "flashy-but-ultimately-meaningless," can someone explain to me what a Jay-Z song about having quite a few problems (but no current "bitch problems" to speak of) has to do with this new "realistic" war simulator videogame?

Yeah, I don't get it. Other than stuff like that, though, the future of videogames is looking pretty good!

Past Episodes:

Talking to Women about Videogames: 3DS 2nd nub panic

Talking to Women about Videogames: Gears 3 isn't perfect?

Talking to Women about Videogames: Sexy vs. sexist?

Talking to Women about Videogames: What makes you want?

TtWaV teaser: Sony's online sucks now?

Talking to Women about Videogames: I'm not a real gamer?

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Mass Effect 3

  May 15

BioWare announces most popular Commander Shepard names

I like 'Josh Homme Shepard,' but that's kind of dumb, I guess

  Apr 25

Pew pew pew! Check out these new Mass Effect replica guns

Project Triforce makes some slick, expensive stuff

  Feb 25

Details on Mass Effect 3's final free DLC pack Reckoning

The fifth, final, and free multiplayer expansion

  Oct 19

RIP Commander Shepard

Who will step up? The Asari? The Turians?

  Sep 07

Mass Effect anime delayed

Won't be making it into your N7 stockings this Christmas

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

hermosas chicas ucranianas

So that just happened: The Talos Principle

Sick, Sad and just dumb news: 25th November - Leighapalooza

Context Matters! Fanservice's Secrets EXPOSED!

To editorialize or not to editorialize: An editorial

Tiny Dangerous Dungeons REVIEW - The Pocket Metroidvania

Cblogs of 11/24/15 + Big Ass Fort

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

TheKodu avatarTheKodu
I dunno if I just had a freak incident but I think Ubisoft may have just changed the Renown gain in Rainbow Six Siege to be less shit as in overnight they've patched it. If true, kinda good on them.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Does it mess with anyone else's head that when beating a SMBW level in Mario Maker the music doesn't do that little 'booowoo oop' at the end. [youtube][/youtube]
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I've developed a new hobby to indulge in while on Skype with friends: creating stupid Sonic OCs. I have so much fun making them for some weird reason, and once I have enough of them I might as well post a c-blog of them, am I right? Look out in the future
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Poeple due not aprecciate teh hrdships of bein a squid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Guys, check out your blogs! Just be sure to bring tissues. I wish I had. [img][/img]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -