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Obscurity: A Tough Scale


You want to know some games I think are obscure? Katamari Damacy. ICO. Gitaroo Man. Brave Fencer: Musashi. Tomba. Deadly Premonition. Zack and Wiki. Dog's Life. The list goes on and on and on, but you know what--you all probably know those games. Everyone on this site has probably played through Katamari Damacy at least 20 times. Same with ICO. And everyone HAS to be familiar with Deadly Premonition by now.

I can at least proudly say that I picked up 6 of those games that I mentioned without having ever visited this site, but my point is this: These games are obscure to the average gamer, but not necessarily to the "hardcore" or "well-rounded" gamer. I was having trouble at first trying to decide what game I should pick to write about for this blog. I went through Tonic Trouble, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, No One Can Stop Mr. Domino, Chulip, etc... but I realized that if even one person leaves a comment saying "Oh I've played that" or, more drastically, "Hey bro, everybody's played that game" then it completely derails the entire blog post.

I'm not ashamed to admit that most of the interesting new games I hear about, I hear about on Destructoid. Hell, I can't just scan Wikipedia pages for cool-sounding titles for hours, I have school to worry about. That does, however, mean that I can't bring up games like Tower of Heaven, Deadly Premonition, or Killer7 without a swath of people telling me that those games are too mainstream to be considered obscure anymore. (Ladies and gentlemen, the hipsters of the world!)

Now I'm gonna shift gears for a moment to identify a problem I have with the split between indie and mainstream. Neither is inherently better than the other. Surely, they can be for different crowds OR people can enjoy bits of both. But it's like indie has suddenly become a dirty word. You can't say "indie rock" anymore, you have identify it in way too specific terms like "garage surf punk" so that people don't identify you as a hipster. And personally, I think the word hipster is the most horribly abused slang words in our vocabulary. When you think hipster, you think of a person who is deeply invested in the indie scene who has pretentious opinions about how what they like is better than what you like. The term is spreading to effect people who really don't fit the bill at all. Like my brother. He wears skinny jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, and has natural red hair. When you look at him, by Internet definition he would be a hipster. But he's one of the least pretentious people and even though he dabbles with indie stuff, he very much likes mainstream stuff too.

I became passionate about this subject when I read some of the comments underneath the "Indie Game: The Movie" trailer on youtube. For every objective statement saying "This looks like it could be interesting," there were probably 2 or 3 in response saying "Who plays this siht platformers are crap graphics look dum HAHA have fun stoopid neckbeard devs being hipsters". Fucking come on, already! They're just developing games for personal expression and for others to enjoy.

Hipsters, by the actual definition, really do deserve the crap they get. They constantly look for stuff that is completely unknown and get offended whenever anyone else has heard of it. I look for lesser known stuff, I'll admit that much, but it's because I like the experience of discovering something new. Then I share them with my friends to see if they like them. If they don't, then I don't push the matter.

My local Play N Trade had a sale recently--I stuffed about 25 PS2 games into a black bag and paid $30 for all of them. In the bag there were games like Shadow the Hedgehog, The Godfather, Red Dead Revolver, and other big (or at least recognizable) titles. Then I just looked for whatever else on the shelf looked interesting, and I picked out games like Metropolismania, Cold Winter, Th3 Plan, and Rygar. Whenever I reach them on my backlog I will play through them and develop an opinion on them, just like any other game. If I like them, I'll let my friends borrow them. More often than not, they have never heard of the games I send their way.

That's what I think obscurity is all about: sharing enjoyable experiences with the people you think would not typically get the chance to. For instance, I introduced one of my best friends to Katamari Damacy and the first thing he said to me after touching the controls was "I didn't know games like this existed". And for a person who grew up on Call of Duty and Halo, it has now become his favorite game series. Similarly, my brother shares obscure movies (Big Man Japan) and music (Jay Reatard) with me since he knows that movie-watching and music-hunting are not big hobbies of mine.

So no offense, but if you comment saying "You should try out Game A and Game B because they're just like Game C, but more obscure" then I will probably shrug it off. Trust me, I know what I'm doing as a gamer and I'll continue to find my own interests. Now if you have suggestions on movies, books, music, then go ahead and mention those. I'm open, and I'm objective.
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About burningsoupone of us since 7:43 PM on 03.02.2010

My favorite games:
1. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
2. Banjo Tooie
3. Tomba
4. God of War II
5. Pikmin 2
6. Psychonauts
7. Donkey Kong Country 2
8. Katamari Damacy
9. Chibi Robo
10. Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage
11. Conker's Bad Fur Day
12. Plok
13. Super Mario RPG
14. Mega-Man X
15. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
16. Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando
17. Animal Crossing
18. Rocket: Robot on Wheels
19. Silent Hill 2
20. Dead Rising
Steam ID:burningsoup


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