I love video games. I visit Destructoid regularly to participate in a community that also likes video games. We blog about them, we play them online together, Dtoid is a hub for folks all around the world to share their love for a common hobby. We all participate with a combination of information, humor, passion, snark and cynicism. And there is plenty of gleeful enthusiasm to balance out the cynicism and frustration.
But lately things have been getting a little . . . off-balance. And quite frankly, it's getting tiresome.
Video games are no stranger to controversy and ridicule. I won't bother going into details but we've been called everything from nerds to social outcasts, to potential serial killers. But recently other "hot-button" issues such as sexism and homophobia have reared their ugly heads into the world of video games. Do these issues exist in video games? Of course. Should they be addressed? Absolutely! But do we really need to be bludgeoned to death with them until literally everyone has a black eye, only to assaulted with the next "Argument of the week" immediately afterwards? No!
There's a time and place for this kind of debate, but for Christ's sake let the bruises heal before the next round, okay?
Much of my mental exhaustion comes from the constant complaining among the gaming press/community. And I'm going to focus on a few key elements that I'm constantly blasted with.
This still pisses me off to no fucking end, the notion that people are "owed" something whether because of their loyalty, fandom or other delusions of grandeur makes my blood boil. I understand that games are expensive and we all want the most value for our money. And I do think that many big game publishers are doing really shitty things with their games, like DRM, false advertising, and being lock out of content despite that fact that we pay full price for the game. and sometimes it feels like we're being ripped off as customers. We definitely shouldn't stand for that kind of treatment.
But the degree that the gaming community takes it to is mind-blowing.
Valve is revered as one of the best game developers out there. This is mostly due to the awesome catalog of games, on top of their amazing support for these games, despite some of them being more than 5 years old. Plus their game distribution platform Steam is incredible for both gamers with not a lot of money (all the amazing sales they have over the course of the year) as well as developers with not a lot of money (They can put out their game without huge manufacturing or marketing costs). It's an incredible platform that all but maybe a few gamers go to for their PC gaming needs.
But despite all this wonderfulness, there are still many on the internet that insist on spitting out piss and vinegar at the company . . . Why? Because they want something they haven't got.
Almost everything I read that has to do with Valve, it's always met with the same whiny little snots bitching about how it's not about Half-Life 3.
We've added a bunch of stuff to TF2 for free.
FUCK YOU I WANT HALF LIFE 3!!!
We've added more content to L4D2 on 360. Now you can play both games' campaigns on one game, and then some all for a discounted price.
FUCK YOU I DIDN'T COME OUT QUICK ENOUGH I WANT IT FOR FREE!!! AND WHERE'S HALF-LIFE 3?!?!?!
These are paraphrased of course, but still quite accurate, and is just one example of the stupidly heightened sense of entitlement. And I'm not even gonna bother with Mass Effect 3 or any of the other entitlement issues.
2: Self-indulgent Cynicism
Super Mario Brothers, more like Super Mario "Who Bothers". This one has gotten much worse recently. Like many things on the internet, video game sites tend to have a hint of sarcasm with their content. It can add a healthy dose of playfulness to a dry news article, or a laugh or two when someone within the industry is called out for something stupid they said/did. But there is a fine line between cynicism within commentary and cynicism for the sake of cynicism.
I'm not going to name names of course, but there are certain editors on this site who have very jaded perspectives toward video games and the video game industry. I'm not going to say their opinions are wrong, because opinions are obviously subjective. But they tend to insist on telling us their cynical opinion on things despite that A.) We all know they're opinions before they even write them because they hit us over the head with them, and B.) They tend to write with a very jaded, negative attitude that becomes exhausting even when I see it on the news feed.
Whenever I see a headline that reads very cynically, I shouldn't be thinking "Great, I'll bet I know who wrote THIS." So if any of the editors are reading this (I'm not sure if they even read the C-blogs), I'd like to off this as constructive criticism and ask that you try to balance out the negative with some positive. Hopefully you'll know who you are that I'm referring to.
And then there's the self-indulgent commentary about DLC and sequels. A new map pack is announced for a popular game: "Great . . . way to milk more money out of your fans! Assholes!" Despite most DLC not being required to keep playing the game (apparently this is an issue with many fighting games, and that you can be pissed about). Another Call of Duty is announced: "Fuck these games, they're all the same bullshit designed by lazy developers to milk more money out of their fanbase."
Again I'm just paraphrasing, and I know not all of you like Call of Duty, but do you really feel it's important to comment about how much you hate the game whenever something is written about it? No one needs to be reminded about how much you hate the game, when someone writes about something they love, they want to share that love and can be infectious for anyone who read it. It's the same for someone who writes about something they hated, it's toxic and will just leave readers frustrated because they either disagree or are now in a funk from just reading it. So for this problem I'd like to challenge the community to simply exercise a little restraint and to just think happy thoughts instead.
3: Flaming the Fires of Controversy
I've stated earlier that there is a time and place for "hot topics" to be discussed and some of those involve video games. I also stated that they should indeed be addressed and fixed. But the problem, on top of being compounded with the previous two issues, is that most of it is either redundant or argumentative for the sake of being argumentative.
We all know about Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter project. It's a video series examining how women as a whole are portrayed in video games. I'm not going to focus on the controversy surrounding it, but I'm going to tell you why I don't support it.
A.) It points out a problem we already know exists.
The games industry has a problem with sexism. We all know this, whether we as gamers are okay with it is a different matter entirely. But my issue is that it won't add anything or help win the fight for the treatment of women in video games.
B.) Pointing out a problem is NOT the same as finding a solution for it.
Let me be hypothetical for a bit:
You have a problem finding a house, everyone else has a house but you, you complain to everyone about not having a house. So you starting raising money for one. But rather than buying a house with that money, you instead buy ad space in various newspapers and billboards saying "I NEED A HOUSE!!!". Anita's project is, more or less, the same problem.
Instead of using all the money for a useless video series, she should use it to fund the development of a game that has a well developed female lead, or maybe a scholarship for aspiring female programmers/writers to get into making video games. Rather than passive-aggressively point out a problem, then imply it's someone else's problem to fix.
Essentially I'm complaining about there being too much complaining going on. And I'm not saying to stop it altogether, I'm suggesting that we scale down our cynicism a bit, and balance it out with some of that love and enthusiasm we all have for video games. In fact I'll be writing another C-blog soon about how I let video games encourage communication within my relationship with my fiance. We all love video games and have the power to change what is wrong with them as well as share what we love about them.
Whatdayasay we give it a try huh?
LOOK WHO CAME: