Wednesday, November 7, 2012

If We Want the Industry to Grow Up, We Need to Grow Up First

I always find it hard to talk about wanting the gaming industry to grow up because I'm not exactly a beacon of maturity myself. However, I have long since been over console wars, fanboy wars, and certain-man-part-waving contests on message boards and comment sections (for the most part, that is). It's a fact, however, that so many gamers have not gotten over this mindset. This is a young industry, and because of that, it is a very immature one. This piece is somewhat of a stream of consciousness. It's an oddity of opinion pieces here, but it's one that allows me to rant about how I think that before the industry can be taken seriously, the press, the gamers the press caters to, and industry insiders need to start acting with more maturity.

Allow me first to allude to Halo 4 and some outlying review scores for the game. I do not wish to talk about how NeoGAF got its collective feathers ruffled by a site's 7.0 review score and talk about how NeoGAF, the self-proclaimed "preeminent community for video game news and discussion", is no better than the sites they constantly make fun of. I've done the latter enough before to the point where regular readers of this site are bored by that by now. (And I am as well, no matter how easy it is to draw comparisons to other message boards.)

No, let's talk review scores in general. First of all, a 7 out of 10 is a good score. Perhaps it doesn't meet some people's thoughts of what a Halo 4 score should be. Perhaps many who complained about it should have waited to play the game. I'm sure that reviewer is very sorry for not allowing Halo 4 to be on top of the review aggregate sites' ranking lists of the best reviewed titles of all time. I know how important that is to some people. Even after the reviewer explained his position, people still (I'm not just talking NeoGAF, mind you) argued, bitched, and moaned. It is as if they couldn't understand that someone saw Halo 4 differently than them. We are in a young industry full of people who cannot stand it when someone has a different opinion than them. Don't believe me? Go on any gaming message board where it is especially bad. Yes, even the preeminent community NeoGAF.

Which might make you wonder why I even have review scores. I simply followed Game Informer's scale as I grew up on that and became comfortable with it. Nonetheless and thankfully so, those who read my reviews and regularly comment are smart and don't generally care about the score. I've seldom ever gotten sass or meltdowns in the comments section for writing a negative review or giving a low score to a hyped game (though I have for writing a controversial opinion one, two, or twenty times in the past). Perhaps that's because no one cares what some random college student with "Super" in front of his name has to say about their most anticipated games. I don't deny that that's a distinct possibility. Regardless, my readers care more about what is said rather than what is scored. I don't know how I developed that kind of community with the kind of crap I write. It's a mystery that will baffle even the most seasoned Professor Layton player.

Let's shift gears to the press that actually covers the industry? We should all know about the Wainwright, Doritos, Mountain Dew, Geoff Keighly nonsense by now. If you don't (don't worry, it's only another black eye on games journalism), just use a search engine and you'll find your answers.

In my opinion, gamers get the press they deserve. I watched over the weekend a segment on called "Bonus Round." It was essentially a roundtable with three guests and the host. It was an end-of-the-year type deal. Yes, an end-of-the-year type deal in early November. Screw the most important part of the gaming year, the holiday season, let's rush this sucker out because we have no shame. They hilariously talked about Nintendo -- y'know, the company that is kicking off the next gen with a new console in less than two weeks and were actually grading them before the system even came out. The sheer amount of willful ignorance displayed by the supposed experts Gametrailers assembled was astounding. One statement by a panelist wanted Nintendo to license their IPs out to developers working with mobile platforms. That certainly wouldn't cheapen the brands at all and cost Nintendo long-term at all! Way to go, panelist! In all honesty, if you wanted a better panel, you could have selected any three random GameFAQs members. No wonder Nintendo doesn't care about bending over backwards for the Western press anymore-- the press cannot even bother to look up simple things that it's their job to know.

It's the stupidity of the press that perfectly matches the stupidity of most gamers. Okay. I will admit this: I do not like a majority of gamers (I will now simply be referring to "most gamers" as "gamers"). I find them obnoxious, indecisive, immature entitled, selfish, and insatiable. The current press that we have that gives 9s and 10s to really hyped games, accepts swag so shamelessly, and appeals to the lowest common denominator is worthy of gamers. These are the types of gamers that go on sites like N4G, GameFAQs, NeoGAF, YouTube comment sections, and Twitter just to troll other fans and faceless companies. These are the types that hate Sony yet "like them" on Facebook just so they can troll every news story the company posts. Then there are the ones that so feverishly defend every little thing their favorite developer or console manufacturer does. How about those that happily applaud when a game or system bombs? Who cares if that game that bombed cost hundreds their jobs when we can laugh at some faceless company because we don't like their business practices?

Or how about the freaking hyperbole and overreactions that spread in myriad threads and topics? It's seemingly everywhere. Or news stories that aren't just news but are overly editorialized? I don't care if you think Nintendo Land sucks and looks stupid. Just tell me when the game is coming out, how much it costs, what it consists of, and be on your merry way. I also don't need news stories about fanboyism on GameFAQs or NeoGAF. That's not news. That's "no shit, Sherlock" territory, and a good reason why this industry is so laughable (whether you take that reason being those aforementioned news stories or fanboyism in the industry from gamers and the people that make the games that we play).

I bet some find it ironic that an opinion piece saying that everyone in the industry needs to grow up before the actual industry can grow up is basically a rant any 13-year-old could make. I don't blame you for finding the irony in that. I see it, too. Regardless, I don't want you to think that I believe every gamer or every press member is holding the industry back and keeping us into the realm of immaturity. Look at sites like Nintendo World Report or Digitally Downloaded. I don't mention both of these because I have ties to them. 1) I wouldn't have ties to them if I didn't like what they were doing, and 2) They are great examples of the positives of the press. (The gaming press CAN be good, people!) They are great examples because they are alternative gaming sites with little influence from gamers or publishers. They write what they want to write, they review and give games scores they want to review. They seldom, if ever, create controversy just for cheap hits like so many sites do. You will never see a review for Assassin's Creed III surrounded by three Assassin's Creed III ads, making you wonder if the ad money from Ubisoft somehow factored into that site giving the game a favorable review. How dirty are some sectors of the press?

As I stated in the opening paragraph, we're a young industry. Is it because we're so young that we're so immature, or is there another deeper reason? Could it be that most of us really just grown men and women playing with expensive toys who take our hobby too seriously? Maybe we don't take it seriously enough. Is it as simple as that? The sooner we start evolving mentally and do away with console war mentalities and earn a press that we can be proud of, the sooner the video game industry will start getting mainstream recognition as something great instead of just the martyr and butt of Western culture.

Agree? Disagree? Want to know what the heck you just read? Let me know in the comments section. Regardless, I thank you for reading the rantings from this exasperated gamer.

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