Saturday, February 19, 2011

You Don't Need My Approval

Gamers can be a fickle bunch; I should know. 

We all have our tastes, our fetishes, and most of all, our opinions.

Some of us have an attitude of prestige (I covered this in the previous post), some only play based games off of the opinions of others.  But most hardcore gamers don't usually rely on the opinions of others.  Well, not entirely.

We generally know what we like, and our close friends that are also hardcore gamers have a good feel for what we like.  Or at least we hope (I've been very lucky). 

I hope to be able to capitalise on this aspect of our culture when I finally get my business idea together.  Granted, it won't necessarily create a civil environment due to what we call "fanboys", but it will build a sense of family, which is what want to achieve.

For those of you who don't know what a fanboy is, it's a term referring to someone who is a diehard fanatic of a video game, game series, or gaming hardware.  They could also be a fanatic of a specific brand.  I've been there and done that myself.  They aren't necessarily part of what is ruining gamer culture so much as the black sheep of the family.
I think that, to a greater extent, corporate reviews and the conglomeration of the major video game retailers has created a void in our culture that has been lacking since the last Microplay left Ontario.  Now we have the big retail titles - Halo, EA Sports, Assassin's Creed, Killzone, Guitar Hero/Rock Band and Final Fantasy shoved down our throats by the big box stores.  Used games are only a few dollars less than used and you get peanuts for them.  A lot of the more obscure games - especially artsy titles - get shunted to the sidelines, and further iterations of those titles suffer because they start simplifying to be as marketable as the titles that are pushed so hard.  Case in point, Gothic 4 - which didn't even make sense because the series had been gainging quite a bit of popularity by word of mouth alone.

Corporate reviews are also dangerous to our culture.  A lot of them are geared toward the bottom line, and such things as advertising money, advanced play for early reviews , backends and useless tchotchkes take precedence over honest reviewing.  This a travesty, considering that games are not the collector's items they used to be.  They rapidly depreciate in value, and they get shorter and shorter.  Multiplayer is also being pushed to the forefront, which is okay to a certain extent, but it's not what keeps a game going when the servers go offline.
Other critics outside of the industry also try to dumb the videogame media - possibly to prevent it from eclipsing movie sales - which it did in 2009.  There is an art to gaming as well, and there's a great deal of art behind a game - story writing, character drafting and concept art.  Building worlds can easily be compared to architecture (and in fact, the program that iD Software used to make levels for Doom is based off of an older version of AutoCAD), so there is indeed a rich culture behind the pixels.

The corporatisation of our hobby and denigration of our culture has created a huge divide, with the hardcore hobbyists trapped on an island and the casual gamers within their own nation.  This is because we're a vast minority, but I think that can change because gaming transcends race, creed and culture.  And we don't need marketing to do it, just a the right display of passion and openness that our culture is not known for, if only because we're painted as being hermits by the vast majority of those who don't understand us.

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