All your game are belong to us

written by Steve "Thinman" Whitley on 30.7.13 fez-2

I know, I know, it’s a bit of a cliché to use the infamous Japlish from Zero Wing as a title but I recently reacquired that awesome little shooter for my Mega Drive and I couldn’t resist. Besides, it might seem a little unoriginal but it works considering the diatribe that’s about to follow. So, take a deep breath and get comfortable because I’m ANGRY!

Grrrrrr!

Now, it’s been quite a while since I last wrote anything for this fine website, for reasons I won’t share because you don’t give a shit, and why would you. But, over the last year I have had time to soak up even more of what is happening in the gaming industry and, quite frankly, I wish I hadn’t. Sure, some of the big hardware and software companies have been behaving quite badly, but this didn’t come as a shock because it’s what happens when out of touch men, that wear suits that cost more than your car, make decisions based on numbers on a sheet of paper and focus groups. This is a global pandemic that has been festering for decades: Banks, supermarkets, the BBC…..it’s a long sad list. Not one person old enough to understand should be shocked in any way the next time it becomes clear that a bank has been laundering drug money or screwing clients over. Electronic Arts is not the worst company in the world, Goldman Sachs is. A large number of gamers appear to have developed a massively inflated sense of entitlement with regards to their favourite hobby, helped by the anonymity of the internet and the ability to gather together large groups of faceless individuals in one place. This gives them power, power to bitch and moan and demand that Bioware change the ending to Mass Effect 3. Not ask, demand.  Bioware did offer up a different ending but in my book that was a poor move as they’ve opened a door that will be hard to shut. “We’re sorry that some of you didn’t like the ending to our game but it is not possible to please everyone. We would also like to remind you that, while the Mass Effect games are story driven, it is a video game after all and not a movie. Thanks”. That would have been my response. Just because you can get a developer to change something you didn’t like doesn’t mean that you should.

Trawl through some of the hateful threads and message boards online and the subject of gamer rights comes up quite a bit. Not consumer rights of course. Here’s what rights a gamer has: None, except for the current rights under the consumer rights act. Here are a few rights a large number of gamers incorrectly think they have: The right to be homophobic, racist or both at the same time. The right to bully online with no consequence. The right to ruin the online experience for those who just want to have fun (which is the only reason games exist). The right to have exactly what they want in a game put in the game, with the right to bully and make death threats to developers if it doesn’t happen. The right to use the above rights to get people in the industry fired for defending themselves online. The right to judge something before knowing what it is they’re judging, and a whole load more….and on, and on, and on. You can do all of the above if you wish, but it isn’t your right to do so. You do not own the game you only own the copy of the game that you bought. The amount of times that people use their so called rights to defend their wrongs, throughout history, should be telling enough. I know that this kind of awful behaviour is not exclusive to gamers (online bullying in particular) but it’s been adopted by them more so than any other group I can think of, and the internet is not to blame….it’s just a tool to get the nasty job done. I’m going to call them the Gamer Rights Army, or GRA for short.

Take one website, who I’ll call Bureautamer for the sake of protecting the innocent. Click on any story that has more than fifty comments and see what you get: Godwin’s Law and the GRA in full effect. Not everyone, but it’s easy to spot the level-headed people in among the trash. I have seen many commenters (not sure that’s a real word) whine about how games should be considered an art form and then call someone else a “faggot” or “hipster cunt” for questioning them. By the way, I don’t think video games are an art form. They have art in them but the finished product is entertainment, not art. You don’t find art collectors using words like “instabuy” or “fanboy” and they sure don’t expect to have anything changed or altered in a piece of art they bought to suit their own childish needs. Let’s look at Phil Fish for a moment. He’s outspoken for sure, says harsh (but mostly true) things when perhaps restraint was a better choice and he can come across as unlikeable. However, the amount of abuse that he has got in recent times is absolutely unacceptable. Regardless of flaws in his personality (and we all harbour many of those) he spent years creating a fantastic game, not for himself but for us, the gamer. It’s fine if you played it and didn’t like it but if you didn’t even try it because you think he’s a “tosspot” or a “wanker” then the pot isn’t just calling the kettle black it’s screaming at it through a megaphone. Besides, it’s nice to have a large personality in an industry seemingly populated by frauds and dullards. The quality of games, certainly with regards to imagination and creativity, is still declining. Developers like Fish are part of the solution not part of the problem. They give you things that you haven’t seen before and they work hard for years too which can clearly take its toll mentally, physically and financially. They do it for gamers, and what do gamers give them in return? See above.

 

#Right now, in 2013, I’m embarrassed to be a gamer. The curse of the GRA has had an ill effect on the quality of some of the bigger titles of this generation and has clearly had the same effect on some developers. It’s not the only reason of course but it wears a guilty face that John Terry would be proud of. It could be that I’m just getting old but I was recently called a “faggot piece of shit” for suggesting that the SNES was the greatest console ever made and mainstream developers should try to channel the creativity that the best developers of that era did. I won’t even bother going into the amount of private messages I’ve been sent after winning races on GTA 4, but I’ve still got my teeth, I’ve yet to have sexual relations with my dead nan and nobody has raped my mother yet. Telling me that I shouldn’t care so much or that I should just let assholes be assholes is not helpful either as ignoring the slow decay of an awesome pastime at the hands of an army of losers is kind of against nature. I cringe when I hear someone say that our government should be “by the people for the people” as I can’t think of anything worse. People, for the most part, suck. Some more than others but in general the people would still believe the Earth is flat if it wasn’t for smart people proving that it isn’t. Gamers don’t create games, smart creative people do and they should be left alone to do so instead of being harassed until they leave the industry in despair. Sadly, I fear it will take a developer to actually take the advice of the GRA and kill themselves after they didn’t get the hair colour of a popular Chinpokemon right to bring this bullshit into the spotlight.

Or maybe I’m just a faggot hipster wanker.

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