We have heard it all before. Gamers are immature. Games aren’t artistic because gamers don’t want them to be. Gamers are whiney entitled little douchebags making everyone’s life a living hell. Heck, PBS Game/Show did an entire episode on how the toxic behavior of gamers actually makes successful game developers quit the industry. It would be easy to write another article about how gamers have to grow up, stop raging about stupid things, stop acting entitled, and generally act like adult human beings who have a responsibility to the medium that they enjoy. However, I’m going to attempt to come at this at a different angle. Instead of simply chastising immature gamers for their immature behavior, I’m going to posit that many forms of gamer immaturity don’t actually make any logical sense.
Example 1: It’s Just a Game VS. I’m Proud To Be A Gamer
“It’s just a game” is the mantra we hear every time someone tries to talk about games as art. The idea, is that games aren’t supposed to be art. They are supposed to be just a fun diversion. Trying to shoehorn art into gaming is either making a mountain out of a molehill, or needlessly weighing down an otherwise fun experience with pretension.
However, we frequently hear gamers talk about “gamer pride” as if playing video games is something to be proud of, which creates sort of a paradox. If the idea behind gamer pride is that playing games is as valid of a past time as, say, watching movies, reading books, going to theater, playing sports, and so on, then how can games be “just” games? How is it that we can argue that games are unimportant enough to be considered art, but important enough to be considered as important as art, at the same time? If gaming is truly unimportant, then being a gamer is unimportant, and the whole concept of gamer society is pretty much an illusion. If gaming is important, however, then gaming society is important, but games open themselves up to be scrutinized on the same level of any other piece of media.
Example 2: Don’t Take Me Seriously VS Developers Don’t Listen to Fans
Gamers are uber paranoid that something is going to cause them to stop being obnoxious trolls. When Phil Fish, developer of Fez, quit the game industry because of the horrible twitter barrage calling him a hipster asshole, shitting on his game, telling him to go kill himself, and several other horrendous remarks, gamers everywhere responded with “you shouldn’t listen to trolls.” The idea is that game developers should just shut them off to frothing internet communities that exist only to make them feel bad. Just ignore everything the internet is saying and keep making games.
That’s a great idea… except it runs antithetical to another value that gamers seem to hold. Gamers always want developers to listen to them. When a game franchise is innovated to the extent that it’s no longer fun, gamers cry “listen to the fans!” When a fighting game needs to increase its roster, or when a shooter needs to rebalance its guns, gamers cry “listen to the fans!” When Sony continues to delay The Last Guardian time and again, gamers cry “listen to the fans.” Well, developers are listening to the fans. The fans told Phil Fish he was an asshole and needed to stop designing games, and so he did. With great power comes great responsibility.
Example 3: I Want More Games VS. I Want More Innovation
If a new Call of Duty didn’t come out every year, the Call of Duty fanbase would be up in arms. If it’s not a Black Ops year, Modern Warfare fans are waiting for their next try. If it’s not a Modern Warfare year, Black Ops fans are looking for their next big hit. Activision works on strained schedules to produce title after title based off their existing architecture, and for the most part it works.
But then a game like Call of Duty: Ghosts comes out and players scream about it being the same old thing. Similarly, players have complained time and again about action games that are God of War clones. “We don’t want quantity, we want innovation!” the gaming populace screams. Well guess what? You can’t have your games come out fast and have a ton of innovation at the same time. Heck, one of the ways that games manage to come out so quickly is via the use of middleware, re-used systems from past games. There is an old sayng: Quick, Good, Cheap. You can only pick two. So if you are looking for quickly done, innovative, AAA budget titles, you are simply out of luck.
Former Contributing Writer