Originally written on December 11, 2014
To say that the last few months within the video game industry have been major would be an understatement. Whether it was the announcement of a key game such as Nintendo’s open-world Zelda for the Wii U, or the megaton that the next iteration of Street Fighter would be exclusive to the PlayStation 4, the year has seen a ton of surprises. On top of whatever games may have shocked & awed us, or in some cases stoked the fires of console warriors, we also saw unexpected events occur such as those pertaining to the on-going GamerGate saga and whether or not game journalists, or even developers, can be “trusted”.
The GamerGate situation is one I find interesting since it brought into a question a lot of things on both the journalist and developer side of the equation. While I’m not a tinfoil hat wearing Gamergate warrior, I do think there are areas that can be improved which will ultimately make for a better, and simply more transparent, situation as opposed to the slight smoke & mirrors scenario we have now at times. Ultimately, the one thing that the GamersGate situation did bring up to the forefront even more, at least in my mind, is that there seems to be an overwhelming sense of entitlement amongst gamers/consumers.
Now I may be setting myself up as an easy target to be hacked via social media or simply harassed to some degree, but recent situations ranging from a wide array of areas have pointed to gamers, a select few mind you, either feeling more entitled than they should, or they’re simply dumb as bricks. Again, at this point you may be reading this and wondering why I’ve suddenly gone full heel or if I’m channeling my inner Ben Kuchera, whom I’m far from being a fan of, but I’m honestly not. As a lover of video games I can understand, if not encourage, players/consumers to be vocal about things since in some cases it’s the only way for change to occur; either for a key issue to be addressed within a game or even for an online petition to actually make an impact in a rare situation.
That said, there does seem to be a growing case of players/consumers exhibiting a sense of “what does it do for me?” or “that isn’t what I wanted” no matter what the case is. A recent example of such a thing popping up is the reaction to the recent video for David Jaffe’s new game Drawn To Death. Now I’m not talking about the premier trailer for Drawn To Death which was shown/released at the PlayStation Experience event, but the one released the following Wednesday in which one of the characters in the game, Johnny Savage, reads several comments about the game made by users on sites such as GiantBomb and Polygon.
The comments, which generally trashed certain aspects of the game, are then met with Johnny giving the good old-fashioned Stone Cold Steve Austin salute with the words “Fuck Off” appearing on screen. This video is of course done with a modest amount of jest, and of course is rather in-tone with the sometimes honestly blunt attitude that David Jaffe likes to have. Yet despite this, the reaction that the video was met by some people, such as the forums on Giantbomb, was one of befuddlement in a sense as they couldn’t put two and two together that this was a joke and wasn’t meant to be a direct mean spirited attack on those that criticized the game.
Was this new Drawn To Death video a bit out there as a marketing tool? Sure, it was a tad different than the normal sizzle videos publishers/devs release which feature overwhelming praise of a game to stoke the hype fires even more. So in many ways this latest Drawn To Death video took a funny, and slightly tongue-in-cheek and satirical look, at some of the rather silly criticism of the game all while still hyping things up ever so slightly by further highlighting the tone the project is striving for, one which is set in the imagination of a rebellious teenager, and showing that the game itself looks like it has fun gameplay.
Yet here we are, with a multi-page thread on NeoGAF discussing the approach of the video, and folks on Twitter going off on it and of course giving David Jaffe crap for it at the same time. I would be remiss not to mention that I myself am a fan of Jaffe so perhaps there’s a slight sense of impartiality to my line of thought, but at the same time within the last few years we’ve seen the sense of entitlement rise greatly amongst a portion of the gaming community in a way that isn’t that great.
Whether it’s the continued bemoaning of how much digitally distributed games costs, the length of a game, or even the resolution that a developer chooses for their project, such as that of The Order: 1886 with its 16:9 letterbox format, it seems like players/consumers simply want whatever THEY directly want and they couldn’t care less about what is either the right course of action or what was actually feasible within a particular situation.
Again, I have no problem with a person or a group of people voicing their opinion on a matter since it’s a free country after all. The issue I have however is that it seems like we’re slowly facing a generation which has been reared on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook – both of which allow people to go on rants and feel as if their voice is the only important one in the entire world. Sure, I love to go on rants myself when it comes to Twitter, but I simply fear for how the games industry itself will evolve in the coming years as it continues to deal with blowback from the gaming community over matters that are either insignificant or unjustified to be debated about – such as criticizing a game for having a contextual prompt appear to interact with something in the environment.
Is giving a publisher or developer a hard time a good thing during some situations? Yes it is since it does result in publishers like Ubisoft knowing that we won’t tolerate a half-baked game like Assassin’s Creed: Unity. But if you look at other situations such as that of Phil Fish, the entitlement from the gaming community, or rather particular groups of it, that borders on harrassment can be so unfounded that it made a man leave the industry he was passionate about and literally go dark aside from whatever personal chats he has with friends within the industry. Yet there are those who will say that it’s fine to relentlessly bash a developer, game, or whatever since they are the ones that “pays the bills” by buying a game or post-release DLC. To be honest, i don’t think that’s the best way to look at things since it simply promotes a sense of resentment, which will could lead a developer, or even a publisher, to further care less about their fans if overall sales are enough to keep things afloat and profitable.
The all or nothing view that some players/consumers have with their entitlement attitudes is one that I personally find to be rather immature for the most part, and at times I also don’t know if people are simply so dense that they can’t differentiate between what was actually a realistic possibility, and what was a mere joke when such a thing occurs. Yes, I know that not everyone that enjoys gaming has an entitled mindset since there are people out there that simply enjoy games for what they are and respect the people who pour years and hours of their lives into making a game fun as hell for us to play. Will certain elements of gaming culture as a whole begin to actually mature as the years progress, or will it simply continue to act like a petulant child that cries over anything when it doesn’t get its way? I haven’t the faintest clue to be honest since I don’t think anyone can ever fully predict where the industry will be in three years let alone a decade, even the ever fallible groomed hobo that is Michael Pachter, so I guess the last thing us sensible folk can do is wait and hope for the best amongst the continued bouts of silliness which occur.