Ranty ramblings about the culture of videogames

Is it only me who loses interest in discussions about the state of videogames because of my total disinterest in big, important AAA games producted by big important companies? So when gamers complain about the lack of innovation in that segment of the market, I sort of want to shake them and say “Well, why don’t you play other games? Try out new genres? Indie games? Other creators?” Why do so many of these discussions pretend that “videogames” means Mass Effect, The Last Of Us, Dragon Age and Bioshock? I think that the strength of videogames, as a medium, lies in the variety of graphics style, gameplay methods, approaches to storytelling and so on. It’s a medium that can cover so much ground and appeal to so many different people with totally different expectations. Yet when we talk about videogames as a culture, it so often leads to arteficically narrowing down the focus, dismissing entire genres and gamer demographics – and then, paradoxically, the whining starts because – surprise, surprise – there is not much variety to be found within that stupidly narrow focus that was arbitrarily chosen by gamers ourselves.

I never liked the idea that there are “real gamers”, who are people who play specific games. Everyone else is casual gamers, and little girls, or old people or whatever other group could not possibly be considered a “real gamer”. Not too long ago, I saw a couple of people who insisted that the entire output of Nintendo should not be considered real games for real gamers. What the hell? Nintendo is iconic. Even if they are in a slump, it’s incredibly stupid to claim that no true gamer enjoys Super Mario games. I suspect these are the same people who only like dark, gritty videogames (and movies, and TV shows) and think the more monochrome a game’s colour pallette, the more realistic it is. The kind of people who think realism (and photo-realism) matters in videogames in the first place. Who think despair is realistic, fun is not. I guess they have something to prove, though I am not sure what, or to whom.

You know the type of gamer who keeps whining about how uncreative the Final Fantasy series has become? But who would never consider buying a non-Final-Fantasy JRPG? Sure, it’d be nice if gaming journalism and ur own gaming friends did a better job at alerting us of great indie games, innovative ideas off the beaten tracks trampled by AAA games… but you know: be the change you want to see in the world?

There will always be unoriginal but successful big budget games. But just like the existence of generic Hollywood blockbusters don’t render the entire world’s movie industries’ output (because we are not talking about just one industry, are we? we are talking about the medium as a whole, for some reason!) dumb and meaningless, the existence of generic big budget games doesn’t have to diminish the worth of gaming as an art or as a culture. There seems to be a lot of defeatism, and confusion, about this within the gaming community. Could we overcome this? It’d be much more fun, and worthwhile.

 

 

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