I remember a time when it was okay for a videogame character to have big boobs. For that matter, I remember a time when it was okay for characters to be manly. Apparently, it isn't anymore. Apparently, despite the game industry's desperate plea to be considered "art", we shoot down art whenever it pops up beyond the confines of the Unreal 3 Engine. Apparently, in our desire for videogames to be seen as "art", we've placed our bets on hyper-realistic military shooters with absolutely no artistic value, yet when a game comes out that is - literally, since it is hand-drawn - art, we cry about it. Apparently, we've forgotten the countless "distasteful" works of art from all centuries leading up to this one, works of art that are now considered classics.
I remember a time when it was okay for animals to be videogame heroes. Apparently, it isn't, not if PETA has anything to say about it. Apparently, naming your videogame based on a heroic raccoon flying into space "StarCoon" is now considered racism by some. Apparently, as a Caucasian male, I should have been offended by games like "White" Knight Chronicle, or Planet "Cracker".
I remember a time when videogame journalists reported the news. Apparently, they don't anymore. Apparently, our journalists have gone from hype machines to paid shills to industry watchdogs who pick on all the issues that no gamer cares about, and then back to hype machines. Apparently, doing stuff that journalists in other industries do (like calling out Big Corpo in defense of customers, or properly analyzing a market's direction, or representing the majority as well as the minority) is beneath our heavenly gaming journalists. Apparently, we can't call out big companies like Microsoft, for the RRoD fiasco, or Sony, for their outright lies regarding "remote play", or Nintendo, for their failure to acquire third parties like they said they would, or EA, Ubisoft, Activision, etc for their terrible business practices. Oh! Sure! Our journalists will write token articles about it every once in a while, but when review time it comes, it's 10 out of 10. When interview time comes, it's "hey! guns are cool. What was your inspiration for putting guns in Call of Duty?" Apparently, videogame journalists forgot how to ask a real question.
I remember a time when the game industry was united. Yeah, we would fight. We would squabble. Fanboys will be fanboys, right? Apparently, we've resorted to turning on one another now that Metacritic scores, console sales, and total number of exclusives isn't a hot-button issue like it used to be. Apparently, our game developers have so much time on their hands, they would rather attack their fans (saying "deal with it") or attack one another ("F***ing lol"), and yet they can't seem to meet a freakin' deadline, can they?
I remember a time when games were games. They didn't integrate with social networks. They didn't assault you with endless DLC packs. They didn't lock away the game behind an "always on" requirement. They didn't force obscure motion control or touch control or camera control mechanics into games that didn't need it. Apparently, we were all able to play games and have fun and play with one another without all the social features and DLC and nonsense being added to games nowadays. Apparently, the pure, unadulterated pleasure of Wii Sports was just too "dumb", so we had to cram it into everything else to see if it worked.
I remember a time when attacks against videogames came from without, not within. We all knew who our enemies were: Joe Lieberman, Jack Thompson, and various other public figures who wanted to make a scapegoat out of our favorite hobby, people who wanted to blame games and blame the "murderers" who played them for society's ills. We even rolled our eyes in unison whenever Uwe Boll would announce a new movie and/or defend his butchering of our favorite franchises. Apparently, with those enemies defeated, we've made one another the enemy. Before, it was silly name-calling like "Ninty fanboy" or "Xbot" or "Sony defense force". Now we shout out "racist" and "sexist" and "bigot" and "you just don't get it!" against our fellow gamer.
Many people are very excited for the next generation of gaming. I'm not, not if this is what we're left with. Many people say we're growing up as a gaming industry. I don't think we are. We're simply "playing adult" by squabbling about quasi-adult topics while shouting and ignoring and calling names. At least before all this, I was simply called a "fanboy" for owning a PS3. Now, I'm a "sexist" because I'll be buying Dragon's Crown for my Vita. Now, if I don't support gun ownership (I do) but I buy Call of Duty (I don't), I'm a "hypocrite". At least before, my only gripe was that journalists sometimes seemed unusually harsh or unusually lenient toward certain games. Now, I have to put up with consistently bad analysis of the gaming market, "moral dilemma" articles that are borne out of thin air, self-indulgent navel-gazing, and worst of all, a constant dismissal and arrogance toward gaming's biggest demographics (based on how we treat kids games, casual games, motion games, etc).
I'm sorry. We've fallen so far as an industry. Am I to blame? I'm no one of importance, but did my playful joking and occasional trolling forums contribute to all this? Did my occasional purchase of DLC make things the way they are? Did we cause this, gamers? Maybe. Or maybe we ALLOWED it. We sat by while it was all forced upon us.
I guess I'm just sick of how things are turning out as we go into the next generation. It seems as though every game platform is "doomed" like it's 2008 again or something. News for next-gen systems is met with irrational criticism, and any excitement is labelled as "faboyism". Any legitimate concerns or fears are also labelled as "fanboyism". We praise consoles that sell horribly (the Gamecube) but mock consoles that sold amazingly (the Wii), and then we wonder why videogame companies are tanking left and right.
I don't know what the solution is. All I know is that I hate to see what our industry has morphed into. Is there hope for a change? I guess. I guess I'll just keep supporting the companies I like and writing a blog about it every once in a while.