Today the VGX award show took place; a full 3 hour event that served only to show what a joke the videogame industry really is. Not to say the previous VGAs weren’t a trainwreck either, but with each passing year everything just seems to sink deeper and deeper.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love videogames. I have been playing them since I can remember. But I hate the videogame industry. I hate videogame journalists. I hate big publishers like EA, Activision and Capcom. I hate this new wave of “artsy” games. I hate the fact that people who know absolutely nothing about videogames are trying to hype them up to something that they aren’t. I hate everyone who calls themselves gamers.
It’s almost as if these kinds of events are done in complete mockery. Hell, why wouldn’t they be? The entire premise is basically to spoonfeed opinions to people who don’t know anything about videogames (even if they pretend to do). We are told what games are the “best” without leaving the door open for any criticism. We are told which games we should buy because they’re so promising, yet we’re given barely any actual information about them. The entire medium of videogames journalism is built upon this; to tell people “hey this game is so amazing you should completely trust us and then go and buy the game and not complain about it ever, otherwise you’re ignorant and know nothing about videogames”.
I’m not sure if Joel McHale is actually a videogame enthusiast in any level, but today he showed much more common sense and logic than any other “gamer” I’ve ever met. He knew the entire show was nothing but a fancy charade thrown together at the last minute to serve as advertising and just said “screw it”. Why act professionally when the event itself is in no way taken seriously by the very people who run it?
As I’m typing this there’s thousands of people ranting frantically on twitter and forums all over the internet about how Joel acted like an immature prick. Ironically enough none of them actually know anything about videogames; they’re all the type of people who only go on IGN to read reviews and copypaste their opinions on every game that’s released. They’re the type of people who tell you that The Last of US has the best writing in any videogame so far, when clearly they’ve never played masterpieces of narrative like Planescape: Torment or the Legacy of Kain series. They’re the type of people who praise linear games with barely any actual gameplay in them and subpar writing such as Gone Home because Kotaku told them it was a milestone in making games more mature; yet they fail to see the amazing visual designs in games like Age of Empires 2 and the level of maturity in Knights of the Old Republic 2.
While Joel straight called out Tim Schaefer on wasting all the money he got from Kickstarter on hiring voice actors instead of using that money to actually work on his game, people keep bashing him for “rude” jokes and comments. These people that know nothing about videogames are getting incredibly upset about some random celebrity bursting their happy perfect bubble. What kind of world do we live in that making jokes about something so trivial causes such an uproar? I fail to remember who said this, but it’s the best way I can really put this whole situation into words: “Just because your feelings get hurt doesn’t mean you’re right”.
It’s all very reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World. People don’t actually stop and think “hey, this isn’t such a good game as every reviewer is telling me. I think developers can do better than this”. Instead we get websites and “journalists” that keep shoving their opinions down our throats and presenting them as facts. The entirety of gaming journalism is compromised of a much stabilized PR-journalist relationship, in which every piece of information is very carefully controlled. A new game comes out, X website gives it a fairly good score while pointing out some “flaws” so as to keep the image of still being legit reviewers, and then everyone goes and buy the game. The reviewers get their special edition copies of the game, and everyone is happy. Because what happens when someone ISN’T happy and complacent with whatever product devs put out? The balance destabilizes. The delicate and perfect equilibrium is broken, so now we’re not allowed to say that a generic AAA title is bad. If a games journalist were to do this, he’d lose all his good contacts in the industry. Suddenly he’d no longer be invited to stay in fancy hotels, he’d no longer have exclusive previews of games. His entire career would sink.
What happens when as a consumer you do criticize a game that’s been hyped out to be amazing? You get all these “professional journalists” sinking down to the level of a 10th grader and calling you names; saying you’re a big whiny baby who just can’t appreciate a “good” game and that your opinion doesn’t matter. And of course, you get thousands of people spouting that same thing to you.
Why? Because people still don’t know ANYTHING about videogames. They have no legit experience with games; they cannot tell right from wrong until it’s just blatantly obvious. You can say that Bioshock Infinite is an average shooter at best with uninspired writing and instantly you’ll get hordes of fanboys telling you that you’re wrong and that you just “don’t get it”. All because IGN told them so.
You’re not allowed to disagree with anyone anymore. Game developers can no longer put any kind of jokes in their games, because someone out there gets offended. People who don’t actually get invested in videogames go out of their way to tell you “hey this game is bad and should change to appeal to ME”. Nowadays games have to cater to everyone everywhere, because that’s just the way to maximize profits. Journalists have to be extremely selective about what they say. For all the supposed open mindedness of the modern gaming audience, they sure are closed to what people outside their perfect hug-box have to say.
It’s a sad thing really. It’s no mystery that videogames have always been about the profit. But at least there used to be more passion involved in them, more creativity. Nowadays everything is just so… processed. An IP turns out to be successful? Well then, time to copy that formula and then strip it off a bunch of its core elements in order to appeal to a wider audience. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen in other branches of the entertainment industry, but with videogames in particular it’s just so blatantly obvious.
With each passing year the costs for developing videogames get higher and higher. Just recently we got Grand Theft Auto V with a budget of over 250 million dollars. And therein lies the problem with the industry. Games get these super inflated budgets, which in turn require more sales to make up for the investments. If a game doesn’t sell 6 million copies at launch, it’s a flop. So what do the big publishers move? They go for the safe bet. Activision keeps releasing Call of Duty rehashes each year. EA keeps trying to find more and more ways to make people waste money on games that aren’t even properly developed.
Now some might say “hey, that’s what we have indie devs for”. Well sure, we have CD Project Red, the now defunct GSC Game World and other similar “indie” devs, along with Kickstarter projects and the like. But there’s only so many actual alternatives to AAA games that come out each year and that are actually good. Sure, there is a good amount of indie games released each year, but those are different kinds of indie games. Most of them just play on the 8-bit nostalgia wagon that seems to have taken over lately, without being actually very good games. I personally find nothing interesting about generic pixel art with gameplay I’ve seen a hundred times already. Because really, 8-bit games were never about having just very few pixels on screen and beeps for music. Character sprites were never drawn in Microsoft Paint. But that’s a different topic entirely.
So what happens with the industry? Well, it’s only natural to assume it will continue to run its course. Games will become more and more diluted, budgets will keep getting bigger, people will keep spending their money. It’s uncertain just for how long this will go on. At least, there’s a guarantee that as long as videogames keep making money, we’ll keep getting Geoff Keighley’s vacant stare at these yearly mockeries of what a videogame show should really be about.
There’s still the possibility of a downloadable expansion. They’ve done it with The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.
In case you don’t know what’s going on - Johnny (he’s been on Whachow and one of my best friends) had his apartment broken into and several things were stolen. I know what that’s like so I took it upon myself to ask the fans of Whachow to help out a veteran of the show and just throw a couple bucks his way. Also, if you were thinking about buying a seat all proceeds this week go to him and his girlfriend to hopefully regain some sanity to their lives that have been a whirlwind the last 24 hours.
I greatly appreciate everyone that’s pitched in thus far - it means a lot to me and, more importantly, Johnny - hopefully we can raise enough to replace what was stolen and just let the memory fade. It’s already one thing to have your home violated but then to be out thousands of dollars on top of that?
Thank you again to everyone that’s helped out or planning to help <3
You can donate here.
I made this comic entirely on computer, to see if I could! I guess I can? Neat!
Hey, don’t be an asshole! When you reblog a piece of art and write “ugh I can’t believe this idiot, I hate this so much,” the person who made it sees that. Would you enjoy waking up to that every day? I don’t think so.
Be nice! It’s underrated!
So this guy started talking to me on kik and it wasn’t that nice really. As you can see he called me all sorts of stuff as fat, told me to cut my wrists and to go back being anorexic. I told him I’d post our convo on my tumblr and he begged me not to since he was afraid he’s gf would see it, and I don’t want to ruin their relathionship but I’m not gonna be silent about this either. So when i told him id post it he posted a little bit of our convo instead where I called him a bitch, so now I’m getting shit for it. And not just this, he even called his own gf horrible. I’d be very very happy if you could spread this, apparently I’m not the first one.
Gentlemen. This is what rape culture is like:
Imagine you have a Rolex watch. Nice fancy Rolex, you bought it because you like the way it looks and you wanted to treat yourself. And then you get beaten and mugged and your Rolex is stolen. So you go to the police. Only, instead of investigating the crime, the police want to know why you were wearing a Rolex instead of a regular watch. Have you ever given a Rolex to anyone else? Is it possible you wanted to be mugged? Why didn’t you wear long sleeves to cover up the Rolex if you didn’t want to be mugged?
And then after that, everywhere you go, there are constant jokes about stealing your Rolex. People you don’t even know whistle at your Rolex and make jokes about cutting your hand off to get it. The media doesn’t help either; it portrays people who wear Rolexes as flamboyant assholes who secretly just want someone to come along and take that Rolex off their hands. When damn, all you wanted was to wear a nice watch without getting harassed for it. When you complain that you are starting to feel unsafe, people laugh you off and say that you are too uptight. Never mind you got violently attacked for the crime of wearing a friggin time piece.
Imagining all that? It sucks, doesn’t it.
Now imagine you could never take the Rolex off.
The Wretched of the Earth: On Rape Culture (via exoticwild)
"Games cost much too much money to focus on a niche market," she said. "To survive, they need to be such a broadly popular part of entertainment culture that you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t play games. Women represent over 50 percent of the population, tend to be in charge of household finances, and are the majority purchasers of games (when factoring in games bought by women as gifts for husbands, children, friends, etc.). To indulge a community that is actively trying to alienate this powerful market segment (not to mention gay men, casual gamers of all types and anyone new to the hobby), is suicidal.
"It’s important to listen to fans about what’s important to them, but it’s equally important to listen to people who are not currently gamers about why they aren’t playing. Hardcore gamers want a product that is made specifically for them and is actively unfriendly to anyone new. They will beg and bully to get this product and then praise and wax nostalgic over any game that lives up to their standards even if the company that made it went bankrupt. They don’t care about keeping companies in business or artists employed. Their only job as fans is to say what pleases them, and it would be foolish to expect them to think beyond that. But to cater to those desires without thinking about how to bring new audiences in and make them comfortable will ultimately result in a stagnant and money-losing industry.
"I could go on and on about this, but I’m just going to consider one example: the word ‘noob.’ If you decide to take up almost any other hobby in the world, you can find beginning classes teaching you how to do it. If you want to knit, you can go to a yarn store and meet fellow knitters who will help you get the basics. If you want to play basketball, you can join a rec center or community league at a beginner level. And generally, the people already involved in those hobbies are thrilled to have someone with whom they can share their passion. But if you want to get started as a gamer, you get told, ‘go home noob,’ because people in this hobby hate newcomers so much they turned the word itself into an insult. How are we supposed to thrive as an industry if we are actively hostile to growing our audience?"
- Jennifer Hepler (source)
I’m not sure how to comment on this truthbomb more than to say “THIS,” because—on top of being the right fucking thing to do—making a more inclusive environment for all kinds of gamers is the only logical growth strategy. Now someone tell every other game company to read this as well.
The same can also be applied to comic books.