There is a poison that has been growing in gaming culture for some time now. In the last year or so I think it’s reached a zenith, and it is time that consumers start fighting back. The core gamers are told that there are threats to their hobby. That congress is legislating against their games, that iPhones and iPads are causing dedicated game consoles and game capable PCs to disappear. However, the real threat to gaming culture is internal, and is inflamed by PR firms who want to manipulate and gamers into buying into their story so they can sell games. Hype. Hype is the greatest danger to the gaming market and it is time that the majority of core gamers realized how they are being manipulated.
Of course, this could be a problem with the greater geek culture that has risen to prominence in the last ten years. Fans line up for hours to watch ten minutes of a film they are going to see in theaters in a few months. That waste of time and money has always baffled me, as I have always found myself with more media to consume than time to consume it. In gaming I’ve seen fans line up for hours to play a few minutes of Portal 2 at PAX East less than a month before release. The same for L.A. Noir, a game that wasn’t even worth playing even after the price had bottomed out. At NY Comic Con fans waited in line to watch game play of Batman Arkham City only a week or two before release.
I think most of it can be attributed to the social aspect of those hobbies. You want to be able to play the latest games because then you can talk about them with your friends or in online communities. You can be the first person to have a brand new experience. However, this causes gamers to constantly look into the future for entertainment, being tricked into paying top dollar for a game when there are plenty of games dropping in price they haven’t touched. I bet a large number of people who jumped on Assassin’s Creed 3 didn’t play the first few because the third one was advertised as being prettier and more fun. These fictional gamers who jumped to the third Assassin’s Creed without exploring the originals spent more money only because the game was newer and shinier, and they are robbing themselves of other game experiences in preference to one that they can talk about with people who are also playing the game. They don’t want to play the original and jump into an AC discussion being that far behind, not having anything to add to the current discussion.
Game reviews have been a pet peeve of mine for a long time now. The main issue being is that most games will not get an average review score lower than a “7” on the ten point scale used by meta critic. On a logical use of the ten point system this means most games are above average. Sites that use a more rational scoring system are yelled at for being too hostile, and bad games that earn average scores lower than a “7” have defenders coming out of the woodwork. Any reviewer that gives an opinion contrary to one of the loud obnoxious gamers on the internet becomes a target for some of the worst hostility imaginable. Does the excitement for a game overshadow the games actual value? Is believing accumulated hype for a game better than the game actually being of quality?
In the recent year there are three examples of this that are examples of this being a serious problem, at least as far as I’m concerned.