Gaming Editor Emma Kent rounds up the EGX Rezzed 2018 session on breaking into games journalism, and asks Eurogamer about diversity problems in the industryWritten by Emma Kent on 24th April 2018
Gamers are the Biggest Hypocrites on the Internet
James Honke gives his thoughts on why gamers are the biggest hypocrites around
I hate gamers.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a gamer myself. I’ve played video games for years; I’ve travelled the world collecting treasures in Uncharted, I’ve built entire histories in Crusader Kings II (180 hours and counting) and I’ve pointlessly jerked off a Wiimote in Wii Sports. Hell, I’ve literally gone from blasting shots at zombies to blasting shots at goal within minutes (between The Last of Us and FIFA, FIFA is 100% more stressful). Gaming is a dangerously large portion of my time and my daily life.
“Deep down, we’re the biggest hypocrites the internet has to offer
But it’s about time that we admitted that, as gamers, we’re the biggest hypocrites in the media world. If movie fans don’t like or want something in a movie they vote with their feet, meaning that movies - on the whole - resemble the audience that go to see them, and - on the whole - they’re quite good. TV is producing the best content it has ever produced through HBO, Netflix and Amazon because TV viewers simply won’t watch what they don’t like, but will pay for things that they do. As a result, we’ve been treated to the Golden Age of Television as emboldened companies take risks on shows as different as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Stranger Things, and produce some of the most brilliant entertainment ever. But gamers… well, we’re a different story. We must be the most vocal of all the audiences, ready in a second to fill Reddit with screen-length rants about the murder of Visceral Games and the ‘death of single-player games’, screeching about the end of the game industry all over forums and filling the comments section of the ‘Jimquisition’ like a multi-car pile-up fills a motorway. But, in a feat of cognitive dissonance normally reserved for Kevin Spacey, we’re also ready to buy EA’s newest pile of multiplayer shooterbox spunk because it has GREAT GRAPHICS OH MY GOOD LOOK AT THAT SKYBOX and because, deep down, we’re the biggest hypocrites the internet has to offer.
We’ll bitch about micro-transactions being a ‘step too far’ then fork out £60 to buy Shadow of War or Destiny or The Division and moan about how much they push you to pay £1.99 that BEAUTIFUL new loot box. We’ll moan about the lack of story in games and then we’ll buy 'COD Automated Luxury Space Capitalist Warfare' and pointlessly blast our way through thousands of this year’s racially-profiled enemies. We’ll even rage about how boring games are now whilst complaining if we don’t have enough busywork to do. After all, who doesn’t love a huge map filled with a trillion icons denoting a billion pointless chores? Chores are great. I love doing them in my spare time.
Which brings me to Assassin’s Creed. Oh lord. The series that became a byword for repetitive, busy-work-heavy, buggy open-worlds is back, and apparently “it’s good now!”. Haven’t we heard this before? Black Flag was the saviour of the series. Syndicate was ‘actually good, promise’! A friend of mine told me that this year, things were different: Ubisoft had “listened” and taken an “extra year” to make a “genuinely decent” game, and it looks like reviewers agree. Listened?! Do we hear ourselves? Do we genuinely kid ourselves that a corporate leviathan like Ubisoft actually listens to anything other than the bottom line? Let’s be clear: nothing has changed. The gameplay is the same. The engine is the same. The game looks and feels and plays like the same, turgid Assassin’s Creed that we have moaned and bitched about for an entire decade. We have literally got to the point where we hold such low standards for Ubisoft that if they take two years and just about manage to release a game without too many game-breaking bugs, IGN and Gamespot lose their shit, we all cream ourselves with excitement and we all pile out in droves to throw £60 at the nearest frightened GAME employee.
“Do we genuinely kid ourselves that a corporate leviathan like Ubisoft actually listens to anything other than the bottom line?
I don’t understand gamers any more. How can we be constantly disappointed because there’s nothing new under the sun, when we refuse to support anything new? “There’s nothing original in games anymore,” we lament, “just Destiny 12 or FIFA 37”. Yet when Bioware tried to do something new with Mass Effect (hell, it wasn’t even particularly radical), we all went after them. ‘It doesn’t feel like a Mass Effect game’ was the message from Destructoid, whilst Rock, Paper, Shotgun dismissed it as “tepid, timid” as a “follow-up to the previous trilogy”. What did we expect? What do we want? We complain of a world of remasters and reboots, yet whenever the ‘AAA’ game industry do try something new, we jump down their throat so hard that they cancel it and kill the studio. Go us.
But James – I hear the legions of gaming mouth-breathers slamming their warped fists into their keyboards as I write this – what about the BUGS? What about the teen-fiction sci-fi story? What about the repetitive missions? It wasn’t just about the original trilogy, James, it was about a BAD GAME!
You may have a point. Hell, you may be right – Mass Effect Andromeda was certainly not the perfect game we all dreamed of. But in reply, I have two words. Assassin’s. Creed. If you’re willing to have a go at Mass Effect, YOU’D BETTER be willing to have a go at Assassin’s Creed. Have some consistency and ask yourself some goddamn searching questions. When was the story of Assassin's Creed actually good? Can anyone remember? Oh yes, I can remember when there was a story to the series, and it was back in Assassin’s Creed 2. That was SIX GAMES AGO (not including countless spin-offs) and consisted of a simple story of some bad men who murdered your family and you had to get revenge by being a good man and murdering all of their families. It was nice, wholesome entertainment with a dollop of weird space god nonsense that we all ignored, but it was also a long time ago.
“If you’re willing to have a go at Mass Effect, YOU’D BETTER be willing to have a go at Assassin’s Creed.
What about the bugs? Well, ask yourself: when was the last bug-free Assassin’s Creed? Hell, I don’t think the Assassin's Creed series has ever been a perfectly clean experience, with some of the most disgusting and horrific bugs I’ve ever seen coming in the much-maligned Assassin’s Creed Unity. Even the new, ‘good’ iteration is a buggy mess with a mediocre story but we’ll give it a free pass. Why? Because Assassin’s Creed is ‘good now’ and because it means we can go back to pointlessly murdering the populace in the coolest ways possible, allowing us to be awesome and powerful rather than the uncool, overweight basement dwellers that we really are. We’ll give it a free pass because deep down, however much we moan, we all just want the gorgeous graphics and the stabby-stabby action.
And, if we’re honest, because we’re the biggest, snakiest hypocrites on the internet.
God, I hate gamers.