Same Sky
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Gamers Need to Make Room for the Industry to Expand

A post I made–a rant, if you will–so I hope you enjoy. I posted it on the 1Up Boards, but I’ve edited it to fit a more general context.

Speaking of which, I got another mention on this week’s podcast. 😉 Sweet stuff.

As we enter the next “phase” of video games, things are a lot more varied this time around–more than they’ve ever been.

This has caused the walls between “fanboy” crowds to be even thicker as Wii fans protest Sony for overpowering their console and PS3 fans belittle Wii owners for not growing up. I think that kind of arguing is pretty pointless–they’re aiming at completely different consumers–but the key element here, I think, that hasn’t been present in gaming eras of old is this:

The gaming industry is trying to expand and mature, but gamers/developers won’t let it.

I will guarantee you that when movies were beginning to appear as a form of media, they took a while to spread to the mainstream appeal that they have–people who watch movies on a daily basis are never criticized for being “nerds.” The ever-present question, “Why haven’t video games reached that level?” lingers.

However, I think the answer is right in front of our eyes: all the gamers who act as if the way we, the “hardcore,” look at video games is the “correct” way. Is there a correct way to view games? I think not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and fun is in the eye of the gamer, be they “hardcore” or “casual.”

In other words, gamers keep assuming that what they want in video games is what everyone wants or should want. They (read: we) are hogging this form of media to ourselves, hiding it away from everyone else. Many seem petrified at the Wii and DS’s success because they fear it will lead to the “end of hardcore games,” which, if you ask me, is a rather childish fear.

Are there absolutely no movies out right now that you can enjoy? None at all? Chances are, you can probably think of at least a couple movies that came out in the past few months that you really enjoyed. However, we all want to keep this industry to keep making games for us instead of letting it grow and putting out games that appeal to other people. It would be like if we decided to keep fantasy/sci-fi movies the standard, the norm, and screw anyone who decides to make a romantic comedy. Guess what? Movies would probably be looked at the same way as gaming is if this were the case, because right now, video games, generally speaking, are rather narrow in their demographic goal. That’s why we’re nerds–we’re the few, and only we play them. If everyone played games, we wouldn’t be nerds–look at Korea and their Starcraft obsession and the drooling girls at Starcraft players for proof of that. I don’t think it’s just culture’s fault, though, I think it’s our own. In Japan, gaming isn’t looked at near the same way–it’s much more mainstream, and not just because many more people play it, it’s because games are made for everyone, not just a certain type of person. The industry there allows for it.

And now, with gaming crawling out into the “Blue Ocean” and looking for new gamers with more simple games, we, the hardcore gamers, need to stop our bitching and whining and expecting the industry to bow to our every whim.

We don’t own this industry anymore like we used to. We may have the most knowledge of it, but we don’t have the most money, and money is the driving goal of a company. We’re rather outnumbered, and still we somehow get all upset and bitch and complain when the Wii opts to do something completely different because they know they’ll make more money that way?

Why do people complain about the Wii in the first place if they have no intention of owning it?
Do you bitch and whine about how movie publishers who aren’t even aiming for your demographic don’t put more effort into making movies you like?
Why don’t you go and file complaints to Scholastic Books? Their literature doesn’t meet your standards.
Oh, wait–that’s because you’re not their audience.

Casual game developers aren’t trying to please you because you aren’t who’s bringing in the money for them, so stop scolding them for making money off of someone besides you.

Frankly, I think one of the main reasons why this has become such an issue is because games are so bloody damned expensive to make these days, especially on the 360 or PS3–the “next generation” of gaming.
Sony and Microsoft are aiming to give you everything you want–at a price, because they can’t make a profit otherwise.

I suppose this has become somewhat of a rant/essay at this point, but I’m damn sick and tired of all of the “hardcore” gamers on the internet bitching and whining about anything that doesn’t appeal to them, expecting everyone to be competing for their dollar when there’s a lot more consumers out there than just them.

If we really want the gaming industry to grow and become accepted as “mainstream,” we need to let go and stop sitting on our high horse, telling all developers to give us everything we want and slash down those who don’t meet our lofty expectations. Yes, developers making games designed to appeal to us need to innovate and push for the things we want–but that doesn’t mean everyone should.

People don’t have faith in the consumer at large and their power. But guess what? They don’t give a damn about graphics, HD, complex gameplay, or any of that–generally speaking. They care about price, value for their dollar, and fun–you know, that thing that games were originally made for? But heed my words, if casual gaming picks up, and I think it will, we’re going to have to sacrifice our “elite” status as gamers and make some room, because we’re going to become a much smaller piece of the pie that everyone’s aiming to please.

Cars are used by everyone, yet there’s plenty of folks who specialize in car customization, racing them, analyzing them…If games really pick up, we’ll probably become those people within this industry.

Have faith–no matter what happens, it’s not like there’ll never be games made that you’ll enjoy. There will always be “hardcore” people striving for experiences that we want.

Even Nintendo is delivering the “hardcore” gameplay for its fans with a quintuplet of their marquee franchises this year (Smash, Metroid, Mario, and Zelda). Franchises like Halo sell like crazy, but stuff like Pokemon sells like made, too, and that’s because it can appeal to both sides of the spectrum. That’s what Nintendo is aiming for with Mario Galaxy, I’m sure.

We need to make room for development of games that facilitate the desires of everyone, not just us. That means everyone shouldn’t focus on graphics and sound and high-tech stuff–just the guys aiming at our demographic. And we shouldn’t expect casual gamers to want what we want, either–that’s why they’re different. And never underestimate their power.

We only own the industry as much as we pay for it. And casual gamers are the ones who are currently paying for most of it by sheer numbers. So shove over. We won’t die out, I promise. Hardcore gaming won’t ever die out as long as hardcore gamers still exist.

We’re like overprotective parents who refuse to let their kid go off to college and move on to the “real world” because she’s “our baby girl” and we want her to ourselves. But she’s growing up, and she’s not just our baby anymore. There’s a whole wide world out there waitng for the taking, but gaming can’t succeed out there if we won’t let it. We need to grow up, put on some balls, and let gaming go from adolescence to adulthood.

I want to play games with nerds sometimes, yes, but I also want to play games with everyone else, to experience complex, deep adventures but also quick, simple, and fun experiences–and that can’t happen if we don’t make room and stop being so greedy.


One Response to “Gamers Need to Make Room for the Industry to Expand”

  1. Well said, my friend.

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