I was reading this article over at Kotaku where game developer Ethan Levy was discussing the torrent of abuse he gets from people on the Internet whenever he discusses free-to-play gaming. It just boggles the mind and angers my gums, when I read about how so many people act as if the worst possible thing to happen in their lives involves the policy changes or evolution of gaming. We go through life, having to deal with lows as well as highs. A lot of the time the lows are what stick with us for a while and can be the reason we do or say stupid things – this, in turn, prolongs the negativity of the original act.
But when it comes to video games, I do not understand how gamers can take things so personally and channel that warped sense of entitlement and opinion into a spurge of hateful keyboard bashing that is directed and must be seen by those they blame for igniting this rage. It makes me worry about the mentality of gamers and just how snobby and stuck up some of us come across.
Levy has been called a ‘cancer on the game industry’. I mean, where do you come up with this notion that such a statement is justified, warranted or makes a damn bit of sense? The ten second rule is one that a lot of people on the Internet should apply before they decide that a stranger who hasn’t caused them harm needs to hear or read such vile things about themselves. Levy made an effort to cover a lot of bases and express his opinions in the article and he predicted that people in the comments would still call him a slew of naughty names.
Whatever your opinion on free-to-play games, a lot of them will forewarn you if microtransactions exist in the full version of the game. Beta runs are there to show you what’s ahead and if you follow news regarding these games then you’ll be up-to-date. Whether or not you agree with policies or means of marketing used by companies behind certain games, if they tell you beforehand what’s in store, then you can’t blame them for ‘pouncing on you unsuspectedly’. Yes, you may be upset with the choices they’ve made, but you don’t have to buy that game or buy the extras. Your life will not be made worse for not having that one or heck even 4 games that do whatever it is that peeves you so much.
A lot of people are seemingly shocked that Elder Scrolls Online will feature many wallet draining transactions.You buy the game itself, you pay $15 a month to play it and then there’s lots of fiddly transactions within the game (that are optional) but nevertheless, it seems like Bethesda are trying to money grab. That’s how these MMORPG’s work – World of Warcraft did the same thing more or less and yes we all have this momentary glitch where we forget these aren’t just companies that want to makes games fans and newcomers will love, they’re companies that want to make a profit, so they can pay bills and enjoy luxuries.
There is nothing wrong with that – especially when every element is, at the end of the day, an optional purchase for any potential consumer on this planet. It’s a beast with many tentacles, weaving into various facets, where everyone is connected because of the evolution and power of social media and we can’t go back from that. We’re exposing ourselves, as gamers, writers and developers, in a way that we never have before and it’s a catalyst for a lot of nastiness and invasion.
But we can’t keep taking things that companies do as personal slights. We can’t attack individuals, especially if they take time to interact and be honest about their work. If you don’t like the contents of a video game, you don’t send death threats to people who worked on it, because you’re not only doing something horrible, you’re showing the world that you are incredibly disturbed and not a person anyone wants to be around. If it’s not people calling gaming developers ‘cancers to the game industry’, it’s lunatics assaulting Jennifer Helper through written word because they didn’t like Dragon Age 2. While we are on that, I loved Dragon Age 2 and enjoyed Helper’s contributions.
Then we have the whole incident with Phil Fish, where the real wow factor came from random individuals tweeting abuse and accusations at him. We can’t do this, we aren’t allowed to do this and it should be stopped for good. The gaming industry is a business. It creates games we love and hate, but at the end of the day, games are an amalgamation of codes on a disc. That’s what you are getting overly excited about and making extremely personal, hateful online campaigns against.
This isn’t just about random people who play videogames getting involved, this is about everyone associated with gaming, the notion of self-entitlement and fictionalised personal vendettas is not exclusive to purchasers of games, but also creators and writers.
We need to leave this loathing and overreacting behind. We need to focus on playing video games, including people and repelling hate. We all have a choice to make – video games are a wonderful hobby, a thriving industry and a great means of making friends, but it’s not life and death, it’s dragons, spelunking and tiger wrestling.