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Just Shut Up and Play
Posted on August 30, 2011 by Joel

The title of this article is overly cynical for a reason and it’s because gamers themselves have become overly cynical.  If that statement makes you feel offended or unfairly shoehorned into a stereotype, the chances are fairly good that you are not guilty of this and so this does not apply to you.  Instead, I am talking specifically about a fairly (hopefully) small number of gamers who, honestly, just don’t seem to like video games all that much.

You’ve seen them on forums, on comment boards, and in chat rooms. They are generally met with scorn, labeled as trolls, and rightfully so because their modus operandi seems to be one of extreme criticism and nothing else. Every game that is slated for release is “going to suck”, it won’t be as good as this other one coming next year, or any other number of frequent insults seem to pass these gamers’ lips more often than not, and it is frustrating, for both the people who play games, and likely, for the people who develop them too.

The amount of work which is put into most games is monumental, and this is not a cry against criticism; we need to be critical in order to identify which products are worth our time, and which ones are better left in the waste basket because this helps the industry move forward and keeps it eager to continue making good choices. The From Dust DRM issue is something I was thinking about lately, how there was a massive backlash against Ubisoft for the way they handled the PC version of the game, and how many came in swarms to demand refunds. Ubisoft caved on the issue in a mere matter of days, promising a patch to remove the invasive protection for current and future buyers of the game because they had promised not to resort to those tactics. This type of criticism is positive, because it helps guide both developers and publishers to make good business decisions that will be beneficial not only for the customer, but ultimately for their bottom line.


Certain criticisms and controversies simply seem nitpicky, however, such as the decision on the part of Bioware to allow players to vote for their preferred look of the female protagonist in the new Mass Effect game. Posts and debates were raging across the internet at the eventual decision to elect the blonde version of “fem Shep” as she is most lovingly called, with some even labeling it a “beauty pageant”.  While some of these criticisms were backed with well rounded arguments, it begs the question; is it really all that relevant? You can point to any number of controversies, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and his green eyes in Sonic 4, the inclusion of boss battles in the new Deus Ex, and the list goes on.  Hat jokes are the new norm when referring to Team Fortress 2, a cosmetic addition to the game which are now frequently given away by preordering titles on Steam, and which some players have gone so far as to claim “ruin the game completely.” Considering Valve was generous enough to offer TF2 for free, and considering hats are completely optional, I personally fail to see the problem. But it is a perfect example of more people spending less time playing games, and more time whining about them.

And that is exactly the issue here. For the constant forum spammers, the people who throw out their opinions and debate in every comment box on Youtube, IGN, and every other place they can think of, I wonder: how much time are you actually spending playing games? I will not resort to the contrived assumption that these folks are jobless nobodies who have too much free time on their hands, because I am certain that isn’t true for most. What I will say though, is that all of the time you spend getting angry and debating the small stuff could be much better spent playing new games. Some issues are worth an introspective look from time to time, but most are not, and I feel that what once used to be a hobby full of enthusiastic and excited gamers has now been factionalized into those who truly love to play games and discuss them in a reasonable way, and those who simply use gaming as a vehicle from which to spit their harmful vitriol.

Some issues are simply not worth worrying about. And debating whether a cartoon hedgehog should have green eyes or not is certainly one of them.

Joel - Staff Writer | all author's articles

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