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Expecting Less From Gamers
Posted on October 18, 2011 by Joel


We've come a long way from the days where EGM was the only outlet for game journalism, when advertisements were made to directly appeal to the uber-hip Vanilla Ice in all of us, and when Nintendo Power was actually useful and relevant. Since then, there have been some changes, and I think they have something to do with people growing up.

There was an article, scratch that. There are lots of articles now that talk all the time about the artistic relevancy of games. Yuppie elitist college grads are now an accepted source of journalistic material, and this is evidenced in the fact that someone can take a machismo laden frag fest like Gears of War, and talk about its apparent lack of intellectual value. The people who were ostracized in school by jocks and preps, the people who hid away, played video games, and simultaneously learned to write at a level significantly beyond grade school are now the ones writing about video games; and a lot of them are a truly sorry bunch.

If this same kind of shit went down when Contra was released, anyone attempting to analyze it from a Freudian perspective, or who tried to break it down using vague philosophical terminology would have been fucking laughed out of town. “It's a game where you shoot aliens, you social reject! Now get the hell out of my office...except it isn't really an office because video game journalists don't really make enough yet to afford four walls and a roof, and what are you doing by the mint jar? Those are for paying customers only, how else am I supposed to make a buck?”

I am happy to see that whenever these goofballs try to write for any legitimate website they are usually shut down in their tracks by the fierce moderation of an angry comment box. Apparently, some people still have the sense to not listen to this form of windbaggery. Sometimes a more refined and intelligent approach is necessary to make a point, but lets face it; regardless of its enormous financial value, video games as a whole have still not reached that general level of “high art” that a bunch of hipster goofballs would like for it to have yet.

I'm glad. I still haven't gotten over the “A button” days of hitting a single button until things die. I am not ready for the gaming “revolution”, not ready for the indie kids to swoop in and steal my pastime, replacing it with whatever recent Ayn Rand quote-in-a-game they have decided is chic that week. I don't think video games in general will ever be a significant source of output for the Ubermensch intelligentsia, at least not so long as there are regular dudes like me around who like to fire up the TV and a game console, drink a beer, and shoot people in the face while hooting, hollering, and yelling about just how fucking awesome it is to shoot people in the face.

Gaming, more than ever, is a unique medium of expression, and it CAN be used as a vehicle for new ideas. It lends itself to a level of immersion that no other form of media can provide. But it will never escape it simplistic trappings simply because its original intended purpose was pure, unadulterated entertainment, nothing else.  And I say it should fucking stay that way.

My worst fear is to live in a time where every game has me stuck in some obscure purposeless world meant only for me to question my own existence, where games constantly pose questions but offer no answers, and worst of all, where they no longer allow me to shoot things in the face. Right now, I don't ever see that becoming a possibility, just like I don't ever see pretentious philosophy majors ever becoming the primary demographic for video game journalists. These kinds of jaw-flapping narcissists will always be pushed to the wayside by gamers who love games.  “Gamers” who love the complexity of the English language and a Thesaurus more than games have no place talking about them.

Video game journalism doesn't quite need an enema yet; in a lot of ways it is better than ever. But I definitely appreciate it every time I see one of these aforementioned blowhards get raked over the coals by people who know better. A lot of people out there seem to be expecting more from their journalistic experiences. They are expecting a higher caliber of writing and a deeper, more analytical dive into the games they love and appreciate.  That is okay, and every once in awhile someone will come along who does it really, really well. But when I sit down and read an article that starts and ends as a personal anecdote about childhood abuse while only briefly mirroring the tale with the mere mention of a game that reflects this, I usually sit back in my seat, kick my monitor over, yell at my cat, and wish, oh god, that it could all be so much simpler.

People are expecting more from gamers; I personally am expecting a whole lot less. But that is right on par with what I am offering, so at least I'm staying true to my ethical values. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go play Call of Duty, fart and question the manhood of the noobz while doing so.

Joel - Staff Writer | all author's articles

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