Entitled, Insatiable Whiners. Yea, I'm Looking at You Gamers
Gamers, that most thankless sub-culture of righteous, misanthropic critics. We are never pleased, often discontented, and consistently better informed (or so we like to think) than our video game loving counterparts in every other part of the industry proper.
Who could love us? Who could put up with our ever changing standards? Who would devote themselves to making games for an audience of ingratiating fools like ourselves? From petitions listing demands to comment sections rife with snide vitriol, to those who respect their beloved past time so little they would stoop to rampant, merciless piracy, we are a tougher crowd than most. Is it any wonder then that so many prominent creators feel the need to blow off steam every once in a while? To shout out into the mob, the great unwashed, and ask, “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?!”
Case and point: BioWare develops an extended ending for Mass Effect 3 to try and calm disgruntled fans, put to bed some lingering plot holes, and spread goodwill and cheer throughout the gaming-verse, only to be met with reactions as diverse as they were immediate.
Some were jubilant, “THIS IS WHAT I WANTED!!!” Some were nonsensical, “[T]he ending is now completely pointless and has near zero effect on the future and you know whot?” And some were absolutely rotten, “I’m NOT satisfied, so I have all rights to further complain and I can’t see a real effort in this loveless piece of crap.”
But who could be surprised by the naysayers who, despite having gotten what they wanted, or at least the only thing they could have reasonably hoped for, still troll like spoiled bridge dwellers? Casey Hudson certainly wasn’t, as evidenced by his prescient admission late last week that, “You can never completely satisfy everyone.”
Hudson may have come to terms with this, but the truth of his words haven’t stopped some from voicing their frustration with the unruly consumers they hawk their digital wares to. Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada made headlines when he landed into series fans, stating, “I believe that, before whining and complaining about everything, you need practice at taking a step back and analysing things objectively. And also at being an adult.” His didactic comments were motivated by the gamers who spam his Twitter feed daily with suggestions for how to do the voice work for Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Speaking at length on some of the finer points of sound production in video games, Harada concluded by saying, “After this lengthy explanation, I will be quite surprised if there are still people who don’t get it. Thanks for understanding, or not understanding. Whatever.”
The Tekken producer wasn’t the only one to go off on gamers recently though. Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime is tired of the unrelenting, always-give-me-more attitudes that permeate the the gaming community.
“One of the things that, on one hand, I love and, on the other hand, that troubles me tremendously about not only our fanbase but about the gaming community at large,” the Nintendo Exec told Kotaku, “is that, whenever you share information, the perspective is, ‘Thank you, but I want more.’ ‘Thank you, but give me more.’ I mean, it is insatiable.”
Fans have been waiting for a new Pikmin game. Now Nintendo announces a new Pikmin game, and fans pine for a new Zelda or Metroid. And you can be sure that at the next E3, if Nintendo announces a new Metroid or Zelda, fan reactions will probably go something like the following, “But what about Donkey Kong and Star Fox? And where’s the new Super Smash Bros. you promised? And why don’t you guys have any new IPs? How disappointing.” I think there are plenty of legitimate criticisms to level at Nintendo, but in this regard I totally feel for Reggie. Will this ever end?
On the other hand, IGN‘s Colin Campbell makes the point that just because someone is always complaining somewhere on the Internet, doesn’t mean that all or even most gamer critiques aren’t valid.
“Today’s fan are more knowledgeable, noisy and demanding than ever before. This is a good thing, for those companies that understand how to harness these powerful emotions,” writes Campbell. “People say that it’s the vocal minority who make the most noise, but these are the most invested consumers and therefore the most likely to hold strong opinions and the most able to swing mainstream opinion.”
In other words, the peanut gallery is here to stay, and while it might be too much sometimes, it also has its legitimate uses. Few communities of mass media consumers are, as I mentioned earlier, as outspoken when it comes to the products they consume and love. It doesn’t mean we are always right. And it really doesn’t matter since we our opinions never form anything approximating unanimous agreement. Instead, it means that the video game medium now has three well established pillars upon which to stand: Developers, writers, and gamers.
In addition, each of these categories overlaps to some degree, with gamers now blogging and creating in addition to playing, something made possible by the Internet, to the benefit of everyone. This results in a thriving, if serendipitously tumultuous discourse that few other art forms can lay similar claim to.
So we may be a bunch of complainers, always insatiable, and act sometimes, in some people’s eyes, entitled, it is, for worse but often for better, just part of the energetic background radiation that propels gaming forward. We could all do better, each and every one of us. And we will. It is only the beginning.