The New Year’s resolution is a time-honored tradition in which you identify something you want to improve, and resolve to take steps to fix it in the coming year. So seeing as this is the start of a whole new decade, how about some decent-sized resolutions from gamers? How about making a pact, from now on, to drop some of the least-helpful lines of discussion from the past ten years? If everyone agrees to stop talking about the following things, at least in the same old ways, the 20teens could be even better for gaming than the 2000s have been. That’s right: if these resolutions aren’t broken like all the other ones (like how you were going to lose weight, stop smoking, or cut back on internet porn), we really could improve on Imagine Babyz.
“I Resolve to Stop Pretending Uwe Boll is Ruining Videogame Cinema.”
The Werner Herzog of Videogames, always spoiling for a fight.
Uwe Boll makes movies that aren’t technically very good, based on games that have terrible stories. Gamers get very angry at Mr Boll, because he has successfully been paid to make movies based on videogames and they haven’t. This is because Uwe Boll is a professionally trained filmmaker, whereas they just have 99% of all the achievements on GTAIV.
But the implications of the gamer-rage directed at Uwe Boll are all based on incorrect presumptions. Those presumptions, in short:
- “Anyone could make a good movie based on the story of, say, House of the Dead, and it is testimony to Uwe Boll’s remarkable awfulness that he has failed to do so.” House of the Dead has a rubbish story, and that’s okay, because rich, narrative-laden cutscenes < shooting zombies in the face.
- “All videogame movies not made by Uwe Boll are great, and Uwe Boll is singlehandedly ruining the videogame-movie genre and souring mainstream perceptions of gaming.” To which one replies: Super Mario Bros: This Ain’t No Game, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Wing Commander, The Wizard, every non-videogame appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog, etc, etc.
- “House of the Dead is not boss.”
House of the Dead is boss.
“I Resolve to Stop Equating Censorship with Jack Thompson.”
Videogamers love talking about Jack Thompson, because videogamers imagine that if it weren’t for Jack Thompson, nobody would ever hold videogames to the same standards as all other forms of media. Despite the fact that movies, music, comic books and literature have long had to contend with misguided attacks on their moral character, many gamers refuse to engage in mature dialogue about sexism, violence, racism or other unpleasantness in their hobby. They’d prefer a zero-tolerance policy of discussion, raising the long-dead specter of the misguided moral crusader (Thompson was disbarred in 2008) as the face of misguided censurous buffoonery and pretending like the Squares Who Just Don’t Get It are out to censor their fun.
Jack’s off the job. Next time someone says games aren’t ideologically flawless works of artistic perfection, instead of crying censorship, how about letting them speak their peace?
“I Resolve to Stop Comparing Games to Movies.”
Obsolete and going strong. Go figure.
Videogames make similar amounts of money to movies. That’s great. That’s proof that videogames are big business and deserve to be taken seriously, which they are. Let’s not confuse this with rendering obsolete all other forms of entertainment that came before. It’s taken movies more than 100 years of artistic and technological evolution to get to the point where they are today; and because Halo 3 has a big opening week, we pretend like games are suddenly a bigger deal?
The obsession with comparing games to their celluloid big brothers just leads to games that place too much emphasis on “cinematic” presentation (read: QTEs) and dialogue (read: swears) over gameplay. If games had always been this cinema-obsessed, Super Mario Brothers would’ve had four levels and a half-hour-long text sequence equating “Princess Toadstool” with Mario’s childhood sled. (That means it would have been bad.)
“I Resolve to Accept that Games are Art (and Move On).”
For a while, we argued till we were blue in the face about whether games were art. We’re now at the point where whenever any game does anything that doesn’t look like a Bruckheimer movie, we immediately say, “are games art? Who cares, this is great!” Now that’s progress! On the other hand, when Roger Ebert says games aren’t art, gamers have a conniption! All of a sudden everyone loves Rez and Flower and we need to get Ico put in the freaking Louvre!
This confusion stems from a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of many gamers as to what “art” is. See, here’s how it works: if you do a work of creativity and someone says of it, “check this out, this is some art right here,” then yes, that is indeed art. Resident Evil 4? Art. Shadow of the Colossus? Art. Street Fighter 2? Metal Slug? Locoroco? Art art art. You’ve made it in the door: we now have to talk about whether it’s good art.
“I Resolve Not to Care Whether My Girlfriend Likes Videogames.”
Above: A Real Woman.
Apparently you have not have met your ideal woman until you meet someone who can cook, waxes regularly, and plays Forza without jerking the controller when making a sharp turn. And (the thinking goes) if you can’t meet that Platonic ideal of geek-womanliness, no matter how many cosplay conventions you may frequent, you better bring your own better half into the fold, or die trying!
It’s sweet that you want to share your enjoyment with the one you love, but don’t confuse this with some sort of build-a-girlfriend project where you take a nice lady and try to turn her into a bro with benefits. It’s fine to share your enthusiasm with someone close to you; but if they don’t get it, it’s really not the end of the world. And if they do, for the love of God don’t blog about your “getting my girl into games” project: it’s gross.
“I Resolve Never to Call Myself Hardcore.”
In the olden days, nobody played games because there weren’t any. Then video games got invented and everyone from Hollywood maverick Steven Spielberg to cantankerous postmodern novelist Martin Amis came forward saying they dug them. As games developed into something that demanded more time and money to get your head around, they became somewhat more of a niche hobby, and not everyone played them any more. Gamers throughout the 1990s asked when their hobby would be taken seriously by the masses. When would we be able to talk maturely about videogames, without stereotyping players as obnoxious nerds?
In recent years, that dream has come true! Loads of people play games now! Surely that is great? No, because apparently those people are “casual” gamers, and instead of being exactly what gamers have been asking for the last twenty years, “hardcore” gamers have to shun and deride them whenever possible, basically acting exactly like… obnoxious nerds. Guys: if you want progress, you have to accept change.
“I Resolve to Quit Trolling for Fanboys.”
If Internet forums were real life.
Get some serious gamers talking about Sony versus Microsoft or the changing fortunes of Square Enix and you’d think you were watching Countdown or The O’Reilly Factor. Gamers argue mindshare and brand loyalty with such devotion you’d almost think they were talking about something that mattered. Nowhere is this more grating than in the game of “find-the-fanboy”, in which the critical thinkers are separated from the sycophants with an intellectual rigor that could be put to questions of serious philosophical insight (or even finding gainful employment).
In response, one-eyed brandophiles have adopted the tag of “fanboy” with pride: because Sony cares very much what you think of them, and any day now, they’re going to send you a special prize for tirelessly defending them on Internet forums. The sooner gamers quit dropping the f-word, the sooner we might be able to relate like sensible consumers to the multinational corporations that sell us electronic doodads.
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