By now I hope you are in some way familiar with Penny Arcade’s Internet Fuckwad Theory. Time and again it has proven to be accurate, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. What exactly is it about anonymity – or near anonymity at the very least – that causes people to behave in illogical, rude, and just plain baffling ways? There are times when the gaming community amazes me with how well spoken or well organized it can be. Mostly however, it just causes me to pound my head in frustration. Everyone wants to know why gaming isn’t being taken as seriously as it could be. I’m beginning to wonder if this is such a mystery after all.
Now we’ve all complained in one form or another about ridiculous gamers, but regardless I’d first like to share some of my favorite anecdotes. Ladies and gents, all aboard the stupid train…
– Not long ago Computer Gaming World (or is it Games for Windows now?) changed their review structure by eliminating the scoring system. I saw a scan of complaint letters published in an issue, and there was one particular nugget that stole the show. The writer was most displeased with the change because he “doesn’t have time to read”, and thus needed his results now. Think about this for a moment. A reader, perhaps subscriber to a paper publication doesn’t have the time to read it, and somehow this puts the editorial staff in the wrong.
– All the recent complaints about the Nintendo Wii clocking in at $249.99, all because a handful of unsubstantiated rumors said it could be lower. Meanwhile, all the statements from Nintendo themselves, as well as more reputable media outlets, claimed nothing more than “under $250”. $249.99 happens to fit that description, and anyone with a small sense of business (meaning anyone who has shopped at retail) should have realized and expected this. But even if one didn’t, the price is still incredibly solid.
It costs half the price or less of a PS3, and even beats the very best iPods by $100 or so. Yet some strange sense of entitlement has swept over gamers, as if Nintendo owes them a lower price. Somehow they’re evil for making a profit. God forbid a company gives us a decent MSRP that also allows them to stay in the black, which is of course the whole point of a business. I guess if they’re not pissing away millions in a figurative dying on the cross they’re not doing it right. Not to mention the very same people who are bashing them are probably the same ones who thought Nintendo was on the verge of financial collapse. You’d think they’d be happy that the company found a way to stay healthy. Or maybe not; consider this next one….
– We all know that some gamers decide to become strictly loyal to one platform. Plenty of reasons as to why have been discussed. Yet I was still dropping my jaw when reading the comments to a Gamespot article on the Playstation 3, where one person simply posted “Go Sony, go Sony, go Sony!”
Businesses don’t give a shit about people. We are no longer customers, but consumers. Have been for a long time now. All they want is to get people to buy their product, back it as little as possible, then move on to the next thing that will cause us to pull out our wallets. To them, we are revenue, and not much else. And here are people who have stooped so low as to cheerlead for Sony. This isn’t a sports team, where players are at least trying to give it their all for both the glory and to entertain the fans (they won’t have much of a job if they don’t). This is one of the largest electronics companies in the world, one that has proven time and again that it doesn’t give a shit. Shouting a cheer for them won’t get you a gold star and a free ice cream at lunch, much less anything else. So what’s the point?
– Jay pointed out to me that many Square fans have been bemoaning the idea of new Mario RPGs, because “none will ever eclipse Legend of the Seven Stars”. Nevermind the fact that I find Seven Stars to be one of the most formulaic RPGs of the 16 bit era, or the fact these modern games have been really good. Also pay no attention to the fact that Yoshihiko Maekawa, the director of the portable Mario RPGs, directed the SNES one as well. The complaint is a classic example of hypocrisy. Here they are whining that they’re not getting a port of an old game, or something that closely follows its design.
Then on another occasion, with another game, you’ll see them complain that a company is rehashing old titles, and that they want something new. Of course, most of it is due to some very strong pairs of rose tinted glasses; how else do you explain the rush of people wanting an FF7 remake? Nevertheless, it isn’t uncommon to see fans, or should I say fanboys, complain about opposite things at different times, all depending on whatever illogical stance they have decided to take at the moment, never realizing that they’re contradicting something they said a month ago. Which leads me to the final point.
– Gamers with a severe lack of common knowledge and/or logic. Case in point; the Hot Coffee scandal. It is amazing to see how many people defended Rockstar because the mod required a user made patch to access. Either they didn’t know, or didn’t care to recognize the facts that a) the PS2 version required only some cheat codes to access it, and b) the code and art assets were still in the game. That means Rockstar put it in there, and they deserve punishment. Say you went into the corporate world as a programmer, and added a little Easter egg to a program that would display porn/cause tricks/destroy things. You tell no one, and the only way to use it is for someone else to write a small code stub that uses the particular feature. Someone else in the company finds the offending code and takes advantage of it. The result? Your ass is fired (assuming you weren’t caught earlier). There’s no excuse that “it required extra user content to access.” The bottom line is that it was there, it shouldn’t have been, and you were caught. That’s end of story, and it should have been for Rockstar. Instead gamers everywhere decided not to get the facts, or to use some bogus reasoning to claim they were perfectly in the right.
More curious than these actual reactions is the fact that this kind of behavior never seems to propagate in public. I’ve met gamers of all shapes and sizes in the real world, and even when I’ve grossly disagreed with them, I have always known and understood their side. Such bogus claims just don’t seem to exist, and at the very least people are willing to change their view when you point out their ridiculousness should it appear.
I read asinine comments and rants all across the Web and try and picture the person behind the keyboard, wondering how a rational human could come up with some of this stuff. I bet you’re doing the same thing to me now. Are we just reading each other’s views out of context, or do our internet ramblings reflect a deeper, honest opinion, laid bare for all to see?