Learn To Stop Worrying and Love the Game

Hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned.

With his keyboard for weapon, the mighty online warrior lets loose a flurry of barbs on the object of his derision, holding nothing back. It’s not enough to dislike a game; it has to be ‘the most disgusting game that I’ve even seen’ (Metacritic user on Modern Warfare 3). The story isn’t bland; it is ‘so generic that even a retarded child can make (it).’

Accepting this logic, these hyperbolic, hard-to-please gamers are not merely annoying but a wretched hive of scum that must be abolished.

But they’re not, they just need to calm down and remove the stick from their collective behinds. This isn’t federal politics, it’s blasting aliens in the face with a mouse and keyboard.

It is not that one isn’t entitled to their complete and honest opinion, especially on the Internet. I’m just saying that continued, focused bashing of a particular game or developer is not constructive and is more akin to an overgrown child throwing a tantrum at a supermarket; not very mature for a community craving respect from its peers.

This less-than-flattering behaviour could simply be attributed to the ‘online disinhibition effect’, or in Penny Arcade’s terms, ‘the greater internet fuckwad theory,’ which states: normal person + anonymity + audience = total fuckwad.

Basically, being on the internet where no-one can touch you makes you drunk with stupidity. ‘Disappointing’ becomes ‘everything wrong with modern video games’ (Metacritic user on Mass Effect 3). However, it seems to be hitting annoying new heights.

My concern was first spiked by the Modern Warfare 3 – Battlefield 3 war last November, which was as much as a war as the America’s invasion of Iraq was; with MW3 taking the part of the apparent WMD holders. Game mechanics that fans were seemingly okay with were now antiquated, the graphics eye-bleedingly awful.

Then March came around and Mass Effect 3 was on everyone’s lips. Unfortunately, instead of receiving the praise heaped on the first two instalments, angry fans slammed the day one DLC, Michael Bay-like tone (because apparently explosions suck), and that ending. An ending so underwhelming it caused an outcry of such epic proportions that Bioware are actually going to expand the original ending due to the sheer weight of complaints. This may seem like a good thing, but considering the complaints include a charity drive to ‘retake Mass Effect’ and a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (yes, someone did this), it seems like madness. It’s not like a Reaper bursts through your screen and kills your cat when you finish the game.

Just when it seemed that the gaming population had calmed down, Diablo 3 arrives. Twelve years in the making, it launches with always-online DRM and server problems, and the pitchforks and flaming torches are out again. Sure, intrusive DRM is a contentious issue amongst gamers and developers alike, but it is a complex issue and yelling ‘WURST GAEM EVAR!!1!1’ won’t help.

Gamers are a fiercely loyal bunch, but can turn feral quickly when their increasingly high standards aren’t met. Just remember the immortal, overused words of Alexander Pope: ‘to err is human, to forgive is divine.’ Game developers are human, treat them as such and just enjoy your game.
By the way, I fully realise the irony of complaining about people complaining.


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