This is going to be a long one, but it needs to be said. It also might seem unintuitive, so I'll have to deconstruct a few misconceptions that people push when they defend the current state of videogames.
First, I want to define what I mean by "love," so that I can make this point more clearly. I'm using "love" to describe the acknowledgement of videogames as capable of being an inherently serious, inherently emotionally engaging, inherently intellectually engaging, and inherently deeply woven intricate artistic experience that can change ones life multiple times over, the acknowledgement that games should take advantage of their vast potential to climb to greater heights than reached ever before, and the acknowledgement that videogames were made by a human or a team of humans with a specific goal in mind for the player and they should be judged on both the ethical implications of that goal and the execution towards it.
With this in mind, one could argue that "Fortnite has changed billy's life because it gave him comfort while his dad was beating his mom in the other room," but that's not inherent to Fortnite itself, that's a circumstantial factor that influenced his opinion on the game outside of the game itself, and couldn't possibly be attributed to the game itself either. What I'm talking about is a game like Silent Hill 2, where no matter where you are in your life, the themes and ideas evoked from it, the presentation of the game, and the execution on those ideas/presentation/themes culminate into an unforgettable experience by the majority of people who have played it or at least respected the efforts it put forward to get to its heart-wrenching conclusion.
Now that I've defined what "love" is, I think it's clear to anyone who's been paying attention to discourse surrounding videogames that this isn't on the mind of the average gamer at all. In fact, I can already imagine someone typing away in the comments saying "That's just your opinion" and "you have a weird superiority complex" just for stating it this way, but if it were as simple of a matter as just having a different perspective on videogames as a whole, then I wouldn't even be making this post unless I was some extremely butthurt egoist with nothing better to do with their life.
No, the problem is that these so-called "differing opinions" have a massively problematic implication behind all of them. Specifically, whichever prevailing ideology is dominant amongst gamers, it defines the course for which types of creators have opportunities for success in this field, and currently, talented videogame developers have been treated worse than they ever have since videogames have become more "mainstream."
Call me a hipster or a gatekeeper all you want, but the problem with something being "mainstream" is evident: The majority of people who engage in it are doing it not for the inherent value of the product itself, but out of basic human nature. The average videogame consumer, and I'm not talking about weirdos on twitter and reddit, but the millions of people who decide to pay $20-90 to buy a game and play it, buy games for one or more of these innate human biases: Mere exposure effect, peer pressure, FOMO, and most importantly, taking the path of least resistance. Before 2007, which is when corporate consolidation of the internet as well as videogames taking off into the mainstream occurred, when videogame companies attempted to just copy something that one company did really well, they would be met with failure, because gamers knew when something was just derivative of something else. There's thousands of unpopular mascot characters that were copies of Mario that nobody bought, and thousands of unpopular shooters that were copies of Halo that nobody bought, but Nowadays, games can endlessly copy formulas for success because the new audience for games don't pay attention to or care that it's being copied. This is why every modern AAA game has a checklist of gameplay tropes that harm the creative expression of developers, such as needing to be open world, have a mini-map, have an RPG-system, etc. This is also why Microtransactions like Horse Armor were laughed at before 2007, but are common-place today. It's the newfound audience of "gamers" that don't actually care about the medium, and are solely following their innate human biology to engage with the medium.
I have no problem with these people as individuals, after all, some of them could be doctors, medical researchers, janitors, teachers, etc. The problem is that they're encroaching upon and irresponsibly damaging the identity of the medium by engaging with it in a philistinian way. Imagine if I, and millions of other people, decided suddenly to engage with the medical profession in a way that was mass-marketed to us, get sold our own medicine-making starter kits by corporations, and now we dominate the field of medicine as the main source of money being put into the industry. The purpose of medicine, which is to further humanity and extend human life, and solve unique medical problems to further reduce human suffering, would become a "niche" that basically all-but completely disappeared. Replacing it is a form of mild entertainment to humanity that allows millions of people to shallowly relate to eachother, create an opportunity for people with more advanced common interests to engage with eachother, find people they loathe within the community itself and then wonder why the community is so toxic, or delve deeper into the medium itself, only to witness the very thing that got them into it destroyed it from the inside. The implications of that happening to the medical community are horrible for society at large, so the best part about this happening to videogames in particular is that it doesn't have any widespread consequences for humanity outside of increasing suffering and hurting the mental well-being of those who have dedicated their life, emotional energy, and passion to the medium, whether it be creators or consumers. So, there's your trade-off: Add yet another thing that all human beings can relate to on a level that won't make them like eachother any more than they did before (as if we don't have fucking millions of those already) vs. increase suffering for a minority population of this planet for no particular reason. Yay!
It's not even easy to blame people for, what, following innate human behaviors and not double-checking themselves? It's a problem that doesn't really have a solution. How do you solve videogame companies taking advantage of people's FOMO or willingness to take the path of least resistance? Which is easier, just buying a game that all your friends like and you kind of like yourself, or thinking about the implications of engaging in a 5 decade old medium that you've spent a couple hundred hours on at most that all of your close friends also engage in? It's not something that you can fault anyone for, but the evidence is clear that this hasn't been a good thing for videogames at all.
Japan studios was recently shut down in order to divert funds from japanese creatives to blockbuster studios, Sony's corporate executives are constantly shutting down and gaslighting their smaller developers and creative studios in favor of the studios that work on appeasing the masses and following their formula to a T. Indies are currently a heavily oversaturated market that isn't curated in the slightest, and it's hard to sell someone on a game like "Library of Ruina" in 2021 because there's atleast 50 other games that on the surface look identical but lack the love or fidelity, Games journalists are extremely unreliable, are also oversaturated, and not even the mainstream audience takes them seriously. EA, Activision, and so on are growing at an unprecedented rate despite.. everything. Do I even need to elaborate further?
When it comes to respecting opinions on games, I'm totally for it, I may not like 4x games or RTS games myself, but I do respect the existence of that genre because I know that there are people who make these games, they do it with love and passion. What I don't believe is worth respecting is the casual acceptance of philistines ruining an interest because of incredibly shallow personal problems that they project onto it, and then turn around and accuse me of doing to them.
Every time someone tells me, "Why do you have a superiority complex?" It's not about me being "superior" to anyone else for having this perspective on games, I mean, I'm just a dude who fucking loves videogames, I'm not a doctor or a scientist, I'm not making massive leaps in human progress, I'm not even super passionate about my actual job in life and just see it as me contributing to my community. "Why should I care about anyone's opinions on anything?" It's not that I want to care, it's that I'm forced to, because I'm forced to witness game development studios being put under for not being mainstream-viable enough, I'm forced to witness corporate consolidation of my favorite artistic medium, I'm forced to watch actual garbage get millions of sales while works made with love, talent and effort make barely 100k. If I had absolutely no attachment or love for this medium at all, I being forced to experience any of this would feel like absolutely nothing, but they do hurt, because they personally affect me and the people like me who do love this medium and the creatives who work hard to create good videogames.
I think by this point, you may be thinking to yourself, "Well, that isn't a problem with the people who buy and like videogames on a casual level, but the corporations and companies that exist to exploit them." While that is true, it is ultimately the fault of companies and corporations, it's also the existence of videogames as being profitable that so many of my favorite works of art even exist. Silent Hill 2 as previously mentioned could not have existed without Konami's involvement, and the opportunity for the developers there to make it just couldn't have happened. It's true that Silent Hill 3 was made worse because of corporate meddling, and the team eventually disbanded anyway, but it was the circumstance of videogames being a relatively niche market that allowed videogames to grow in the way they have. The problem is that companies have found a way to work around the standards of "core" gamers, they've found a way to avoid needing to experiment or take risks on videogame projects, and that is with the introduction of the mainstream audience to the medium. Companies/Corporations always work for the sake of their own self-interest, and this has been something that we've grown to accept for more than a century, before videogames even existed, and getting rid of them will just cause more problems than it would solve. At the end of the day, the core reason for videogames becoming worse over time have been this: Videogames have gotten too big, and there are too many people who enjoy them casually and create them casually.
If you think my argument is fundamentally flawed or my point of view is bad, feel free to tell me why, because as cynical as this entire post may come across, I genuinely believe it's the truth. Please let me know your counter-arguments if it even gets that far. The saddest conclusion I've come to about it is this: There is no way to actually fix the problem outside of a full-on industry crash, massive public brainwashing, or a new trend for mainstream audiences to follow that completely outshines the profitability of videogames and thus reverts it back to a niche status. None of this solutions are feasible or even in my own control, so all we can do is accept it, thinking "This is videogames now" and we're old grandpas for actually caring about it.
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© Post "The Majority of Gamers do not have a genuine love for the medium, and this is a massive problem for gamers. Alternatively: Videogames becoming Mainstream is ruining videogames." for game Gaming News.
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