Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Death of Love

This is probably the strangest post I've written. Like many people of my generation, I grew up with games. I've had a SNES, then the N64, a GameCube, the PS1 & 2, the Xbox and so forth, not to mention my main focus of PC gaming, which I started way back when on the Amiga.

Over the recent years, however, I've slowly found myself caring less and less about games. This year I've finished a pitiful amount of releases, with three of the most recent ones being The First Templar, Bulletstorm and Portal 2. I've bought many more than that, but I rarely get beyond a few hours into them. I just don't seem to have the patience nor the love for games any more.

But is it me, or is it games themselves? I've integrated myself with some communities, and found them to be horrifying. The level of elitism, self-righteousness and entitlement shown by publishers, developers and consumers alike is soul-destroying. Publishers cripple games with protection and a lack of support, developers do a half-arsed job and consumers want everything and anything, irrespective of cost or feasibility. I'm not denying that I've played my part, because I think I have been just as bad as some people, but it doesn't change my point. I'm sure there are some communities out there that are great, but after reading comments on sites such as Rock Paper Shotgun, The Escapist, PC Gamer and Kotaku, I despair.

It seems to me that games have become like the movie market. The main titles, the ones you see on buses and TV, they almost always seem like they've been made not for love, but for profit. They reuse the same roles, the same environments, the same stories even, but are presented in a different package. Yes, you'll sometimes get a really good game that deserves its success, just as you get movies that do the same, but for the most part, it seems to me that major releases are made for money and no other reason.

I've been disappointed by games many times over the years, both recently and over the years. Bulletstorm was ugly, Fallout: New Vegas was generally quite boring and over-complicated, BioShock 2 suffered from too many cooks spoiling the broth, Mass Effect 2 had no consistency in terms of quality, and so forth. How is that acceptable? If, at work, I gave customers half of what they paid for and ignored them when they had problems, I'd be out of a job in no time. Why do we let developers and publishers get away with it?

It seems to me that my love for gaming is dying, instead being replaced by a level of apathy. I don't think I'll ever stop gaming, though. It's not easy to cut away 18+ years of your life and leave them behind, especially when it forms part of your very soul. But maybe all I need to do is step back and re-evaluate the situation. I don't jump on a game at full price, at least not often, but perhaps I need to set myself barriers. No games above £20 to minimise the wasted money, if it looks like it'll have a Game of the Year/Complete edition, wait for that (Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition is currently on sale in some places for less than I spent on the expansion alone!), and so forth.

BioShock Infinite'll be an exception, though, and Saints Row: The Third I'll ask for as a present.

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