Do Gamers Lack the Fortitude to Bring Change?
Gamers have known their fair share of controversy. Sometimes we all band together in the face of idiocy (Jack Thompson, FOX News and countless misinformed and all too vocal groups, I’m looking at you), other times we find ourselves torn and divided following announcements from publishers and developers. Message boards light up at the smallest of things, ranging from some of society’s most controversial topics including mass shootings through to the controversial (in gaming circles) ending of Mass Effect 3. These types of stories continue to arise, and as gamers there always seems to be something to get up in arms about, but why? In short, it’s becoming increasingly clear that gamers (myself included) don’t have the fortitude to enforce change.
A number of gamers found themselves enraged when late show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel made some inflammatory jokes at the expense of gamers. The response from the fans was ugly; for every intelligent, well considered response, there was a dozen wildly inappropriate comments sent his way. Comments such as “If you were on life support I would plug it out and charge my phone”, “go f*** a pigeon” and the most immature of them all “die die die die die @jimmykimmel die die die die die die die”. The stupidity of these people is obvious, and they are deservedly mocked for their idiocy on live television. There are some simple things that people need to understand; Firstly, Jimmy Kimmel is a comedian, and a good comedian makes inflammatory comments from time to time to illicit a response, these fine people gave that to him on a silver platter. Secondly, as a community, comments like this make us look foolish and like spoilt brats – grow up and retort in a reasonable, rational way that ensures that we don’t continue to get seated in the kiddie corner in the entertainment industry. We’ve proven we’re capable of having grown up conversations when it centres around the topics of public violence and game ratings, so why was it so hard for these vocal gamers to look at the comments as nothing more than the jokes that they are.
One of the ongoing issues in gaming over recent years is the growing trend of micro-transactions, season passes, broken games and day one DLC. Gamers are furious, yet we continue to see the same things happen. Some slack can be cut to developers when it comes to broken games, creating a game is such a difficult process that when things don’t go perfectly these things can happen, but these other issues are a part of a thought out plan. Gamers hate Day One DLC and Season Passes and are quite vocal about it when the news involves a game that they’re not anticipating, but when these things pop up for games we are hyped about, be it The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight or Fallout 4 our tones begin to change.
Another major topic in gaming played out in 2012 when Mass Effect 3 released. Fans were ropable about the ending and despite Bioware’s best efforts, legions of fans expressed their disgust with a large number saying that they were abandoning the franchise as a result of the “botched” conclusion. While a complete exaggeration, and many have since realised this, there is still a large number who, years on, refuse to budge from their opinion. Funnily enough though, when Bioware finally revealed Mass Effect: Andromeda a large percentage of those fans who “abandoned” the franchise suddenly got giddy in excitement.
Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed are among the biggest franchises in gaming, and due to their incredible sales success Activision and Ubisoft have annualised each them both. Fans have raised their concerns in recent years that we are getting the same game each year, and that the innovation in the franchise is no more, yet when the newest game in either of these franchise’s arrive, we all come running back to buy the game again. How is change to occur when we continue to reward developers for recycling the same game year in, year out? It’s something that this vocal group needs to consider before they vent their spleen again.
While gamers have proven their ability to unite and fight when an outsider speaks out against the entertainment medium that we all love, when it comes to problems in our own back yard it seems the wind is quickly taken out of our sails. As a community it appears that we lack the fortitude to make a decision and commit to it. Sure, we all make mistakes from time to time, and it’s important to take on board new facts and adjust our opinions accordingly, but it’s all too often that we give these companies a pass when they turn on the flashy lights and booming audio to go with a big new announcement. As a community we lack the fortitude to bring about change. If this were to improve then perhaps Season Passes, Day One DLC and even annualised games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed would all be a thing of the past.
So what do we need to do to change things? It’s a pretty simple answer; we need to start voting with our wallets. When it comes to topics that involve the greater community gamers band together and usually this gets the job done, but with these internal topics, gamers need to realise that we’re working with big businesses. These corporations speak a very different language to us, they speak in dollars and cents, and if we want change then we need to talk in the same language that they do.
If you’ve got an issue with something a developer or publisher does, then of course feel free to be vocal about it, rally the troops and send the necessary emails and tweets, but where you make the most impact is upon their bottom line. We’ve got to be stronger in our views, smarter with how we convey them, and vote with our wallet and show publishers that gamers know what they want and are prepared to play hard ball to get what we want. Mistakes happen, and companies will learn from these, but many of these things that gamers are unhappy about are publisher driven choices. How do you force change on a publisher? Hit them in the hip pocket where it hurts. When pressure begins to fall on executives shoulders because of dwindling profits that’s when we’ll see change, but at present many of us just don’t have the fortitude to stick do our guns and miss out on being a part of that conversation. In the same way that we do it when misguided outsiders dribble falsities for all to consume, we also must stand up to the big players in our own circles and make some hard decisions to get what we want. So the next question is, when will it begin?