Now, before you take out your shotguns and start googling my name in an attempt to find out which house’s door to blow off its hinges, let me explain. If what I have to say doesn’t make sense by the end of this article, then please, feel free to come and hunt me down (although, to be honest, I’d rather you didn’t).
To show you my perspective, let’s look at LittleBigPlanet. LittleBigPlanet is a great game. It provides a fun and innovative take on the 2D platforming genre and it lets you slaps stickers all over your friends. This game is loads of fun but it’s not. For many people, it is a pointless waste of time. Worse, it is a shameless attempt by Sony to recreate and out sell Mario in a cutesy HD environment.
This happens with almost every game. In fact, it also happens in reverse. Often, a terrible game, like Scribblenauts, will be released. Scribblenauts’ control system is completely unusable. The gameplay is much more simplistic than was to be expected from a game that was supposed to encompass the entire universe through its in game items. And yet, some reviews still chose to give it 82%. They are saying that a hopelessly broken game is as good as Dungeon Defenders, a game which was only really lacking in terms of its music.
There is no such thing as a good game, because for every person that proclaims a game to be good there is another who proclaims it to bad.
You might be thinking at this point “So what? What does it matter if a couple of people hate the games I love? Haters are gonna hate, after all.” The thing is, it is never just other people hating on games, it will also be you disliking some other perfectly good game as well. And you won’t even know it because you will be so convinced that the other game, the one that you don’t like, is bad.
You are missing out.
I can say this from personal experience. A few years ago, my little brother entered a competition in the Dandy (an English comic book that comes out each week) and he won a Nintendo DS. This was the first console in our house. Up until that point, my entire experience of gaming had been on either a friend’s PS1, PS2 or my PC. My eyes were opened. Suddenly, there was a whole new section of the video game shop I could explore. There were literally hundreds more games I could play than ever before. For about two years, every time I saved up £30, I would go out and spend it on another game for the DS. Slowly, our collection of games built up. As our collection grew, so did my apathy towards other consoles. Initially, when the PSP was launched, I was firmly in the Sony camp. As I played more of the DS, the less I cared about PlayStation and Sony.
Then the PS3 was released. I was outraged. How dare Sony attempt to compete with Nintendo and steal their profits and take publicity away from the DS?
I had to stop myself. What was I thinking? Before I had even seen the console, or even heard any game names, I had already (falsely) judged it to be inferior, a low blow from Sony to Nintendo. Without playing any of the games, I had automatically assumed that there could be no such thing as a good PS3 game.
This was wrong.
Yet I had come into a frame of mind where I was judging games without even realising it, and badly at that.
I can not believe that this is a phenomenon confined solely to myself. From what I have seen on forums and even read in supposedly unbiased gaming publications I know this to be true. The fact that it is true doesn’t make sense. Logically, we shouldn’t be judging games until we’ve played them and yet we do so all the time. Our judgements, no matter how unbiased we tell ourselves we are, are often based off matters as simple as “Sony made it”, “Microsoft made it” or “Nintendo made it”.
The question remains then, why?
It all comes down to, not so much brand loyalty as brand patriotism. Watch any of the previous E3 conferences and you see that they look nothing like a company presenting its new line of products to the press. Instead, it appears more like a political rally, each company taking a couple of hours to emphatically explain what the benefits of staying loyal to them are, what they will change if they get enough sales and just how great their loyal followers … er … fans are.
This is not a healthy attitude to gameplay. I suppose if it was just companies claiming that they were great, fair enough. But when they start to convince us that every game they haven’t produced is bad, something is wrong.
However, I don’t know whether to blame the companies involved or the fans (like myself), who are so gullibly taken in by them.
We do have a choice though. We don’t have to be taken in by the lies presented by these companies. That choice is yours.
You can either believe the companies and the fan boys when they say that Call of Duty is so much better than Battlefield and then not play Battlefield, or you can have a go at both games and discover that they’re both pretty good.
Under the current way of thinking, there is no such thing as a good game. There are increasing numbers of gamers who are willing to play cross platform, or at least accept that there is no need to disclaim a game because of who made it.
Just thought I’d invite you along to a better way of looking at games. Games will still suffer due to companies asking their fans to boycott them but at least you can enjoy variety in your gaming diet.
You see, no need for those shotguns after all.