Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chimp with a Chainsaw

I’ve always seen Xbox Official Magazine as kind of parochial. That may sound hypocritical from a longtime PC Gamer subscriber, but I stand by it. Since the platform’s advent, XO has embodied the ethos of the new “gamers” who barged aboard with the Halo franchise – that is, the rag is bright, brash and belligerent. I’m not being a snob, here – these people are unwelcome in any crowd. It’s ironic, though, that June’s article includes a feature titled “Loud, Dumb and Out of Control,” a point-by-point gripefest of 23 “gamer pet peeves.” Why 23?

Who knows – average age, average I.Q. would be my guess.
So, XO, I’d like to respond to your pet peeves. Hopefully, we can both accept your nerd-‘leet bitching as a sad but necessary venting of self-criticism.

The article’s lead in reads like a manifesto. Ready to take them seriously? Let’s go!

Dismissive attitudes and dangerous assumptions make non-gamers as destructive to our hobby as a clueless chimp with a chainsaw.

Must be one hell of a chimp.

For years, we’ve endured the criticism of people who just don’t understand our hobby. “Gamers are immature. Gamers are immoral. Gamers are wasting time and money on silly, stupid toys.” Nag nag nag. Blah blah blah.

Someone just proved someone else’s point.

Now, with the same people snatching up Wiis and fumbling through Guitar Hero, suddenly they think they “get” this gaming thing. Don’t get us wrong – we’re thrilled to see people having fun with Scene It? And asking how DLC works. To those people we say…jump in. But we still see just as many folks rolling their eyes…The ignorant assumptions, the condescending tone…it makes us want to scream.

I sympathize.

From here, scribbler Charlie Barratt enumerates his 23 complaints. #2 is legitimate – anyone who watches Survivor, John and Kate Plus Eight or American Idol can’t accuse gamers of wasting time. As a matter of fact, anyone who doesn’t spend their time ladling out chicken noodle to the homeless or tagging endangered marine mammals is wasting their time. Ditto for #18, which reasonably asks parents to research the game they’re buying their kid; i.e., if Mass Effect is rated M for violence, cussin’ and fornicatin’ then don’t be surprised when your son is motorboating an alien.
But I’m not here to praise Barratt’s levelheaded assessment of gamer-non-gamer relations. Let’s look at a few specimens of his elitist, fuckwit drivel.

#7: “Halo 3” for the Sony Wii does not exist. It will never exist. When we patiently try to explain this to you, please don’t blame us for your mixed information.

It might as well exist. More games are released across more platforms because it means more money. Honestly, I’d be shocked if there weren’t a Sony Wii, or some derivative, in the future. The Playstation 3 isn’t working out so well, and after a slew of layoffs, Sony would do well to seek a new profit model. So yes, Barratt, someone, someday may well ask for Halo 3 on the Sony Wii. Maybe your son. No, wait – he won’t play any of that pussy shit. Buy him Killzone 4 for the Playstation 5. It matches, just like denim on denim.

#9: “Hey are you winning?” Umm, this is an RPG with hundreds of quests and paths over dozens of hours, so it’s really hard to say…”Cool How many points you got?” Sigh.

Yeah, mom. Jesus.

#10 If you suck, admit you suck. Give up the guitar. Let someone else join the race or fight. You had your chance and you had your fun. Know when to walk away with at least a shred of dignity and goodwill intact.

You’re right, Charlie. I’ll just put down this plastic guitar and stop playing this game I paid $60 for. You can keep playing your plastic guitar, which makes little tic-tic-tic’ing noises as you play “Freebird” for the 10,00th time. You know, with your dignity intact.

#11: Dur dur dur dur dur. Oh yeah, bumping into us during the middle of a competitive match is hilarious. Reaching over and messing with our controller is completely hysterical. Dying or crashing on purpose is the funniest thing ever. Ugh.

As a founding member of Team Suck, I have to agree: dying or crashing on purpose is hysterical. My sole purpose in Halo 2/3 (for all intents and purposes, Halo; more on that next!) is to crash cherished vehicles into each other, so I may be the wrong person to debate this point. But Charlie, you should welcome a little anarchy into my life. Consider me to be the little UFO in Asteroids – you don’t know when I’m coming, but when I do, I’m an obstacle to be feared.

#14: No, this isn’t “That Mario Game.” Every game ever made is not called Mario. Ditto for Pac Man. …Similarly, Gears of War is not Halo “with new guns,” and Soulcalibur is not Street Fighter “with different graphics.”

I can’t speak to Soulcalibur, but asserting that Gears is substantially different than Halo is like debating the difference between Jiff and Skippy peanut butter – both leave you with your mouth full of shit. A linear action game is a linear action game, and preference does not equal difference.

#20: Hold the eff on. Whatever you want from us, we can’t do anything until we save. No, really. No, nothing. You want to lose the last 45 minutes of your life, too? Then deal with it.

I’m sorry, sir, it’s just that your rent is due. And your daughter is dying. And your house is on fire. Also, there’s a realm outside with a bright, burning star and spore-ejecting botanicals. It is positively brimming with unpredictable NPCs, non-linear design and a shocking sandbox approach.

Yes, I’m being pompous, and yes, I’m being facetious, but despite the fact that I spend most days with my head up my ass (I’m a reporter in the real world), I’m still less full of shit than Charlie Barratt. If your masters made you do this, Chuck, I apologize. But as you doubtlessly see me as a threat to your “hobby,” I see you as a threat to the industry’s credibility. We work under the pejorative of blogger, and work unpaid, to take an emerging medium seriously. Like some Penelope in parachute pants and gauge piercings, you unravel our work while we sleep.

Just stop. And next time I drive our Warthog off a sheer cliff, welcome my maniacal cackling. After all, Games Aren’t That Immersive (#22). Control yourself (#3). And shush (#8).