Editorial: Why It's Hip To Hate GTAIV
No game is perfect, and everyone has different opinions and preferences when it comes to entertainment. This isn't debatable, but ever since the early days of the NES, there has been an annoying little aspect of the gaming culture that continues to thrive (mostly amidst socially repressed teens, but whatever). It frustrates me almost as much as the fanboy crowd, and it's the elitist mentality that absolutely must find ways to hate on fantastic games. The purpose of doing this is simple: the elitist simply believes he/she knows more about the subject than anyone else, which means being in the minority is a symbol of absolute elitism. All mainstream games must suck, and if a game like Grand Theft Auto IV is received so unbelievably well by the critics, the elitist must be able to find something wrong with it.
They're already starting to pop up all over the Internet. These are the people who make the dissertation-length posts on forums designed to "enlighten" the rest of us who have been "blinded" by PR, marketing, and hype. This is supposed to make the elitist stand out in the crowd; to prove he really does know more because he caught all the errors in the game that we critics never noticed. Therefore, it's hip to hate on GTAIV, and really, any game that sells incredibly well and/or scores extremely high with the reviewers. Granted, a lot of people simply make such topics to get a rise out of the community, but some of them actually believe the nonsense they post. Now, it's not that I'm insulted by their superiority complex, and it's not that their implied insults of critics are offensive, either. It's their inane adolescent attitude that irks the hell out of me...
Let me explain something- GTAIV is not perfect; there are flaws. Yeah, we get it. But regardless of your personal preferences, it's an excellent game that shouldn't be ignored due to the elitists who think every last critic is "paid off" and every last gamer other than themselves is clueless. Thing is, the people in question aren't trying to simply voice an opinion; they're trying to prove others wrong and themselves right, which is nothing more than a childish impulse. It's bound to happen with any game that scores so high: the elitists come out of the woodworks to insure that their brilliant words of wisdom are heard (or read). Now, if any of these haters actually act on what they say, it means they continually miss out on the best video games of all time. If all the critics are either bribed or stupid, and the mainstream gaming public only cares about ads on television, than the elitists must be passing on anything that scores over a 9 or has even a moderate marketing campaign. That must be a miserable existence.
Seriously, to all you brilliant geniuses who are inclined to lecture: give it a rest. The vast majority of game journalists are not paid off to give a game a certain score, and the little trinkets we receive in the mail don't have any impact, either. Just because I got a collectible metal sword with Heavenly Sword doesn't mean I scored leniently. Just because we got three Titleist golf balls with Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds doesn't mean we upped the overall score by a few tenths. Furthermore, just because much of the rest of the gaming community handed out 10s to GTAIV doesn't mean I was going to. I don't give out 10s. I might be so inclined if I thought a game was perfect, but that has never happened...even though GTAIV is close. So here's the point, fellow gamers-
You keep playing to have fun. You play the games you want to play, and for the most part, you can trust critics when it comes to finding some decent titles. There's no major conspiracy amongst the reviewing clan to deceive all the readers out there (what motivation do we have to lie to gamers; we're gamers ourselves!), and above all else, just because there's a massive ad campaign behind a game doesn't mean it's instantly inferior to the cult classic "nobody recognized." There is a reason why games like GTAIV sell a bazillion copies and score high 9s and even perfect 10s, and it has nothing to do with deception, lies, bribery, ignorance, or anything else. They sell those copies and get those scores because they're great. So take my advice and do yourself a favor. The next time you find one of those "intellectually superior" stuck-in-the-parents-basement dweebs who insist on raising themselves above the pack (primarily because they can't do it in real life), ignore them.
Grand Theft Auto IV is great. God of War II is great. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is great. These, and many other games like them, are fantastic for no other reason than the fact that they're fantastic. End of story.
5/9/2008 Ben Dutka