Haters And Elitists Forget That Gaming Is Entertainment
While it's inevitable that those who frequently indulge in their favorite hobby, willingly diving into the minutiae that remains out of the casual fan's line of sight, there is a line in the sand. And sadly, as we look around the Internet, we start to realize that while the fanboys continue to infest and infect, the real disappointment centers on those who were once happy gamers and have now become unhappy grouches.
Believe it or not, the hating and elitism tends to go hand in hand. Essentially, if you're the "lone voice of opposition;" if you revel in being able to be one of the few dissenters who steps up in the forum and says, "you know, this massively hyped game just isn't that good," then you are the problem. You write a novella explaining why you know more than the average gamer, and yet...your conclusion is always the same. You spend their life trying to tear down the best games in existence, and as you can see by the description, there's an obvious element of elitism involved. Now, one can easily attribute this phenomenon to the fact that too many gamers remain insecure in reality and attempt to enforce their will online, thanks to the warm, glowing safety of a video screen. There's no risk besides contending with typed words, and the level of hostility shoots through the roof.
Killzone 2 just released, and while it's not perfect - no game is "perfect" - it's certainly one of the best games of the generation. That's not really debatable, whether it's your cup of tea or not. Many didn't reward Sega for creating the original, innovative, and engaging action/RPG Valkyria Chronicles last year, but that doesn't stop it from being a top-notch title. My point is that too many debaters and arguers online seem to believe that "opinion" is all that matters; that everything in the gaming industry is subjective. But while everyone is entitled to an opinion, and one can say, "I like Army Men: Green Rogue more than I like Grand Theft Auto III," they cannot say "Green Rogue is better than GTAIII." The latter isn't opinion; it's an incorrect statement. Inherent quality is not and never will be dependent on personal opinion. You can think that cubic zirconia is prettier than that diamond...doesn't change the obvious fact that one is of a higher quality.
And so, the haters and elitists think they can just step in, examine the aforementioned minutiae in the wee hours of the morning, and then impress everyone with their vast wealth of acquired knowledge. After all, if it's all just opinion, then technically, your stance needs to be accepted, if not respected. Wrong. It doesn't need to be accepted, either. Gaming is about fun, and if the majority of people have fun with a particular product, the product has succeeded in its goal. We should learn to appreciate that, rather than pick out every last tiny negative detail we can find. Yes, I will certainly say that Killzone 2 is better than Halo 3 (really no comparison as far as I can tell), and I could list all my complaints with the latter, but why? How come I can't just say that, for the most part, I had a great time playing it? I take my job as a critic seriously so I would break it all down if I had to, but the final conclusion really only centers on whether or not I think others will enjoy the game.
Enjoy. It's a fun word to say, isn't it? Can't the haters and elitists, who were once happy-go-lucky gamers that grinned at their TVs while sampling the latest Atari or NES game, return to their roots? Can't we just remember, for one second, that the ultimate goal is to feel entertained? Last question: if we spend all our time nitpicking and trying to prove ourselves (to complete strangers, by the way), how can we ever have any fun? The people I speak of must be miserable every day of their lives...even when immersing themselves in a hobby that's supposed to make you feel good. And that's just depressing.
3/3/2009 Ben Dutka