by Joel Fernandez
Video games are more than just a pastime. For kids, games are adventures just waiting to happen. For adults who grew up playing video games, the games represent a chance to recapture our sense of wonder from yesteryear. As technology has progressed, the experiences have gotten better and better. Even during this era of wanton micro-transactions, there’s still enough magic to found in the gaming niche to keep us coming back year after year. But like anything else that is worthwhile in life, there comes a point where change is necessary in order to move forward. Today’s discussion will be about how gaming should change, and how it should stay the same.
It seems that gaming is not immune to the generational struggles that plague many other parts of society. If you look at the news or the more established publications, you will constantly see the older generations taking shots at the millennial generation as if it is a matter of course. It’s ironic that they would play the “grown up” card while demonstrating their lack of foresight(also known as wisdom). For it is the millennial generation that will have to be their caretakers when they are too decrepit to care for themselves. It would be nice to be able to think that the millennial generation is not capable of such folly. But alas, it seems that we are.
We need only look at he video game niche as a microcosm of society at large to see that our generation has the potential to be every bit as selfish as the older generations of today. We’re going to look at a few older franchises as examples, the first of which will be Mass Effect. The original trilogy was released during the 7th generation of consoles (PS3, Xbox 360 etc). To say that the original trilogy built a large and loyal fan base would be an understatement. But as soon as Mass Effect: Andromeda was released on 8th generation consoles, it seemed like every video game critic in the industry rejected it even though it was arguably the best game of the 8th generation so far. That’s a very big statement, considering the fact that there are games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt out there.
The Andromeda entry to the Mass Effect galaxy did well financially and was well received by the fans. But today’s video game journalists seem to have chosen to focus on the negative in spite of the many gamers who purchased the title after it was patched until near perfection. It goes without saying that they also chose to ignore the opinions of newcomers to the Mass Effect family who thoroughly enjoyed the game, many of which were probably young children.
The main complaint that they had was that the game was too different from the original trilogy, which was actually released on inferior hardware from the previous generation. It would be a shame if the next generation of Mass Effect fans were dissuaded from continuing the space opera because of the selfishness of the video game journalists of today. The fact is that new hardware leads to new programming techniques, which in turn lead to changes in presentation and narrative. If the elder statesmen of gaming choose to ignore the greater good in favor of their own selfish agenda, the future of video games will drift ever closer to irrelevance until it becomes a thing of the past.
Take a look at the Megaman franchise. The series started during the third generation(NES/Famicom) of consoles and featured graphics that were commensurate with the technology that was available at the time. When the fourth generation rolled in, the graphics and experience changed with the times. That trend continued until the suddenly the sixth and seventh generations of the game regressed back to third generation graphics. In other words, look at the difference between Megaman 7 and 8 when compared to that of Megaman 9 and 10.
If nothing else, that sharp regression in graphical quality denotes the developers inability to find the balance between pleasing older fans and welcoming new fans. In a way, it makes sense. No development team wants to be labeled as the studio that ruined a beloved franchise. As a result, there will be no new megaman game for the foreseeable future. Let’s be honest. There might not be another megaman game ever. As members of the adult gamer demographic, we must set an example for the generations that follow. What’s more, we must reassess the amount amount of influence that is allocated to leading gamer websites like SpyGN and Lame-Spot. At times, they seem to be more focused on the advertisement revenue that their organizations thrive on.
The aforementioned organizations are always quick to point out the difference between themselves and the video game publishing industry as means to relate to their audience. But the difference between them is simply that the major video game websites are actually part of the advertisement industry instead of the video game publishing industry. Please do not let their so called “wordsmiths” fool you into thinking that they are just like us. For they are the ones that lead the charge when the forces of evil try to destroy the Mass Effect galaxy and so on and so forth.
They are also the ones that continue to reject new entries to the Sonic series because of their refusal to change with the times. They completely ignore the possibility that the children of today might actually prefer new Sonic over old school Sonic the Hedgehog. It is worth noting that they are also capable of using their influence for good. They seem to be leading the charge against the ever encroaching micro-transaction trend. Only time will tell if they will succeed or not. In the meantime, we should embrace a more holistic view of games in general. Because if we don’t, the major gaming websites will effectively establish a veritable video game plutocracy that uses influence to overturn the will of the people.
That is not to say that negative game reviews should not exist. Negative reinforcement can be a way to keep the video game executives honest. But we as gamers should wholeheartedly reject any attempts to negatively affect the sales of specific games on a continual basis. That is nothing more than an attempt to coerce video game developers into showing an inordinate amount of deference to the group that is trying to establish their tyrannical review system as the absolute authority that determines what video-game franchises live or die. Simply put, we must defend our right to enjoy games that they don’t like. Because the next franchise that they schedule for execution might be your favorite.
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