By ahoodedfigure 30 Comments
I like to jump into game discussions with a two-fisted, if-I-had-my-way approach, even if I keep from alienating too many people by getting too specific. I want gaming as a hobby to improve, and I want individual games that deserve a spotlight to make the most of the brief time they have our attention. This means I'll often talk about features I like or what more of, and how a game disappointed me, or even enraged me.
Yet, I don't treat it as if I deserve these things. I'm trying to talk for a good segment of the population, with the idea that even if the game I'm talking about was free, it's still a thing that can be improved on. If money changed hands then increasing the quality is likely to be in the producer's best interest, even if they decided that the choices they made were the best ones and couldn't care less about criticisms. That's their privilege, because they are the ones who create the games.
Where I draw the line is harassment, or moralized ranting on why a game has cheated a user out of the experience they were expecting. You see this once in a while in the film world, but unless the filmmakers went out of their way to deceive the viewing public, these rants tend to sound a bit crazy if they're too extreme. Yet in a more malleable medium, video games, where my impression might differ strongly from yours because the way things can be experienced is arguably more likely to be different because of all the different ways a person can tackle a game, you seem to see a ton more of these kinds of rants.
I've talked before about the makers of a Heroes of Might and Magic III expansion pack received death threats because they wanted to take the game's theme in a different direction, but there have been blowups about Valve bringing the Left 4 Dead sequel out too early while neglecting their other properties, that the nature of the protagonist in a series of games isn't aesthetically pleasing, or folks getting mighty angry that love isn't so convoluted in Dragon Age II as they wanted it to be.
Rants like these get filed under tantrums in my brain, but they often come from adults who should know better. It's weird, but the bigger a company gets, the more we tend to treat it like a government institution, as if they're bound by law to do what we want because we've paid them 50 bucks or whatever. Maybe I should chalk this up to people not knowing how to argue their point properly; some of the arguments I've seen out there could easily have been worded better and sound less like someone off their medication. Still, there's a strangeness wedged tight into some of these rants that seem to fundamentally misunderstand the creator/consumer relationship, even if we are likely to influence things more now, with the widespread interconnectivity out there, than we used to.
I believe that, ultimately, creators should have the last say in what they want to make. If they want to make a choice that may turn out to be worse later, let them. They're the ones that have to feed their families in this relatively volatile industry, whose existence is arguably not essential for human beings to continue to exist. If they screw up that sequel you were dying to play, it's their fault, but browbeating them into changing their minds is not the way to go.
I see that attitude in general, with people demanding their rights in front of a stunned retailer, even though these idiots don't [necessarily] know what their rights are. It's a bit of the win-the-lottery mentality you see in people seeping into video game discussions, where people are hoping beyond hope that their little voice will be heard, thinking that these big companies are full of cash and prizes to be won if they manage to break the code. Frankly, it's embarrassing.
It's not exclusive to games, and beyond bitching at a retailer that they have the moral obligation to trade in that thing you dropped into the grain thresher even if you didn't think to get the warranty, you'll have writers who are harangued until they write yet another book in some endless series even if they want to change their focus, and demands for sequels that often wind up sucking.
I think it's great that there's more communication between creator and consumer, but without having unique voices from these creators, we're designing by committee, and counting votes by the loudest voices. Thankfully, not everyone has the time to worry too much about what everyone has to say, even if, at times, what everyone thinks is wrong with a game is a perfectly reasonable criticism. We have to leave it up to them to be wise enough to learn from their mistakes, let other creators take up the slack if they don't, or roll up our sleeves and start creating ourselves.
I'm beginning to wonder if I'll talk about this once a year...