By auburok 95 Comments
"If it's not Call of Duty, I don't care,"
About eight years ago, trends changed. I grew up in the 80's and 90's where video games were something only a few kids enjoyed. Sure, there would be a few shitty games every once in a while; a game mechanic or two that wasn't thought out, or a boring level designer. Shitty games, though, were not only less common, but the scope of what made a shitty game was a lot smaller, too. Trends change, though. The demographic widened, and a lot of generalized aspects flooded gaming like ads during the Super Bowl.
The average male today is a size queen for graphics. If your anti-aliasing isn't 4x, and your maps aren't bumpin', they want nothing to do with you. He's been fed FPS games a few times a year, usually in the form of the odd "Call of Duty killer" and Call of Duty. He's got a gay crush on Captain Price, a hate for campers (and a love for bitching about how they can't kill someone they attack from the same angle over and over again), and a raging hard on for yearly installments. Call of Duty is the easy prey, as it basically is the Madden of first person shooters. Pick a plot, reskin all the guns, and have everyone ignore it to play online. Maybe it feels cozy, or maybe it's a security issue to feel that familiar with a new game, but it's dumbing down developers. Much like how World of WarCraft's success has made MMORPGs stagnant, Call of Duty's indoctrinated fans push other developers to attempt to garner the same results.
But here's the problem: the Call of Duty kid isn't the average gamer. Gamers, back when it was a pariah-like term, played a lot of games. Sure, they'd have a preferred style, but they'd delve in to other, foreign genres from time to time and possibly nurture a love affair with a particular franchise, or sub-genre. The sort of person that would stick to the same games year after year was the sports fan. Fantasy football or baseball, yearly, sprinkled with promises of improved graphics, updated rosters, and additional tweaks. He had no interested in Final Fantasy, and Sonic "came with the thing," and, "was okay, but I bought this for Madden". They shunned the accompanying title of owning and playing a console, and were private about the few times they'd turn the SNES or Genesis on.
This sort of gamer is the kind of guy that marries the first thing that'll fuck him, and clings to it, not knowing any better, or of anything else. The best option for that person when he likes a game that's similar to other games, is to wait until the next game in that series comes out. He's the kind of guy that if he enjoyed Pikmin games, he'd still be waiting rather than getting occasional gameplay snacks like Overlord. This no-nonsense hording of security issues is what stifles new decent games to play, because while waiting for Pikmin, you still vote with your money. Games like Pikmin and Overlord aren't common, and with no demand to fill, that genre is practically devoid of new games or new features. Sometimes we get a miracle, like the changes from Assassin's Creed to it's sequel, or a much deviated, spiritual sequel or successor like Rock Band. Gamers, even kids hung up on a single series of games, aren't all the same. There's no consensus on how games should be, or what makes a great game. Professional game reviewers are too hung up on stars, letter grades, or fractions for scores rather than recommending a game based on what sort of game you are looking for. How hard is it to do this:
"If you're a fan of survival horror and sandbox games, Dead Rising 2 is worth your time."
"Fans of puzzle games and RPG elements should give the Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes trial a run through."
When reviews are too hung up on other games to acknowledge the are playing a separate game, the results are always bad. Ignore the developer, the publisher, and the accolades from E3. Play it, and recommend it to someone who'd want to play it, rather than damn it for not looking as nice as Gears of War 3's beta, or worse, obviously looking better on a monster PC with ram to burn. Some of us just like to game, and some of us want new, interesting experiences.
Yeah, we all got money issues, and we all like to play those hugely advertised triple-A titles. Keep in mind, though: feed the little guy. Buy a game ("new", from retail, or download from steam) from them if you think they show promise. Give them your feedback. Let them know what to improve, and if they have a good idea on their hands. That is, of course, you don't mind a gaming market flooded with Music Hero games, Call of Duties, WoW clones, or games blatantly copying indie studio games without any idea how to expand the concepts presented.