“The following is a contributor column by the Infernal Accountant Mage.”
In my opinion, Final Fantasy VIII is one of the best games in the series.
Just saying that might have set some people off. That’s fine. The gaming community is not one that’s known for dealing with minority opinions (or minorities in general) all that well. You either fall in with the party line on a given subject or you’ll face all the pedantic wrath of self-identifying gamers. Am I casting the net a bit wide here? Maybe. Over time, though, I’ve become more and more convinced that the kind of people who don’t behave this way don’t really interact with the culture at large at all – they self-select out, which in turn makes the culture even worse for their absence.
Don’t get me wrong: unlike our somewhat twitchy head honcho Well-Red, I’m not really in the business of caring about this kind of thing. In my view, that’s just how “Gamer Culture” is. It’s a foundational thing. We’re not going to see a more accepting culture until the current one’s long gone. Where Well-Red agonizes over every Twitter conflict to excess, I’m a fan of the idea that if someone says something noticeably dumb or makes a particularly large rear end of themselves, there’s a good chance they’ll never have anything valuable to contribute. You’re losing nothing by blocking and moving on – are you really going to miss xXGame_Snipa_69Xx? The best move might be to just move on from “Gamer Culture” altogether and shift to finding some friends to play stuff with.
With all that said, here are some minority opinions that I don’t bother expressing to self-identifying gamers because they’d probably upset them:
- As mentioned, Final Fantasy VIII is a solid game and one of the better entries in the series. It dared to do a lot of things differently. Not all of it worked, but this level of audacious innovation coming from an established series was fascinating. It also toyed with some interesting ideas with regards to the setting and plot, though the lax localization standards of the era meant that it’s somewhat difficult to fully grasp what’s really going on. Other fantastic Final Fantasy games: XIII and XV.
- The Witcher 3 is a prime example of quantity-over-quality game design. It’s a huge amount of fairly bland content that’s not very well-served by some questionable combat. It does improve as you go on, but it’s entirely possible and completely understandable that the first few agonizing hours might lead players to give it up.
- A good Metal Gear game can absolutely be made without the involvement of Hideo Kojima. Metal Gear Survive is a great example of that.
- Microtransactions aren’t the worst thing in the world. If they were regulated, the results would almost certainly be worse than anything they solved.
- Think of the publisher you most love to hate. Consider this: a single high-profile crowdfunding project has done more to harm consumers than anything they’ve done. Crowdfunding was only a marginally good idea to begin with and it’s rapidly turned into a shambling mockery of its former self, transforming blind optimism directly into cash. Likewise, Early Access schemes are iffy at best. The only alternative pricing scheme for games that seems beneficial to the people who buy and play them is the subscription model we’re seeing with Xbox Game Pass, but it’s unlikely that’s going to remain at the same level of quality for long.
- If you really want to tell if a game is going to be worth playing or not, find out if the Internet hates it before they’ve had a chance to play it. Solid examples of this include Mass Effect: Andromeda, Metal Gear Survive, pretty much the entire Call of Duty series, Sea of Thieves and so on. As the modern era of monetizing gamer outrage continues, there’s a persistent need for a new Two Minutes Hate, so at any given time some game or another has to be an awful anti-consumer slap in the face from those greedy publisher$ – those are the games you want to play.
Any one of those opinions, aired in the wrong forum, would send the gamer community into frothing rage; someone would then almost certainly make some high-profile YouTube videos with clickbait titles and ads enabled to make a few bucks off of that frothing rage. That’s where we are in 2018.
That’s not to say this sort of behavior is new or anything; there’s just more ways to express it in the age of social media. The game industry has always been more than eager to ferment division in the hobby – Sonic and Mario were considered rivals for a reason. Gaming media, meanwhile, is at best a patsy and at worst a form of payola; recent noise about this hasn’t really changed the status quo, simply allowing for the creation of a sort of sub-genre of pearl-clutching writing about the toxicity of gamers and games. Forums and communities are rife with astroturfing, making it impossible to know if you’re talking to a human or some alien marketer. The community is defined by infighting, nastiness and xenophobia.
In other words, if you want real, unclouded opinions on what to play, as well as the ability to be real about what you’ve played, your options are pretty much the same as they’ve always been: make friends and talk to them. Just watch out when you do – I hear modern astroturfing schemes can be pretty convincing…
The Infernal Accountant Mage believes the pen is mightier than the sword…well, depending on how sharp the pen and sword are. A child of the ’90s and a prolific writer, he strews his work about like Legos made of words, just waiting for your brain to step on them. He enjoys a devilish challenge, so when it comes to talking about some of the more difficult games out there, you might just run into the Infernal Accountant Mage. Some advice: hold on to your soul around this guy, and don’t sign anything. Read more at popzara.com
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Categories: Wednesday Column