Even if you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, there are likely some games that you wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Outside of financial reasons or lack of means, is there a game or genre that you just refuse to play because of the reputation it garnered? Or more formally:
Every semester, we hire a group of interns to teach them the fundamentals of video game journalism. This edition of TSG Asks features answers exclusively from our newest intern class.
I was very interested in playing No Man’s Sky until the reviews came out proclaiming Sean Murray a liar for not delivering on almost all of his promises. Luckily I didn’t preorder it but I never saw a Let’s Play or even tried the game. I consumed reviews and jumped on the bandwagon of believing No Man’s Sky to be a scam. It is hard for me to separate the developer or publisher from the creation if they treat players with hostility or greed. Two of the best examples I can think of are Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and The Slaughtering Grounds. I wanted to buy DE:MK until I read that the $60 game had numerous microtransactions. As for The Slaughtering Grounds, the developer’s games has been removed from Steam entirely because of their hostile response to player criticism (especially Jim Sterling). While not a game I personally would play, I still am affected when developers are rude and cannot or will not be receptive to players’ opinions of their games and take steps to improve. So in short, if I feel the publishers or developers are doing some kind of disservice to players, it creates a stigma for me for all of their games unless the issues are addressed and fixed (like when Bioware patched Mass Effect 3’s ending with free DLC after mass negative response).
Most MOBA’s appear to have a highly competitive and extremely aggressive atmosphere that usually turns me (and many of my friends) away from playing them. Though I’ve heard many stories of how intense and thrilling the matches can be, I’ve also heard of players getting angry at their fellow teammates for not following certain playstyles. After attempting to play both League of Legends and DOTA 2, both popular games in the genre, I experienced more anger and rage from the other players than actual, helpful feedback on how to play the game. It’s situations like this that turn me off of most of these games, but I’m always open to giving them another shot, especially with the huge presence MOBA’s now have on the competitive gaming scene.
I always felt a stigma around the Grand Theft Auto series. I grew up hearing about all the controversies surrounding the franchise: the sex, the drugs, the violence. My parents didn’t want my brother or I playing M-rated games for a long time so I never exactly had an urge to buy the games, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. As a result, they became this object that exemplified what was wrong with video games. I was unable to distinguish between the games and the social projections I had come to associate with them after hearing so many negative (and as I reflect now: biased and ignorant) comments about them. It was something I always had a difficult time with because I grew up believing in video games at large as something good while GTA was an extreme example of the bad. I’ve always defended them as a medium of storytelling and art but in my younger years, I viewed GTA as something I needed to apologize for. I had to grant that, “Yes, Grand Theft Auto is what you say it is but it’s an extreme case. Just look at A,B,C example to see what video games can be!”
The Grand Theft Auto games look like they’re a lot of fun to play but I think that some remnant from this era of my perception still holds me back because I just can’t get motivated to play them. I have trouble seeing the point. The combat looks inferior to many shooting games, I’m not a fan of driving games, and the story, while very good from what I hear, just isn’t what I’m looking for most of the time. I have played GTA V and had fun with it, but nothing about it is making me want to dive in. I don’t see the series as something to apologize for anymore, in fact, I think they’re great examples of the video game medium and what certain gaming forms allow players to experience. It just isn’t for me. But hey, maybe GTA VI will change my mind.
That’s me and military shooters, both Call of Duty and Battlefield. I don’t mean to bad mouth them but in my opinion, it’s a genre that’s been around for a little too long without much change. I’ve had so many friends complain about the cheap ways developers get more money out of the players: the micro-transactions, the overpriced DLC, the patches you have to pay for, etc. Plus when it comes to the actual game, I can’t even tell the difference between Battlefield and COD. When I did get a chance to play them, to me they were pretty generic: the Koreans/terrorists/Russians do something horrible, it’s up to me the maverick, the friend in the opening is a redshirt, I find out a deeper conspiracy and it had to do with the people I work for. I take more pride in shooters that do something different with fun in mind such as Bioshock or Uncharted. The run-and-gun aspect is cool only if it suits the atmosphere. Sure there’s the new Battlefield 1. At first, I thought it might be different but the fact they just called it Battlefield “1” gave a hint that it’s just a re-skin of their past games.
Building off of Josh’s point, I used to have a stigma against MOBAs because of what they did to people I know. It made them unresponsive, apathetic about school, and mean, like using insensitive MOBA slang in everyday life. They spent massive amounts of money on it too. Some people even dropped out of school to pursue the eSports dream. I used to be judgmental until I played a MOBA (League of Legends) and saw myself becoming one of them. I spent lots of money and time on it and strove to become a really good support. When I had no passion and didn’t know what I wanted to do in college, being good at League was redeeming in its own way for me. It was only after the toxic community got to me so much that I stopped playing and sunk myself into writing. I have a stigma against it now but not for the reasons I had before; now it’s because the community is so toxic and unwelcoming to people who make mistakes. This might not apply to all MOBAs, but fear of toxicity makes me avoid them altogether. I do support those who want to make it in eSports though, unlike how I felt about them before, and I respect those who enjoy the game and find fulfillment in being skilled at it (like I did at one time).
I don’t like the GTA series either, Evan! At least, the gameplay doesn’t appeal to me. But I watched a playthrough of the fifth one recently and found myself enjoying the extreme characters and dialogue. It’s not every game you see a character get so crazy that they spectacularly crash a car into a store or drive a whole house down.
In response to Makena: The military shooter is a fairly stale genre now but at one point in time it was one of the most revolutionary in terms of both gameplay and storytelling. Call of Duty 4 has, to this day, one of the best campaigns in a shooter, hands down. The story is fairly simple but it’s actually different from the outline you describe as typical. The best part about the “story” however is the way in which the game asks you to take part in the events and the way you perceive them as a player. It’s a creative campaign with some truly staggering moments in terms of gameplay and story. It’s a genre that went stale very fast (mainly due to Call of Duty’s own mass proliferation and yearly release schedule) but there is no better example of how good it once was than what essentially created the blueprint. It hasn’t been surpassed by any of its successors.
Going along with Makena I really disliked military shooters because of my teen angst being non-patriotic and also the graphics of these games gave me a headache to watch. Under my impression, these games are mainly guided to inspire kids to join the military after college and see the difficulties and trials that soldiers go through on the battlefield. While that seems like a really cool opportunity to tell stories of battle, I saw these games as a direct inspiration to violence. These games only contained combat with no real story line and the only objective to kill. Being completely against war and barely patriotic, these nationalist games that inspired young adults to kill were the worst. However, I finally got to try a demo and played Call of Duty for a short time and didn’t hate it as much as I expected. Driving the jeep around and learning to throw grenades wasn’t awful. The gaming experience reminds me of people who are severely against guns going to a shooting range and trying it themselves only to find out they actually like holding that power in their hands. These people don’t like that idea of someone having this much control in their hands and it scares them how much they actually like it themselves.
Thank you to our interns who carried out a very interesting discussion this week about stigmatized games. Join us next week as the interns, along with the rest of the staff, attempts to define an RPG. If you haven’t yet. Please check out our new podcast Trust Sircle on iTunes.