Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Quickies: The Saddest Of All Puppy-Like Lifeforms

     ...would be the frustrated would-be panjandrums of the video-gaming press:

     Reviews from professional video game journalists play a minuscule role in consumer purchasing decisions, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s Essential Facts 2015 report, released this week.

     Just 3 per cent of consumers consider reviews from websites or magazines the most important factor in their decision-making. An “interesting story/premise” was the most important factor for 22 per cent of those surveyed, price for 15 per cent, word of mouth for 11 per cent and quality of graphics for 7 per cent.

     The ESA’s findings (PDF) are likely to reignite discussion about the purpose of seemingly arbitrary scoring from sites such as Polygon and meandering, abstract game reviews from sites such as Kotaku, both of which have long been criticised for being overly politicised and for focusing on irrelevant detail at the expense of conveying information about frame rates, gameplay and other factors gamers say they care about.

     The findings will also prompt soul-searching from the editors of many games websites. One of the primary purposes of such sites is to review new titles, but aside from stirring up controversy with provocative, politically-charged reviews, these sites appear to be having little effect on the game-buying public.

     My interest in a video game stems almost exclusively from the story on which it’s based, coupled to whether the play is consistent with and (hopefully) reinforces that story. Yes, I’m one of the most thumb-fingered gamers around, so that probably plays into my priorities. All the same, for me, the experience I most treasure is the aspect that’s most enabled by advances in console power and graphics: that of an adventure in which I can participate.

     I’m not surprised that 22% of gamers rate that as their top priority. It’s an often overlooked fact that video gaming is penetrating ever more deeply into the older demographics. We old farts aren’t equipped to raid tombs, destroy zombies, or cleanse derelict spacecraft of evil necromorphs. (We don’t have the weapons, we don’t have the time, and we certainly don’t have the hit points.) But we still love adventure stories, and what could be better than an adventure that allows us to participate?

     By contrast, the review publications and sites appear to have gone all New York Times on us – i.e., to have made politically correct emphases their supreme criteria. What they (much like the Times) have failed to realize is that we the customers don’t care about such things and can’t be made to care about them. We’re in this for entertainment and diversion. That leaves them all butthurt.

     I’ve written before about the tendency of power-seekers to focus on disseminative targets: media and similar mechanisms that can be used to promulgate a particular worldview. At first blush, the gaming press might appear to have that sort of status. The critical difference is gamers ourselves: our priorities and our readiness to dismiss persons who trumpet that “fun” shouldn’t be the point of gaming.

     You can’t propagandize a man who knows what he wants, knows why he wants it, and is satisfied with his reasons. Either the gaming press will realize this and adjust its practices accordingly, or it will dwindle to insignificance. Assuming it hasn’t already reached that stage, of course.


Anonymous said...

Here's the video game that I would like: It would start with a barren continent, populated by rustic savages. The player's team would arrive at this continent, and carve out a civilized existence. They would fight against the forces of the old world, which are struggling to retain control of the settlers. The settlers would excel, and would come up with some brilliant method of self-rule, based on personal responsibility. The old world forces would take exception to this, and fight even harder to retain control. The settlers would battle with the old-world forces, and would prevail. They would then settle the remainder of the continent, all the while presiding over the successful growth of this new nation. The entire underlying premise would be that individual players are allowed the freedom to do as they choose, provided this doesn't infringe on other players. There would be no undue influence from sources outside of each player's purview, and there would be no upside limit to each player's experience, within the minor constraint mentioned. Each player's individual accomplishments would be attributed to them, and they would retain full ownership of such. Each player's missteps would also belong to them, and there would be no one else to blame, nor would players want to, as that is the whole point of personal responsibility. Theft among players and other forms of abdication of personal responsibility would be treated as crimes, equivalent to murder, and as prisons tend to be expenses borne by those who don't necessitate them, other, less "expensive" forms of punishment would be required. In the end, players would enjoy the fruits of their labors, working together for their common defense against invaders, securing their land, air, and sea borders from trespassers. It would be called something like "America II: Without the Liberals", and would be the greatest work of fantasy ever created.

Guy S said...

I do read some of the various reviews on games from time to time. However, they are not the major reason, as far as how many stars a given game gets, rather, how well the game plays, is it something one will want to "re-play" again and again, is the story something I am interested in immersing myself in (tis why I gravitate towards D&D themed's what I like), is it a remake/update of a favorite game (Diablo 3 for instance...and with all the updates since that version came out...if you haven't given it a try...I think you might like it. I could see you as their version of a crusader.).

If my ol laptop was graphically stronger, I would be playing Witcher...good graphics, and the company listened to their customer base...with the result being their sales went up with each new edition of the game...which provided better graphics and less bugs! And there in lays the real tale of the tape in all this butthurt out there. IF the target market/demographic which any given game company is trying to reach, responds positively to changes in a given games content....they will make games following that sucess...if said change fails....they (if they want to say in business) will not make that same mistake. And at the end of the day a good review is nice to have, but strong word of mouth (and that is out there) will in the long run...let them know what they need to do ...and the powder puff game reviewers will just have to get over themselves.

Otherwise the battle dress for female warriors/rangers/thieves/bards, etc would be far less revealing (and perhaps more realistic)...but the market is mostly 14-25 year old males...and the game companies know reviewers be damned...heaving bosoms are probably going to continue to be the rule of the day.