Keeping It Real is a weekly column that tackles various issues and thoughts regarding video games. Sometimes silly and other times thoughtful, Dana keeps it lighthearted but opinionated every Tuesday. One week it could be video games as art, and the next week it might be about furnishing your house inLord of the Rings Online (okay, maybe not that).
The Holy Grail is an item that sometimes takes the form of a cup or a dish that possesses amazing powers. In the legends, many heroes have attempted to find this powerful item but have failed. Percival, a knight of King Arthur’s round table was unable to locate the item because he lacked the maturity to find it and before he could locate it again he would have to grow spiritually and mentally. What does any of this have to do with gaming, you ask? Only everything.
Unless you’ve been living in a bomb shelter, you are aware that it is now 2011. With a new year brings new promises of miraculous games that will thrill us and make us go broke. It’s also a time when we can sit and reflect on what happened in the previous year and learn from any mistakes we might have made. Call me a slow learner if you want, but I noticed something in 2010 that I was either in denial about or oblivious to until recently: Gamers are serious whiners. I realize this is a generalization and it probably isn’t a fair assessment because there are so many gamers out there that truly love their hobby (the unhappy people are the most vocal, after all).
The black hole of gamer negativity is not a new thing and it will probably never cease to exist but while checking out the comments section on some of my favourite gaming sites I noticed a common trend: Most gamers are whining because they expect too much. For example, a new game is set to launch soon and in the beta test section of the forums the most common complaints revolve around cosmetic or frivolous issues that aren’t directly tied to gameplay, such as cloaks clipping into swords.
“I refuse to play this game because the characters look awkward when they sit and if the cloaks are clipping into swords, forget it.”
When I read that statement, I originally passed it off as a troll and continued reading. But then I found other threads that were strikingly similar.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that I can’t give my characters tattoos. This is 2011, I want more customization. I’m cancelling my pre-order.”
Wait, this is all wrong. Real life Goblins don’t look like this!
Comments like these hurt our hobby and the spirit of gaming. I’m well aware that games are not cheap and it’s infuriating when you purchase a dud, which is a bigger risk now than it was ten years ago. I can only recount two times when I truly regretted a game purchase. The first time was back when I bought Two Worlds despite my friends telling me not to (huge mistake) and when I bought All Points Bulletin back in July (it died very shortly after launch and I only got to play it once). We’re constantly dissecting games and because of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to put in our two cents on a forum or over Twitter. At the risk of sounding like your grandpa, back when I only had two gaming magazine subscriptions the only way I knew anything about any game was because of those magazines. I would read an article about them and base my purchase solely off of that.
In other rare cases, I would choose to buy a game at the store just by looking at the back of the box, reading the description and checking out the screenshots. Luckily for me, my intuition almost never steered me wrong and I ended up playing games I normally wouldn’t have bothered to check out. This method of blind-buying almost never works out these days. When I had very few expectations of a game, that was when I enjoyed it the most. I didn’t sit on a gaming forum and see a million different posts pointing out every little negative flaw to ruin my joy or perception of it.
I was really glad when I stumbled across a blog post on One of Swords entitled, “Here are Your 2011 Resolutions.” It’s a short, good read and all of the points made completely echo my feelings. The first resolution is to “stop acting like everything is the end of the world.” Let’s go back to the cloak clipping comment for a bit.
Hey, remember these?
If you’ve ever played any video game ever, you know that nothing acts, moves or looks exactly the same way on the screen as in real life. It’s just not plausible yet (unless you’re from the future) and we need to stop acting like spoiled children every time we see our dagger poke through our capes a little bit. It happens and it isn’t the end of the world. In fact if you’re one of the twelve million subscribers of World of Warcraft, then you see this happen all day long. It hasn’t affected the game’s success in the least. The second point in the blog post was that some gamers love hating on gaming more than they like playing games. How many times have you visited a social networking site and declared your love for a game, only to have some stranger slap you across the face because they hate it and they want to make sure that you realize it’s bad, too? It’s kind of like when you start dating someone new and you’re really enjoying your time with that person and then your friends point out something negative that you didn’t realize before. The internet is full of cynicism for cynicism’s sake and sometimes we should just shut up and let people like things.
Point number four is my personal favourite and that is “don’t expect perfection.” Like Percival in search of the Holy Grail, he was never able to find it because of his immaturity. Perhaps when we do a little growing up ourselves, we’ll realize that there probably is no Holy Grail after all but what we already have is pretty cool, too. I’m not saying don’t read opinions on the games you buy. After all, you’re reading this on a gaming website where we provide you with honest reviews and opinions on a near-daily basis. You shouldcheck out the reviews (especially ours), just don’t get too carried away with them. Reviews are a great referential point so you can assess whether or not the game you’re thinking about buying is worth your time and hard-earned cash. What isn’t worth your time is getting dragged into the mud with everyone’s sobbing. Once you can let go of the idea of perfection, that’s when you really start to enjoy the things you do have and stop focusing on the things that may be missing.
I’m guilty of jumping in with the haters from time to time. That’s why one of my resolutions for 2011 is to try to enjoy gaming the way I used to enjoy it when I was younger. That doesn’t mean blindly ignoring anything that might be negative, but to at least give new games a chance before shooting them down before I’ve even played them. I challenge the rest of you to do the same in 2011 too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dana is a book worm, nerd and video game enthusiast living outside of London, Ontario. She owns a Playstation 3, PSP, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and a Playstation 2 that is missing its controllers. Her favourite gaming genres include adventure, RPG and MMORPG.