Posted on June 5th, 2009 in Uncategorized by Doctor Detroit

I’m in an office. What’s up? Gamers, I’d like a word.

The righteous indignation that a lot of people are expressing over the recently announced Left 4 Dead 2 is pretty hilarious for a lot of reasons. I was reading a thread full of complaints on the L4D facebook page, and the general theme of it was that a) the sequel was just an expensive expansion pack and b) the original just came out a year ago, so why the rush for the sequel? This is a world in which new versions and updates to Rock Band come out every 3 weeks—Rock Band: RATT, Rock Band: Cat Stevens and Rock Band: Bananarama are all due out in early 2010—and so the outrage seems awfully petty. And, if it’s a money issue, well, no one’s holding a sawed off to your head to force you to buy the damn thing lest you get crowned (I hate that achievement, I hate it as much as the damn witch), or, if not having the game is going to send you into a deep depression, then here’s a thought: don’t buy every stupid title that comes out.

It’s stuff like this that lets me justify playing through FFX eight-billion times in a row: I don’t define myself by my gamerscore or the size of my collection, I’m completely okay with the fact that I have and will never own any Halo game and don’t take part in Madden Christmas every year, and I kind of feel a little sorry for people who do. I mean, it’s fun, I’m all about throwing myself blindly into stuff like this, but sometimes you need to take a step back and try and really place the importance of a video game in the larger context of your life. I just don’t get how people can drop so much money on this stuff, play through it once, and then forget about it, but then have the audacity to bitch about the rate at which stuff comes out. I mean, we live in a hurry-up-and-wait world: the trailer for this comes out NOW, I must watch it NOW or I won’t be COOL and the demo comes out THEN but I need it NOW or else I SUCK and then the game is released at MIDNIGHT NOW and I need it YESTERDAY so I have to PREORDER IT IMMEDIATELY DOUBLE FAST or my MANHOOD MIGHT BE CALLED INTO QUESTION and I WILL DIE COLD AND ALONE and THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, VALVE.

Anyway.

The point is, you can’t have it both ways: something cool comes out, people love it, clamor for more, and then complain when they actually get it? In the words of Brick Prior, come on, now.

I think almost the entire purpose of gaming is the social factor—playing with other people, talking about the games with other people, competing or cooperating with other people, and on down the line. That’s the artistic value of it, because the same basic principles apply to art—the what do you think about that?/isn’t that cool/I wish I could create something like this kind of factor. I think it’s sad, though, that it seems like most people have lost sight of that, or never even really had it in the first place. It’s one thing to compete over achievements; it’s another thing to act as if your gamerscore actually means something in the real world. I imagine people putting down their biggest achievements on job applications, kind of as a joke, kind of suspecting someone, somewhere, has cited their experience in Fable 2 as a legitimate work history.

The other funny thing about this, to me anyway, so probably not to you, but whatever, is that so much of the fury is based on sci-fi games about killing monsters/aliens and…not much else. Giving up control over music and movies and television, we’re fine with that—indy bands and public access are weird anyway, and that Brad Pitt sure is cool and edgy enough for me—but release a new videogame about killing cartoon zombies in as violent a way imaginable within a perfectly reasonable timeline and we’re going to act like someone threw animal feces on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Come on, now.

The other thing about this that bugs me is the contrarian nature of a lot of gamers. In other words, here’s a game, I’m going to find something to complain about just for the sake of…what, exactly? Sticking with the L4D2 theme, one thing people have complained about is that some portions take place during the day, because I guess this somehow invalidates the deeply detailed, rich universe of the original… I can only assume that it’s the gamer equivalent of critical thinking, except that isn’t critical thinking, that’s just bitching for the sake of hearing your own voice. L4D, and in all likelihood L4D2, are almost beyond critical evaluation because you can’t question the story, because there is no story, and you can’t question the development of the characters, because all of the characters are completely two-dimensional.

This is all pretty fascinating to me because I think I’ve become an all-or-nothing kind of guy. I either find a reason to really enjoy something, or I have absolutely no use for it at all. I don’t have the time or desire to nitpick about stuff so much so that whatever criticisms I have are so consuming that it detracts from the social experience or the Zen-like fun of mindlessly leveling up. Not just with videogames, either—The Office didn’t turn in their best season to date, but I still watched it. My criticisms didn’t consume me so much that I e-mailed NBC daily to voice my concerns that the Michael Scott Paper Company storyline was kind of lame, because again, put it in context in the grand scheme of things.

This reminds me of a chapter in Kevin Murphy’s awesome Year at the Movies, when he had the chance to catch a special screening of the Fellowship of the Ring when it first opened, and was standing in line in front of a couple of hardcore Tolkien fanboys who were anxiously complaining about a movie that they hadn’t seen yet. I won’t go into detail about what he says, because it’s an awesome book and you need to buy it if you haven’t already, but the gist of it is very similar to what I’m saying here: there’s so much to experience in the world that completely defining yourself in terms of one niche subculture, which you’re only consuming/criticizing and not actually contributing to, is severely blinding if not dangerously unhealthy.

So, come on, now.

Good grief, that was a lot of negativity.

What are people saying about "Office Hours 20XX: The righteous indignation edition"?

Brick Prior
Re: Office Hours 20XX: The righteous indignation edition

I enjoyed this piece- it speaks the TROOF.

I think a lot of the hullabaloo deals with the fact that folks are rather impatient and highly selfish with their consumption of various media, which taints the reception of certain products to a degree. 

Hrm.  Lots of big words there.

Lemme bring it on back.

Basically, people are just gonna bitch for bitching's sake, whether it be about video games, movies, TV, or whatever.  Granted, I personally don't like a lot of things, but I'm not gonna waste my time arguing with someone as to why I don't like it, because I'm not going to like it, and that's that.  I just don't see the point of getting all worked up and red in the face over things that are out of my hands anymore.

Maybe I'm getting old.
Robfathah
Re: Office Hours 20XX: The righteous indignation edition

What I find most annoying are the people who are bitching about the following:

1.  OMG SAME GRAPHICS

Clearly this is not the case.  Shit looks way sharper, there is actually model damage on zombies (blowing off an arm with the shotgun?  fuck yes.), and those are just the things I noticed offhand.

2.  OMG NOTHING NEW

...Melee weapons, new special zombies, likely an updated AI (which is already a bitch), new campaigns, new gameplay types, new characters, new options for AI director to fuck with the players.

3.  OMG L4D1 HAS ONLY BEEN OUT A YEAR

So the fuck what.  The people bitching about this are probably the same motherfuckers that plunk down $250 a year or so refreshing their EA Sports franchises.  Plus, it's not like Valve is abandoning the first game, so what the fuck's your problem?  If you don't want to buy the next one, don't.  Keep playing the first one, I imagine it will continue to get new shit for quite awhile.

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