Who the heck wants to be a gamer? (Pt 1)

July 25, 2009, Author: Shaquil Hansford

Has being a gamer had you weeping in frustration, jumping for joy, or sighing in boredom recently? The average Joe may wake up in the morning and ponder the meaning of life, but do you wake up and wonder why you should keep shelling out the immeasurable funds you spend on gaming? Perhaps you can’t get enough of gaming’s constant growth, frequent news updates, and loveable industry faces! Whether you’re in either of those boats or neither, you’ll no doubt have your own unique answer to my question: who the heck wants to be a gamer?

Before you give me an answer, aren’t there many factors to bring into the equation? In this two-part feature, we’ll bring to light gaming’s most enjoyable qualities as well as those which may make you want to drop the controller and take up a new hobby, like origami. We’ll briefly delve into the many happenings that occur before the end product of the games you play find your home, and by the end you’ll know precisely what to say the next time anyone asks you why you’d ever want to get knee-deep into gaming.

Slow down there, Mr. Happy-Pants (apologies to anyone whose last name that truly is), before we go talking about the obvious reasons you can’t stop pressing your console’s power button, let’s think of the negatives. There’s a lot more to it than having to pay for the batteries in your controller or just buying a new game with today’s prices. A lot more is going on within the industry that makes it a tad seedy, shady and, dare I say… evil. So, what’s going on under the table that could turn you away from gaming? Well…

Shut her down, boys!
In today’s economic climate, studios are shutting down left and right. Just this month, Warner Bros. studios bought Midway (Mortal Kombat, Spy Hunter, This Is Vegas developers) for about $33 million dollars in an auction, saving Midway from their sinking ship, but liquidating their Chicago studios completely in the process. Also shut down this year was Duke Nukem developer 3D Realms, Damnation’s dev team, and Ensemble. Luckily, some studios (such as Factor 5 and Free Radical) have been mercifully saved just before hitting rock bottom.

"Okay, guys. Mortal Kombat VS DC was fine, but we're Warner Bros. now. I'm thinkin... Animaniacs VS Looney Tunes?"

"Alright, guys! Mortal Kombat VS DC was fine! We're Warner Bros. now, though, so let's get some fresher ideas! I'm thinking... Mortal Kombat VS Looney Tunes!"

If you hadn’t already done your homework, here’s the dark side of business in the games industry. Midway’s majority stockholder Sumner Redstone (who held eighty-seven percent of the company’s stock) sold off that huge portion for $100,000. Why did this kill them? Well that eighty-seven percent of the stock was actually valued at thirty million dollars. You see where the small loss is. To top it all off, Midway is already $240 million in debt, which is much more than what the company’s total assets themselves are worth (about 160 million American bucks).

For us, all this business nonsense just means that you probably won’t see another Mortal Kombat or Wheelman sequel within the next year or so, or at least not one with the Midway logo on it. These days, it seems that most developers will pretty much live or die based on how their next title does in sales. First think of your favorite game of all time, and now ask yourself who developed it. Once you’ve figured that out, ask yourself if the last game they made did well in retail. If the answer is no, you might want to pick up their next title and help them out, because they could be here today and gone tomorrow. I’m sure your wallet will understand.

Jack Thompson!


Video games are the devil!
For the love of our gaming addiction, we constantly have to suit up for battle just to get the small bit of respect we deserve! With jerks like (the thankfully disbarred) Jack Thompson running around the legal system, searching for loop holes, and chanting their same tired song, and getting paid for it, the task of arguing gaming’s case time and time again is stressful. Hey, you don’t see any activists against calling professional golf a sport, do you? Life’s just not fair.

Saving the best for last
Most of the time in life, it’s great that the best is saved for last. Unfortunately, when it comes to the games industry, that postulation couldn’t be any more false. Despite our weary, desperate pleas, publishers have continued to release many of their top-tier games in the final four months of the year. Nothing is more emblematic of videogame publishers covering their ears while shouting ‘lalalala’ than this year’s Q4 release schedule. This year, from the 1st of September to December 31st, you can expect over 150 games to be released and shoved into the collective public’s face.

So, in short, prepare thyself for another end-of-the-year nightmare as you scramble to pick up huge release after huge release, young knight. Brace yourself for hours of waiting outside your local retailer only to find that, precisely the moment you reach the front of the line, they’ve run out of the copy of the game you wanted. They’ve also conveniently run out of every copy of every other game you may have wanted to purchase, and no, they don’t have a bathroom. Oh goody.

Even if you don’t get everything you want (because everything you’ll want will probably be released within a day of each other) this holiday season, your cash flow may be better for it. After all, as we gamers know, a fat wallet is a happy wallet, and the fourth quarter of any year is never very conducive to a happy, healthy wallet.

At the end of the day
So let’s conclude this look into the sour side of gaming. We’ve covered some important points, though there are obviously a ton more. So, after reading this, is your answer still the same when I ask who the heck wants to be a gamer? Well, whether it has or hasn’t changed, be sure to read the second and final part (in which we’ll cover why we love games), which will be up sometime next week. Until then, here’s a very short list of other grievances many folks have. Take a look and see if you agree!



Other Pains
I’m one hundred percent sure that anyone who’s ever played any videogame can attest that there is always some unnecessary problem that can at least slightly mess up a good time. A majority of us have grown used to this extra weight that gaming lets sag over its shoulders, and the rest of us have decided to help add to the problem. Here is a bulleted list of the points that the article either could not have relevantly hit on or would’ve just taken too long to go into (and may have bought back some painful memories).

  • Annoying idiots over Xbox Live. This includes the usual annoying seven year old you can find in every game who brags in a shrill, loud voice about his incredible skills. The deep-voiced jerk who always randomly screams “SHUT THE @$%# UP!” in the middle of a conversation in the pre-game lobby, and the infrequent occurrence of some complete idiot who thinks it’s fine to sing his favorite pop or rap song extremely loudly. STOP RUINING ONLINE PLAY YOU MORONS.
  • The PS3. This console’s lack of a real presence in itself is a painful reminder of how far the mighty can and have fallen. For shame, PS3; I’m sure that the PS2 would be disappointed in you if it were still alive (and it’s not anymore, no matter how many movie tie-in games are released for it).
  • The Nintendo Wii’s utter and total dominance of all things gaming. Seriously, the Wii? If you’d asked me five years ago which next generation console I thought would be trouncing the market, I could never have guess it’d be the Wii. All hardcore gamers should feel ashamed.
  • The Xbox 360’s constant teetering on the brink of life and death. Honestly, I can’t stomach another phone call with one of those Microsoft employees. If my console red rings again, I will wrap it in the American flag, burn it, and defect to India. Damn American-made products.
  • The PC’s lack of support by game developers. Come on, it’s seriously pathetic how little developers care about the PC gamers out there. Time after time, the platform is disrespected in more ways than one. Recently, Terminator Salvation was released in a state that it could not install. NBA 2K9, as well had problems; it was released without the confirmation codes.

Now you! What are some of the other pains and problems that I haven’t named in this article? Post and let me know!