Friday, December 04, 2009
Spoiled Rotten Brats
I think it's probably because I always root for underdogs that I picked up a Nintendo Wii instead of the Sony or Microsoft consoles. That's a strange notion, since Nintendo has completely dominated the video game world with Wii and DS. But among the "prozines," the gaming magazines and websites, Wii is routinely treated as second-class.
I think we have a very serious problem with the way the gaming press is run. Perhaps it's just because the more "hardcore" gamers migrate towards that profession, but there has always been a sneering, holier-than-thou attitude among the prozines. There are great guys and gals in the press, especially people like Chris Kohler who grew out of the '90s fanzine scene with me. But far too many writers and reviewers come off as Comic Book Guy.
I also think we are long past the point where graphics in video games are an issue. Take a look at that photo above. That's from the newly-released Shawn White Snowboarding: World Tour on Nintendo Wii. I remember when all we had was the Atari 2600 VCS and Intellivision. Heck, one day I visited a kid's house, and he had a Colecovision....wow!!
If you handed us kids from 1983 a game like Shawn White, our hearts would burst for joy. It would be beyond our wildest dreams. Seriously. Back then, I thought the movie Tron was the greatest you could ever imagine. And here we are, in the Year of our Lord 2009, and Tron has been surpassed by leaps and bounds.
What fool in his right mind would complain about graphics in games like Shawn White? Are you kidding me? Yes, I am fully aware that Playstation 3 and XBox 360 are more advanced than Wii. This is no surprise and was openly acknowledged at the very beginning. Leaving the technology rat race was Nintendo's plan years ago, and it's far too late to whine and moan about it now. Frankly, anybody who complains about video game graphics in this day and age is spoiled. Spoiled rotten brats.
The really weird thing is that these complaints come from adults....grown adults. They hurl out words like "arceade game" or "kid's game" as though it were some form of insult. What? Did I miss something? When did the video game business become obsessed with chasing after adults? Let me explain this to all the Comic Book Guys out there....listen closely....Video games have ALWAYS been meant for kids. Pac-Man wasn't created to amuse college graduates. Super Mario Brothers was not being played by thirty-somethings. PhD candidates were not discussing the merits of Sonic the Hedgehog. These are kids games. They always have been, and God Willing, that's how it shall stay.
I can't help thinking that so many of the troubles in today's video game industry stem from this Peter Pan Syndrome. We have "hardcore gamers" and software developers desperate to legitimize this hobby as high art, as something serious and deep and meaningful. The games business wants to be in the movie business. What they seek, ultimately, is validation, for a hobby that has consumed a large portion of their short lives.
A video game is not a movie, and it's not a book. It's a game. If it's anything else, then it's a lucid dream, or psychedelic trip. But above all, it's a form of play. I don't believe there's any shame in that, regardless of your age. Everyone should hold on to their inner child, no matter how long they live. Childhood is the birthplace of our hopes and dreams, the place where imagination runs free.
Hmm...I hope this discussion hasn't been hijacked. I really just wanted to point out how silly it is that game journalists complain about "kiddie" graphics in the 21st Century. But this is a subject that leads us down the rabbit hole, and we as a community really should explore those deeper themes.