Why I’m Proud Of This Industry After Seven Years Of Fighting With It
I’ve been writing about games and this industry for more than six years now, and a couple of months shy of seven. I began just before the birth of this website in February 2009, and man has it been some journey. But I’m not going to bore you with an origin story. This is simply to give you some kind of context. See love it or hate it, this is the industry we have. It can drive you crazy, it can make you insanely happy, it can get you hyped, and it can change your life. And it’s still a growing industry that hasn’t yet matured in all the ways it should. But we fight for it all the same.
Man, have I fought with it. We all have.
Yet now I’m happy to say that after all these years of fighting I’m actually proud of this industry and the gamers in it, as I’ve seen the proof in front of my eyes that gaming and its audience is evolving.
For as long as I can remember I have felt like a minority voice when fighting against certain practices in this industry. Just to be clear ‘minority’ in this context has nothing to do with race or gender or ethnic background, as this isn’t about social issues. It’s rather that I’ve always been part of the smaller crowd with my very outspoken opinions. That often led to some little bit of self doubt at times.
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If I go back to my early years writing in this industry I always felt that the review system needed a reform. I considered scores to be pointless as they obliterated any meaning the actual content of a review put across, as everyone just focused on them. I pushed strongly to remove review scores, and for years our site went without them. We’re considering returning to that in the near future.
The point is I was a minority voice in that argument.
The good people here at this website can attest that I’ve always been immensely against consumers who put developers and publishers before their own interests. I’ve been against treating games like more than entertainment products when it comes to consumer rights.
I’ve been hellbent on trying to convince people that the relationship between developers and gamers is a two-way street, where gamers make the games successful through sales and developers give us good products. But it was often lost on people in the past that in such a mutually beneficial relationship both parties actually have to benefit, so consumers should stop letting themselves be taken advantage of. Time and time again publishers got away with murder, consumers were cool with it and it frustrated the hell out of me and many others.
As one tiny example I remember when Dead Space 3 released and I fought extremely heatedly with even my own colleagues about the game’s appalling microtransactions and how terrible it was for a triple A game to fundamentally change its own game design and add inconveniences for the sole purpose of incorporating a mobile scam.
I was in the minority voice with that argument too.
And there were so many others. I’m sure you can tell that I spent a lot of years arguing, but I hoped with good intentions. Too many fights over too many years. I can barely remember them all. But let’s try to cover some highlights of fights where I was part of the minority group:
- I argued that the horror genre has so much untapped potential and doesn’t deserve the treatment that the previous generation gave it.
- The minority fought against DRM, DLC, tacked-on multiplayer components and shady review embargoes.
- I argued that if people want games to evolve they need to stop the debate of what a game can or can’t be immediately and put no boundaries on it.
- I fought against the industry when it tried to make gamers out to be the bad ones for being unhappy with DmC: Devil May Cry, refusing to buy it and watching it fail commercially. The minority argued until it was blue that gamers actually have a voice and a wallet and can use both.
I can’t remember all the fights where I felt like I was in a small group of people trying to push the industry to be better, and for consumers to expect more. There were many who fought alongside me, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t feel like a collective. Sure over years many of those fights were revealed to be worthy causes and things changed, but many people with strong opinions at the time faced attacks by the majority, despite whatever intentions were had.
Why bring up ancient history? Why relive past wounds and mistakes of the gaming industry? Why toot my own horn, or at least sound like I’m doing that?
Well I’m not, at all.
This is to gamers. This is to those who still think that gaming used to be so much better back in the day. It just wasn’t compared to now.
When I look at how things have been this year alone I have to say that I can’t help but smile. As we approach the end of the year I want to actually appreciate how much things have changed for the better, and how much the industry has evolved.
I always was a small drop in an ocean, and always will be. But I no longer feel that way.
Look at the review side of things. Big sites have dropped review scores. Big sites are arguably less afraid to give big games lower scores. Sure the number scale is all kinds of stupid where 10 is never used, 7 means dumpster trash and anything below shouldn’t even be looked at, but it’s progress.
When Batman: Arkham Knight released in its pathetic state on PC, the push back was strong enough to pull the game down from sale and enable consumers to get their money back.
When Batman: Arkham Knight rocked up with a $40 season pass and barely any details of what you would be getting for that money, people demanded information and Warner Bros responded with a full picture of the DLC plans.
When Ubisoft tried to pull wool over people’s eyes with its absurd comments about playable female characters, consumers actually fought against them and pointed out their stupidity. Now you just have to look at Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate this year to see Ubisoft’s response.
When the new Hitman game revealed its dubious release model enough people raised questions and concerns that it eventually led to the game being delayed so that it could be released in a complete state.
The horror genre is back in a big way, and it’s actually proving immensely successful for indie developers and hopefully for triple A developers in future too.
There are so many games coming out now with female protagonists. There are games for literally anyone now. Gaming is more diverse and inclusive than it’s ever been.
Even positive social change is happening, and a stronger focus on ethics by media and publishers is taking place.
I look at all of these issues and positive changes, and my message isn’t “I was right all along about some of these things.” I don’t care about that. The message is that I now often feel like I don’t even need to argue. I feel part of the majority in so many of these issues. More people than ever are seeing the wrongs in the industry, seeing through the bullshit and fighting for a better gaming industry for all of us. We have popular leader figures in our industry, both men and women, who try to inform consumers daily and provoke change.
And gaming has become so much better as a result.
There’s still a lot wrong in this industry. Of course there is. There always will be new obstacles in the way from publishers who try their luck. But the gaming fanbase and even to a big extent the media has grown to be more aware and outspoken than before.
I’m seeing it in front of my eyes that the majority of people in this industry don’t just want it to be better, but are more than willing to fight for it and not defend publishers over consumers, let their attachment to games cloud their judgment or simply refrain from getting involved because of apathy. Whether it’s gaming being inclusive, consumer rights, transparency in the industry, higher quality games, better practices – consumers and media are there largely pushing for a better industry.
That, in a nutshell, is what I’m proud of.
The industry may have ways to go, but it has come a hell of a long way since the old days.
Perhaps then the next time you talk about how gaming used to be so much better, or how the industry is so full of shit now, you may want to stop and really think about that. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of this industry in recent years, despite the crap we still collectively deal with, and it now feels like it’s on a steady course of growth and evolution.
If you still have doubts all you have to do is look at the games we’re getting in our near future. When was the last time you saw such a diverse, exciting and awesome range of games that made massive titles like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty: Black Ops III actually look ordinary at this year’s E3?
This is the industry we have, but it’s getting better all the time. And that’s something to be pretty damn proud of.