While I do a lot to avoid politics and stuff on Twitter, seeing my feed is mostly about T&A and old oriental comics, sometimes I do see the occasional message about news that matter or political opinion. I don’t know who David Jaffe is nor do I really care, but the his tweet about, and I quote, basically hating change did get me thinking if he has something there. After all, gamers confuse him, but perhaps that’s because gamer is still a label that is very fluid and doesn’t stick with all. For example, yours truly most likely would be labelled as a gamer in overall terms, but the amount of time I spend writing exceeds the time I play per week, and the time I work is geometrically higher. Anecdotes don’t really count, but let’s try to be a bit Buddhist about this and consider for this once a subjective view.
All living beings have an aversion to pain. Humans are no different, we are mostly prefer to avoid risk and pain. We resist any chance of having us caused pain. We’re creatures of status quo comfort, and if something is rocking the boat, we are extremely vary of its causes and how it might affect us negatively. Change might be the only constant we have, until the probable heat death of the universe, but before that change will always offer us risks, and risks can be painful, be it physically or mentally. I’m not trying to be a smert person, just echoing things I’ve been taught in school and read from books. Of course change is the only thing that pushes us forwards, but evolution of things is a different thing.
Do gamers hate change? As much as any person out there. However, the examples Jaffe uses, Epic Games Store, Stadia and VR, are not new things. Epic Games Store is yet another digital platform on computer, which has not gained much positive press as of late. That aside, what it offers in its library doesn’t seem to appeal to all, but if that 40% users not having Steam account is true, then it does have its own niche and a consumer base that values it greatly. Good for the Epic Games Store, I hope they just get their shit straight and manage to do proper PR in order to do better in competition against GOG, Origin, Steam and such. I talked Stadia previously and how it is not really nothing new. The only new thing about it is really the better infrastructure Google can offer, but that’s pretty much it. Gaming on demand is about decade old at this point, and has proven to be relatively hampered. Maybe Google can pull it off, but they also need to offer a solid library. As for VR, let’s be a bit Buddhist about it again. I tried VR in the 1990’s, 00’s and 10’s. I’ve never been impressed by it. Whatever the technology of VR offers, the library and its usage isn’t there. VR software for video or computer games doesn’t seem to work as imagined, or doesn’t have the technology to back it up. There is a cultural mentality what VR should be has not met. Outside my own experiences of VR being either a toy that’s not used well, or is throw in as an after thought, we heard from John Riccitiello last year how VR has yet to make a breakthrough and reasons for it. I have a post about it. Long story short; VR needs to advance in terms of software. To be completely open, VR seems to be more usable for research and furthering science than used for entertainment, and I would completely support moving it to that direction.
Jaffe seems to mix gamers as a whole to early adopters of technology, as well as lumping all kinds of gamers into one bunch. This is, of course, disingenuous to a large extent, but maybe he is just trying to rile people up. PC gamers might be tech savvy, they have to be. Building a PC is stupid simple nowadays though and even an idiot could build one. It’s like building a LEGO set. A very expensive LEGO set, with electricity and RGB everywhere. Console gamers don’t care about that, because they don’t have to. No need to fuss about what goes where or if your machine will run the latest game properly, everything’s set. Naturally there are those who go into both camps, like yours truly who doesn’t really play games on PC but still knows few things about soldering and tech stuff. Being tech savvy to be a gamer is a happy coincidence at best if you’re a gamer. It has to come from somewhere else than being interested in games.
Forward thinking? Maybe early adopters, but this is rather out there. Gamers are comparable consumers to sports fans, or tabletop players or anything that includes an action of play to some extent. A video game player probably doesn’t consider much about the future regarding their hobby outside how well it’ll serve him personally, how many games in the genre he most prefers will get and so on. Each sub-culture of course has their own things they want to push forwards and want to see happening. I doubt many gamers consider the impact their hobby is having on the nature, the world wide culture, the people overall or how it develops the brains. Without a doubt they’re aware of all of this and probably have read about it, but forward thinking? Only in terms how to get the next system or the game they want, rather than furthering something specific under normal conditions. After all, what technology and systems comes next is largely out of the consumers’ hands outside wallet voting, but that’s barely making any dent to companies’ policies overall. Who would’ve thought Nintendo DS with its two screen would’ve made such a splash or the Wii would’ve sold millions with its unconventional controls? The Wii U seemed like a good step forwards with the whole screen business in some terms, but it’s library just wasn’t there. Outside some consumer movements and wallet voting, gamers are like any other consumer group in that they’re reactionary, meaning the companies have to research and look at the numbers and consumer behaviour to deduce what next. Unless you’re Nintendo, who does whatever fuck they want.
Gaming is an expensive hobby, and perhaps such I should argue that a forward thinking gamer would consider seriously what he puts his money into, plans budgets and how to put things forwards rather than jump into whatever bandwagon is currently en vogue. Thanks to the Internet we have access to such amount of information that gamers should be able to make rather well educated guesses what would serve him individually over buying into the hype. Perhaps being tech savvy steps in here, with gamers using their existing hardware and tech to the best of its extent instead of just abandoning it.
Do gamers prefer sitting in their PJ’s, playing SNES and eating Trix? No harm in that. The SNES has a great library of games and very few have played all the games it has to offer. Terranigma, for example, was missed everybody in North America and is a gem worth playing, PJ’s or not. If we’re to read into this a bit too much, over analyse it, it might seem that Jaff considers old games and consoles obsolete, something that you only play when you’re a child. This, of course, would be nonsense and nobody in their right mind would suppose such argument. Much like how Fonda Lee found out that she is competing with all the previously written literature, so are game developers and publishers competing against every old game title out there if available. Any platform that has to make games that reach the quality and status of Super Mario Bros. 3. and its ilk are in deep shit in terms of needing to stand up not just to the massive cultural standing of the title, but also to its sheer game design and quality. Games don’t always go forwards automatically in their quality, and a forward thinking gamer would look back into the history of games and play titles of old to gain perspective for modern games.
Perhaps Jaffe’s confusion about gamers stems that he lumps everyone in one bunch. To be frank about this, only an idiot and a hypocrite would categorise a whole sect of people based on one of their hobbies. No consumer group is made of homogeneous group mind. Playing games is just one part of human identity and doesn’t constitute much in the end. It does denote some aspects of people’s personalities that seem to be common across gamers, but even then that’s generalising far too much. However, the current Internet culture seems to think that one thing is always enough to determine everything about a person or group of people. One person does not represent a whole group, and a group should not be taken as representative of one individual, unless separately stated. Throwing guilt on other just because they associate with someone who belong to a group is inane at best, unnecessarily damaging at worst. The only way to clear some of his confusion away would be ignore his personal bias and views, and fully consider all the views he doesn’t agree with just as equally valid with a point in order further his understanding and lessen his confusion.
To answer the question in the title to end the post; Yes, gamers hate change as much as any people do, and even then, there are incredible amount of individual variety.