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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Grow up, gamers

Video game fans are the most hostile, negative fan community out there.

They bully other fans and creators alike, exhibiting a level of entitlement not seen among filmgoers or book readers. 

The year 2015 saw a wealth of AAA video game releases, many of which received high marks critically but absolute vitriol from the fan base.

On Metacritic, “Fallout 4,” for PC has a critics’ score of 84/100 but a users’ score of 5.4/10. “Star Wars Battlefront,” for PC has a critics’ score of 72 and a users’ score of 3.4. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III,” a 73 and 2.7; “Batman: Arkham Knight,” a 70 and 2.1. 

That level of disconnect between critic score and user score is extremely uncommon on Metacritic’s music and film pages. Yet on the site’s video game section, it’s commonplace.

Follow any of these games on Facebook and you’ll find histrionic comments like this one from a recent “Arkham Knight” post: “This sucks. I hope they remaster the old games because they were a lot better than this.” 

Or this one from the “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” page: “It’s as disappointing as Tomb Raider 2013, a new low in my personal gaming experience.”

This goes beyond gamers simply being hard to please. Polygon published an in-depth report on the topic in 2013 with revelations that employees from companies as large as Microsoft and Bioware have stepped down from development positions after receiving significant amounts of hate mail. Large amounts of gamers simply hate the today’s video games and they hate the people making them even more.

What are their complaints? Pricing models come up quite often. Most games retail at launch for a price of about $60 with an optional “Season Pass” of additional downloadable content, usually priced between $30 and $50. 

Season passes are especially controversial, with some fans complaining that they are equivalent to charging the price of another full game using content that should have been included in the initial game release.

While this may seem expensive initially, consider that new Sega Genesis or Nintendo 64  games in the 90s could retail for as much as $70—significantly more today with inflation taken into account. Also consider that games offer the greatest dollar-to-hour value of any entertainment medium, with the average game offering about 40 hours of playtime. 

It’s also worth noting that if a $60 game, or $50 season pass, is enough to bankrupt you, perhaps you simply need to accept that your current budget does not allow for video games as a hobby.

With the cost complaint then being largely unfounded, the other main criticism of the “angry gamer” is one of performance, or games that are released with glitches and bugs. Occasionally, this criticism is justified, though it hardly merits emailing death threats to a game developer.

When “Fallout 4” was announced and its trailer was released in June 2015, plenty of gamers were quite excited, though many others immediately took to online forums to complain that the graphics—which were actually quite beautiful—were lazy and last-generation.

The reality is that video games have the potential, through a combination of time investment and story immersion, to impact the consumer more so than any other medium. 

This is especially true for those who play video games when they are young, and those for whom video games serve as foundational, coming-of-age experiences. As these gamers age, they are disappointed to find that new games, especially sequels and remakes of classic games, don’t live up to their memories of the originals.

While there are some instances where the new games actually just aren’t that great, there are many more that live up to expectations or even surpass what came before in terms of technical and artistic achievement. But gamers refuse to recognize this because the games still just don’t seem as amazing as they were when the gamers were teenagers. Therein lies the problem: New games can’t possibly hope to match the nostalgia of grown-up gamers.

I was never going to enjoy “Fallout 4” as much as “Fallout 3,” because I will never again be a 15-year-old on Christmas Day getting his first-ever “Mature” rated video game. Other gamers would do well to come to similar realizations themselves rather than spewing hate all over the Internet. To put it another way: these gamers could all stand to grow up.

Follow Greg Castro on Twitter

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