I have been a reader of video game magazines since I was a teenager. I remember that I would save up lunch money to go to the arcade and also buy game magazines. I have been subscribed to both Gamepro and GameInformer on and off for years and bought plenty of other magazines at the stand.
One thing that has always bothered me about them is the sarcasm that is written into most of the articles. While I understand that they are thinking of their audience and writing for them, I also think they are a little too raw a times, insulting people for their ignorance when writing them letter or commenting on their articles.
I have upset many people while writing here. Some I meant to either upset or at least make them think, some others had their own issues and reading here only poured salt on their open wounds. I don’t get paid for writing here, I do it because I love to rant sometimes. I never expected to feel insulted by an article I read in a video game magazine, but reading an article in the current issue of GameInformer did just that.
On their section Connect|Opinion, Mr. Mathew Kato writes the article Space Invaders Is Casual Gaming Destroying Video Games? His opinion piece is full of blanket statements saying that casual gamers should not get attention by the game companies, and never at the expense of hardcore gamers getting dumb down games. I wish there was a web version of the article so you can read it, but I will post an excerpt so you can get an idea of the tone of the piece.
No offense to your mom, grandma, or seven-year-old brother/sister, but I don’t care what they think about video games – or even if they ever get into video games. Call me selfish, but I do not want the industry to cater specifically to these segments of the population at the expense of the hardcore gamer.
Wait… What? It seems like he does not understand that maybe without Pokemon there would be no Nintendo making consoles now, and it will be another software house like Sega or what remains of the name Atari. Also, he defines a hardcore gamer as someone that waits in line for a new system on launch day and spends money during the year on several titles. It seems that he forgets what it takes for a hardware or software maker to survive to make another game: Money.
What makes him think that making a game accessible means dumbing it down? Has he never played Tetris, any of Nintendo’s first party games (Mario, Zelda, etc.), Soul Calibur, and the list goes on. All of those games are very accessible and are still great because of great game play. Nothing to do with being dumb, great games are very accessible.
Soul Calibur is a great example. It is easy to pick and play and almost anyone can have fun with it. It has none of the complexity of a Tekken or Virtual Fighter nor the blood of Mortal Kombat, but it is still in my opinion a better game than any of the other games.
What I guess I found the most insulting about the article was the thought that casual gamers deserve less attention by the video game industry than hardcore gamers. It is very narrow minded and I am sure that he is not what he himself calls a hardcore gamer. I might be wrong but I seriously doubt that he was standing in line waiting for the next console when he had the chance to already play it at work. While I understand that playing games for a living is a little different than for fun, I still doubt he does not get to play his favorite game before any of us do. I personally love programming, but when I get home I do not feel like writing code all night, I am sure that he also needs to unplug no matter how much he loves video games. That makes me put him a little bellow what he defines a hardcore gamer. Also, most hardcore gamers I know cannot afford to buy every single console in the current generation… With a 500+ minimum investment for any new system and games except the Nintendo Wii, I doubt that too many people are going to buy every console and every game.
I am a casual gamer. While I end up buying a lot of games that I end up not being able to play for the lack of time, I still love playing games. The last thing I waited in life for was a Harry Potter book, and I have never bought a console during launch. I still spend money buy video games, magazine and upgrading my computer. Am I less worthy of an opinion because I never lived in my mom’s basement buying every single console and game that came out?
Most of my friends that are outside of the LAN scene also love games. Tom is an Atari and Pinball lover, he has an impressive collection of classic games and full arcade machines, a mame machine, and several pinball machines including the brand new family guy pinball. Bea has become addicted to Animal Crossing on the DS and even has a blog just for her game progress. Kelly is a huge FFXI player and has blogged about her gaming before. Travis is probably the only fanboy I can stand, because he has been a loyal Nintendo fan for a long time, he will get a Wii soon and beat the new Zelda in record time. None of the are hardcore gamers and yet they are who keeps the industry alive.
With the price of consoles right now and the difficulty of putting out games that push the hardware to the limit, we are going to see that pleasing those hardcore gamers might make some game developers close their doors. Investing on the ultimate game for just the hardcore gamer can truly make a studio, but then how do you keep doing that? Business intelligence will tell you that the more you diversify the better; so I say welcome the casual gamers and ask for better game play and do not think of us as unintelligent people about video games that are going to ruin your experience. I am sure that if I told you that one of my Type Libraries failed to register properly due to a bad interface file you would have a hard time figuring out what I am talking about. Being arrogant about a hobby is almost as stupid as getting into an argument online.
I guess all I want is for video magazines to respect casual gamers and to stop thinking that their only readers fall into the same demographic.