Letter to the Editor

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.

6 comments on “Letter to the Editor

  1. Me? Addicted? How dare you, Logtar! Just because I take photos of my Nintendo DS and blog about my outfits and my ACWW mansion every single day, it doesn’t mean I can’t live without the game. Now excuse me, I think there’s an absolutely wonderful item at Nookington’s I wanted for my Classic set. LMAO!

    I agree with you. I don’t like it when people want to diminish others in orders to make a point. I don’t know what defines arrogance, since we all tend to be a little bit of that from time to time when expressing our point of view, though. However, I think this guy is dismissing the best clientèle for video games: NORMAL PEOPLE.

    And what is a Hardcore Gamer, anyway? One of those obsessive people who don’t take showers and whose eyes are square-shaped from playing? I guess I’ll never make those lines, then.

    You should send this post’s text to the magazine. After all, it’s readers like you what keeps them going.

  2. Yeah Paco… I already have a Wii. And I wish I had enough time to beat Zelda in record time. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I do follow exactly what you are saying in this rant. The problem with gamers today, especially younger teens, is that they did not grow up on the Atari and NES like we did. Games in that era had to be good because the technology wasn’t there to make them visually outstanding.

    Today there are a bunch of games that are incredibly beautiful. But quite frankly, the gameplay sucks. You can only take so many GTA knockoffs and crappy racing games. What the heck is a hardcore gamer anyway? That description is a LOAD OF CRAP! I am not a hardcore gamer because I don’t own a bunch of mindless shoot ’em up criminal games? Please.

    I have every single Nintendo system and literally hundreds upon hundreds of games. Yes, I even had the Virtual Boy. Fan boy, yes. Hardcore gamer? Why not? Because I think Zelda rocks and Mario 64 is one of the best games of all time? Who hasn’t had fun for hours beating your friends asses on Mario Kart? And it doesn’t matter how great the games and the systems get. Anybody who knows me, knows that at any given moment, I will throw in Street Fighter II on my SNES and play it thru.

    The problem with the video game market is that dumb ass journalists like that actually have lost touch with games. They honestly believe that games should be treated like works of art and that the fun factor isn’t as important. The hardcore gamer, is not a growing market. For the industry to succeed and gain new players, it has to reach out and entice those people who aren’t 14 and ADHD for rated M games that have no replay value. The Nintendo DS and the Wii are perfect examples of that. The DS has brought a staggering number of girls to the game field. And the Wii has brought a lot of adults. Hell even my dad was playing it and having a damn good time.

    Maybe that is why the Wii has sold 5x as many PS3s. Maybe that is why you can’t get a Wii but the PS3 sits on the shelf. Maybe that is why a Zelda game that takes 4 years to develop will always be a better game than some crappy Max Payne sequel that they crank out by the dozens. And maybe that is why I am so passionate about it.

  3. Travis, you rock. I am the casual gamer and I enjoy the fact companies go out of their way to expand the demographics for people like me. I also grew up in the early days of Atari. Tetris is by far my favorite game. I’m also partial to Pole Position. On the other hand, it’s just an article in a magazine of someone with a particular point of view stirring up debate.

  4. I would imagine that some of the “dumb” games are actually probably some of their highest profit margins and the ones for the hardcore guys barely break even, due to the extra R&D and coding that’s involved. I’m an extremely light-weight gamer in that I have a PS2 that I inherited but I don’t purchase a lot. I tend to get sucked in with the guys that I’m with.

  5. Flipside: I play Magic: the Gathering. The cards not the console games. The maker got bought out by Hasbro, who makes Pokemon. Three years later, Pokemon makes so much money that MtG can’t compete, so the company starts making more sets faster and crappier, and now I can’t afford to play at all, and tourneys are completely out of the question.

    Now apply this to games. If simple, sappy, uninspiring games make a lot of money because your dad and grandma and kids can play, and niche games don’t make as much, production houses will NOT use the simple games to make better, less profitable ones. They’ll only make simple games.

    I’m not saying the editor was right in being insulting, and I have kids of my own, and have a hard time finding multiplayer games that are OK for kids but not mindnumbingly stupid. So I think your view and the editors view are two extremes, and the best solution is a balance.

    But companies will follow the dollar, which is why Nintendo’s stamp of approval just became Nintendo’s stamp, and why drivel as opposed to art has infected movies and music. As long as a few big companies will buy out smaller ones, innovation and honest to god art gets drowned out by drivel and crap. And as a 28 year old gamer with hundreds of games on dozens of systems, if the whole gaming community goes Pokemon and Pikmin and ignores Devil May Cry and Zone of the Enders, I’m officially out of the game.

    Quality v quantity, innovation v repetition, hardcore v accessible, artistic vision v profitability, adult games v everyone games, these all need to balance out to make the genre continue to be a valid one, because corporations know that rich whiny kids will buy fifteen Pokemon games with almost zero innovation or improvement, making a lot more money than something gritty and mindblowing, but without some gritty and mindblowing, there’s no reason for a lot of people to play.

    Sorry, this wound up longer than I intended, but I’m trying to say that it’s a lot more complicated than either you or the Gameinformer dude puts forth. But there is validity to your statement that pissing off the other side of the aisle will not help solve the rift. I’m a hardcore gamer with kids and a wife who likes Secret of Mana and Kingdom Hearts and Mario, and that’s about it. I NEED both sides to continue to make this hobby valid.

    Anywho, that’s my rant. Hope I haven’t pissed anyone off. Tootles, and thanks for the post.

  6. Great blog..I especially like the point you used with Soul Calibur. That game to me is one of the perfect balances between appealing to a casual player while giving the hardcore player what he wants. The second you pick up a controller for Soul Calibur you know what to you. You can sit there and mash buttons to your hearts content. When you decide to actually learn more about the game, you’ll find a deep system to learn. Once you learn the system you can take out button mashers in a heart beat. So anyway, great point with Soul Calibur and I whole heartedly agree.

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