Written by Ash Wood.
Not what you were expecting to be featured on the pages of TheSixthAxis? The staff, contributors and community spend an inordinately large amount of time talking about the positives of gaming and how enjoyable and interesting it is. So, I thought it was about time to turn that on its head and give the opposition a look in.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love gaming, but if we all were to be brutally honest, there are a lot of things we don’t like about our hobby of choice. I am therefore going to invite you to join me in talking about what really gets on my nerves and see what you think about it too.
First of all, there’s the social stigma. I’m sure you’ve all faced it: you tell someone you’re a gamer and you can see that flash of negative perception pass across their face. Suddenly they see you differently, you’re now some socially inept lonely soul who sits grasping a controller in a dark room for hours; they imagine you fuelled purely by copious numbers of energy drinks and pizza as you desperately work towards to a fictitious goal.
This, while worryingly accurate all too often, isn’t the whole picture. Us gamers have been know to be likeable and social beings. Every once in a while we go outside, take in some sunlight and experience normal, everyday lives. Gaming is simply the way we choose to spend our downtime, the same way someone may enjoying kicking a ball around on a sunday morning or partake in a particularly intense cross stitch session of an evening.
We know this is the case but unfortunately, the sad truth is, the average person will view you in a worse light if they happen to discover that your primary leisure activity is gaming. At the very least, they will expect you to grow out of it shortly.
Mix this general social stigma with the all too frequent mainstream press pieces about the danger of video gaming (remember that Call of Duty level from the video above?) and you start to realise we are quite a misrepresented bunch of future murderers and mindless stereotypes with no grasp on reality. The thing is, we just have to accept that fact. No matter how many big names in the industry and the gaming press criticise these misquoted, shoddy attempts at journalism it will be ever-present because it’s easy.
It’s easy to write, it’s easy to get away with and it’s an easy way to shift a few extra copies or get a few extra clicks. Unfortunately for us mere mortals, we cannot take on these unethical behemoths, we simply have to take a deep breath and move on. We are faced with little choice but to wait for the whole thing to blow over and let them move onto the next easy target to prey on.
We do, however, have to consider ourselves lucky. Thanks to the monumental shifts that the video gaming industry is experiencing, the ratio of gamers to non-gamers is dramatically shifting in our favour. With the gargantuan growth of social and mobile games almost everyone who has a Nokia 3210 and above is playing some form of game now.
All these people who happily tap away on Candy Crush, Threes!, Angry Birds or any other light and friendly social game for the evening while in front of the TV are keen to play these small titles, but that is only half the battle. Telling them you spent the evening fighting off mythical creatures with magical oversized weaponry quickly makes you realise these people are not the same type of gamer as you and I. They unfortunately will still look down upon you far more often than we would like.
But there is still hope. The influx of new gamers of all ages and the added worth of owning a games console for more than just playing video games means more people are dipping their toes into the waters of gaming on a more serious level. While it is still likely to be a fair few years before gaming is a full social norm it will soon be the case that it will no longer be the few that are taken aback by negative social stigma, but rather the many.
Eventually, the mainstream press and society as a whole will realise that their fictitious versions of what being a gamer means no longer sits well with us lot. At which point they will shift their sights and pick another group of people to target.
Unfortunately, it isn’t only the way people perceive gamers that gets me as angry as a certain bloodthirsty Spartan. Another key factor that you can’t ignore when thinking about the elements of gaming that get on your nerves is the price. Whether we like it or not, gaming is a very expensive hobby and nobody likes to lose money. With new games usually clocking in at around £40, or a touch more while the new gen is still fresh, it’s no small fee to pay. Especially when the game ends up being shorter than you would like it to be, without the tacked on multiplayer that is.
It isn’t just the games that make the pennies fly out of your account, either; consoles are on a whole other level. While it’s fair to say they are probably a lot cheaper than they could be given the wealth of technological gubbins packed away inside, they still endeavour to thieve a hefty chunk of your bank balance when you make the jump and upgrade. Only for your hardware of choice to unceremoniously mock you a short while down the line with their various red rings, yellow lights or who knows what for PS4 or Xbox One (but touch wood on that one for now).
You are then left with another bill to foot in order to repair or replace the stricken machine, once again taking a bit of your hard earned cash with it. Don’t forget that those of you with your new Microsoft or Sony machines are playing on largely untested hardware. No one foresaw the hardware failures exhibited by the Xbox 360 and PS3 so maybe it’s worth keeping a bit of money to the side just in case. But you know, fingers crossed and all that.
Add to that all those £9.99 map packs, £1.59 costumes or skins and whatever else the game tries to monetise and all those “well it’s only a little bit of money” buying decisions soon stack up. Suddenly you’re considering selling a kidney on the black market just to ensure that you can ease the financial strain of driving that new car, firing that new weapon or ensuring your character has a fancy new outfit. But we don’t learn, do we? Next time there’s another DLC pack that tickles our fancy we come back running and snap it up.
Of course there are a few ways to get a good deal. Those of you who prefer a PC to a console benefit greatly from the, frankly ridiculous, Steam Sales. While Sony and Microsoft’s attempts at big savings frankly pale in comparison, their efforts to offer a good deal are improving. Sony’s PlayStation Plus is the most obvious bittersweet way to spend and save. While it is an undisputedly great saving in the long term, it is still £40 a year that you need to factor in somewhere in order to play online.
But it isn’t just the games and consoles is it? Once gaming becomes your primary hobby a new smorgasbord of game related purchases rise to the surface. Want to play with someone else when LittleBigPlanet 3 lands? You’re going to need a second controller so that’s another £50. Want to try out The Playroom? That will need the new PlayStation Camera and another £50 to throw at the vendor. While they aren’t vital components to your gaming experience, it is always nice to be fully kitted out and so having to shell out another lump of cash stings a fair bit.
I dread to think just how much money I have spent on gaming over the years, but do you know what? I don’t really mind, which is almost as crazy in itself! My bank balance may have taken a beating over the years thanks to games and gaming but am I prepared to say that I’ll give up gaming to save some cash? Not in the slightest, and I guarantee I’m not the only one.
What are some of your personal gaming grievances? Ash will be back with more of his own tomorrow.