Written by Ash Wood.
Next up in my gathering of gaming grievances are the stars of the show, in the form of the actual games themselves. They are by no means innocent culprits in this often infuriating saga. With a worrying number of triple A titles accompanied by a deluge of bugs, faults and game breaking glitches, day one patches are about as commonplace as can be.
In theory this is fine, it allows a game to go gold without a delay and offers the development team an opportunity to fix known and new issues effectively (sometimes) and promptly (even less common). But it isn’t the perfect solution if you are unable to download the patch.
I’m sure we’ve all been hit with internet downtime which can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to weeks if you’ve picked a particularly lackadaisical service provider. You shouldn’t have to think far back to a time where you bought a new game, got it home, removed its cellophane packaging and inserted it into the console only to be told you’ll have to wait for a multi-gigabyte patch to download and install at a glacial pace before you can partake in its delights.
It is however the norm now, and there is very little any of us can do about it other than sit there in a huff as the progress bar slowly creeps along. When your gaming time is limited thanks to all the pressures of a busy modern day life, spending a portion of that precious free time glancing up at the word ‘Downloading’ over and over while absentmindedly refreshing Twitter on your phone is definitely not ideal.
Once you’re finally all up to date and can safely venture into a functional title and are merrily shooting, drifting, slashing, scoring, journeying or whatever else it is you choose to do in games you will soon end up hitting one of those game mechanics or levels that drive you crazy.
Escort missions are one of those; a commonplace format that forces you to help someone who is clearly biologically predisposed with an inability to hold a weapon as you encounter swathes of ruthless enemies who choose to aim solely for your new best friend. All the while the far too few lines of canned dialogue are repeated endlessly every time their entirely uncooperative body gets in the way of a bullet or seven until you feel rather happy about them being a crumpled heap on the floor. Just thinking about this kind of game mechanic is enough to push me over the edge.
Then there are collectibles. Seemingly countless little ‘treasures’ with no real bearing on the game. which are often vital for a power up or upgrade late in the course of your playthrough. And no doubt it’s one of those powers you always forget that you have since you managed to muddle your way through the vast majority of the game without it anyway.
Yes, they may be an effective way to extend the length of the game and let you play in that world for longer but only through an unimaginative and fundamentally cheap way. It’s hardly an alternative to a couple of well put together story missions.
But that’s not all, don’t for a minute forget the business behind the games we all know and love. While we all know that gaming is, first and foremost, a business and so money making practices are perfectly justifiable, it’s hard to not get annoyed by them from time to time. Minute changes to iterative titles such as Call of Duty and sports franchises which are released a year later at full retail price are frustrating to say the least.
Especially when, in some cases, the changes could have been patched in instead. Even with fully new titles, created from the ground up, there is reason to be upset about the content on the disc. DLC which is ready for launch but held back in order to generate some extra revenue makes clear and sound sense from a business perspective but with the price you pay for a game it would be nice if it included everything they had made.
Last, but by no means least, one of my biggest grievances is gamers themselves. That’s right, you lot. Granted, this is enormously less prevalent in this quiet, calm and welcoming cul-de-sac of the world wide web that is TSA, but if you stray into comments sections of any of the major gaming websites you will quickly come to realise how far too many gamers act. Selfish, ungrateful and full of more vitriol than I can fathom, they lie in wait hiding behind a screen name eager to shout abuse and complain at any given opportunity.
Take a look at any PlayStation Blog post pertaining to network downtime or even a store update and you will see just how much the average gamer has come to expect for free and how little they feel they should have to give up, albeit temporarily. While I understand that network downtime is often at a stupid hour for us Europe-dwelling folk, it’s only inevitable that it would be a bad time to have no connection for some portion of the globe whenever they chose to hit the big off switch.
To be honest it makes me embarrassed, I am embarrassed for them: to outsiders we are represented by the most vocal and visible commenters and far too often those that attract the attention of your average person, and the press, as I mentioned before, is the one making unjust and inappropriate comments and having a temper tantrum. It all plays back into the stigma we often face; how can we make people see us as mature if we cannot get a majority of gamers to convey it themselves?
It’s not just in text form though. Take a short journey into the online lobbies of the popular first person shooter of your choice and you will come across the nigh-on inescapable underage player with a penchant for using every swear word they know as often as possible and throwing in some racist terms to just assert their perceived grandeur even further. They like to call these domains home and take extreme pleasure in spoiling your experience by beating you and then forcefully and repeatedly rubbing your nose in it.
If, by some small miracle, you manage to find yourself in a quiet corner of the matchmaking system away from these juvenile jesters, you still aren’t safe. You will undoubtedly be faced with exploitative teammates who will either refuse to help you out where needed or prefer to go for solo glory rather than working as a team. If only all the simulated co-op and online experiences you see from gameplay demos and E3 conferences were real and not the unattainable dream then the realm of online play with other gamers would not be so objectionable to so many.
It’s not only first person shooters, either. How often is the first corner of any racing game not a multi car pileup reminiscent of Destruction Derby rather than Gran Turismo? All because someone thought it would be a laugh to plow through the opposition at the first possible opportunity rather than racing clean and fair. It’s irritating, it’s unnecessary and it’s certainly something that spoils the gameplay and drives me mad.
And then finally there are the pseudo-gamers; those who call themselves gamers but insist the best and only worthwhile games are each year’s iteration of FIFA and Call of Duty. Those that complain Uncharted has too much talking and not enough warfare, Skyrim is too big and empty or LittleBigPlanet is just a game for kids.
These are the people that miss out on real gems year in, year out and yet claim to be hardcore gamers. While I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and entitled to like whichever games or franchises they wish, I find it hard to believe that I am the only one who gets frustrated by these people. I find that I want to just force them to play to something different and let them appreciate what they are avoiding.
All these annoyances that frustrate and upset me in equal measure really do add up but at the end of the day can I really say I hate gaming? Not in the slightest. I love gaming, and while it may have areas that annoy us all, we are here on TheSixthAxis and we continue to play games because we love it despite these issues.
What do you guys think, what do you hate about video games?