Videogames: Loving the Art, Hating the Business
Over the years, I’ve been accused of “bias” against pretty much every platform holder. One week I’m an anti-Sony fanboy, the next I’ve been paid by Sony to hate on Microsoft and Nintendo. I simultaneously have an agenda against the PS Vita and the 3DS, while secretly rooting for both of them at the same time. What many folk fail to understand is that I love pretty much every game system released this generation, and that when they see me “hating” on any of them, it’s usually out of frustration due to that very love. Handheld gaming is one of my favorite things, and when I think of the 3DS, I get excited just to know it exists. But when I think of the demented way in which Nintendo handled the eShop, the lack of software support, and the general lack of anything to do with the system, I get angry, and spiteful. I want to see these systems be successful, and treated well, and I want a reason to power them on. When I see a threat to that, I get nasty. Same with the PS Vita, which had a significant launch library of mostly tech demos with very little of note on the horizon. Sony’s child-like attitude toward its hardware, where it’ll release something and then wander off to do something more interesting, has held back its handheld efforts for quite some time, and it pisses me off. It pisses me off because I like the Vita, and just want more reasons to keep using it.
I’ve noticed that many gamers have a bit of an issue with separating the art and the business. It seems, with increasing regularity, that if you criticize one aspect of a game, you’ll get accused of hating everything about that game. But we should understand that we can still love a game while hating various aspects of it. We can still enjoy a bit of software while disliking the cloud of bullshit floating around it. I’ll see someone criticize a minor detail in a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect 3, and then have to fight off enraged fanboys who won’t hear a single bad word said against their favorite product. That’s a really bad attitude to have, and one that’s harmful to progress in the industry. Being able to criticize something you love is valuable, far more valuable than accepting absolutely every fault and never asking for better. Nothing improves that way. Nobody has an incentive to change.
If you’re a PS3 fan, it’s okay to admit that there are things about the PS3 you don’t like, be it the frequent firmware updates, messy XMB, or anything else you might feel could be better. It’s okay to say that the PS3 is a good bit of hardware, held back by some shitty business decisions. Nobody’s going to take your fan badge away from you, and you will help end the attitude that customers will gratefully lap up any old shit that’s served to them. You don’t have to defend the DLC practices of your favorite game, and you don’t have to love Electronic Arts just because you love Medal of Honor. You can enjoy videogames, and still criticize the business, if you want to. It’s not a joint package.
That’s why I still play, and talk about, videogames. In spite of all the rage and venom, in spite of spending so often complaining. I do it because I love games as art, and hate games as business. I shall still play them for many years to come, and I shall still likely hate the people responsible for my playing them. Because this industry could be better, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect it.