Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Farewell to Consoles

It's a little depressing to see something that was the foundation of my entertainment life veering away from me.

It'd be nice to think of myself as a computer gamer, but that was really only true for a few years - when computer games were good. Then came a vast wasteland of real time strategy games followed by MMORPGs - none of which are even vaguely interesting to me. I guess you could say that Blizzard killed my interest in computer games, and then killed my interest in MMORPGs. Pretty impressive for a company that actually produces good products!

So I've mostly been a console gamer. Kinda skipped the Playstation, because that's when computer games were good, but before and after that... consoles. Sure, a steady diet of indie PC games, and games that are ubiquitous cross-platform releases on the computer for modding purposes... but mostly console-oriented.

Of course I knew the PS4, NameStillStupidEvenAfterFiveYearsU, and the XBox Fucking Stupidname were all going to be aimed away from me. I'm not a "bro gamer", nor am I the "living room audience".

But seeing the consoles actually announced, seeing them come out and just totally say "BRO GAMER LIVING ROOM BRO BRO LIVING ROOM" is incredibly depressing. It really hammered home: not only am I not the core audience, they are actively blocking me out. Their features are actively things that annoy me and drive me away, and they are building their whole business strategy around telling me to go away.

I hate TV. I hate always-on social bullshit. I hate trophies. I hate water coolers. I hate that when you want to build an emotional attachment in a bro game, you have to make the buddy a dog because your humans are so inhuman that you can't bond with them. I'm interested in a tiny science fiction subset of bro shooters... oh, wait, they're going to be TV shows instead.

I hate TV.

The hardware is awesome. I want to play games on it.

But I can't. There aren't going to be any games I can play. Even the games aimed vaguely in my direction, such as RPGs or indie titles on their inevitable indie marketplace, are going to be poisoned by the "features" they must use. This isn't some kind of paranoid fantasy: games on the PS3 and 360 are already poisoned by trophy popups, scoreboards, ambient friend noise, another layer of trophies... and, of course, the omnipresent obsession with dehumanization that bleeds into every game on the console, even games which aren't about murdering people.

People thought Bioshock Infinite was awesome. To me, it was a ruined game. It was a shit game with shit mechanics further ruined by shit add-ins required to support shit social play... the part that everyone loved was the tiny kernel of humanity hiding beneath all that crap.

Well, if you released it on the computer, you wouldn't have needed the bullshit. It could have been a much shorter, more human game. But the console's restriction on content, length, trophies, marketing requirements... all of them destroyed the game. And this is the current generation of console.

The next generation of consoles literally came out and said "yeah, a lot more of that."

... Well, no.

I'm sorry, consoles. I love standalone games. I love the ritual of popping in a CD and booting up a machine and grabbing a controller. I love immersing myself in a world where there is no alt-tabbing, no keyboard, no mouse.

But that world doesn't exist any more. Those consoles don't exist any more.

There is nothing for me in this new world of big media companies force-feeding you bullshit all day. I don't like TV.

I don't like games that try to be TV.

I don't like these new consoles.

I guess I'm a computer gamer "for realz", now.

The only problem is that most of the computer games I play are small, indie games. The fat, poly-heavy AAA titles are all console-based. I need me some eye glitter from time to time.

Sure, those games come out cross-platform. But they're poisoned by consoles. The current generation consoles already stain these games with requirements for crappy play, marketing-demanded content, DLC, trophies, social play... you can take the game out of the console, but you can never take the console out of the game.

Are there going to be any epic, high-quality games on the PC in the upcoming generation?

Oh, right, MMORPGs. Just as fucking bad.

... Sigh...

I really hope indies start putting out serious eye candy, or I'll be getting plenty of vegetables but no meat in my gaming diet.

Actually, I guess that summarizes the argument. I love my older consoles. They're meat. The new consoles are high fructose corn syrup soda drinks.

I cannot deal with that. I can't pretend it's not happening, or just be okay with it. It's not the same thing, it tastes bad, and it's a company actively pushing bad shit on you in an attempt to make money more easily.

No! Gimme meat!

Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat!


Anonymous said...

I've been thinking pretty much the same thing.

The Xbox One dashboard puts "Trending" crap practically front-and-center. We have to connect to the internet once a day because...well...because. How about focusing on games? It is a "gaming console" after all, right? What happened to the days when people could just enjoy games without sharing every single thing, connecting things to Facebook? When did a game console become a trend-browsing Netflix Facebook system? It's pretty sad.

I missed out on a lot of the older consoles (wasn't allowed to have them as a kid), and now the age of "real" consoles seems to be gone. I have a little hope for the Steam Box, since Steam doesn't force too much social crap on me, but I'm not sure I need it when a PC is still going to be better.

Craig Perko said...

It makes me a little sad that you think Steam doesn't force much social crap on you, because that highlights just how high your tolerance has gotten.

Steam is awful about that stuff... it's just less awful than basically anyone else on the market.

Well, I have high hopes for crowdsourced and crowdfunded PC games. My "free range chicken" of meat.