The Tedium of April Fool's Day
Many of the traditions that we maintain as a society, started off with honest intentions. Such things as public holidays, religious observance or the simple celebration of a particular group or ideal are prime examples. Inevitably the meaning of these traditions becomes diluted over time and they more often than not become exercises in marketing or tedious institutions perpetuated by those with a specific agenda. For me April Fool's Day is the embodiment of this concept. An exquisitely unfunny ritual that is inflicted upon us by those who don't realise (or care) that the activity is totally arbitrary. I hate the concept of organised fun. And that it’s something to be martialled and stage managed by self-appointed arbiters. Furthermore, I despise the accompanying mindset that if you somehow don't enjoy yourself, or wish to participate in the ensuing charade, you are somehow lacking or a "killjoy". Both concepts are flawed and morally oppressive. For me fun is something that occurs organically, and its dynamic nature eschews control and shepherding. It should not be at someone else’s expense either.
However, the video game industry loves a bandwagon and any event that they can crow bar into a game (and monetise if possible). April Fool’s Day has become yet another of these arbitrary occasions. Thus, we have everything from bogus or “prank” press releases, novelty tweets from community managers, “humorous videos” and even themed events. So far, I’ve encountered the following. An “fun” email from Niantic about a graphical upgrade coming to Pokémon GO. A press release about the upcoming Black Desert Online theme park. And a tweet from the official Path of Exile twitter account stating that they’re abandoning the development of their game as an action RPG and that it will be repurposed as a 100 player Battle Royale experience. However, it should be noted that all the above, although annoying, are things that can be avoided. Bu the developers of the MMORPG Rift, have decided to go so far as to have a little April Fool’s humour at their players expense. The game usually has no fall damage but today they’ve turned it on. Oh, how the hilarity ensues.
There are many things in life that are inflicted upon us, often against our will and without any form of redress. Governments, taxes, kids playing music on their phones out loud and the iniquities of [insert name of tediously predictable You Tuber here], to name but a few. So, I really don't want to see more of the same in gaming. If developers do feel the need to “join in the fun” of the season and insert some joke or novelty event (as with the example from Rift), then they should at least give players the option to disable it. The same way that SSG allows players to opt out of forced emotes from other players I LOTRO. That would cover all bases and buy the devs a lot of goodwill. Those who like this sort of thing can split their sides with mirth and the rest of us can be left in peace. The reason I mention this is because it’s never a good idea to upset paying customers. As for April Fool's Day, well it’s a tradition that really needs laying to rest. Does it promote comic genius or simply perpetuate uninspired, thoughtless, ubiquitous mediocrity? (No shouting out, hands up, please). If you want another cogent argument as to why this annual celebration is a cultural blight, then watch the video below by comedian and satirist John Oliver.