“Gamers are Dumb”
"Gamers are dumb. We are collectively dumb, and we will continue to buy pieces of shit, over and over and over". Bree Royce. Editor-in-Chief/Writer Massively Overpowered. This quote is from Massively OP Podcast Episode 203: New Year, Same Old Loot. At first glance it’s a bold, even inflammatory statement but when taken in context it makes a lot of sense. The framing discussion in the podcast is about Fallout 76 and the fact that despite the criticism from the gaming community about the broken state of the game, none of it really counts for squat because it will still sell well and make Bethesda a great deal of money. The underlying point is that gamers actively contribute to perpetuating the ongoing iniquities of game developers and publishers, by their contradictory actions. It’s a point that has been made time and time again over recent years and yet despite its broad acknowledgement, nothing really changes. I would go further and say that this “gamer paradox” is simply another symptom of a broader malaise that has crept into every facet of our lives. We have gotten so use to “I want it all and I want it now” culture, that the idea of having to deny ourselves to make a point, has become for many an unpalatable and unrealistic option.
The established mantra of “voting with your wallet” does lack nuance and at first glance render debates about lobbying gamer developers into a binary argument. Effecting change is often more complex than that, but that is not to say that withholding funds is without leverage. The video game service industry is heavily focused and invested in pre-order culture as well as selling multiple iterations of games. Title often launch in a broken or unfinished state and early access culture has exacerbated this, blurring the lines with soft launches. Not purchasing a product until it was fit for purpose would certainly make an impact and get noticed. But because a large percentage of gamers are simple incapable of saying “no” or denying themselves, they continue to support an industry with ludicrous business practices. When you have such an infantilised playerbase that lacks the emotional literacy to forgo a product because they “don’t want to miss out”, how can you possibly expect a corporate entity not to capitalise on that?
This weird, dysfunctional relationship between customers who enable the questionable business practises of their service providers is not unique to gamers. I’ve heard similar complaints from sports fans about the cost of season tickets and club merchandise. Yet so many, despite their verbal protests, end up towing the line and putting their hand in their pockets. Similarly, cinematic audiences are allegedly tiring of comic book adaptation and super hero movies, yet the box office returns seem to strongly indicate otherwise. It seems that cognitive dissonance is a common bed fellow to most multi million-dollar leisure industries. And the net result of all this is that the actions of those who choose to withhold their hard-earned cash, ultimately counts for nothing. They still have to endure the consequences perpetuated by those who decide to do the opposite. Hence, the race to the bottom and the lowest common denominator prevail. Therefore, it does not seem unreasonable to expect more shitty video games and questionable business practises in 2019. If you lie with dogs you get fleas, as the saying goes.