6 November 2009

Tabloid roulette and the demise of PC gaming...

I've come to a conclusion: Modern Warfare 2 is the tabloid of first person shooters. Not only that, but it's not the only game to be this way....

Shock! Horror! Teh boycotts!

Anyway, i think you might understand why i think this if you read my reasons.

First, tabloids thrive on appealing to the lowest common denominator. They keep their language and punctuation at a low level because there are a lot of poorly literate people out there and they don't want to alienate those people by making them feel stupid. Hence their stories and writing are geared towards those people and the media interests in their lives. They also prey on fear and ignorance by using sensationalist tactics which they defend as "thought-provoking" and "challenging/hard-hitting" journalism.

Believe it or not i think this sort of tacit reinforcement of low levels of fact and literacy makes people more ignorant and fearful. It also makes them more likely to keep on using these "resources" as they go forward in their lives as opposed to more challenging resources that they might find boring and difficult at first but which they would never give a chance because they immediately dismiss the resource and switch back to their comfortable media.

I view the continuing pre-release of Modern Warfare 2 in the same light. They're utilising sensationalism in their "play as a terrorist" aspect, for one thing (we'll have to wait for the rest of the game to be leaked or released to really find out if this theme is extended) and also in their F.A.G.S. grenade video. They, through the implementation of IW.net and the non-support of modders and dedicated servers, are dumbing the audience of the game down - appealing to only the lowest common denominator which reinforces the uneducatedness of the general gaming population.
I mean, if you look at the history of gaming and modding, the modding community has always been very small but (and perhaps this is just my opinion) has usually been spawned from the larger, more popular games like Unreal Tournament, Doom, Quake, Total Annihilation, Command and Conquer, Warcraft, X-wing, and Diablo. These modding communities become larger as time goes by because there is the support from PC developers there and their games are not walled gardens devoid of any content outside of those boundaries. From these pools of modders (aside from lengthening the game's lifespan) new blood and ideas flow into the development community, it's not just some sink of pirates and jackasses that alter "your game" and by stopping that and not supporting those people or new modders to get into gaming you're (whether intentionally or not) partially strangling the future of game development where one of the avenues to get into gaming is removed.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence then, when there are so many companies turning their back on the PC and PC development, that Epic have released their software development kit (SDK) for their engines as free for all modders and non-commercial releases in a similar vein to id's engine licensing. It's certainly strange when considering that Epic are practically a console-only development house these days and have certainly scaled back their presence on the PC. Maybe there's still hope for the future of traditional (not mini- or casual games) PC gaming if the gamers themselves will release free games as proof of concepts or just fun projects before moving on to be snatched up by the "real" game companies.

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