I’d like to think that we’ve gotten far beyond the point of an “Indie Game Revolution” now. These games, despite their lower public profile and lack of big label backing should be, and largely are, woven into the larger quilt that makes up gaming as a whole. There is still a chance, however, that some of you were too busy picking your leaky sphincters and sniffing your fingers – getting locked into that dangerous behaviour loop to such an extent that you may have slept on some titles. Never fear: my crowing, self-superior must-play list has arrived.
Phil Harrison, European XBOX Chief, in all of his shiny-headed wisdom has hired British TV personality Jonathan Ross for some sort of bullshit executive producer position. He’s going to challenge the way games are made. I don’t know what’s going on any more.
I feel like I’ve just emerged from another womb; a womb of my own creation, fitted with a plasma screen and an XBOX 360: filled with the stench of my own self-loathing and regret. Yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of GTA V lately, so much so that I forgot I had a duty to talk shit about video games and pontificate like you all gave one. Despising myself as I was, but conveniently blaming GTA V at the same time, I was surprised to find out that the game hadn’t just fucked up my life, but the industry as a whole.
A vulgar response to a vulgar practice, right? No term sours my gaming experience more than ‘micro-transaction’: something about the idea of paying real money for virtual items just irks me. Call it an out dated, desperate grasp on the good ol’ days, or just plain xenophobia, but it’s an idea that I have real difficulty getting on board with. If solid old school mechanics taught me one thing, it’s that persistence and skill can overcome most hurdles, but very soon, the norm could become dropping a few sheckles to defeat that boss or snag that upgrade instead.
It probably goes without saying (but I will anyway) that most of our formative experiences with video games stem from childhood. Whether it was skipping school to hike to the nearest Street Fighter II cabinet, or locking yourself in your room to explore the vast kingdom of Hyrule, most of us will have some key memory that comes to define what games are to us and they would have been formed at a pretty young age. For me, they were worlds of wonder; simple though they may have been, they unlocked my imagination more than any teacher-fed book could ever hope to do. And though I find myself fawning over the ability to now play as a fully fledged criminal in the online space, I still think the contemporary world of video games is incredibly limited, at least for children.
Something has happened to me lately, something that is causing me to feel old; dusty; a withered nut suck harping on about how the purity of gaming is becoming lost. I hate myself for it, but struggle as I might, it seems that I can’t make sense of something. I can’t explain what is going on with Bungie’s newest game –Destiny.
My neon-lit, arcade childhood was a world where winners didn’t do drugs and the baddest kind of dudes were the ones that ended up rescuing the president. A generation of regular Snake Plisskens. Now, one of the most anticipated games of the entire generation looms on the horizon, but GTA V isn’t offering us the chance to be a hero, rather, it’s giving us the chance to be the criminal badass of our dreams. There’s no denying it: being a criminal is a shit-load of fun.
Life, as I’ve come to learn, is often a cruel minefield of disappointment; full of strategically placed traps and the worst kind of surprises. Naturally, I’ve gravitated towards video games: a hobby that offers me a portal into worlds in which I can at least wield some modicum of control. Even when I fuck it all up, there’s a second chance. Still, these worlds aren’t without heartbreak, they still host plenty of the kind of girls your mother warned you about.
So, I’ve finally done it. Almost devoid of ideas and convinced that the ones I do have are far too pretentious, I find myself writing a ‘What Are You Playing?’ column. Lynch me now if this sort of thing offends you, or feel free to funnel praise up my willing arsehole if you dig it. I might find myself at the bottom of this particular barrel on more occasions than I’d like.
So, about that new XBOX.
Only a week ago, Microsoft managed to enrage what seemed like the entire gaming sector of the internet with the announcement of the XBOX One. Now, for the non-gamers out there, the window-shopper if you will (otherwise why the fuck would you be reading this?) I should inform you that gamers, on the whole, are a fairly irrational bunch. Whereas most consumers can happily walk away from a product that just isn’t right for them, gamers – as part of their perpetual, existential quest – will desperately search for logic and some sort of conclusion as to why they shall not be purchasing the next new console. If anything, it’s almost as if we’re struggling to comprehend the idea that we’ve been told we can’t have the XBOX One: its list of baffling, anti-consumer ‘features’ being part of an effort to politely tell us to fuck off.