Bad Games Happen
Bad games may happen, but they are still games, and I still love them. This is a matter that has recently been brought to my attention by the lovely man who sits to my right and watches me play videogames which, when put like that, sounds kind of dodgy. Thankfully, it’s not a stalker but, rather, my friendly neighbourhood Tom, who has declared in all of his wisdom that I like bad games.
I must admit, I can’t seem to find any evidence that he’s wrong. Not only have I enjoyed the generally (and in my opinion unfairly) maligned Aliens: Colonial Marines, I take great pleasure from often revisiting the wholly uninspired world of Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2: Ken’s Ragier. If that were not enough ammunition, I tend to find it rather difficult to enjoy titles that are much more widely loved than the likes of Aliens: Ken’s Ragier. Things that others hold as the purist examples of the joy that gaming provides – games like the Mass Effect Trilogy and BioShock (but only the first one) – generally leave me feeling uninspired and itching to dive back into the b-movie thrills of whatever slightly crap game I’m thoroughly enjoying at the time.
That’s not to say that I don’t respect the amount of work and, yes, the high quality that works like Mass Effect display, and I’m certainly in awe at the sort of reactions they can inspire. After all, I’m pretty sure that Ken’s Ragier would never provoke anything vaguely near that sort of scale, even if they did something really controversial like screw about with the storyline that so many fans know and love.
Another factor to consider is that over the last few months I have found a great deal of pleasure in diving into the Mass Effect universe, though I still cannot bring myself to actually play the bloody game. Instead I lived vicariously through my friendly neighbourhood Tom, watching and marveling as he began yet another journey in the shoes of Commander Shepard for the umpteenth time. I was given a window into a world that I had never been engaged enough to truly enter, and simply by experiencing the beginnings of Shepard’s story at an angle slightly down and to the left of where I would usually be, I gained a new-found admiration for Mass Effect. You might even go so far as to say I fell in love, just a little.
Perhaps I am simply a man with a lot of love to go around, but it seems to me that I can love even the games that I do not necessarily like, and it strikes me that perhaps this is a good thing. All too often little things get in the way of simply loving games and gaming itself. Dante’s hair, for example, or Lara Croft’s miraculous leap backwards in time (and cup size) are sparks that all too often ignite wars of words that last for weeks and months, and cut all too deep.
It’s obvious that as the tides of this generation begin to recede to be replaced with the waters of a newer one that this is just the beginning of the battles that lie ahead of us. The Playstation steadfast will clash time and time again with the Xbox faithful, and those encounters will be nothing less than brutal, and that is without even factoring in the guerrilla tactics that will doubtless be employed by the outsiders who believe only in the Wii U. This has happened time and time again and as we survived then we will survive now, but even as the battle drums are beginning their heavy beat an alternative path cries out to be heard.
There is love enough in our hearts for all games and the devices that they are played upon. Why do we insist on fighting when we could simply enjoy the vast riches that we have been blessed with already? It is in the nature of man to fight, yes, but why then should we simply settle for being men (and women – no sexism here)? We could be so much more. We could be Gamers. Brothers. Sisters. Countrymen. I’m no Julius Caesar, and I’m sure as nuts not going to start an epic speech here, but I implore you nevertheless to think of the possibilities! Those who give their allegiance to the Playstation could rejoice at the release of a new Halo game, for they would know that it brings happiness to their Xbox beholden brethren. And when Nathan Drake inevitably sets off once again, the Xbox crowd could smile jovially, for they would be pleased to see their friends and fellow gamers so overwhelmingly – and bizarrely – happy. And even those strange, odd folk who love their Wii Us could crack a smile (a small one, mind you) when they see their gaming brotherhood so full of smiling faces.
It would be a Utopia, a place so perfect it brings tears to my eyes at the very thought. Future generations would not speak in hushed tones of the console wars, instead acknowledging them openly as a dark time in our history; one we have learned and moved on from. They would not be segregated based on brand, or genre, but would peacefully in the bliss of a nation of gamers, content merely to play games and enjoy them for what they are.
Truly it is a vision of greatness, a wonderful future than we can all work towards achieving together. It will take effort, yes, to not crow about how much better my console is than yours. It will be tough to resist the urge to mock when a tasty console exclusive makes its way out into the open to be devoured by those lucky enough to have the right console. And yes, it will be a great test of mental strength to stand silent when mocked by those who do not understand the beauty of gaming, and are instead dragged under by fanboyism and hatred. But the goal is worth the effort it will take, and one day when we are sitting together and discussing just how great gaming has become we will look back upon this time with great fondness, for the struggle will make the final result all the better. There will be happiness, contentedness and plenty of games. There will even be a place for the snobs who remain aloof with their PCs, should they deign to join us in our Utopia.
And maybe, just maybe, somebody else will love Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 as much as I do.
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