All About dr-bones
Go on, you know you want to. Look at this demo- See all the fun this player is having? That could be you for the price of just one coin. Look at all the cool moves the characters have. Wouldn't that make you feel great to be able to control such power? Oh, look! Here's the scoreboard. You could do better than those guys couldn't you? Sure you could. You could be on top of the scoreboards for all to see. All you have to do is insert one single coin, and you could live like a king... What's that? Game over already?? I'm going to need you to insert more coins to continue. You can't quit yet, you're only getting started..."
9... 8... 7... 6... 5... "You'd better hurry up" ... 4... 3... 2... *plink* "Ah, I knew you'd come back. They always do!"
The video game industry was always about grabbing as much cash as possibe. This has been happening since day one. In the arcades you'd pump coin after coin into a machine that was designed to kill you with absolutely no mercy. But you'd happily empty your wallet into this mechanical thief in order to improve and become better at the game in question. Gamers and giving up easy never really mixed. We are often a lot more persistent than we are smart. We like to think we can outsmart and outgun the game... Even though we are often very wrong. And so the games developers had their wallets stroked.
Fast forward twenty years or so and things are really starting to get out of hand. Gone are the days when a gamers needed a pocket full of coins and an insatable lust to win, instead gaming is done from the comfort of one's own home. With a warm mug of coffee and a joypad, hours on end are still spent beating up fighters, dismembering monsters and shooting down enemy planes. But the developers' greed has never changed. If it has, it's been for the worst. They seem to have declared war on gamers, on their very costumers, over the last number of years. And to these ears, their war-cry sounds something like this: "Gamers buy second hand games, therefore you are all ciminals!" They claim that second hand games are severely effecting their sales. That their only way to retort is to simply start attacking their fan-base. To me, this seems outragous.
I'll admit that a huge bulk of my gaming collection is second hand. Why? Because I simply can't afford to cough up 50euros for each and every game that looks like I might enjoy it. Hell, I can barely afford half of that for a fair few of my favourite games. Plenty of the games that I've bought second hand wouldn't have been worth full price to begin with. I'd rather not spend a huge amount of cash on a game, bring it home, and find out that it's awful and absolutely no fun to play. That's quite a lot of cash to simply flush down the toilet.
Am I to blame for developers striking back at the world's gamers? No! (ok, maybe a little...). Their greed is to blame. Most games sell a massive amount in their opening week. After that, just like DVDs and CDs, their sales drop. Regardless of wheather or nother there's a second hand market, those sales will drop substantually. If those same developers could sell a game to me at twice it's opening week price, they surely would! Yet, their war rages on.
This "war" seems completely unfair to their costumers. Lets take Resident Evil: Mercenaries as an example. This game can only be started once! For your well earned 50euros (dollors/pounds/whatever), you can only begin RE: Mercenaries once ever. You could debate that this is an arena ****game where the aim of the game is to beat high scores, therefore you'd never need to strat fresh, but my argument is simply why? Why can't I delete my old file and start fresh? Why can't I begin again from scratch and unlock all the items and beat the built in scores again? The answer seems to be to avoid trade-in sales. I don't want to buy a game where I all weapons and characters are already unlocked and waiting for me. A game were I have to attempt to beat the previous owners scores. I don't want to play that way because it wouldn't be any fun. Therefore, If I wanted to enjoy this game, I'd have to buy it fresh, yet I could never re-start... The fun would soon fade because I couldn't delete my old file and the game would find itself buried in my collection, gathering dust... But Capcom would already have my money, so why would they care about poor old gamers like us?
I've heard there are also plans to release day-one DLC weapons for some online shooter games. Weapons which (so the rumours claim) will be the best in the game, therefore making it insanely unfair on poeple who don't buy this game first hand, as they's be connon fodder for first hand buyers.
Another example is Alice: Madness Returns. I'm quite a big fan of this game. Fatastic platorming, beautiful visuals, imaginative enemies, and an all in all fantastic game. A great break from the norm in today's market which is severely over-populated with military First Person Shooter games. The problem is, that it again is an attack on those using second hand games. I bought this game first hand, because I really liked what I'd seen of it in trailers. I was quite impressed that they had added the original American Mcgee's Alice game into the purchase too. If you didn't buy it first hand, then you could pay to buy it online. Sounds reasonable enough, but there are achievements attached to the original game. Therefore if you buy it second hand and decide against paying an extra 12euros or so on the original, then you can never unlock all the achievements. You can never truely complete the game. This is an incredible suckerpunch those who purchase it second hand. Already paid for the game? Now you've got to pay some more to complete it.
These moves are incredible low, and selfish on the behalf of the developers. For keeping them in business (not just any business, but the biggest media business in the world at the moment. The very same one that makes more money than Hollywood on an annual basis), they repay us by looking down their noses at us and treating us like ciminals. I won't be surprised if some day I buy a game, play it to the last level, only to discover that I have to pay to download the last level and finish the game. This makes me concerned as a consumer, downright annoyed and as a gamer, and offeded as a life-long fan of the induustry. What's more though, it makes me worried about what their next move could be in their war against their own fans...
You check the doors again to make sure they are locked, and you peek out the window while keeping out of sight. You know it's out there. You can hear it devouring the flesh of your dead friends. It's been a few minutes now since the screaming stopped, so there's no question about it- You're the only survivor! Double check your ammunition again, although you know damn well you've only got a few shotgun shells left, and a handful of bullets in your pistol. You know that this won't do enough damage to even slow that thing down, nevermind kill it, and that's taking for granted that you don't miss a single shot. There's only one chance of escape- out the back door. Even in your wounded state you could make a run for the woods, praying it doesn't spot you and give chase... What do you do? You check your ammo one last time for good luck, unbolt the door, rush into battle with the beast, and go down in a blaze of glory!
This is the typical gamer mentality. Never run away, never admit defeat. Fight, or die trying. Impossible odds mean nothing in video games. It's just another reason to go head first into battle and test your skills against waves of enemies that seem all but unstoppable. Strategically mapping out your route in your mind to maximize your chances of survival, and avoid taking damage. Huge undertakings thought through in mere mili-seconds, and often in the heat of battle.
I once read that it has been scientifically proven that gamers have the reaction times of jet-fighter pilots. I found this idea thrilling, and personally took it as a compliment. To think that an entertainment medium which is widely frowned upon can ignite such reactions in it's players. Speed and agility born within the mind of a hardened gamer, which actually matches that of the military. Add to this the twenty/twenty vision in which most gamers develop through years of practice. Spotting a camouflaged enemy at night who is ducking for cover behind a wall from half a map away, and killing him with a single bullet as you run by- This is no amazing feat for most players. In fact, it's just part of our day to day lives. We could do this a number of times within an hour's play-time, and think nothing of it.
This makes me think about the age-old theory of how video games are training their players to become soldiers in the future, while simultaneously numbing their minds to violence. These attributes would be amazing on a real life battle field. The afore mention eye sight, the reaction times that would put most felines to shame, and the lack of a conscience which has (apparently) deteriorated over the years by laying waste to pixelated foes in the most gruesome ways possible. Mix these with physical military training which one would need to receive upon joining the army, and this almost sounds like super-soldier material. The kinda stuff you'd read about in sci-fi novels.
I guess the one thing that's severely over-looked in this conspiracy theory is gamers' suicidal tendencies. Our all-or-nothing way of thinking. We don't believe in failure, and we'll die quickly in an attempt to achieve our goals. We'll take all in our hands, and with a swift burst of adrenaline, we'll charge towards overwhelming odds, and greet death with open arms, if need be. In the gaming world, this often pays off. However, in reality this would lead to a lot of people falling to their deaths like heavily armed lemmings. Perhaps that was is the plan all along, make us nothing more than cannon fodder with heightened senses. If so, then it could be the worlds quickest war, where every combatant thinks he is Rambo. If not, then the battle field will be quickly littered with the bodies of young gamers who simply had more pride than sense.
It's the dead of winter. December 1st to be exact. The nights are long, and seem amost perpetual. The darkness constantly lurking outside my window, tauting me as if it has defeated the sun. Strangely enough, the snow-covered streets make it feel darker still, as opposed to brightening the view. And I indulge in some heavy duty gaming.
In this day and age, gaming cares very little for the single player experience. Instead, it enjoys bringing people together from all over the world to test their skills against on another. The strong make a mockery of the weak, and the weak practice to become the strong. One man rarely stands alone on a battlefield these days. Left 4 Dead laughed at the idea of a single player experience, cursing it with terrible AI, and thus forcing people to game together. Even the likes of Street Fighter has introduced team battles to get strangers to work together to beat their opponents. I'd imagine the tag team system in the upcoming Mortal Kombat game will also work to this effect. Having two players on each side, as opposed to having each player controlling two characters. And through these ideas, friendships are rivalries are created.
Everybody who plays Live has, at one point or another, encountered some players that they simply despise. Players that love to bend or break the rules in order to secure a win. Players who be overly aggressive while chatting on the headset, and/or send abusive messages after the game. Even players on the same team who have their own agenda (usually in the pursuit of achievements), and will savatage the match to achieve this. But it's the ones with the big mouths that really get me thinking. The ones who threaten other players, and think they're invincible. Now, don't get me wrong, I love a bit of in-game arguing- The kind of banter that you'd expect to hear between a superhero and villian during a fight. But when it comes to actually the threatening the player behind the screen as a person, as opposed to as a character on screen, it seems a step too far.
On the other hand, there can be some great friendships made from this type of gaming. There are a few people on my friends list that I really enjoy gaming with. Guys from Texas, France, and even a few from my hometown which I've never met in real life, yet had hours of fun running and gunning, or trading punches with.
But that's just it really. That's what I've been trying to get at here- The fact that I've never met these people. Of course, I also have a few of my actual friends on Xbox Live too, guys who I hang out with, trade texts with, go drinking with, and above all else, trust. But what about the ones I've never met? The ones who I could pass by in the street, and never know the difference. Who are they? Would I even enjoy their company while not gaming?
More importantly, what about the enimies? The ones I've had to mute in order to keep my sanity. The ones that follow me from game to game so that they can continue bugging the hell outta me. The ones who threaten the player behind the screen. Who are they? What would it be like if you were chatting about video games with a stranger in a bar, only to exchange gamertags and find out that you've been in conflict with this guy before... And it didn't end well? Would you simply shake hands and claim what happens in the game stays in the game? Or would all that hatered come flooding back?
The strange thing is though, when the console is turned off, these people disappear, and I'm surrounded by those farmiliar four walls. It seems suddenly quiet, and as I look out my window I see the the darkness taunt me from above the snow once more. When we go Live and interact with all these different strangers and friends from around the globe, are we really alive? Are we really amoung the living, or simply fooling oursleves into thinking we are? Hiding behind fake names, and perhaps even fake personalities. Is Xbox Live even the correct name to call it, perhaps Xbox Lie would be more suitable?
It's the dead of winter. December 1st to be exact...
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