When you spend as much time in and around real and virtual gaming communities as I do, there are always going to be things that get on your nerves. I used to get really irritated by some of the stuff I read in enthusiast forums. I’m a bit older these days, and my priorities have changed; I’m not going to pretend I have the most complicated of lives, but I do have the occasional issue which demands headspace – certainly over the latest hot take on ResetEra, anyway.
There’s one consistent trait that continues to irritate me about gaming enthusiasts, though: a deep-rooted resistance to change. This dates back as far as I can remember, but I most recall being frustrated by it with the Nintendo Wii; the system’s eventual success was inevitable to anyone who’d watched casual experiences like SingStar and Buzz explode on the PlayStation 2, but it was a laughing stock for the longest time – I didn’t ever really understand why.
I mean, I had my own issues with the motion controlled system, but they were more to do with the product’s overall execution than the underlying idea. I actually still think technology like the PlayStation Move is neat – even now, I’m astounded when I’m able to wave my hands around in 3D space via PlayStation VR – and it’s why I’m hoping Sony introduces an upgraded set of wands for the PlayStation 5. That will depend on whether the company continues its commitment to virtual reality.
But that’s another one, isn’t it? If I got a dollar for every time I read unfounded criticism of PSVR, then I’d be writing this article from the bosom of my own tropical island. I understand we all have different tastes, but I feel there are corners of the gaming community that actively want the technology to fail. Why? I think it comes from a place of fear; there seems to be this unsettling idea among a vocal few that virtual reality could come and take away traditional gaming experiences.
That was never, ever going to be the case, though – it’s an additive option, and one I happen to be fond of. When I think about the people who are most likely to be PlayStation enthusiasts, I picture early adopters: the kind of consumers who have to be on the cutting edge of every technology paradigm, and need the latest gadgets and gizmos – no matter how unnecessary they may be. So where does this fear of change stem from? Why do so many despise things that dare to be different?
My frustration has been rekindled by the discourse surrounding Death Stranding, which has been eye-rolling to say the least. I understand that Hideo Kojima has, for reasons I can’t fully grasp yet, transitioned from a legend of the industry to a parasite in the eyes of some; he has a personality that could rub some the wrong way, and while I don’t fully understand the extent of the loathing I’ve been reading, I understand why some may be critical of his character.
The criticism of his new game from people who haven’t played it has been absurd to me, though. Look, I haven’t touched the title yet, so I still don’t know which side of the Chiral Network I’m going to sit – but I’m undeniably excited by the idea of trying something different. I’m in a privileged position where I can afford to take a punt, but even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be ragging on the release for being different; as someone who often complains the AAA space has gotten stale, I applaud the arrival of a new idea.
Here’s the thing: I’m not saying you need to buy Death Stranding or even like it. Instead I’m simply posing a question: why are so many terrified of it? Every week I see people complain about the UK charts being dominated by franchises like FIFA and Call of Duty; aren’t we all, as a community, eager for something to upset the status quo? Aren’t we tired of the same old mechanics centred on platforming and shooting? Don’t we want the industry to innovate?
Death Stranding may not be that game; PSVR may not be that product. Both deserve criticism, I’m sure, for a multitude of reasons. But in the case of Kojima’s latest, isn’t it ironic that a title designed around the idea of bringing people together is pulling them apart? I don’t know what’s wrong with this community – it longs for change yet rejects anything different. You don’t have to like everything, of course not – I’m just arguing, perhaps, we should all keep a more open mind moving forwards.
Do you share Sammy's frustration with some corners of the gaming community, or are you one of those who's sceptical of new ideas? Reject anything and everything out of the ordinary in the comments section below.