SIONR: Narratives Games are Shit?

I was just watching a video by a YouTube page that was talking about how awful narrative games are.  And you know…it is kind of annoying that a person who is as anti-SJW as myself has to defend something that has been widely deemed to be only catering to the SJW crowd, when it isn’t.  I’m a staunch believer in the idea that there is a market for most things.  I will play Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture quite a bit, when I’m looking for some zen and to chill out.  It’s a “walking simulator” game, but one that I like to play because it’s peaceful and you get to uncover a very depressing story.  It’s also gorgeous.  Reminded me of Myst, from WAY back in the day.  Gorgeous, quiet, and something you got to explore at your own pace.

But naturally, a TON of people came out of the woodwork to condemn this game, as people did with the one that came before it – Dear Esther.  Why?  What is it about these games that just infuriates people so much?  Is it because of the simple mechanics?  Is it because of the accolades that these games have often got?  Dear Esther didn’t.  In fact, most sites I remember talked about how it was simplistic, and that hurt its score.  I never claimed that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a perfect game.  But it gave me what I was looking for.  So what is it about these games that bugs people?

Back to narrative games, I just did a review to the game The Wolf Among Us, which was loads of fun to play.  I want to experience more of that universe.  It was so much fun.  The level of enjoyment I had was well-worth the lack of complex gameplay elements.  What are people looking for?  My favorite game of last year was Life is Strange, a game that had character that I could care about, and a mystery that was engrossing.  Sure, it crashed on the ending, but what got me there was still well worth the trip.  But so many people hate these kinds of games.  Why?  What is it about games that don’t feature all the complexity of ones like Bloodborne (my second-favorite game of last year) or The Witcher III that makes people so immediately disdainful.

Part of me thinks that this ties back into the whole identity politics thing.  If the SJW crowd wasn’t what it is, then maybe people wouldn’t be so hating of narrative games.  If the SJW crowd hadn’t heaped on praise to a game like Gone Home, maybe this kind of game wouldn’t be so absolutely despised.  Looking at the evidence, I can’t help but think that these kinds of games suffer from the fact that they are associated with a community who has issues.  Now, do I think that all games in the narrative or “walking simulator” genre are good?  Hell no.  I think that Sunset was just as awful as anyone else.  Just because a game is in a genre doesn’t mean I like it.  Believe it or not, but part of me not being an SJW is that my mental faculties actually work, and I am overly critical of both the things I love and the things I hate.

It’s ironic – SJWs actually heaped on abuse to Life is Strange because it was written by men.  They don’t even like that game, but so many people associate it with that community.  This is the problem that I have with this identity politics in gaming.  Either you’re one way, or another.  These communities are becoming so ideologically gridlocked that it’s all-or-nothing anymore.  I’m starting to get why personalities like Angry Joe and Total Biscuit try to ride the middle the way they do.  A voice of moderation is what we need right about now.  We need people who are willing to listen to what all sides have to say and come to their own opinions.  I may not be able to stand what SJWs have to say, but I still read their posts and critique them on my own.

Wow, I totally digressed from narrative games, didn’t I?  Hopefully you all can see why.  Back to them, I think that this is a medium that has a place in gaming.  But there are SO many who want to just dismiss them as schlock or “non-games” or whatever.  That really bugs me, because the truth is, I kind of like how gaming has expanded. Not “grown up,” but expanded.  Gaming is taking chances.  Sometimes those chances don’t work, like a game about a black chick with an afro who cleans an apartment all day.  Yeah, that was stupid.  But then you get games like The Wolf Among Us, and it is so much fun and there are neat characters and the universe is captivating.

Here’s a thought – if we can leave the identity politics at the door, and maybe recognize that we all game for different reasons, perhaps we can actually have some productive conversation about this medium and where it’s going.  Yes?  No?  Let me know in the comments section.  In the meantime, I will be enjoying a “walking simulator,” because I feel like zen right now, having just filled out a lot of job applications and submitted some resumes.

Until next time, a quote,

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” – Pablo Picasso

Peace out,

Maverick

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2 thoughts on “SIONR: Narratives Games are Shit?

  1. See, I think it’s less about the games themselves. There’s been plenty of narrative experiences that people have enjoyed that hasn’t gotten the backlash as some of the other games in the medium have. For Gone Home for example, I can point to TellTale games and say that they’ve been wildly “accepted” in terms of people loving them. I think the difference that I see here is the language that usually comes along with games like Gone Home and Everyone Has Gone to the Rapture. And in particular, those who argue with those who like the medium, at least of the main stream press.

    It’s things like “Gone Home takes some big risks in a medium that famously struggles with this kind of nuanced story.” It’s the subtitle of IGN’s review that says “Grown up games.” To me, I think it’s more about the fact that those who have talked about those games seem to think the medium HAS to go that way in order to evolve. It circles back to the “is games art” question that I see commonly: where those who have been playing for a long time, those who experienced what they would find classic tales such as Final Fantasy VI and King’s Quest, are now sitting there going “wait, we’ve had good stories like this before!”. People don’t like being told that in particular that their medium of choice has to grow up like they have been…..despite the fact that it has. They could be completely different stories, completely different material….and yet it comes down to the fact that they feel their side has been slighted. That’s what I’ve seen at least.

    And I most definitely agree with the binary portion of the argument. “Every Movement has a lunatic fringe” -Theodore Roosevelt. See, the biggest problem I see with today’s media and its consumers is that it’s not the standard deviation that gets into the news, or becomes the biggest story: it’s the outliers. It’s the ones who go so far, that people take notice….all be it too much. It’s a struggle as a Youtube creator and critic: you end up getting overlooked thanks to all the…..well extremism that you see out there, and you’re just trying to give your balanced look at it.

    • An interesting perspective. I don’t deny that I fall into a camp in the SJW/anti-SJW battle, but I still listen because I actually want to take in new things. I would never have even played Life is Strange if it weren’t for the fact that people were calling it “SJW: The Video Game.” So I looked into it, and saw something I would like. It is hard to be in the middle of the road. Part of why I am glad that I don’t make YouTube content. There, it’s just a free-for-all of voices yelling. Here, people have to write out and actually articulate their arguments. Sure, I get the occasional “you’re a fucking idiot” comment, but at least here someone one had to put it into words and do more than just hit a thumbs-down button and leave an angry comment in ALL CAPS.

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