Everywhere I look, I feel more and more at odds with the nerd culture. E3 was the best example. Sony’s press conference had me getting to see some pretty awesome trailers. Their choice to make their four biggest draws into not trailers but full on gameplay demos was fantastic! It had me on the edge of my seat. First there was Ghost of Tsushima. A game that looks like the perfect homage to samurai culture. I’ve been DYING for a game like this for so long. Ever since a brilliant artist did an idea for an Assassin’s Creed game set in Japan. Now it’s happening! Except not tied to that franchise.
Next up there was The Last of Us: Part II. Here’s where I felt my experience waver. See, I know that Neil Druckmann has this HUGE chip on his shoulder when it comes to social justice. He takes what Anita Sarkeesian says very seriously. I’ve been replaying Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and it’s there as well. But that doesn’t stop him from writing good stuff. It’s a balancing act in my eyes. See, I don’t hate something with a social justice bend so long as the narrative is engaging and the characters are good. And since this is a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, the pressure certainly is on here.
So when I saw this game had a LONG opening segment that goes all post-apocalyptic 90210 on me, it rubbed me the wrong way. Especially when the trailer has all the diversity of a college campus. And the girl that Ellie starts sucking face with is more and more reminding me of Sarkeesian herself. Which has me wondering if this character is written so he can fanboy all over her. That’s…weird, and off-putting. It keeps taking me out of the moment of actually liking the trailer.
Then we get to the gameplay stuff and hot damn is it back to form! Granted, the person playing is a fucking idiot who should be dropping their enemies to keep them from raising the alarm, but whatever.
We then get to the trailer that had me really at odds with everyone in nerd culture that I follow on Twitter – Death Stranding. I really loved that trailer. It showed me the world, elements of play, and gave me some neat insight into the characters. I got to see new characters be introduced and I learned about the world. Then there was that tense bit with the shadow creatures that reminded me of The Sorrow boss battle and I was stoked. But that’s not what I saw online.
Person after person bitching and moaning about how this trailer told them nothing and how they don’t know how to feel. I fucking lost it. Where is the appreciation of nuance with these mother-fuckers?! Oh my god, they didn’t spoon-feed how you’re supposed to feel about this new game! Say it isn’t so! You actually have to think about it and come to your own conclusions! The horror! Fuck me! People posting on Twitter mocking both the trailer and Kojima himself because they weren’t given something that told them everything.
Everyone seems to believe that this game is giving them another Metal Gear type of game, and if they don’t get it then they are sad. But it might not. Kojima has said that this game doesn’t start a super-badass action hero. It stars a normal man who is in way over his head in crazy circumstance, but he stays a normal man. It strikes me that because of Kojima’s reputation, everyone is hoping for something and not being open to what this game may end up being. It may be a game where you do little to no fighting at all. You may have to hide. Or it may be a narrative-focused game where the goal of gameplay is in exploring the world. But the mystery is there, and it’s part of why I am still super stoked. Because this could be anything and I think that’s exciting.
But it seems I’m in a minority on that. Everywhere I look it’s people wanting to be spoon-fed. Or they just want something to get them pumped. Having to think about something critically? Fuck that! I want my nerdgasm! Part of me wishes Sony had chosen to end on that, just so all the troglodytes in there got to walk out feeling like someone had pissed in their coffee.
So many people screaming Bethesda’s praises from the hills. I am not among them. The only thing in their little conference that even appeals to me is the sequel to the excellent DOOM game. That has me pumped. Everyone else was dead weight in my eyes. Then Nintendo takes the stage and it’s “SMASH BROS! YAY!” all over the goddamn place. I…I don’t care about that. I stopped following Nintendo pretty closely a long time ago. I can only play the same game but with more shit so many times before I start to realize that their formula doesn’t ever change. But I guess that’s what people want. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess? I’m sure there’s some nuance there that people will accuse me of missing.
“They’re not the same games! The new Legend of Zelda was open world!” What’s that? So Wind Waker just didn’t happen? Okay. “But Lucien, more characters!” Neat. That looks interesting, I suppose. But it’s the same game. New characters, new stages, but that’s it. I guess it’s supposed to be a system seller. I can see that. Nintendo seems to have enough fanboys around.
I just feel like I’m missing something here. Like, everywhere I turn I see myself at odds with what the prevailing thought is. I was more engaged with Sony’s offerings than anyone else’s because the games looked interesting and they took the quality over quantity approach with their big hitters. I wanted to see big demos that showed off and they delivered. But there’s everyone hating it. Bethesda releases trailers that are basically just nerdgasm fuel, and everyone loses it. Sure, I felt myself getting kinda pumped for the DOOM sequel. It’s on Earth now, which is fun. Though that does leave me wondering what happened back on Mars, since the guy told me at the end he would be seeing me again. Still, cool, I guess.
Maybe this is me getting older. I just don’t feel the draw to hype fuel. I’d rather see what I’m getting into and really feel some sense of attachment to it. It’s how I can stomach the 90210 shit in The Last of Us: Part II trailer, because I know that Neil Druckmann might have a chip on his shoulder but he still can write good stuff and I want to know if he does it again. I game for stories. It’s all care about. Sure, if the gameplay sucks, I can’t get into it, but the story is what everything hinges on. I don’t care how good the gameplay is, if the story sucks, I hate it. It’s why I REALLY didn’t like Rise of the Tomb Raider, even though its gameplay improves upon the previous game. The story was boring and the villains were stupid.
Or perhaps it comes down to me being the analytical type. I love to dissect things, both what I love and what I hate. I could go on and on about the things I like for hours, or how much the things I hate suck ass. It’s part of the fun for me, because when things are good, I mean really good, it gives me such a healthy appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into them and being able to revel in that final product. Or if there is something that is really good but still has its flaws, it gives me a greater appreciation for what it does right and I can laugh at the parts that don’t work and think about how it could be improved upon. Over-thinking is something I am guilty of, but that’s part of the fun in my eyes.
But I’m starting to realize that I am in a minority here. A very lonely minority. I see nuance and get excited over mysteries. I don’t like to be spoon-fed things and come to my own conclusions (another part of why I hated the 90210 shit. Because it felt like Druckmann was trying to score SJW points since their opinion matters to him). I don’t get the nerdgasm anymore. Now I get the more reserved sense of excitement wondering what I’ll learn next.
What do you all think? Let me know in the Comments
Until next time, a quote,
“The worst thing to be is all alone with other people.” – Quinn Pierce