I’m a PlayStation gamer, and have been since I received a PlayStation 1 for my twelfth Birthday. Now this wasn’t a decision based on sophomoric loyalty or biased aversion to the competition. This was purely a consumerist preference. The original PlayStation was the prevailing console on the market, with the PS2 further solidifying its popularity in the wider gaming firmament. There were the dedicated outliers of Xbox supporters, the snobbish contrairians of the playground who would ridicule the lambs suckling at the corporate teat of Sony. But for the most part we simply enjoyed the flourishing creativity provided by these machines that could render realistic 3D environments for us to explore. We weren’t really concerned with how we played games, or even the device we used. We were just captivated by their ingenuity and fun.
Sadly the industry has changed, emboldened by the financial potential afforded by gaming’s lucrative appeal. Perhaps the gaming industry has always been this covetous and we have willfully ignored the blatant capitalism that is now so prevalent. But I can’t help feeling that the things have gotten significantly worse since the more rapacious elements in the trade are promoted to positions of authority, in companies they neither understand nor evoke any genuine affinity for. Those that profit from this entity by attaching itself to it, like a parasitical barnacle of the hull of a ship. More concerned with analytics, market data and consumer trends, than crafting something distinct. And no one epitomises this passionless ideology more than Sony’s chief of charisma, Jim “Vanilla” Ryan.
Being the human equivalent of a baked potato, in both appearance and personality, Jim Ryan seems like the type of guy in school that would remind the teacher to assign them homework. Yet here he is, promoted to a position of authority, to oversee one of the industries leading gaming publishers, with all the magnetic fervour of a Postal strike. Nothing this man imbues, inspires confidence nor the inclination that he has the slightest notion of the company he is representing. This is the same guy that referred to PS1 and PS2 games as “ancient”, without a hint of irony and little comprehension as to why anyone would want to play them, over a modern equivalent. Then there is his hypocritical opposition to Xbox acquisition of Activision, or more accurately the ownership of the “Call of Duty” publisher. And a direct slight against the industry’s critical darling and literal embodiment of smug, Phil Spencer. This is when you’d insert the meme of the doppelganger Spider Man pointing at one another.
I understand that this is a business. Profit margins. Turnover. Revenue. Market share. Money! It is important that a company continues to generate consistent revenue to survive and thrive. Keep the cogs of industry lubricated. But don’t let someone as earnest as a tax rebate, who would probably get nostalgic over a tax return, be the figure head for your corporate enterprise. This would be like Weyland Yutani promoting a chestburster as their head of public relations. Though I’m confident that Jim Ryan wouldn’t dream of laying an embryo in the chests of it’s consumers, I’m also confident that he would have no idea what that would be in reference too. God, I hate the industry.