Gaming is an expensive hobby. One that isn’t getting anymore affordable. I’m not just talking about the broad state of the global economy, but the intimate considerations. The domestic responsibilities: food, clothing, utility bills, my daughters numerable hobbies that require some monetary investment. Not to mention those delightful household catastrophies that results in an impromptu swimming pool forming in the kitchen and a hefty surcharge from the plumber. Along with other notable issues and financial variables, there’s sparsely anything left. Once those precious funds have all but been exhausted, there’s very little room for frivolity. And quite honestly time simply doesn’t permit the opportunities it used to to engage with them consistently. With the imminent arrival of the next gen consoles, which only further compounds the issue, the mature thing would be to accept the naturally occurring shackles of senility and forget this juvenile recreation. But I can’t. The idea of getting a new games console still invigorates me. Especially if I’m one of the first to own it.
I’ve only ever done this once, with the PS4. Though quality content was noticeably absent in it’s infancy, to own one still felt distinct. I don’t regret it. Gaming is my vice, if it can even be considered a fallible human trait. I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke. I drink infrequently and never excessively. I’m boring and I’m fine with that. This may very well be the last games console I’ll ever get. Whether that’s informed by the ever changing landscape of gaming media or my own domestic circumstances. I want to experience that sensation one last time. It may in fact be the last generation of consoles period! The way in which we play and consume games is fundamentally changing, and not necessarily in a way that is in my best interests. Of course technology evolves, progressing at such an exponential rate. But the reliance on the Internet to even allow some games to function is an alarming dependancy. Certainly there will be advocates that support this shift from physical to digital media, but the purist in me just can’t endorse it implicitly.
The PlayStation offering a digital only alternative seems like a sensible business strategy, one that enables those that exclusively buy digitally a console that suites their specific needs. Now that’s fine, but if there is another generation of games console would they extend the same courtesy to those that want physical? Probably not.
In 7-8 years from now, during the theoretical release of the fictional PS6, I will be in my early 40s. Chubbier around the gut. Greyer around the temples. And even more jaded than I am now. Chances are that my presumably arthritic joints would swell in contempt at the very notion. Realistically the PS5 is my last chance at experiencing that same sense of adolescent fervour I felt as a kid. What’s so wrong about that?
Ah loading screens. The time honoured transitional that disguise the initialisation in a game. Sometimes benign. Often infuriating. These laboured compliances have endured as a necessary intrusion that have impeded player progression for decades. Though far less prevalent now, or at least not as extensive, these customery intermissions could become a thing of the past. A primitive function ridiculed by future generations. Studied by archaeologists the same way they’d examine ancient Eqyptian tombs to understand how primitive civilisations lived. The advent of the PS5 boasts an impressive custom SSD so advanced that it could potentially end load times as we know them. No more agonising delays during an intense boss fight you’ve already failed against. Having to wait and rectify that mistake. Almost instantaneous gameplay. And I’m okay with that.
Its hard to feel particularly nostalgic about an antiquated system that, though essential does somewhat slow the momentum of a game, thereby blemishing the experience. There’s nothing evocative about waiting for my shower to warm up or my food to cook. But the issue not only lies in games that boast huge environments that can be approached objectively and freely. Propagating fluidity and personal autonomy in a fully immersive explorable terrain, but also in linear narratives. Having a prohibitive interim of loading screens that perennially slows down the momentum of the story every time you die reduces your participation for protracted stretches. I’m reminded of my time in Skyrim. The anxiety of entering burial crypts guarded by ancient Draugr, wielding rustic weapons to defend their tombs. Opening a door to the next ritualistic passage, waiting patiently as the loading screen depicts the static image of a dragon, nestled atop of a protruding spire. It’s wings sprawled, bracing for an attack from some unseen adversary. As the camera slowly zooms in enhancing the dragons malicious features, stopping just close enough to see it’s dark, lifeless eyes. Until you realise that the game has failed to load for the fifth time in an hour! Good times. Well memorable at least.
There are rare instances where these laboured interludes have become somewhat indelible. The slowly creaking doors in Resident Evil for example are iconic. Some even offer an interactive experience like “Ridge Racers” Galaxian mini games or even “FIFA’s” practice arena, that allows players valuable respite to practice key skills. Most however are simply logistical obligations. Content to display static images or animated symbols until its finally time for you to take over again. Though they’ve been an inherent part of gaming for longer than I’ve been playing, there absence won’t be missed. Much.
“The Last Of Us II” is at a crucial impasse. The growing annomosity that has swelled between the developer and the “fans” has reached a critical stage, where some kind of mutual armistice seems unlikely. We’re at a point where critical reasoning and objective perspectives are being distorted by an isolated, though vocal contingent that have beset the online community with a profusion of abusive harassments, escalating a situation to what can only be described as a reckoning! The death threats directed towards actress Laura Bailey only deepens the lingering division. Though this behaviour doesn’t accurately reflect the opinions expressed by the majority, it does diminish them. Endorsing this kind of negligent bile simply because of the scripted actions of a fictional character she has portrayed in a computer game, is the equivalent of blaming “Downfalls” Bruno Ganz depiction of Hitler for the deaths of 6 million Jews. And if you think that’s an embellishment, then you probably shouldn’t check out some of the comments fluttering around on Twitter!
The active facilitation of blind hatred has become so repugnant that you truly have to question the mental stability of some of these cretins. Bereft of all rational instinct, these hostile views have only propegated the volitile nature of public discourse further. Constructive analysis of the games faults is something that has alluded much of the criticism in the wider gaming firmament. The censure directed to NaughtyDog and anyone associated with the game is frankly intolerable. Instigated by an obsessive culture that thrives on this kind of hostile behaviour. It is possible to dislike a game without conveying those opinions like J K Rowling degrading trans-advocates. Thoughts are fluid. Instinctive. Harmless. It’s only when we assign words to those thoughts that they become harmful. You have every right to be upset, just think about what you’re writing before you type!
Now I’m not a Druckmann apologist by any means. The controversy surrounding former creative director, and all around literary genius Amy Hennig and her sudden unexplained departure from the company, that may or may not have something to do with Druckmann has tarnished my perception of him. Sifting through his social media only re-enforce’s my judgment about his dubious character. He comes across as insincere. A myopic observation considering I only have random Tweets and unsubstantiated speculation to support my intuition. He seems like the kind of person that filters comments to reflect their own burgeoning narccism. Surrounding himself in a bubble of passive enablers that massage his ego. People that would assert that he was some kind of scholar. A pioneer that will be admired for his bold vision long after we’ve all reached the game over screen. Cultivating the illusion that he is impenetrable to criticism. “You didn’t enjoy the story?”. You’re sexist. “You didn’t like characters skulls being used as a golf ball?”. You’re transphobic. He is defended vehemently for its trailblazing furvour and challenging the established conventions in computer games. Personally I don’t think he is half as good as he hubris tells him he is.
To me there’s nothing worse than an entitled white guy, exerting his privilege and pretending that what they’ve written, however good, is the most important work ever committed to the English language. That killing a key figure from the last game is justified because of the character’s adaptable ethical standards. That he was willing to kill indiscriminately to preserve their own self interest. When really all it does is epitomises the banal concept that people that use violence as a means of resolution are no heroes. Personally I would never have accepted that anyone in this cruel world to be inherently good or evil. There were characters capable of good that were ultimately forced to do unspeakable acts to survive. Understanding of the morality that they are constantly forced to compromise.
Such inflammatory social debates leave little room for compromise. And unfortunately whatever constructive criticism that could be ascertained through an open, composed discussion has been undermined by the irrational resent of those who believe their opinions are right and their destructive words can’t be seen by others. But they can. I’ve always found it curious how people feel emboldened by the partial anonymity afforded by social media. To express themselves in a way that they never would to someone in person. That doing so online is in anyway an acceptable means of expression. That somehow civility is a prison that can only be sated by an outpouring of hate? I truly hope that isn’t true.
The acquisition of trophies, the symbolic achievements obtained from completing specific objectives in a game, not the contents of your grandfather’s souvenir cabinet, have become something of favoured activity since their formal introduction back in 2008. Though a belated reaction to Xbox “Achievements” initiative established 3 years prior, they have arguably become the preferable alternative. Committed trophy hunters dedicated to the procurement of these benign, seemingly fateous intrusions often participate in lengthy discussions about how best to negotiate a particularly challenging task. Joining communities to exchange solutions or suggestions so that others might apply them to their own endeavours. The pursuit of a Platinum can be a formidable task, one thwart with frustration and irritation. So to have such a convenient resource at your disposal eases the trepidation one might endure when confronted by an arduous task others have struggled with. Yet many don’t just ignore these ancillary components, but deride them. Expressing such a vitriolic contempt for what is an optional feature.
A few years ago I briefly worked alongside an individual whose hatred for “Trophies” bordered on the obstinate. Arguing that as a supplementary feature trophies/achievements actually compliments a games longevity, encouraging the exploration of a world that would otherwise be hampered by our own inhibited restraints. He still insisted that they were pointless, exemplified by his attitude to completely disable notifications of these invasive novelties. The game, or more accurately the experience should not be the primary motivation. No game should ever be consciously dismissed because of a particularly challenging Platinum. Nor should the mitigation of a condition be an incentive. Comprimising your experience, dictating player autonomy for these subsidiary trinkets is detrimental to a games intended objective. If you’re driven by fated stipulations you aren’t invested. They’re ancillary components that should never be the principal consideration. But rather enhance your experience.
There’s also the persistent argument that games employing predetermined quests in an attempt to ebb out there length trivilises the experience, which isn’t entirely unfounded. But oftentimes these provisions can inspire us to play in ways we may not have necessarily have tried. Perhaps traverse areas we would have otherwise ignored or attempted a difficulty setting that may have seemed unattainable. To challenge ourselves in ways we may not have expected. Providing an alternative method for immersion.
My personal collection now exceeds 60 Platinums. With each one presenting unique and challenging tasks that never felt like they diminished or undermined my encounter. There’s a subtle, yet critical distinction between dedication and addiction, and at times it can be difficult to discern one from the other. But if you’re not having fun, then you’re probably not playing it right! Passionate contingent, bordering on the rabid. Divided into categories Trivial merit A game is as long or short as it needs to be. Bade by the Exposure
Its been a rather sobering experience for Sony of late. Not since a Vietnamese abattoir replaced its floor with steel grates and industrial sized air conditioning has shit hit the fan quite so consistently. The persistent rumours about the PS5’s build quality and concerns about overheating. The Last Of Us II’s premature reveal and May’s PS Plus exclusive games being as well received as a tounge kiss from a pangolin, which has lead to an online petition to boycott this month’s free games. With the PS5 shrouded in a fog of corporate annonimity and any new information regarding it’s existence being as elusive as Boris Johnson in a pandemic, is there cause for concern? Perhaps. Sony are a notoriously stubborn brand. Secretive and protective in their approach to communicating information to consumers. Yet their reluctance to project the usual Sony posturing that has become emblematic of the success of the Ps4 hasn’t gone unnoticed. This uncertainty however provokes the insufferable engagement of rival “fans” and defence from “supporters”. The amplifiers of discord and bluster.
When it comes to gaming fanatics, with a preferential exclusivity to one gaming device, rational thinking just up and disappears like Carol Baskins husband. The sordid “rivalry” between PlayStation and Xbox is extensive as it is stupid. Not to mention beneficial for both parties. Two rival companies, vying for your patronage don’t much care for your allegiance. Unless that loyalty is financially beneficial. So of course this incites the eternal, yet asinine “console war”. A skirmish instigated with as much logic as an M Night Shamalan movie and diologue to match. You have the “Xbots”, recently sentient beings, in a network programmed to antagonise, enhanced by its own belligerence. Then you have the Sony “Pony’s” trotting in like Princess Ann at an Olympic dressage competition. Gesturing with their pipes, stroking their beards and regaling their contemporaries with tales of their exploits in some great, narrative driven single player game. Discussing the deep philosophical significance of a Sony exclusive and how those Xbox acolytes will never play them! Nor the poultry, mediocre games available on PS Plus every month.
Corroboration. Logical reasoning. Civility. All take a back seat when these keyboard warriors instigate the internets most absurd rivalry: one between gaming companies. Which invariably attracts the attention of a far more fiendish and condescending element of the gaming industry: the entitled opinions of elitist PC gamers.