We buy it, so they keep making it (TL;DR)

We buy it, so they keep making it (TL;DR)
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I warned you in the title, this is going to be a long post that I don’t expect many of you to get through, for various reasons, but it is my way of letting off steam without side tracking other topics that have every right to be discussed here.

I want to also preface this post with the fact that I am not taking a stance on violence in video games. In fact, I think violence has a very prominent place in games, as it does with any source of entertainment.

###Since when did shooting become the norm? Worse yet, since when did we accept that?

I’m not going to try to trace the lineage of shooters, or even pull any sales numbers or online popularity, we all know that shooters rule the AAA space, and have for some time. My question is, since when is this all we come to expect from a major title? This might feel like a personal attack to anyone who buys these games, or enjoys these games, but I don’t intend for that. I was, and in all reality, probably still am, that person. I am more just hoping to take a step back, and have an intelligent discussion as to why this is something we gladly line up for and accept as video game consumers?

I know one of the first arguments you can make is that this outlook is very reductive, and there is a lot more to do in these games than shoot things, but I want to ask the question - Is there really? With games like Destiny and The Division, it’s easy to say there is a lot of social interaction and world events that you can partake in, but at the end of the day, what does it boil down to? You shoot them, or they group up with you to shoot others, right? And of course there is resource management and character progression in many of these games, but once again, it all boils down to allowing you to shoot people better.

I just want you to think about it. In all of the possible ways we interact with the world and with people in our everyday lives, how in the hell is it still acceptable that the vast majority of AAA titles being released today are reduced to us shooting people in the face? When I take a step back and look at that, it boggles my mind that this has been acceptable, and worst yet, highly lucrative, for so long. Can’t you agree that something is terribly out of whack there? Each game just iterating on better ways to shoot people/things/aliens.

The worst part is, as soon as you take a stance such as that, you immediately get labeled as someone who likes “weird, artsy, indie games”. It happened to me just today as I was discussing this with my friend since I was 5 years old. The part that kills me, is that he is absolutely right and that’s exactly how the world still views it. If you don’t like shooters because of the act of shooting, it is not the norm, and it is weird. That is just deeply disheartening to me, when there is so much more that games can offer, but major developers and publishers will not stop using shooting as a lazy crutch to sell games as long as we keep eating it up.

I am hopeful that VR could potentially make a slight pivot towards more intimate and interactive experiences, but I do worry that the laziest VR port is a first-person shooter, so we all know they will not be in short supply.

I know I am not the only one to take this stance, nor will I be the last, but I was probably like most of you who didn’t get to the point of reading the bottom of this post, and I usually dismissed those people as being crabby old hags that were on their soap box complaining about violence in video games and that they should go back to their “weird, artsy, indie games”. Who knows, maybe I should, I just hope that we don’t always have to draw that line in the sand, and that we can see what publishers have been feeding us all this time, and maybe expect more.


Here’s an idea.

Just appreciate video games as a whole.

I’ll play or try just about anything. I may play the “indie” games in small doses but usually because I enjoy spending time shooting the shit with friends and it just so happens that it takes place while shooting some shit. But you are on to something. A lot of it comes down to how or what we want to do in our free time. I just wish there more games that offered a social experience that didn’t involve a gun or a sword. I’ve even gone back to playing some Minecraft with friends and still play Rocket League a few times a week. We need more games like that. That being said I can’t wait for the new Battlefront DLC or the new Battlefield title to be announced. Balance son, it’s all about balance.

Now excuse me while I get off your lawn you old fuck.

Oh, and VR is gonna suuuuuuuuuuuuck.


That’s exactly my point though, I do want to appreciate games as a whole, it’s just frustrating to me that all of the big budgets are being spent on shooters. I don’t want to take anything away from your enjoyment with the game, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a shooter, I just wish other titles had the money and talent behind them as what is being spent to make these cookie cutter games that are just iterating on top of the last. We all know the game industry is about managing risk though, which is really true for any industry, so I understand it’s a pipe dream. Just something that I wanted to get off my chest.


At this point you are just arguing with yourself.

And again, VR is gonna suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.


I’m curious why you think VR is ‘gonna suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck’?

Have you tried VR ? Do you think it’s just the next Wii-mote or Kinect ?


Do I really need to post this again?

Take it elsewhere, Bimble! He’s a fellow old fart, but he doesn’t like new technology. Wasn’t that clear from his repetitive mumbling?


We have VR stuff at work in our Art, Science, and AIM labs. I’ve tinkered with it and so far I’m not sold. It does seem very gimmicky and limited. The kids made Roller Coasters in science that could be viewed using the Samsung VR sets and it was neat but faded pretty quickly.

The kids really seemed to enjoy it though so thats a good sign.


I’ll give this a read on my lunch break.


I’ve only tried Google cardboard (and it was gimmicky), but I don’t see that as a fair representation of the experience. I really hope the dedicated VR systems are more than a gimmick.

I think with time, it could give us the ‘variety’ you and Rewfus are talking about. (That’s my attempt to bring the topic back on track). Yes there will be shooters, but hopefully there will be enough of the other experiences that will get Rewfus off his soapbox.


I’m in the mindset that shooters are so popular because they’re so easy to just pick up and play; either solo or with a friend or two. They sort of lost that ultra-competitive edge they held in the late 90’s and early 00’s when Quake and Unreal were kings of the castle, and now seem to favor trying to do what Halo did best; 30 seconds of exploring/story followed by 30 seconds of fun.

Sure, a lot of them “require” you to turn-off-your-brain-to- to enjoy, like Bulletstorm or Army of Two, but on the flipside you have entries like BioShock and Spec Ops: The Line.

There’s a reason there is a lot of overlap with Skyrim/Fallout and the FPS consumer.


That’s a good point about accessibility. Most shooters are the equivalent of a popcorn flick you would see in a theater. You go there to be entertained, not to have an insightful, thought provoking outlook on some deep social norm. I get that. And don’t get me wrong, there is more variety in games today than there ever has been.

For some reason something just clicked with me recently, and I haven’t been able to shake it. That is with how interactive games are, and can be, how did it get to the point that the ultimate goal for the majority of games is to point your cursor at something and shoot it? There are surely accessible ways to do more than that, but I guess they aren’t as fun.


I don’t think the term ‘hung up on’ is really applicable to the point I’m going to make about your comment, but I can’t think of another phrase right now, so…

don’t get stuck on the ‘AAA mostly producing shooters’ thing. The easiest and most obvious answer as to why big budget games produce shooters is risk aversion. It’s the same reason we get those shitty Hollywood blockbusters (though it seems so obvious which ones are doomed to fail…Gods of Egypt…). Accessibility, “flashing lights, loud noises”, and ease of consumption are what draw the masses, and shooting shit is the easiest way to repackage and recycle shit.

If you look past the AAA thing, it feels like we’re in the/another Golden Age of gaming with the variety out there. Goat Simulator was a smash hit. Voxel-based Minecraft is still HUGE. Shit, there’s a ‘walking simulator’ genre, ffs.

Like, I get what you’re saying and I absolutely agree with it but I think its like complaining about why McDonald’s is so popular. Frankly, I’d be proud if someone called me an ‘indie’ game or whatever because that means I enjoy variety in my gaming, just like in real life. I feel sorry for, and wary of, people that only play shooters or Madden because there’s a vastness out there that’s infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than fucking eating the equivalent of McDonald’s.

As to how this shooter trend started and whether its a chicken or egg thing between devs and consumers? There’s probably a really interesting case study in there (that someone has probably already done. haha).


All very good points, the only thing I will contest is the comparison to McDonald’s. I think that comparison only holds water if somehow most of the worlds greatest chefs were recruited by McDonald’s and not working elsewhere.

Sure there are a shit ton of talented devs working on smaller titles, or there are the very select few that actually reach such popularity that they are willing to take such risks because they know people will have faith in them and buy whatever they put out, but most of that talent is going to go where the money and job security is, and unfortunately that’s working on risk adverse shooters. I know that’s a problem that is not unique to the game industry, but it’s one that hits closest to home for me.

Obviously the landscape is changing with the success of The Witness, or Goat Simulator as you mentioned. Even the younger generation with the crazy popularity of Minecraft, as numbnuts points out, is bucking this trend and could very well be responsible for the fervor around No Man’s Sky. I probably am getting upset about a trend that is already on a declining path, just for some reason this is the first time in my lifetime of playing video games where I have looked at what major publishers are releasing and have been disheartened about what they actually consist of if you get down to the core of what you are actually doing in them.


Rooty tooty point-n-shooties.


Let’s take Far Cry Primal as an example. The amount of unbelievable talent and man hours that went in to creating these environments and wildlife is breathtaking:

See more here: http://www.pentadact.com/2016-03-09-postcards-from-far-cry-primal/

And yet, what do you do in this world? You run around shooting people with a bow and arrow and skin animals. If that amount of talent was spent on creating a world where you could interact in any way other than reigning death on anything you see, could you imagine the possibilities? I could be alone here, it’s just hard for me not to view all of this as lost opportunities.


I’ll respond to this when I’m not sick so I don’t have to type this out on my phone. Interesting discussion. Well… Back to Battlefront.


I would have much rather seen Far Cry Primal as UbiSoft’s first entry into the survival genre, rather than a copy/paste Far Cry game with cavemen.


And let’s not diminish the effect and impact your buddy labeling you the ‘indie gamer’ has had. It’s reductive and a bit unfair and I could see how someone who you’ve known for so long sort of not understanding where you’re coming from or using a somewhat dismissive phrase for something you care about can sting.

My buddies used to tell people that I was a gamer and that I go home and play all the time. I don’t mind being labeled a gamer but not coupled with an inaccuracy and the connotation with those two things. Yeah, I like games, but also fuck you. And it sucked that people I was close with didn’t actually understand me, which was the worst part. Essentially getting judged and marginalized by people that were close to me. They would tease but they weren’t being malicious or anything really…but it still sucked. Most people don’t want to be reduced to “you’re the X guy” or “you’re the guy that X”.

It’s so much better now because they know and because they eventually learned that I played way less than one of the other guys.


Full disclosure, the buddy of mine since I’ve been 5 was @MrBimble, and he wasn’t being judgmental at all, at least not consciously. His thought process of immediately thinking my only choice of games, if not shooters, were “weird, artsy, indie” games was just representative of how games are portrayed these days, and that can probably be attributed to the accessibility that Jeff refers to. It just struck me how polarizing games are that you are either shooting things or doing something weird and artsy, and I was :cry:


Of course it was Bimble…more like Bully-ble, amirite?