Dear Gamers: Stop Acting Like Stuck-Up Jerks

Dear Gamers: Stop Acting Like Stuck-Up Jerks

I like beer. My favorite kinds are big, wonderful, hoppy microbrews that you chew as much as drink. But sitting back last weekend, watching motocross bikes leap off piles of dirt and knocking back a few Coors, I realize, “I just like beer in general.” In other words, I’m losing my ability to be a beer snob.

I like wine too. But wine intimidates me so much that I rarely drink it unless I am home and it comes out of a box. Wine people have wine magazines and liquor stores have racks of wine with little cards that have scores on them. Wine comes with tasting notes and wine people meet up in wine clubs and with pinkies held out, slosh, gurgle and spit the stuff to try and tease out the subtle flavors of oak or rubber. Sitting a restaurant, gazing down the telephone book they call the “wine list,” I usually just order a beer. Wine, you’re too fancy for me.

So why bring all this up here? Easy – because I start to wonder if games are getting too snobby for me as well.

Sadly, we gaming fans have begun to turn our beloved pastime into a surprising mirror of snooty wine culture. Us game people have game magazines and game stores have racks of games with little cards that have scores on them. Games come with hardcore recommendations and criticisms and game people meet up at PAX with their best Nintendo t-shirts pressed and ramble on about details about some JRPG no one has ever played.

And to think that we wonder why the mainstream world doesn’t take games seriously. Perhaps they are afraid of games because they are afraid of us. Hardcore gamers like making Joe Average gamers feel stupid.

Sure, 10 years ago videogames were a pastime where most of the best stuff was happening behind closed doors, or at least in the basement. Not so long ago, if you cared much about games, that made you a part of the gaming elite. We read gaming magazines because that was the only good way to find out what was going on and traded in game lore because it was so exciting to find other people that actually cared about Metroid as much as we cared about it as well.

But these days, we have turned the culture of necessity into a snobby club of exclusion. Gaming love has morphed into a blue-blood gaming fraternity that only admits the best. And you, Madden player, you Spore fan, are not the best. Beat Demon’s Souls, then come back for the pledge party.

Maybe it was cooler to be a gamer when not so many people played games. But do we really want to retard the development of games as a cultural medium just so we can feel superior about playing the original Call of Duty?

About David Thomas
David Thomas is a game critic, researcher and teacher who writes for top game magazines and websites. He’s covered games for many newspapers, teaches courses on the history of digital media and is completing his PhD in architecture to ask:“What makes a place fun?”


  1. Nicely put David. I know where you are coming from. As a homebrewer people usually think I am also a total beer snob, but I am just as happy drinking a Bud or Coors at a bbq as I am drinking a nice Oak Aged Yeti at home. Same with gaming, as long as it’s fun I’m happy. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something like SC2 and sometimes I just want to play Miami Shark you know?

  2. I understand this completely. I consider myself a hardcore gamer, yet I am even looked down upon sometimes because I started with the NES and not the Atari. And I still won’t buy SC2 because many strategy gamers are very often snobbier than snobs. Unless you have your own very special and thought out strategy on how to win for each and every map, you will not make it against the hardcore Starcraft fans.

    Even older generation gamers were depicted as snobby in films. A “nerdy” character would babble about their motherboard or RAM and when the other characters would return with blank stares, the “nerdy” character would laugh and look down at them.

    I own an Xbox 360 and a Wii. I use the Wii to get closer to my family and every once in a while non-gaming friends. Eventually, I move them over to my 360 and see if they still enjoy it. It’s how I got my brother and 3 cousins to buy 360s. My cousins love MW2, but I am warning their parents to keep them offline until they become a little older because of the snobby and vulgar attitudes found online.

    I very much enjoyed this article. It mirrored many of my own beliefs about the gaming world.

  3. Well done sir. I know many people who lambaste the popularity of casual games, or the success of the Wii because non-hardcore gamers are really into it.

    I think it’s great that there are more avenues than ever for people to play games. Even if it’s not the type of game I traditionally enjoy, there are people who do, and who am I to tell them they are wrong?

  4. I wholeheartedly concur good sir. Just as you find the snobbishness of wine drinkers off putting, the same goes for me with beer drinkers. I don’t like the taste of beer. I enjoy the fruity splendor of a Woodchuck Hard Apple Cider.

    Enough about alcohol though, that’s the one problem that has been plaguing the industry and I myself have found that I sometimes partake in some casual gamer beatdowns. I’ve been gaming since I was three-years-old but that doesn’t make me any better than the old folks at the retirement home playing a Nintendo Wii. We’re both gamers! We enjoy different genres, different communities and different systems but at the end of the day, we both play games for enjoyment.

    The biggest roadblock in most people realizing this is that they think their brand of entertainment is somehow superior. Entertainment is entertainment. The goal is to entertain. If the person is entertained, the job of the entertainment has been fulfilled. There is no superior entertainment to be found. We all enjoy games. Some like them more than others but we’re all gamers. My mom hasn’t played a game since Ms. Pac-Man but she can still beat my ass in that game anytime. She’s as hardcore as they come but most wouldn’t consider her a gamer.

    Once people recognize that games are meant to be enjoyed by anyone and that anyone can have fun with them regardless of their methods, this silly bickering may die. Of course, there are always fanboys who have to bring us down the evolutionary ladder of gaming.

  5. I can understand the sentiment, but I don’t feel that this snob culture is at all the dominant one. If anything, this new “snobbery” is coming as a direct result of the entire industry becoming too mainstream.

    Not only are new gamers welcomed, they are catered to on every possible level. It only takes a brief look at any official publisher statement to see the words “expand our market” or “reach more gamers” plastered all over them. How do you attract more gamers? You create a game with the standard characters, a standard story, in a standard genre, then make it as easy as you can without making it pathetic. There is no denying that attracting as big a crowd as you can is the main motivation for publishers these days, and with only so much money to spend on new projects, it is the niche genres that get the ax.

    I agree that the snobbery is crummy, but the motivations behind it are completely valid. It isn’t just that people like to look down on the casual Call of Duty type of player, it is that that kind of player is being catered to so heavily that it is bound to garner a reaction. People don’t latch onto a game like Demon’s Souls because they like to prove just how core they are, people latch onto games like those because they are becoming increasingly rare to the point of almost non existence.

    Say what you want about the snobs, but I would rather deal with them than the millions of gamers who have been lead to believe that they’re hardcore because they play Call of Duty 30 hours a week and buy Halo branded Mountain Dew “Game Fuel”. To say that there are somehow enough gaming snobs to outweigh the new brand of mainstream gamer is absurd, and to offer up the notion that these snobs keep new gamers out of gaming is even more so.

    These mainstream gamers probably don’t even have a clue that the snobs even exist, same as they seem to have no idea that there used to be a market for games that weren’t FPS or action games.

  6. I’m actually a bit disappointed by the article because I thought it was going to address the sense of entitlement gamers seem to have.

    The lowering of the bar to entry seems to already have pretty much solved itself (over-simplification), with the Wii being a perfect example. Sure, the press, gaming blogs and people who read them all look down on the system, but it still has a huge following, if the sales numbers are to be believed. It’s had huge cultural impact outside of the gamer exclusive world as well. That, to me, suggests that the broader audience of the general population doesn’t care about the snobbery. They’re probably not even aware it exists.

  7. Excellent replies by both Red and Albert Chen. I can empathize with the feelings that David is writing about. However, the “console wars” exist only in the minds of the rabid fans (I used to be one of them – most of us probably went through the phase at one point or another). The sense of entitlement that Albert is talking about is absolutely rampant – but only online! Most people don’t have the time or patience to sit and read page after page of comments about gamers *passionately* defending their gaming beliefs.

    Honestly, I’m fine with it. I don’t have to participate. I can read the articles that interest me and just skip the comments. That space is there for a reason and it’s perfectly fine for all sorts of trolls and fanboys to duke it out to high heaven. At least they’re all in a few easily distinguishable locations 😉 What harm is there in it? It’s not like gaming is alone when it comes to those who are full to the brim with their passion and eager to argue. Take a glance at sports forums, guitar forums – basically take any topic that has nerds in it (I say that in an endearing way) and you’re going to have those EXACT SAME character types ripping into each other to try to persuade others that they are right or that someone else is dead wrong.

  8. Ray–Oak Aged Yeti? Woo hoo! I live in Denver loooove the Great Divide (side note, we even made a commercial for the brewery, just for fun).

    Anyway, I am sure one could say too much about game snobbery. The crazy thing is, as I get older, I fund that I am the person that everyone is making fun of. I guess that’s called getting old–from the hard core, to the old soft in the head.

    At the very least, I think it’s a good discussion to have. And, interestingly enough, I agree with Albert. The dumbing down of games isn’t helping anyone. I played the Bachelor: The Videogame the other week. At a certain point, I did feel like I was loosing my mind. Still, if that is the doorway into games for someone, then so be it.

  9. funny. i work for a nice lady who just but an iPad for a trip to NY. She was trying to find some apps and games for her kids to play with on the plane. I told her to get Plants vs Zombies! I practice…what YOU preach Mr. Thomas.

  10. First Of All, Mainstream Isn’t Always A Good Thing In My Opinion. If You Have Paid Attention To Things That Have Become Mainstream, You Would Understand That. All Mainstream Means Is That Corporations Have Found Something New, Which Was Really Old, To Milk For Profits. I Like Things Becoming More Known But When Things Become Mainstream, ESPECIALLY , In This World Where The American Government And Corporations Are ROBBING People Left And Right That Doesn’t Mean Better It Means Worse. And I Don’t Need To Explain That If You Can’t Understand What The Real Purpose Of Selling You DLC Is But I’ll Give You A Hint: It’s Not Because They Care About The Fans.

    They Show Very Little Concern For The Property In Most Cases. On Top Of That, The Obvious HYPOCRISY And Preachers Who Were Quick To Dismiss Most Non Mainstream Properties(At The Time) As A Waste Of Time Have All Quickly Jumped On The Bandwagon Which Only Tells Me How Much Sheep And Unoriginal Copy Cats Exist On This Planet. Extreme Opportunist If You Will.

    There’s Really No Snobbish Attitude, On My Part At Least, When It Comes To My View. But I Have Very Much Dismay And Little Trust For Things That Become Mainstream With The Constant Flow Of Corporate Thieves And Followers.

    Let’s Take Things That Have Become Mainstream In My Generation.

    The Internet:

    Before, Being On The Internet Or A Computer In General You Were Considered A Nerd, Wasting Your Time, A Loner, Etc. The Internet Didn’t Really Become “Mainstream” Until Myspace And Youtube. And That Was Only When People Started Getting Famous From It. Then EVERYBODY Had To Do It And It Was All Of A Sudden Cool. Hypocrites And Opportunist.

    Comic Books:

    I’ve Been Collecting Comic Books Since I Was About 10 In The Mid 90’s And I Can Tell You Now, Not Many People I Knew Was Collecting Them. Even When The Movie Batman Came Out In The 90’s, Comic Books Where Still Looked Down Upon. Then, We Get The Release Of The Spider-Man Movie Which Became Instantly Popular Then All Of A Sudden Everyone Loves Comic Books, Has Been Reading Them For Years And Is Interested In Playing Parts Of Characters With The Need For Hollywood To Pump Out A New Superhero Movie Every Two Hours.

    Video Games:

    Oh Yeah. The Subject Of This Article. When I Was Playing Video Games I RARELY Found Anyone Playing Them As It Was Just Another Time Wasting, Loser-Nerd, Thing To Do. And The Worse Of Them All Is That The Mainstream Industry Has Turned It Into A Nickel And Dime Billion Dollar Corporation. We Have DLC, Micro-transactions And Half Developed Games Just In The Sake Of Giving Us Less So They Can Rip Us Off And Sale Us The Rest Of The Game Later In Pieces. I Remember A Time Where Games Were Made Out Of Fun For Fans Then Profit. Not Profit Then Profit Then Profit Like The Industry That Exist Now.

    Your Analogy On Wine And Beer….People Have Been Drinking For Longer Than Any Of Us Existed. You Are Trying To Seperate Them When They Are In The SAME Category And Used For The Same Purpose.They Are BOTH Alcohol And As Far As I Am Concerned They Are Both To Get You Drunk.

  11. It’s funny, I was thinking this same thing a couple of weeks ago. I need my own blog!! 🙂 But I think it’s true. I play both World of Warcraft and Age of Conan. WoW has a large subscriber base, and Blizzard is doing its best to grow that base and keep current subs interested. This means all the elite players complain about the game being dumbed down. Which…to some extent…it has been. But frankly, I think overall the game is still awesome. The population that plays Age of Conan is often guilty of treating newbies like noobs. It’s actually rather illogical to me. I mean, if you’re nice to people and help them out, then they will continue to play your game, the game publisher collects more revenue which they can then use to make your game better. Not sure why people don’t see that.

  12. I agree with some of what you’re saying Ahmenus but I think that you’re directing some of that towards the game developers and publishing companies. With the soaring costs just to make games nowadays, and if you look at the credits and the list of people it took to make a game which can go on for about 10 minutes at the end you can see why. Large publishing companies have to stay afloat and profit is always good. But there are also independent devs out there, for example I have friends trying to get together and make their own indy game developing company but right now they’re working on money that they will earn and essentially working for free until they get a publisher, and they can do that because it’s a small group of friends. But if you’re criticizing a large developer/publisher like Activision-Blizzard because they care about profits then you have to ask if it’s okay for them to lay off a division or two just so they can get back to their “roots”. Mainstream is fine, just more people to play with here and there. Plus you realize that most “hardcore” games are single player so we don’t HAVE to play with others if didn’t want to, right?

  13. Good comments by Red. My prefered “genere” of choice is MMORPGs (started with Ultima Online) and its seen a HUGE shift from niche based to mainstream, with the success of World of Warcraft.

    WOW dropped the gates and fences in the name of increasing accessiblity, and they’ve done a good job doing it. In 2000 EQ topped out around 1 million subs (with very little competition) and in 4 years WOW would be released and eventually top out at over 11.5 millions subs (with more Pay & Free 2 play MMO games on the market than you can play in a life time).

    The rub comes as a result of dropping the gates and fences. Its a different gaming experience for those gamers that originally started playing MMO games to start with. I don’t have a problem sharing my game with 12+ million other players…..I have a problem when the genere I’ve come to love changes to become more like a casual gaming experience in the name of box sales and subscription numbers.

    Yes WOW has introduced 5-10 million more people to MMO gaming that wouldn’t have given the genere a shot before. But, are these 5-10 million new gamers to the genere (who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in MMO gaming) worth the cost of lowering the bar for the most dedicated niche of the playerbase? Now, we can’t get a MMO released by an AAA company without it looking like a WOW clone because unless it can appeal to the massive casual market that WOW has garnered….its not worth the investment.

    Whats happening in the MMO industry is a microcosim of whats happening in the gaming industry as a whole. The advent of social media gaming & Micro Transaction games are redirecting much of the gaming dollars to develop these very simple short cycle games for the millions of ultra casual gamers….instead of those dollars being invested in a more complete and longer lasting game.

    Whats happening in the MMO industry is a microcosim of what seems to be happening in the gaming industry as a whole.

  14. A nice article and decent replies as a whole, tho I can’t help but feel frustration at the fact that it all skates teasingly around the main attitude that seems to be killing gaming as a whole. Maybe Snobbishness has contributed largely to it, but the main killer or winner of a game for me is the community as a whole. If I go into a MMO and people are playing it as if it were a single player and I were just some glorified NPC, that kills it for me. When chat channels are abused as a glorified chat room for them to have group therapy and take out thier frustration at the world, that kills it for me. When someone feels the need to mic-spam horrible or annoying music/sfx in a fps or when I’m new but they kick me cause I’m trying to learn or they just don’t like my name(and you can see I don’t pick offensive names), that kills it for me. And when a game is dead to me, I leave it. I say goodbye to the friends I made, encourage them to keep communications open via email or whatnot and I pull my funding.

    Maybe these are points the author thought of while writing this article, but I felt these sort of things needed to be said plainly and openly.

    The increasingly antisocial/predatory nature of the gaming community as a whole has me wondering more and more just why it is that I continue to be a gamer. I can play a fps, slaughter my opposition, taunt, teabag and such. Or even take that against me. But after it’s over, I will also extend my hand to shake my opponents hand and tell him/her ‘good game’, and mean it.

    When I find a game that has a friendly community of people trying to enjoy the game and they see I can help them do just that… that game is win, and I stick around. It happened for me with FFXI when it launched, it happened for me with CoH. FFXI, it was ultimately PlayOnline itself that killed the experience for me. I continue to play CoH.

  15. You bring up a good point about the community JustMe. This may only be relavent in online multi player games, but the community is a great example of some of the unintended consequences of this “Big Tent” approach to marketing and developing games.

    There is a reason why players who play console games play console games. There is a reason why players who played MMO games played MMO games. It should be no surpise that when you pull in millions of players who had little genuine interest in the genere before hand(for all its strengths and faults)that your community is now filled with a bunch of players that display anti social behavior every chance they are afforded. it should be no suprise that these players also demand that the game be more accomodating to their previous console or FPS gaming experience.

    It’s got less to do with “hardcore” gamers being elitist jerks….and more to do with a backlash of players who are forced to see their prefered form of entertainment be downgraded and dumbed down for a piece of the market base that is fickle and has little genuine interest in gaming with substance to begin with.

  16. Hey, you wanna have fun playing Heavy Rain, go ahead, no one’s to blame for that and I couldn’t agree more to what you wrote.

    Except there IS SOME sense in hardcore gamers hating the mainstream a little. First of all, there really are some guys out there that like to play deeper, longer, harder games. That’s what they’ve learned to like.

    Second, here’s the problem. 90% of the most beloved videogame franchises an genres are being completely mutilated to please masses that would never want a deep challenge, instead of beautiful graphics and movie-like animations. So yes, casual gaming is steamrolling RPGs and more “nerdy” stuff.

    Imagine if wine companies went “oh, beer sells better, let’s just produce beer instead of wine”. That’s what happens in gaming industry.

  17. Whenever someone is talking games at my college, I don’t even try to enter the talk anymore. Every time I did, I got laughed at because I said there are better games than Uncharted. They are the snobs.

    Casual gamers are kicking us “snobby elite” out much more than the other way around.

    An even better example. I was playing Marvel vs Capcom via PSN here at the magazine i work for. A guy from art passes by and disses out, “look at that piece of shit, how can you play that? would you go play Atari too?”

    See. Casual gamers can be pretty snobby too.

  18. Took me a while to get back to these comments. But some great stuff.

    I wasn’t thinking about MMOs when I wrote the article. And the comments point out that was an oversight. I think online gaming communities is a good place to talk about how to blend together the old and the new player.

    But the idea that struck me most was Felipe’s comment:

    “Imagine if wine companies went ‘oh, beer sells better, let’s just produce beer instead of wine’. That’s what happens in gaming industry.”

    I think that’s a good analogy and it fits with what I was trying to say: The videogame industry probably needs the mainstream to stay healthy. Diversity is good. Being a wine or a game snob is fine. I just think that we also need to allow for the greater range. Or as I say–I like beer/games. I like all kinds of beer/games.

  19. Yes. Like I said before, I agree with your text, and I do even more now. Who doesn’t like something you can pick up and enjoy right away?

    I guess the secret must be somewhere inbetween french wine and cheap, horrible-tasted beer. Somewhere around Street Fighter or Transformers:WfC.

  20. Firstly, excellent opening. You had me sold on this article with your beer analogy. 😀
    I also think what you’re referring to is actually actually an issue that many subcultures have to deal with, whether it’s music, art, beverages, games, movies, or comics. The list goes on and on.
    Comic fans are another subculture where you see this taking place. A group of people who prided themselves on loving their obscure titles, buying their comics from these little hole-in-the-wall shops are now finding their favorite series being turned into major Hollywood titles which in turn have affected how their comics are written.
    Another example is music scenes. Every scene started out local, was then discovered by marketing, made “cool” and then met their demise. (Grunge is a great example of that)
    A lot of times when these sub cultures then form counter cultures and the pendulum swings back and fourth. What we’re seeing right now is the “hard core” becoming more and more jaded with being “cool” and reacting by distancing themselves from the “casual” market with an “us vs. them” mentality. I think it started with the PS one where graphics first became a big deal. 3-D graphics, especially and the Playstation had the best engine at the time to handle that. Because they became more visually compelling, more and more games caught on which got mainstream media more and more excited. Then the PS2 came out, rinse and repeat. Now games are much shorter, sometimes with more limited gameplay in the interest of cinematic cutscenes. Achievements/trophies have been added to give more replay value to games that are much shorter than before. The reason is mainly graphics, I think. And it’s a lot more expensive to pull off cutting edge visuals than before. So I think the hardcore have become jaded because they’re seeing a landscape of gaming being loaded up with novelty and shovel ware that sells well rather than challenging and interesting games.

    It reminds me of my art history class. Impressionism started out as a revolutionary movement for its time that was rejected by the mainstream. In time it became more accepted and even trendy. Art became more about “pretty pictures” rather than making a statement or challenging the viewer. Because of this, artists broke off from the Impressionsits becoming the post-impressionists, expressionists, dadaists, surrealists, so on to what seems to be countless sections of modern art that can be traced back to impressionism.

    Whether or not gaming goes the way of art history has yet to be seen. And I’m certainly not disagreeing with the article. I think, however, that it will take a while for casual and hardcore gaming to reach that happy medium. But of course there will always be those elitist a-holes in every group. 😛

  21. I do agree that sometimes, some gamers over exaggerate things, but much of games/hardware complexity today is needed because the hardware/software evolved to a more sophisticated level.

    When I say “sophisticated” I do not mean better in any kind; just different from casual games, that are still some kind of simple non-complex type of gaming.

    I explained myself in a better way here.

  22. This is a weird article that seems to give more insight into the author’s odd worldview than to elucidate his thoughts on game snobs. First to tackle the analogy, it wasn’t a good choice. I’ve never felt, or heard anyone say they felt, intimidated by wine. Also, there has been a beer microbrewery explosion in the US in the past serveral years such that there is a better argument to be made for more of a snobbish demographic coming from beer drinkers against other beer drinkers. Anyway, that’s a distraction, let’s get to the point.
    First of all, I don’t agree with the underlying premise of the article. The game industry doesn’t need to get any bigger. This is an underlying, and insane, idea that infects every aspect of our economy: constant growth. Here is a number from the Entertainment Software Association, “U.S. computer and video game software sales grew 22.9 percent in 2008 to $11.7 billion…”. That is the most recent year for which they had numbers, so Americans weren’t really feeling the recession yet. However, any established industry that grows by over a fifth in one year is already experiencing a staggering amount of growth. I won’t bore you with cautionary tales of industry growth bubbles and how they end, you can google savings and loans, the dotcom boom or housing boom on your own.
    It would actually be more responsible to write an article to encourage the video game industry to slow down, rather than speed up. Any industry (see above mentioned booms) that has that much growth and that much cash flowing unerringly gets into trouble. The video game industry is probably more susceptible to having glaring problems because it is involved in entertainment. Look at the music industry if you want to see what alot of money does for creative arts (IMO it leads to alot of crap). If anything the industry needs not a growth in economics, but rather in creativity. I’m looking at you MMO’s.
    As for asking hardcore gamers to care bear it up, you’re asking people to go against their nature. Hardcore gamers get that way because they play alot, and I suspect, they are motivated by the idea of beating, i.e. being better than, someone else. Some winners like crowing their superiority over others, so asking them to be magnanimous in a society that holds up morons and attention whores as paragons of society (yes you reality tv) seems to be a bit of a mixed message in the greater context.
    I can get behind the whole ‘be nicer to people’ idea, everyone should do that in general. I can’t get behind a message of ‘be nicer to people, so EA can make better quaterly profit statements.’ Howabout we put some of the onus to grow the industry on the people who think $60 is a reasonable price for a new console game, it’s not.

  23. Interesting read, but I have to say that the parallel to wine snobbery, while apt, is somewhat misplaced in this context.

    People who approach gaming as a hobby with fresh eyes, as newcomers, are just as easily overwhelmed by the vast array selection and pedigree that different platforms and software provides them a choice of. Often times, like wine, to the newbie anyway, it seems impossible to determine the good from the bad, and how to best pursue their interests therein. For those who decide they don’t want to look dumb for their lack of knowledge, the easy thing to do is simply avoid it. Personally I think it’s just as bad if a gamer who finds a taste for a micro-brew, continually decides to settle for Coors light just because that’s what his friends drink and he doesn’t want to come off as a snob. That leads to complacency on the side of the makers as, if everyone is continually willing to settle for Coors Light (shudder), that’s all they’re going to bother making.

    What the author does not seem to understand is that wine snobbery is a cultural phenomenon unique to certain markets, and an advantageous demographic to exploit for those who sell and market wine in these regions, namely North America and France. It is not a universal aspect of wine culture. In fact, most of the wine-drinking world sees wine in precisely the opposite light, viewing the elitism surrounding certain wine-making regions antithetical to the spirit of wine culture in general. Wine is an everyday occurrence in the lives of people for whom it exists as a cultural mainstay for centuries, which is made from the resources of the region. It intends not to be fancy or pretentious, but merely a staple of everyday life, as it has been for centuries. It is not fancy, it is not expensive, and often, people make their own table wine in their own backyards.

    The pretentiousness and snobbery of wine culture has been tacked on to exploit the wealthy and social elitists’ own character deficiencies and economic status in order to maximize profits for wineries who, in truth, are only able to produce a certain volume of product each and every year, no matter what they do to sell it. The only way for them to increase revenue is to consistently achieve excellence beyond their competition, as they will never be able to simply ‘make more’ wine in order to make more money.

    The real lesson in this parallel is that, for the author, who chooses instead to keep his interests closeted rather than appear ignorant on the subject (like so many middling gamers out there), is that he does so because he feels like he has to in order to save face. He would presumably allow his presumptions about a global phenomenon prevent him from attempting to enrich his understanding of and ability to appreciate it, rather than be open about his own insecurity on the subject. I believe that this is the case for all gamers at a certain point, and that the only truly ‘hardcore’ among us are those willing to challenge their perceived tastes and play as many different varieties of games as they can reasonable access, just for the sake of broadening their knowledge of the medium as a whole.

    The real question is, why hold a false perception about something instead of exploring it and learning about it for yourself?

    A bit of research on a man named Robert Parker, a wine critic, and his effect on the American wine business, is the real parallel to dissect between wine and gaming. His palate put California wine on the map and shaped a hemisphere’s approach to wine production. A tradition that many see as producing a spirit which is a reflection of a time, place, and conditions under which it was grown, as much the sun and soil as the barrel aging fermentation processes, became all about manipulating those elements to achieve a preconceived definition of ‘quality’ which the makers knew would have the support of the critical community, and therefore the marketplace itself.

    Sound familiar?

    As Robert Parker’s critical reputation grew, so did his personal tastes affect the production techniques of winemakers across the nation. Now the US wine industry has a ton of wines that are expensive, well regarded, all taste relatively the same, and only appeal to a certain mindset of consumer: the enthusiast.

    The difference is with wine, consumers have an enormous selection of wine, great wine, that is affordable to them and satisfies their needs. This is why Chile, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand, and South Africa are seeing a renaissance in their wine making regions today.

    Before this recent phenomenon it became such that for a vintage to receive a certain score in a wine magazine, it had to meet the specifications of the critical palate’s desire to be deemed worthwhile or successful. The same is happening in games criticism, and has already lead to a homogeneous relationship between critic, creator, and consumer which is more exclusive than inclusive, and doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

    Frankly, these days as a gamer, if you like playing console games and don’t like shooting things with a gun, you options are severely limited as to what type of gaming experiences are available to you. The critical press is as guilty of narrowing the perceived appeal of gaming as they are raising a wall of elitism around accessing the medium to newcomers. And unless you catch the Nintendo bug as a child, or happen to find a decent little time waster on facebook, there is no other way of introducing oneself to the medium without shelling out hundreds of dollars up front in order to do so.

    It’s the industry’s entrenched mindset that everyone must make the same sort of content to cater to a narrow set of tastes that present the real danger in progress and growth. And while casual games and social games represent a new way to pursue the business of making new gamers, it’s still designed to be more exploitative than self sustaining.

    Like if you tell people all you have for them is Coors light, they’ll likely drink it and not complain, as they believe it’s their only option. If their only other option costs $400 and doesn’t even give them a game for their troubles, most people won’t even bother trying…

    And the author his absolutely right- even the hardcore fan base has been telling the industry for years that $50-$60 is too much to pay for a game. Piracy, the used market, and the success of game rental services like Gamefly have been telling us as much for years.

    If gaming is to continue to grow, and to bring the parallel home, there needs to be a recognition by the industry that more people are interested in buying a case of decent looking 10-15 dollar bottles of wine, than just two or three 30-60 dollar bottles that aren’t guaranteed to justify their price point, simply because that’s what the magazines they don’t even like reading told them to do.

  24. Hmmm…disagree with the wine metaphor. It’s no really a strong enough example of a snobby subject. I love Chardonnay and don’t really think about whether im having fish or beef, I just like it ad an alternative to beer. I realise you were going for the democraphic of readers (who most likely drink beer over wine) however a better metaphor could have been cars. It’s a more widely accepted bragging ground for snobbery. Me – I couldn’t care less as I take the bus. So I guess there’s not pleasing some people. 🙂

  25. The analogy doesn’t fit. It takes tremendous dedication and time to be really good at something. Simply lifting a glass of whatever to your lips doesn’t fit the thesis. There is always a bit of exclusivity and snobbiness amongst the elite crowds in every area of life. However, I can more easily justify it when that person or group as achieved such status through their own efforts. Not simply b/c one chooses product A over B.

    And quite contrary to the article, if anything deters would be gamers, especially in the online arena, is the cheating that takes place, not snobbiness.

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