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?