Is that the smell of change blowing in the wind, or is it just the scent of the same old crap?
Gaming has come a long way since I was a wee lad, but the companies behind it are acting as though it’s still 1980 and they’re all Gordon Gekko (or Jordan Belfort if you prefer). It’s only a matter of time until we find out that all the gaming executives are addicted to cocaine and go to strip clubs for their business meetings.
Apart from Ubisoft, because we already know that they go to strip clubs for their business meetings.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What the Hell is Happening to Gaming: Why It Matters
When I was a young lad, I lived in Tasmania. Society itself barely had a gaming scene, let alone the backwater state of Tassie having one. Until the internet came along, Tassie was basically a random island, isolated from the country it belongs to (Australia, if you didn’t know).
Back then, gaming wasn’t considered cool. Geek stuff in general wasn’t considered cool, with the possible exception of radio-controlled cars (in the exact same way that playing with drones nowadays somehow doesn’t make you a giant nerd).
You could be teased (or worse) for playing video games. Not for playing Fortnite or Minecraft (or other unfairly judged video games), mind you – for playing video games at all. If we’re going to be completely honest, most game-system owners used them to financially flex on their ‘friends’ more than they played them. That was my experience with video games for most of my pre-teen years, anyway.
As gaming became more affordable, the kids of my generation (Gen X) were the first to embrace gaming en masse as social hobby. It still wasn’t socially acceptable to game, and you were expected to turn your video game off at the slightest whim of your parents (or whoever), but it was popular among my generation nonetheless.
If I had a dollar for every time I was told to ‘stop looking at the screen while there are other people around’, I could probably afford to buy all the Amazon stocks. Side note: That whole ‘looking at a screen while others are around is bad’ vibe didn’t stick around long, did it? All you people who are able to watch YouTube videos while you’re also watching a movie with your family, you know what I’m talking about.
Words cannot describe (they probably could if they came from a better writer, but whatever lol) how important gaming was to me. Books remain better (for me) for immersion, but there was something almost magical about playing a computer game with my headphones on in a darkened room. Hell, there still is.
I just wanted others to be able to experience the joy of being a wizard, a cyborg, an alien, a robotic plant, and many of the other hundreds of lives that gaming let me live. It was so incredibly special and personal to me that I felt guilty that I was allowed to have this joy because I didn’t care about ‘what was cool’.
If these other people would just give video games a chance and see that video games were actually cool, and if game devs could create more meaningful works (like a game where you can’t pick what race you play at the start, to examine racism) – well, that might just change the world!
I would have given almost anything to have made gaming mainstream.
And that makes me sad.
Because gaming is mainstream now, and it’s a fucking mess.
What the Hell is Happening to Gaming?: How It Affects Organisers
3 days ago, a Reddit user asked the question: “What is the deal with Riot (league of legends) employees being pissed off and ashamed to be working at Riot?“
Personally, I think a much better question would be ‘Why isn’t every single game dev who works for a major gaming company pissed off and ashamed to be working for money-hungry leeches who actively prey on people with gambling issues instead of letting their employees release actually-finished games?’ but apparently that’s just crazy talk so just ignore that.
Basically, the top answer to the thread summarised it perfectly. Here’s the relevant parts:
Yesterday, the LEC (European professional League scene) announced its new main advertising partner – NEOM. NEOM is a Saudi Arabian project tied very closely to Mohammad bin Salman. The LEC has generally been quite progressive and some of the prominent personalities are LGBTQ, so it came as a shock to many that they would be expected to talk up Saudi Arabia (or at least a Saudi Arabian tourism project).
Many Riot employees (including every public persona for the LEC – casters, interviewers, etc) publicly expressed disappointment in this partnership, which was apparently announced to them only a little before it went public. They were also planning to strike this weekend and not do the show. Within a day, Riot announced the partnership was being cancelled.
So, to summarise even further:
– Riot Games is the company that makes a game called League of Legends
– LEC is basically the organiser for the European Grand Finals of said game
– LEC has traditionally been supportive of their LGBTQ employees/clients
– LEC announced they were partnering with an advertising company named NEOM
– NEOM is known to have close ties to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, a man whose named is linked to multiple human rights violations and is known to persecute LGBTQ people
– In response, Riot employees complain about this very publicly
– The LEC breaks the NEOM partnership
When people make things public, it’s harder for companies to control the narrative. Sometimes they’ll just give up. But sometimes, like with the World Wrestling Entertainment company, they’ll just fire you for talking about it.
I’m hoping we don’t see an article like that for Riot Games employees.
What the Hell is Happening to Gaming?: How it affects Game Developers
Some of the Blizzard staff have leaked their payrates, so the world can finally have proof that games executives are actually in fact just greedy assholes, because we don’t have enough proof about that yet (he said sarcastically).
This one it’s pretty big because Blizzard are a much more famous company than Riot Games (sorry Riot Games).
Normally, I wouldn’t give this a further thought because, well, fuck Blizzard, but the article about the leaks (which you can find here) was written by none other than Jason Schreier. If you don’t know who that is, let’s just say that he’s one of the few mainstream games journalists who will actually side with game devs (as opposed to game executives).
The following sentence from his article perfectly exemplifies the pay issues with the gaming industry: ‘Wage disparity has become a hot-button issue in the $150 billion video game industry as calls for unionization grow.’
It won’t surprise anyone who didn’t read the linked article (nor people who did read it) to find out that the executives are making bank while the people who do the actual work are making very close to minimum wage, because that’s totally how an ethical and humane society operates.
Wage disparity is an issue all throughout society, not just in gaming. But something something something first step in a thousand-mile journey something something.
What the Hell is Happening to Gaming?: How it affects Gamers
So there’s apparently this great new Square Enix Avengers game coming out. I keep searching for news of it online, but the only upcoming Avengers game I can find doesn’t appear to be very interesting, so it can’t be that one.
Some people don’t care about that though, because they’re looking forward to it themselves. Pretty rude of them to ignore my feelings like that, but let’s move on.
Hey, do you know who’s basically an Avenger now? Spider-Man!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could play Spider-Man in the new Avengers game?
Great news! You CAN!
As long as you own a PS4, that is. If you’re on Xbox or PC you can just fuck right off. That’s not me saying that – it’s Square Enix saying it.
In response, many Xbox and PC users are choosing to boycott the game. I’m not one of them, because I was never going to buy it anyway.
Jeez, I hope it goes better than the Battlefield V boycott (which I wrote an article about at the time). I think it’s fair to say that ‘7.3 million units in about two months‘ (source: Gamespot) doesn’t really count as a meaningful boycott.
Sure, that’s lower than EA (the publishers of Battlefield V) wanted – but let’s not pretend it was effective.
Feel free to boycott the idea of ‘not commenting below’!