Friday, 28 August 2009

Don't let the video game bullies get you down

As a long(ish)-time user of YouTube, there isn't that much that gets on my wick any more. Any subscriber will agree that it's a complete minefield of ego-bashers and general eejits leaving disparaging, irritating comments, especially on the more popular videos.

It does not surprise me that many gamers choose to disable comments for their videos, as it is increasingly difficult to find time to moderate and go through single one of them with a fine tooth comb.

But there's one type of comment that still gets to me somewhat. You may have seen them: "this game sucks, there are lots of newer games you know", "of course, you'll never want to play this game ever again because there is a sequel out". In my mind, as so many others, I envisage these as eleven-year-old 'trendy' types that think the newer games are cool just because everyone else has them.

"Oh, you're still playing on GTA: San Andreas? That game is rubbish, GTA IV is where it's at." It may well be true that GTA4 has updated graphics, newer features etc., but in many ways it's actually a whole other animal to San Andreas. It's of a different time, a different generation, a different console. That doesn't change the fact it's still a great game with superb qualities.

GTA was just an example: I could just as well be speaking of Super Mario, Tomb Raider or anything else that's mildly popular with the kids of today. As it happens, I haven't played GTA4 yet. I'm sure it is indeed is a very good game, but I simply haven't had the time or money to buy it. I think that's partially the point - it's a wholly materialistic thing: "I have the newest stuff so I'm better than you, regardless of how much crappier/more awesome the newer versions are".

Now, don't confuse these comments with honest criticism: there may well be features that set Halo 23 worlds apart from Halo 22. However, there is a certain line that separates the genuine video game tip-off from just plain bullying or name-calling. For sure, once I played Super Mario 3, that became my favourite Nintendo game. But it didn't mean to say I never, ever looked twice at the original Super Mario Bros. again - quite the contrary.

Just because a game is old, it doesn't mean it's bad. I extract much more enjoyment from a 99p copy of Premier Manager '97 for the Mega Drive than the £40 brand new version of Football Manager on the PS3. There's no better demonstration of this than the fact the Wii Virtual Console exists: if all these games were so bad, why is it that a whole new generation of gamers downloading and enjoying them?

Don't let the video game bullies get you down - they can never tell you what you enjoy.