War. War never changes- but only because it doesn’t need to in order to sell 14 million units.

I pen this journal on scraps of paper in my parent’s basement reinforced bunker, far underground. The bombs from battles above shake dust loose from the floorboards and give the entire room a dull brown haze. The pallet is quite familiar to me, as I’ve seen it dozens of times over the last few years.

This is because we are at war.

No, I’m not talking about the war the wealthy in America have successfully waged against the other 80% of the country, or the war the current iteration of the Republican party has waged against minorities, women, free speech, common sense, and decency. I’m talking about the war fought between gamers who want more from the first person shooter genre and the majority who are perfectly fine with the status quo. For those who want more, it is an uphill struggle against the shortcomings of game journalism, the de facto 7 to 10 scoring system, and even the majority of consumers who have come into the hobby during its current boom.

It’s a bleak world, a scary one. One where everything is a clone of Call of Duty, even when it isn’t. Where common talking points permeate game reviews deeper than memes permeate certain alphabetical image boards (“I herd u lyke mentioning the phrase AAA Title as often as possible all of a sudden”) and where the same opinions seem to breed and spread across websites faster than the Quiverfull movement through the red states. A terrible, destroyed landscape where nothing is good enough unless its got the advertising budget for it, and where arbitrary and nonrepresentational scores assigned by websites-that-will-remain-nameless have the power to make kings and tank stocks. A war-torn world where we’ve come to accept that the content of a review doesn’t equal its numerical value, and that anything between 70 and 80 may as well be a zero. A world made in shades of brown and browner where mediocrity is rewarded by people with huge sales and critical acclaim all while those same people complain that nothing is challenging or original anymore.

I fear nothing can save us from this plight.

November 5, 2007

The first volley of this horrible war seemed so mild. That is how these things always start. Modern war is very rarely an instant thing, it is something that happens slowly. It’s ugliness creeping into the crevices of a culture like tentacles into an animated Japanese school girl, until one day you look up and realize everything has changed without you even noticing. The color has drained from the world, your friends and neighbors have fallen lockstep behind something you don’t agree with, and all because the ugliness around you has become the considered norm. If we only knew then what we know now…

February 25, 2008

I have begun to stock up on copies of Half-Life 2 in the event of a FPS apocalypse.

Many of my colleagues begin to fall sick, infected by the illness of the 7-10 system of scoring games. Bad games get 7s because the numbers below them have stopped existing, eliminated in an attempt to minimize damage to publisher relationships everywhere and save publications the wrath of overly opinionated internet denizens. Games that actually deserve it get 7s and people decide not to play them because they have become so conditioned to it being a bad score. The amount of enjoyment lost to gamers because of the inherent weakness of the numerical scoring system is almost enough to make me weep, if I wasn’t too tough and manly to cry.

Worse yet is how an interesting story has been relegated to afterthought status. Campaign has become nothing more than a hollow minigame for those times when the internet isn’t working right and you can’t connect to the servers. I begin to hope that some company somewhere would realize the error of these ways and learn from their mistakes. It is my hope that someday, maybe a little over three years after their last game, a company would realize that story substance is even more important than graphical style and create something that is truly remarkable. Something that develops intelligently and emotionally, all while still offering strong gameplay. If this hypothetical company could create a hypothetical game that does that, I probably wouldn’t even care if it was only around six or seven hours long either. Hypothetically, of course, since I am writing this entry in 2008 and have no knowledge of the future.