OPINION: 'Corporate jargon is enslaving the way we think about games'
29th Dec 2012 | 12:00
These are my last words. There's something I hate, and it's getting worse. It's marketing speak. Corporate jargon. Multisyllabic gobbledegook. It's enslaving the way we think about games, and it makes me want to cleanse every last motherfacilitator in the room.
Oddly it's at its worst on the internet, which is supposed to be forward-looking. I have a theory about this, which I'll come to, but first a disclaimer: the internet is here and now, and print will never again be a mass media. I'm OK with that. This isn't sour grapes. It happens in print too, though a little less, because there are at least a few sub-editors left to draw thick red lines through the vacuous crap before it gets published.
Online, nonsense is free range. For instance, you may not know what a 'SKU' is, but I'm sure you've read it. Wikipedia call it a 'stock-keeping unit,' which is 'a unique identifier for each distinct product that can be purchased'. Exciting eh? This is WHY I GAME. SHOW ME THE SKU. HERE COMES THE FUN. When will it go gold and ship? Whose IP is it? I don't care what guns are in it, Crispin, just tell me about the licensing.
Empty words grow on gaming like fungus. Do you care about all these financial conference calls, global brand rollouts and franchises we're all writing about? Really? Then you must be studying marketing, or corporate law. I used to read about games, and what you did as the hero. Now I read about the latest iteration of the franchise, and the gameplay mechanics of the protagonist. How very multisyllabic.
It's pompous, long-winded and dreary. And I'll tell you why it's inside gaming like a cancer: fear. It's everywhere because so many people are afraid. They're afraid to sound childish. Deep down they're ashamed of liking games, which are things you play for fun. So it's all made deadly serious. 'Grown-up'. It's overcompensation.
To be fair to the explosion of 'journalists' who think they're part of the 'industry' now they've blogged about Call of Duty, it's not just the critics overcompensating. In the ten years I worked on games mags, I was never a journalist and was not part of the games industry. I was a writer - that's what I did - and I worked in publishing.
Writing about the CIA wouldn't make me part of the intelligence community and writing about games doesn't make you part of the games industry. That isn't how it works. But it's not just the commentators driving gaming's once colourful comedy car to Kwik Fit to get it lowered and sprayed matt black and street, yo. It's the publishers too.
How many games have gone 'gritty' in a quest to become 'adult'? Tomb Raider, Hitman, SSX even, every military shooter ever... the list goes on, but I seem to have jammed a propelling pencil into my leg to stop it. Even GTA lost its once-trademark humour for Xbox 360.
I'm sick of games with 'adult' themes. They take themselves too seriously. I don't care how tortured the man from Prototype 2 is unless I'm responsible for it. And for the same reason, I'm sick of beetle-browed articles about markets and brands and 'content', as if it meant something to me as a player.
What is content? It's ANYTHING. It's something inside a receptacle; it's a regular quantum mystery. It's SMOKE. "What did you do last night, Steve?" "I sourced some content and consumed it! It was my favourite iteration of Q3, FY13!" If you actually speak like this, go to your home, sit quietly and wait for your batteries to die.
Or, do you like fun? Do you enjoy games? Then do something for me, in this brave post-XBW world: drop the I'm-all-growed-up-now corporate horseshit and stand up for them. Screw the non-believers: they'll never take you seriously anyway. Games are things we play for fun, and there's nothing wrong with that at all.