Editorial: What's Your Favorite Divisive Topic In Gaming?
A few years ago, a politician took a stance on a controversial topic. I won't say who it was or what he said, but a friend of mine posted on Facebook, “That's gonna cost him in the election.”
I supported the stance he took, so to me, it made me more likely to vote for him (and I did). A number of other people probably felt the same way. But I can understand how polarizing his statement was, how it could create equal numbers of “Atta boy!” and “I'm never voting for that #*$@” responses, from each side of the political aisle. In any case, it wasn't as simple a case of political suicide as my friend put it.
You see a lot of the same thing in video games, especially when a new game, or new features are announced. For example, some people like raids; some think they're the worst. An MMO that announces raids is going to get a significant percentage of people cheering while others jeer. It's rarely the type of thing that elicits no response.
Of course, there's the biggie: free-to-play vs. paid. Some people swear off F2P games for one reason or another, while some won't even look at an online game if it isn't F2P – or hound P2P games for their “greed.” I see reasons for both, so I'm not automatically biased toward one or the other; it depends on the game.
My topic is something a little more subtle, but one that I think still tweaks a fair number of people: choices in games. More choices are always better, right? Nope, not buying it. When I see a game offer six billion different ways to customize your character/starship/whatever, or an extensive crafting system with 38 different ways to make a sword, I just see it as introducing a ton of unnecessary layers that mostly exist just to show how “big” a game is – especially when only a handful of builds are valid in the first place. (My long-standing feud with inventory systems are probably an offshoot of this, especially when my bags are 90% full of stuff I'll probably never need, or need about once a month.) Some degree of complexity is necessary; I just think that some games overdo it for the sake of saying they can.
But I get why that's attractive to certain people. The heady rush of having unlimited options can be intoxicating, and some folks are more than happy to spend hours browsing wikis to determine the exact perfect configuration for their chosen avatar – especially if it gives them an advantage over someone who doesn't put in that kind of time. I'd rather play a game than research one, but I can see the appeal of chasing perfection.
At the very least, just like with that politician, I hesitate to say some part of a game is an awful decision unless I know nearly everyone's going to hate it. One person's “stay away” feature is another's “best thing ever.”
I'd like to know if other people have similar “binary” issues with games, especially if they're the sort of things that they know other people love. It could be a case of “I understand why they love this” or “I have no idea why anyone likes this.” The key is that a large segment of the gaming population does disagree with you – even if you aren't sure why. Leave a comment and let us know!
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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