Why Roger Ebert was right when he said video games aren’t art
By Alex Stanton, Staff Writer
I imagine most of you—whether it’s an occasional round of drunk Mario Kart with the squad or countless nights of choosing to poop in a sock rather than ditch your Warcraft guild—play video games. While baby boomers are just tragic when it comes to anything invented after 1976, it appears as though most members of the millennial generation know their way around a controller. It makes sense. I’d be hard pressed to name anyone in my demographic who grew up without some sort of avenue to play video games in their household.
I love video games, so it may surprise you to hear me say that, this decade, they’ve left me less than satisfied.
Now, for the record, I’m not wearing my rose-tinted sunglasses and going on about “back in my day…” like some old man; however, big-budget games from prolific developers are becoming incredibly stale. Of course, this is far from the only issue with our beloved hobby.
Let’s take a look back at 2007. I remember so many of today’s best selling properties being started or codified that year. Assassin’s Creed birthed a cash cow for Ubisoft, Gears of War was the face of Xbox Live for years, and Call of Duty 4 sent an already critically acclaimed series into the stratosphere. Nowadays, those same franchises still dominate the gaming landscape. Very few developers are willing to take risks, and it’s hurting gamers.
Downloadable content (DLC) and micro-transactions, while awesome on paper, are readily abused by most game developers by giving players the option to pay real-world money to have an advantage over the competition, unlock characters, and the like. Mario Kart 8 is an excellent example of paid content done right—namely, a lot of legitimate content for a reasonable fee—but, for the most part, DLC is an absolute blight on the industry.
Aside from using common sense, there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot gamers can do to change this. And common sense, to me, dictates that pre-ordering video games is an absurd and boneheaded move. What’s the point? Ten years ago, when you had to drive up to the Best Buy in Dawson Creek just to get a Wii, pre-orders were an absolute necessity for the hardcore gamer. Today, major shortages of gaming software happen once in a blue moon. I have yet to walk into a Best Buy that doesn’t have at least 10 copies of Grand Theft Auto V for each of the four or five consoles it’s on. There is no rhyme or reason to pre-ordering anymore.
I truly don’t see the appeal of paying full price for a video game—being one of the more expensive hobbies out there—based entirely on a marketing campaign created by cigar-chomping, cheese-eating surrender monkeys who think “Started From the Bottom” by Drake is a fitting soundtrack to Blackbeard and friends sailing the Caribbean in Assassin’s Creed IV. Simmer down, guys. Don’t go to midnight launches. Wait nine hours like a normal human being, walk in, and grab your game. You’ll be helping our hobby.