Us Versus Them

Us: the players of games.

Them: the makers of games.

The problem: the Versus.

This is a problem I’ve seen before, a problem I even see in my own household as my husband and I debate the merits of various games and a company’s possible motivation for doing what they do.

You see it on forums all over the place. The Big Bad Gaming Company is out to keep the player down. They hate my faction, my class, or just the player base in general. Continue ad infinitum.

I’ll admit that I have fallen into this trap in the past as well. It’s easy to feel persecuted when balance time comes, especially if it’s company policy to go for broke and then scale back when things get out of hand.

Let’s take a topic Mr. Tigerfeet hash back and forth about once a week these days, the release schedule for Guild Wars 2.

Tiger: Word on the street is a beta late this year with a release early next year.

Mr Tiger: Didn’t EB already release that information?

Tiger: No, you can’t trust that, it’s just a place-holder date.

Mr Tiger: Well if that’s the case then it’s a stupid plan.

Tiger: What? Why?

Mr Tiger: You have to release with all the other games otherwise people will be comfortable and settled and won’t want to try something new.

Tiger: Not necessarily. GW2 will be free to play, there might even be some kind of trial to entice new people.

Mr Tiger: Well Anet is still screwing their player base. They’re taking way too long.

Tiger: They’re just trying to release a quality product.

Mr Tiger: They’re going to wait too long. I thought the players were more important than that.

Tiger: They ARE. That’s why it’s taking so long.

About this time our arguments are running in circles and we usually degenerate into name calling and throwing cats at each other.

I’m willing to hope for the best while he, the perpetual cynic, is always looking out for ways in which a company is looking to screw its player base. (we then start talking about the unfairness of paying full price for a game, then being saddled with monthly fees on top of a business model that promotes micro-transactions, but that’s another company entirely)

When I step back to think about it all I find this ‘us versus them’ mentality a little ridiculous. Let’s look at basic motivations.

Us: We want to have fun. We want to feel powerful. We also want to be challenged (even if we don’t always admit it).

Them: 1) They want to be a successful company, this means making money, therefore making a game that fulfills what We want. 2) They also want to make something visually beautiful (or poignant) as well as viscerally and emotionally satisfying. (Anyone who leaps out far enough to try to make a living off of ART has a certain level of dedication to their craft) Mostly they just want to make money, if only because it affords them the freedom to continue pursuing their craft.

THEREFORE! It behooves a game company to give a player everything they could ever want so that said player keeps coming back for more, allowing the company to make money and continue working on their craft.

Why then, does this disconnect occur? Why do players occasionally feel slighted and persecuted?

I think it stems from a lack of patience, a misunderstanding of self, and a need for instant gratification (insert rant about ‘kids these days’ here). If a game company showers a player base with gifts from heaven those gifts won’t be valued. The player will have gotten everything they ever wanted, but will not feel satisfied. Likewise if the struggle to attain those gifts is too difficult, while an elite minority will persevere, the majority will leave, discouraged.

It’s a difficult line to tread. But does it need to be trodden at all? Why not have varying levels of difficulty? Why not make some content inacessible to a majority of players because of difficulty? I think it’s important that a game have content on all levels, for if there was not something out of our grasp, what would encourage us to reach so high?

So, when I feel persecuted (especially when I feel personally slighted) I try to step back and assess what this change will do for the whole. My game-life is being made more difficult, but will this actually result in a more fun experience in the long run?

They aren’t, contrary to popular opinion, out to get Us.

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  • Comments (2)
  1. people unhappy with how long its taking them to make a game that is costing them millions upon millions of dollars to make, should probably relax a little.

    They aren’t miracle workers. Anyone with expectations on their schedule from some comment they made years ago before they were truly even into making the game need a reality check. of course it’s taking them longer than expected. they didn’t have any idea how long it would take them. I certainly never thought they’d deliver the game on the dot 3 years later.

    theres this guy in the comments of every gw2 announcement on massively, nothing but giant negativity for only one reason: their release schedule doesn’t fit his idea of when the game shuold come out. it’s weird.

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 3rd, 2010

      Oddly enough, though I wish I could play the game as soon as possible, I’ve learned patience through my garden. There’s absolutely nothing I can do to make the crops grow faster, just as there’s nothing I can do to make ArenaNet work faster.

      This time of anticipation and speculation is going to be gone forever once the game comes out. True, we’ll be playing it then, but this time can be fun and interesting too, like the very beginning of a relationship.

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