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“You aren’t a gamer until you’ve had your first X vs Y sneerfest, for fun or profit”

By on September 13, 2010

Last week, I wrote a post about the sneering attitudes core gamers have towards social games. The genesis of the post was a deeply-prejudiced article in the SF Weekly about Zynga’s business ethics.

I didn’t take issue with the ethics question. I think it is good that an investigative journalist is shining a light into dark corners (dark corners like these, and these).

I took issue with the sneering, prejudiced and elitist attitude to social games that were relentlessly described as “cretinous”, “inane” and “simplistic”.

GamaSutra logo

I cross-posted the article to GamaSutra, expecting to get a response. And boy, did I got a response. Over a hundred prejudiced comments, with only a tiny smattering of more thoughtful views.

One commenter, Slade Villena, was sufficiently incensed by my post that he wrote a response entitled Criticism != Elitism, Culture != Metrics, Gamers == All Grown Up.

(I imagine the irony of writing a post that says gamers aren’t elitist in language that only a programmer would understand escaped Slade).

The title of this post is a verbatim quote from the post. Other choice snippets include:

  1. Just about every part of this industry gets a salvo of sneering.  Part of the territory. 
  2. Destructoid sneering at ‘art games’. Ebert opening his mouth about games. The Console Fanboi Wars. WRPG vs JPRG. WoW vs FFXI. DRM vs Common Sense. TifaXCloud vs TifaXAeris. Insert-Big-Studio-Name-Here. Bobby Kotick’s ‘joke’. Everyone. Everything. Every widget, and every line of code.  
  3. In fact, I’d like to think of it as a prerequisite; you aren’t a gamer until you’ve had your first X vs Y sneerfest, for fun or profit. This is an integral part of the territory; hardcore gamers have all grown up having their own opinions, misguided or otherwise, including all those nasty comparisons, calling things ‘cretinous’, developing a vocabulary and art for it.  Gamer culture has grown up to include debate and refinement, and yes, it also means putting things down, and talking smack.

Or this deeply peculiar definition of the mass-market

Lets look at the ‘mass market’ for the Final Fantasy franchise. It has games in almost every platform, from the original PlayStation, down to today’s current gen consoles. It has a global following of Cosplayer’s, fan art, fan fiction. It’s chief musician, Nobuo Uematsu, has his own festival, which includes orchestras from all over the world, playing Final Fantasy music, selling out tickets weeks, if not months, in advance. Final Fantasy has also produced 1 MMO, and has been the most prolific MMO in Japan. When we say ‘mass-market’; we mean that. A market in different aspects of culture, fandom, community, music, art, games, cosplay. Everything.

Or this, my favourite:

Hardcore gamers are the stewards of this craft,

If you are interested in reading a manifesto for prejudice, arrogance and snobbery, you would struggle to find better.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: