Occupy Developers: An Open Letter to Ending-Hating Gamers
To think that if only I had waited a few more weeks, my editorial on entitled gamers would have been even more relevant than it was. I just want to say, “thank you Mass Effect fans” for re-enforcing my point. Unfortunately it’s not only the Battlefield or BioWare communities on the search for blood recently, no. Instead it’s starting to feel like it’s everyone as of late, and it needs to come to an end before it becomes an even bigger issue. I figured what better way to do this than with an open letter?
Now let me just preface this by saying something. If you feel that an ending is rushed or not up to par in terms of quality, then it’s another issue, but if your complaint is that the game should have a different ending, falling in the realm of wanting to influence the creative freedom of a developer, well then this is meant for you. Here goes nothing.
Dear Entitled Eddie,
How the hell do you feel cheated? I get it. Like you, I’ve been at the end of a game, book, or movie where I felt somewhat — hell even sometimes completely — let down. Situations where I would have handled things maybe a bit differently, had I been the one to call the shots. However, not once did I ever displace that anger and turn it into a boycott or attempt to alter someones else’s creative vision.
It’s time for a serious reality check. When you think about it, actually no — there’s nothing to think about because it’s simply common sense. Gaming — just like any other form of consumer media — is, in it’s simplest form, entertainment. And it’s entertainment that is exchanged for money.
You pay money to the clerk at the game store. He or she hands you a product, then you consume it. That’s how this works.
The product that’s been handed to you was created by a man or a woman but more than likely a large team comprised of both men and women — usually of the creative variety — who are trained in the art of storytelling. I’ll call this team developer “X”, for the sake of this write up.
It’s because of X’s ability to tell stories and create interesting and engaging characters, that you the consumer decided it be best to part ways with your money and consume X’s product. Then you realize that X delivered you a story that didn’t meet the hopes, dreams, and aspirations you had for their game (or series), you decide to demand that they change it. Or even worse, you propose a boycott, and you take to the internets to assemble your angry mob.
My question is: What gives you the right to decide the outcome of a game because you don’t agree with it? Sure, you paid money for a physical product but what you actually paid for was for someone to tell you a story. Then when it isn’t up to your standards; does that automatically make it time to rally the troops?
The fact is that if you wanted to write your own story, you could have picked up a Mad Libs book for $5 at your local newsstand. Instead, you paid $60 because you wanted one told to you.
Are you going to organize a protest at the release of Martin Scorcese’s next film because you didn’t agree with how Joe Pesci’s character was whacked in Goodfellas? Would you tell Adele to change the lyrics to her Grammy Award winning songs because break ups make you sad?
You absolutely would not. So why is it different here? Ask yourself that.
Here’s another misconception. You may think that a game’s ascendancy is reliant on its smaller, more hardcore community or followers. Sure, those fans are the backbone to a game’s success and help to keep it alive when it’s no longer commanding the headlines but at the end of the day — publishers and developers alike — seek commercial success. Big market appeal is the name of the game here and as much as you don’t want to accept it, this is a business first and foremost.
As far as sales go, they’ve already got your money. They’ve had it since they announced the sequel. They know that you’ll whine and complain about character redesigns and gameplay mechanic changes and that no matter how upset you are with the new direction, you’ll still buy it when it releases.
With you now out of the way, it’s more about capturing the attention of your friends, family and everyone else that they want to buy their product. These games and their stories are designed behind grabbing the attention of that new consumer. A broader range of consumers, that is 10 times bigger (if not more) than the “core” audience that “put the series where it’s at.” It’s also another reason why games in general are becoming more and more accesible every single day.
I don’t have any other way to say this but I guess the gist of it all is that being upset about it, isn’t going to do much to change the developer’s vision. Even if by complaining you got what you wanted through DLC, you can’t un-see what was already in place — the true finale that the developer wanted you to see. So while a game may not have the support or ending that you agree with, keep in mind that it’s being made to have a larger impact for a bigger audience. It’s made to create a mass effect.
Sorry I had to be this honest but I think it’s the only way to get through to you.
No hard feelings,