Before I start today’s column, I would just like to say that it’s kind of ironic that Keith Vaz has always vocally been against violent and overly sexualised video games like GTA, when if the current allegations are true he is essentially a GTA character that you’d meet during a random side mission. Vaz has been against games for a long time, but maybe all this time he was a secret Grand Theft Auto V fan and nobody knew about it?
I jest, of course, and would also again like to strongly stress that these allegations are in fact just that, and nothing has been even remotely proven. Still, always nice to see a detractor of video games take a bit of a kick in the unmentionables now and then. If maybe this has unsettled Mr. Vaz atop his high horse somewhat, I can’t really complain.
So, this week I’m flying by the seat of my pants a little bit, mainly because I said I wasn’t doing a Retro Respawn in my last Rings of Saturn Issue in the hope that something would happen in the video game universe that would catch my attention for a nice juicy Fitzgerald Scale, and then nothing really happened to grab me, at least not for a 600-800 word article. For that reason, I decided I’d break the article down into 3 or 4 manageable bite sized chunks in the hope it would lead to pleasant journalistic Tapas.
However, I started what I intended to be a couple hundred words about my first subject, and I ended up rambling my way to a full article. So, if you want to hear whether I’ll be buying the new COD game (I won’t be and will instead be waiting for Modern Warfare 1 to be released on its own at some point) or about Konami jumping into bed with Liverpool for the new PES game (I can’t think of two more suitable bed fellows), I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with what you’ve got, because otherwise, I think I could honestly be here all evening, and trust me, no one wants that.
I have got a bucket of retro games in over the past week, so I’m sorted for a least a couple of months on that front, so I’ll start working my way through those next week. But for now, let’s look at something contemporary.
So yeah, No Man’s Sky certainly caused a fair bit of insanity, didn’t it? I’ve never been more intrigued by a game that I’ve literally had no interest in playing. I’ll be honest, the whole “survival craft” genre of gaming has never really been my bag. I’m baffled when I see the efforts people go through for games like this. If you’re ever bored and want to see what a human mind can truly be capable of with enough free time and Ritalin, you should venture to YouTube and see some of the amazing things people have built in Minecraft.
There are people who have built to scale recreations of Madison Square Garden. A friend of mine spent literal months of his life building one of the towers from The Lord of the Rings on it. I just can’t fathom having that much free time and attention to detail. Yes, I’ve spent the odd few nights creating rosters for EWR and TEW games, but that just requires patience. Building massive buildings out of virtual Lego takes patience and skill, which is sadly something that’s way beyond me.
But impressed though I most surely am, I have absolutely no desire to play the game myself, and that isn’t because you can’t “win” at it. Far from it. I think the fact that games exist where you don’t just “win” the game at the end are the best example we could ever have that what we love is a genuine art form. What is a game like Minecraft if not a giant canvas for an artist to build his or her own world? I honestly think that building a lifelike recreation of Chepstow Town Hall on a PC will soon be replacing building paper airplanes for some youths in the coming decades.
But to bring us back to No Man’s Sky, despite being impressed by early videos and screenshots of the game, I never really felt moved to play it. I certainly never got gripped by the Titanic sized hype surrounding the game, although I did watch from afar with a fair sense of bemusement. I decided to wait for the game to come out so I could read reviews and actually find out what it actually is. And when the facts started taking shape, I decided that it probably wasn’t for me and that I’d just wait to see how the internet would take it. All I could think was “Wow, this game better be good or a lot of people are going to very pissed” and lo and behold, the game wasn’t the 90-100% it needed to be in order to justify the hype, at which point the internet chuffing EXPLODED!
Highlights included Jim Sterling’s website getting taken down by angry NMS fans as he dared to give the game a mere 50%, and people from both sides of the argument tearing strips off each other with reckless abandon before reports started surfacing that people were attempting, and indeed succeeding, in getting their purchases refunded. This then opened up the ugly argument of “How long do you have to play a game and still be justified in getting your money back for it?”, which just caused the internet to be a thoroughly unpleasant place for a week or so.
And at the end of it all, what are we left with? A survival crafting game which, if you like those sorts of games, you’ll probably enjoy. One does wonder if it wouldn’t have been more prudent to just publicise the game as a decent survival crafting game that people who enjoy decent survival crafting games would perhaps like to purchase, as opposed to the second coming of Jesus H. Christ and William Ralph Dean rolled into one? But then again, in that situation I suppose it would have been considerably more difficult to trick 90% of your player base to buy the game under false pretences, so I can understand why Hello Games decided it might be a better idea to pursue the latter as opposed to the former.
All that hype was just asking for trouble, and trouble gleefully wedged its way in the front door and began immediately stanking the joint out. Certainly the whole saga has been one of the more prominent news stories of the year, even if things are at least starting to calm down a bit now. I am also glad that some people have really taken to the game and are enjoying it. Good, I’m glad they got something from it that made them happy. For those who haven’t enjoyed it and feel let down, however, I really hope this has been a cautionary tale that maybe it’s best not to let insessant hype and media hoopla colour your judgement too much. That being said, this is the gaming industry, where you’re always one E3 video away from absolute pandemonium. It’s always been that way, and it will always remain that way, and I’m sure I’ll get sucked into the hype for something in the near future. Those who forget history etc…
So, that’s yer lot for this week. As always, if you want to check out some other great content here on the site, have a goosey gander at the following:
You can read Alec’s review of the new Madden game by clicking right HERE
And you can read Chris’s review of boardgame Dead of Winter by clicking right HERE
Thanks for reading
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave