I used to be like you, elitists. There were some titles that I’d take one glance at, laugh heartily, and completely disregard. Why? No real reason, honestly. I’d just make a quick judgment regarding box art, publisher, the type of game, or perhaps even hearsay regarding it. I suppose from all the years spent around peers who did the exact same thing, it had been sort of ingrained into my being. Of course, I couldn’t be a follower all my life. When I wised up and realized that there were, indeed, games out there that were worth something aside from what was lauded by my peers and magazines, it was as if the whole world opened up to me. Of course, this was more than 10 years ago now, and looking back on things I can’t believe how ignorant I was. These days, I see it in a good portion of the gaming populace. If the game has anything they may be the slightest bit opposed to, it’s ignored, shunned, or ridiculed.
Case in point: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand was announced, and gamers (including journalists) everywhere turned up their noses in a show of true pretentiousness. Perhaps it was simply a response to the fact that it wasn’t 50 Cent’s first foray into gaming, and we all knew how his first attempt went. Because it was a title endorsed by a rapper (who we must all shun, obviously), it was touted as a waste of time. If you showed too much interest in its impending release, you were given quite a few condescending remarks about how "unbelievable" it is that anyone could possibly be interested in such a game. Spotted online enjoying it? Cue incoming messages questioning your sexuality, "hardcore" status, and various other insipid statements.
I admit, at first I was a bit skeptical, until I was asked to give it a try. Then, upon playing through, completing, and reviewing the game, I was pleasantly surprised at its run-and-gun, arcade-style antics. It provided so much more fun than "triple-A" titles launched before it that I preferred to spend time with it rather than what was "in." As the opinions poured in, the game received surprisingly good reviews. Still, no one was ready to admit that such a "lowly" game could ever be worthy of any kind of real praise. When you have a genuinely enjoyable title, why is it still looked upon as a steaming pile? Because of who endorses it? Because of who created it? What’s the real reason? Are we afraid to have fun?
Why have we, as gamers, evolved into such pretentious clods with no real perception of what can be fun or what is not? Why is it that when Kojima or Miyamoto announces a game we are extremely excited, but when an unknown developer tries their hand at making something special, we’re so quick to judge based on their nonexistent track record or the "quality" of their work? This is a mindset that has become truly damaging to the industry and all those within. As a regular user of Twitter I take note of many negative opinions regarding games individuals are "ashamed" to be playing, such as Wheelman (most recently) or even Peggle. Apparently it’s become the most widely-accepted frame of mind to wallow in self-loathing about any game you’re devouring at the moment that isn’t the next big thing, or something you’re seeing advertised all over TV or on the net. Those lesser-known (or widely infamous) games become somewhat of an embarrassment, and this sort of behavior has only sought to irritate and detach me from the rest of those associated with gaming.
The last time I checked, the reason one picks up a controller to begin with is to have fun. Not to overanalyze bromances, to complain about shoddy graphics, or to simply have the ability to say "Look, guys! I’m playing this game! Can I be admitted to the cool group now?" We game to have fun, to pass time, and to enjoy it. Why, just a week or so ago I found myself heartily enjoying Monsters vs. Aliens for the Xbox 360. It’s a movie game, directed at children. How dare I have fun with such a beastly product? Never mind the fact that it’s a well-put-together children’s game. It’s tied to a despicable product, so no one should pay attention to it other than children. But, keeping these things in mind, half of those who will ridicule, laugh, and blog away about how X game is so juvenile compared to Y’s masterpiece will have never tried any of the gaming underdogs they will have complained about. It’s a sad state when you consider this fact. It’s all about being accepted and playing what’s popular these days. Pathetic.
Why are we tormenting ourselves so with "popular" games only when there is an entire world of games coming in a variety of different forms that are just waiting to be devoured? Given the immense popularity of Braid, would you have given it a chance had it not been released through the Xbox Live Marketplace and only given a short run on the DS, sitting on a lonely shelf soon to be an obscurity in the bargain bin? Probably not, as nothing about the box art it would feature nor the story would be an instant "hook." I wouldn’t, but then again I am not one of the droves of individuals who found it to be a masterpiece. But would you have given it a chance had it been treated as such? No, probably not. And that is where the problem lies.
Though my words will only reach a small number of people, I would ask that anyone who reads this give the next "little" game you encounter a chance. Who cares if it’s not worth playing? How will you find a diamond in the rough if you can’t be bothered to get your hands a little dirty?