Due to the receipt of a private message this weekend – more on this as and when I can actually share more with you – I felt like I should at the very least make a personal post explaining why I feel, and blog, in the way that I do.
It’s a difficult thing to describe, so I’ll try and keep details rather light as I have little interest in the past – the quote I use from William Blake is one I prefer to live by these days. “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”
Incredibly wise words.
But it does go deeper than this, and for me this is why I started to blog – I have always been opinionated, but as time has gone on, I have at times felt exasperated at the level of misinformation that we are fed as fact. At the attitudes of my fellow gamers, and how an anonymous mob mentality has often done more harm than good, repeating the same tired lies and delusions ad nauseum in the vain hope that said enough times, that it will make them true.
I have used the example a few times, but it’s such a current one; Eurogamer recently made a news post about the state of Nintendo at the moment. They used a comment from a one Michael Pachter, stating that things are really bad for Nintendo. What followed was an almost whitewash, as is typical in the gaming press and community, that Nintendo are in trouble and no-one else is.
Except it takes seconds to Google sales figures for the past few years.
Whereas of July 2011 Sony had sold 51 million PS3s, and Microsoft 55 million X-Box 360’s, Nintendo have sold about 90 million – and hope over the Christmas period to break the record held by the PS2 on the 100 Million units sold, which stands at five years and seven months.
This is even more impressive when you take into consideration that Nintendo made a profit on each and every unit sold – taking the conservative estimates of $10 per machine, that’s $900 million in hardware profits on the Wii alone. This also doesn’t take into consideration the 150 million units of the DS that have been sold, and the software sales to boot.
Nintendo are having a rough year of it – but Japan is. And it’s rather telling that an analyst, whose job it is to – well – analyse this stuff can fall into this kind of trap. Sony meanwhile have made four consecutive years of losses – and have been downgraded on the credit market as a result. This is further compounded by the habitual problem of making losses on each unit of the PS Vita sold – it is said this could be about $150 per machine. That’s a hefty loss – and for what? The 3DS, as much as even I mock it, has sold better in this short period than the original DS. And we have the Christmas period to come, with two Mario games to boot.
I suspect I know who the winner will be. And it sure isn’t Sony.
This isn’t fanboyism either as I readily accept and admit whilst I like my Wii, that I do feel Nintendo tried harder to obtain new gamers than sate old ones. I hope that the Wii U will rectify that situation.
But I cannot argue with facts that are so easily obtained. And yet, at every corner, Nintendo gets a thrashing from gamers, the gaming press and blogs alike. And the question has to be asked – why?! What on earth do we get for this?
Nothing. And arguably, that is the kind of cold treatment that I suspect has often left us in the West out in the cold on some Nintendo stuff. We cannot demand Nintendo please us when there is no possible way they can – every fact, every figure, everything states Nintendo are the most stable presence in the games industry.
That so many recklessly disregard the facts and continue to spout the same old arse is frustrating to me.
We don’t give two hoots about facts any more. We simply don’t. We have become a public which will buy into any old crap that the press feeds to us just so long as it is witty, or makes it so we don’t actually have to think too hard ourselves. We’re more interested in vilification of people like Bobby Kotick (who does, I admit, act like an evil Bond villain but does so because for some crazy reason, it works for Activision. You can’t exactly argue with their figures!) and Peter Molyneux (Who I genuinely do believe will, eventually, make a perfect Fable game. The materials are all there, I just hope that he can put them together and bake them in the development oven for just the right amount of time to make a great game – that said, Fable 3, despite its buggy nature, did very well for itself).
Not to mention Tim Langdell – a man whom the gaming press and community lambasted for his trademark battles, accusing him of trolling and not making games. So when he actually does make and publish a game, what do we do? Support him for making the right decision? Applaud his bravery for trying to get on with the job that a games company like Edge Games should be doing?
No, we ridicule him, tear his game to shreds and proclaim he will never have a career in the industry again.
I, for one, see a problem in that. We’ve become so powerful in our anonymity that it seems truth and fiction have become inherently distorted for us all. Sources are often biased or inherently misleading, and when interviews are made, sub-topics arise to generate a bit of a buzz by singling out controversial lines which, when put back into the context of the interview, aren’t really that controversial at all.
For me, I find this all extremely scary. It’s the kind of bleak dystopian world that we had years ago proclaimed the internet would save us from – and yet, it has become the very thing that we all hated. It has become a place where hackers lurk and defend themselves with the great shield of anonymity. It has become a place where gaming news sites have been known to omit writers names in order to deliver a juicy little tidbit of gossip without actually verifying it at all with the correct sources, and hoping we don’t notice.
It has become a place where ordinary men and women can have judge, jury and executioner powers – often, with no immediately present consequence. And yet, it is the person being mocked, ridiculed or having their career stripped from them that pays for the witch hunts, the general anger and ire that can be so harmful – to the point of irreparably harming or causing problems for someone. For example, Nigella Lawson. Earlier in the year when she wore a bhurkini on the beach, the media was all “She’s so fat! She’s like a beached whale!” and so many of the readers of magazines and papers cried out “FAT! FAT! FAT!”. Cut to today when she’s clearly lost a few stone and those same papers and magazines are saying, “She’s so thin! She’s not eating? WHY ARE YOU NOT EATING NIGELLA?!”
I’ll tell you why she’s not eating – because you lot humilated her during a private holiday, and now she feels embarassed enough to want to lose the pounds. If you didn’t want her to lose weight, why the hell cause such a furore around her weight in the first place? Shut up in future and let Nigella eat and continue to be the sexy, curvaceous diva in the kitchen we all expect her to be. You can’t have it both freaking ways.
Whilst I am a lone voice on the great arsecrack of the internet, I feel somehow if I can see this – I must be capable of writing about it. Maybe no-one cares. Maybe I am fighting a losing battle. Maybe it’s a pointless waste of time.
But if no-one speaks up, then we are all going to be in some serious trouble in the next few years. The internet does need something, and if we don’t change ourselves, I fear the future could indeed mean tight regulations – and that could mean that we are all made accountable for our actions, or the actions our children take on our computers and phone lines. You would be forced to behave online as you do on the street – and punished if you break the law.
It is better for us to accept this now and change ourselves, than end up locked into an awful situation where we may have no choice. I believe in the human race and do believe that people have inherent goodness in them – to believe otherwise is just folly. It’s not like we have an alternative, where we can reject our humanity anyway. If we don’t believe in it, we don’t believe we can be good ourselves.
However, I do believe anonymity is a powerful mask, one which can often make people behave in very uncharacteristic ways. The Penny Arcade Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory is no longer a theory – it’s cold, hard fact. By taking away consequence, a person can feel liberated from the restraints of day to day life – and this often means liberated from the sense of right and wrong as well. That is, until it impacts on us directly, and suddenly it’s not so fun is it?
It is down to the individual. I think when we step back, we all know we act like tits online. I am no different, it must be said – I’m in the process of change, but it took my own little humiliation before I realised that change was necessary. But I do believe in change, and believe the internet is a force for good, a powerful force for change in the world today. We have seen the power of it in the Arab Springs movement – the free flow of information has certainly helped the cause, rather than hindered it, and that terrifies their leaders.
Equally, it terrifies our own too. When hundreds of thousands want a referendum in the UK on the European Union, and the government whitewashes it by telling its members to vote no to a referendum ‘or else’, you know they are scared. And by wanting to track people down to have pirated games, movies or music – it is one step towards regulation and making us accountable for our actions, being able to track us, collect data and generally ensure we do nothing wrong.
And then when you call Bobby Kotick an arsehole, there can be legal guidelines that help him get your address, so he can land you with a nice fat lawsuit for libel. Doesn’t that sound awfully fun ladies and gentlemen? No? Not funny anymore when you have to answer for your actions? Didn’t think so.
We need to change by our own free will. Because the future is a very bleak one if we don’t.