Whilst I admit recently I’ve had some excess bile to share around, I’d like to take a step here to redress the balance and remind people that hate is a strong word – a powerful emotion devoid of logic and reason. I should know. And it’s why I can dislike things and people – but hate? That might be a bit much…
Jim Sterling made a good rant on Gamefront about Fanboys.
It prompts me to think a little and slow down. For yes, the past weeks I have been very critical; there are things to be critical of. I am critical of Peter Molyneux, and his ways of doing things. Of Kickstarter, and how it seems the alternative to big business and banks not lending is big business and banks not lending. I am critical of the Wii-U – or at least, have my concerns about its initial short-term prospects. This is natural and normal. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in being critical about the things you love, or things you think can do better. For it is by being critical that you can point out flaws, problems and in doing so perhaps instigate others to take that soul-searching journey into looking carefully into their hearts, where change often flourishes and drives us all on to be better people and things at the end of the day.
This is not to say I don’t have irrational hatreds. We all do. Our “Pet Hates” as it were, minor quirks that are unique to us.
For example, I do hate arbitrary and patronising achievements. Congratulations, you finished the first level! Oh do piss off already, I know I finished the first level thanks ever so much for reminding me you stupid system! First level with no damage, or on its hardest setting perhaps I will concede as an achievement; but not just the first level. How is that supposed to inspire me? How shallow is your bloody game if finishing the first level is cause for a celebration? Come on. We can do better than that, surely? I also hate certain games characters in that sort of comical way, the ones that really make my skin crawl or are like fingernails on a chalkboard. What they do, how they do it, they just wind me up the wrong way. I don’t like them. I want them to go away, disappear and be forever gone from the world. Admittedly, this is something we can laugh at – even me, because I know how stupid it is. I know how ridiculous it is to hate Tingle – but then, Tingle is ridiculous, and very very creepy. I think he’s still a good target for abuse.
But pure hate – that sensation of impassioned, unrelenting anger – that’s something I do know about all to well in my personal life.
My grandparents raised me for most of my life. This wasn’t to say my upbringing was an entirely pleasant one however – my family hated me, genuinely hated me in the actual attack-on-sight kind of way. There were so many reasons for this but I had genuine reason to hate them; my stepfather was heinously abusive and everyone knew it. I endured years of it before finally, my neighbour had thought he had killed me one night. That was when my life got better; but these people were still family to my grandparents, and their love was unconditional. They tried to teach me tolerance, to get along with them but the revulsion we felt when we locked eyes on each other was overpowering. Genuinely, an uncontrollable urge to do actual harm to someone. If you have not felt that, then you my friend have not felt pure hate. It’s a terrible thing, and something I carried for years like a massive chip on my own shoulder. Even at my grandfathers funeral, they sought to one-up me somehow, to remind me that they hated me. By pointing it out in their eulogies, telling me how awful they thought I was. Years and years I had spent with my grandfather, looking after him almost every single day. His Alzheimer’s Disease was particularly notable in the last couple of months of his life, but he kept his mind active and his spirit active. We actually gamed together – for years, in fact, he loved Everquest 2. I preferred World of Warcraft. I existed in that comical dysfunction for a long time, but we didn’t hate each other for liking another game. We laughed at it. Especially when a man nearing eighty is leering at an Elfish lady. At least, as I said to him, I think it was a lady… with Elves, it can be hard to tell sometimes…
And by the way, you will never know the shame and embarrassment of taking a near-eighty year old man to the shops where he actually asks for Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball. To this day I am sure his only reason for doing that was to embarrass me. I probably added an extra Celsius to the worlds atmosphere that day.
It wasn’t just that. He was killer at fighting games. He loved Resident Evil 4 more than I did – he loved the silliness of it. Slowly I knew he was slipping away, but I was grateful for the time he had and the time we shared gaming. I am sure he kept himself alive longer because of it, but the human body fails. Point is, we did all of this and more. He was a bonkers bloke, a true eccentric in every sense of the term and I didn’t look after him and keep him in the latest games because of some stupid loyalty. Unconditional love. I totally understand now what that means. I did it because I wanted to, because he was brilliant and I enjoyed every second I spent with him. Sometimes we did want to punch each other, sure. But all good ties come to that eventually. By contrast, my family never tried to come around. Well, my biological mother did sometimes, but generally speaking I did my best to offer an Olive Branch to the rest of the family. Especially when I knew his life was coming to an end. Because I had done my mourning; I knew he was dying, slipping away and I’d spent weeks and months crying every night knowing I was losing him. Knowing he was leaving me. The man who had raised me and taught me so much was going to die. When it happened, I had mourned him. I stood strong for him. Okay, not for that long after, admittedly – but I had no more tears to cry. I choked a little, but you know, that’s normal I think. No tears. I’d been through that, every day.
So when my family criticised me then and at the reception afterwards, I was furious. My tolerance had gone by that point. They were angry I didn’t cry, angry I had been there and therefore kept them away from this man – father, uncle, cousin. They genuinely found me the reason that they couldn’t do any of this. And I understood what real hate was in that moment. It consumes. It rots. It corrupts. There is no sense, no logic, no reason or rhyme for it. There is only hate – and it fuels itself, in perpetual motion, creating more hate the more it goes on.
In recent years, I have since buried that hatchet. Not into them, or anywhere near them, or even to their faces. I quietly stopped hating. I had seen hate. I had seen the faces of hate. I couldn’t be like them. I refused to be like them. So yes, I’ll comically denote I ‘hate’ something, but I know it’s not real hate. Genuine hate is far deeper, far more irrational. A genuine dislike based on rational opinion and thought is that; a genuine dislike. Maybe a hate, yes. But actual hate, when you have seen it, is ugly. It’s a heinous, horrible monster of unrelenting force. I know hate. I have felt it. I have seen it. And I have sought to control it, to purge it from me, to channel it into a new means of force that perhaps is more productive and sensible than writing horrible letters. The best way I know of honouring my grandfather is simply to not hate; not really hate. He was better than that. And I would aspire to be him. Perhaps not in the same scum-green rainjacket but you know…
So when people say they hate Sony, or Nintendo, or Microsoft I do take a step back and wonder – do you actually know what hate is? Do you understand that hate is in itself irrational? Which means you are saying you really dislike something for no other reason than you can, and you want to, and you always will?
There are good reasons to criticise the companies out there, each other, games and journalistic standards. We cannot get better as people if we do not learn from our mistakes, or are given more clear facts, or given a means and reason to develop as people. Was it stupid for Reggie to outright lie that the Wii-U release ports were significantly better than their originals? Yes. It was the most unbelievably stupid thing to allude to, and it wasn’t true. The Wii-U ports are incredibly lazy workmanship when you compare them to Zombi-U and Mario Bros. U. Even if he IS trying to give his machine good press, it’s still an outright lie. And that was a stupid thing to do. But when people gathered around and were all, “Oh I hate Nintendo and this is why!”, I think – steady on. It’s not like Sony were better with the PS3. Or Microsoft when it wanted to deny there was any such thing as a Red Ring of Death. This stuff happens, some of us just have better memories of it than others. It’s something Nintendo can do better. But it’s still no reason to hate it. Not really. Nintendo do a lot of good and a lot of bad, like every other console maker. There’s light and shade. We need to know that.
There are good reasons to point out other peoples flaws. But not in such a way you allude to them that you hate them with a passion. I don’t even hate Peter Molyneux, and he’s burned me more times than I want to admit to. He used to make stonking games, I’ll even say I loved the Fable games even though I knew they weren’t very good games anyway. I don’t outright hate the guy – but I do feel he’s a very strange and complex individual who perhaps does still have that spark of creativity that we saw in Fable 3. But he is also a man with a tendency to over-promise, with no intention of delivery. He lies to make you like him. Still not a good reason to hate the man himself, but definitely cause to be very critical of what he does. And that’s fine too. As long as it’s not too personal and crossing the line, he’s a big boy. He should be able to take one former fan who is very upset at what he does. If not, he’s got a lot of money to comfort him. Which is sort of sad, because I’d rather like to think if I had that personal kind of wealth and status, that perhaps I’d earned it by giving people what they want. Not by misleading them a bit. Just my final thought on him. I won’t mention him again on this blog.
There are good reasons to criticise games. I don’t like to hate games; even bad games can be redeeming by being brilliantly bad. My personal pet peeve is 5/10 stuff. You know, the really monotonous, really bland and boring stuff. The gaming equivalent of beige. You play them, and within days you’ve forgotten all about it. The stuff that is just forgettable, has no actual impact on you. Stuff that doesn’t touch you in some way – be that good or bad, as a bit of rage can be very beneficial. Anger is a good emotion when used properly; it’s a survival instinct of the fight or flight family. In these cases, I like to mock games or really tear them apart word for word. It sucks for the people who make the game – I don’t believe anyone sets out to make a bad game on purpose. But sometimes it happens. You may as well get SOME entertainment from it. And they still got paid for their work. It’s nothing personal – but you do have to admit, Daggerdale was REALLY shit, wasn’t it? Come on. We’re far along enough now we can say it was an irredeemable pile of crap, right? Angry I spent money on it? That I felt that I had spent my money poorly? Damned right. Hate? Perhaps, but not the people who lost their jobs because it flopped. They will learn. I do hope it haunts them a little bit, but then, that’s partly because you hope they have learned from it, no?
My point is hate is a free word, but do remember that for some of us, hates are pet hates. Pet peeves. Stuff we don’t like, rationally or irrationally, but it isn’t a wholly consuming sensation. I don’t like awake at night wishing ill upon anyone or anything. True hate – the dark fire in us all – I would genuinely hope you are not applying that to the games industry. Because come on, it is still business at the end of the day and we are consumers. Guess what? We have some power! If we don’t like something, we don’t buy it! Woohoo! How spectacular is that revelation!
But if you need to justify that decision at every opportunity, to prove it even in the face of good and genuinely positive news, then you are teetering into the darker side of hate. The side where you can only really end up looking a right and proper tit as a result of it. That’s not healthy. And anyone who feels that way – please, let it go. Just enjoy things. You don’t always have to love everyone, of course not. But we can move on and do better without such an emotion weighing us down, without the risks it carries.
So take care of yourselves, and each other. Let’s laugh, cry and comically boo in a pantomime way those who we feel are being bad.
Life is too short for regrets, after all, so enjoy everything you can whilst you can!