Why does every single new game come with needless microtransactions and loads of content locked away behind DLC? How come multiplayer games need a half-baked single player campaign while the solo adventures always seem to get a neglected bastard version of online competitive mode stapled to its side (oh god, Breach Mode in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, you poor mistake). Blame the compulsory dictates from corporate HQ for a lot of the shenanigans that have made videogames less convenient, more expensive, and harder to make. Whether it's Strauss Zelnick of Take-Two Interactive lamenting the "undermonetizing" of the GTA Online playerbase, or the countless stories of developers getting shanked because they missed a Metacritic score target. It's clear that these bloated fat-cats need to treat their customers and their products with at least the same level of concern as they do their shareholders.
Finally, a chance for gaming visionaries to cut loose with no meddling, no interference, and... all the money upfront in one lump sum. While there have been some incredible successes since the rise of Kickstarter (bless you, Shovel Knight, bless you) it seems like even the most slam-dunk projects still fall flat on their faces because there isn't an all-powerful money-lord telling the teams when they're wasting resources. I mean... it's just... STILL INCREDIBLE THAT THEY MESSED UP MIGHTY NO.9, LIKE HOLY CRAP HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!? We've been disappointed by shoddy hardware, non-existent software, and defunct horny reboots of Harvest Moon where you have sex to make half-minotaur babies. Whether they're failed pipe dreams or flat-out scams that preyed on our altruism, these bearded men and their inspiring two-minute pitch videos are fleecing us and there needs to be more adults at the helm that understand how actual businesses work!
I was lucky enough to be 13 before the decade+ of mainstream social justice ideology fully took hold of our culture. Back then, gaming culture was MY culture. The magazines all had Lara Croft on the cover, games were evolving at a breakneck pace (mechanically and graphically), and all the big games were created by young men whose sole motivation was to make coolest things they could think of. My sisters had Disney, my parents had religion... and I had videogames. I played with friends, speculated on online forums, and drew fanart during math class (ironically ensuring that I had no future in the computer sciences). This was the world I felt most comfortable. But now everybody has to be accommodated. CHANGE THIS. DON'T SAY THAT. THIS IS SEXIST. People keep acting like videogames were always this egalitarian thing for everybody but it's not true, they were for ME and no amount of twitter posting is going to change the raw statistics of who buys and enjoys gaming culture. Get over it!
If you agreed with that last part, now might be a great time to just take a deep breath, find your emotional center, and calmly consider getting over yourself. Gaming culture revolved around young males in the 90's and 2000's because they were expensive toys that required a huge time commitment. Not only that, but most companies were trying to take down Nintendo by hyping up their "extreme" attitude and "mature" games after the big N had cornered the market with strict family-friendly content restrictions. If you're like me you were the target of a multi-billion-dollar campaign to flatter, seduce, and empower you into buying stuff. But markets shift and grow. It's not so crazy that women finally took notice of the wider world of gaming and eventually some of them piped up to say "hey, actually some of the stuff in here is off-putting" and some (not all) companies went "yeah, ok". But the weird part is that even at the height of this discussion, nothing was LOST. There's always going to be games where you can shoot stuff, destroy armies, and win the love of a beautiful woman... but now sometimes there's going to be indie hits about gay skeletons too. Just because you might someday no longer be the "default" does not mean you will be cast aside, not while there's blood in your veins and money in your wallet.
It's been almost forty years since Space Invaders sparked the explosion of Japanese-developed games worldwide. Legendary publishers like Konami, Atlus, and Square/Enix have built an audience so massive and dedicated that it's laughable that American and European localizers still go through their games with a pair of tweezers, plucking out every joke, reference, and risqué panty shot from the games that fans loved specifically BECAUSE it gave them a glimpse into another culture. It was a mistake born from cowardice back in the 80s and it's weird when companies like Nintendo still act like a concerned Christian grandmother whenever they bring a title over to us stripped down and censored. Games can be so much better than this!
You know "bleeding NEETs out of their money" isn't a long term strategy, right? It would take a legion of psychologists a lifetime of analysis to break down just how Japan's understanding of sexuality has been warped and skewed by multiple wars and reconstructions, but here in God's America, groping a teenager isn't a "hilarious punchline" it's a "reason my roommate still has PTSD". There was a massive rennaisance right before the proliferation of high-speed internet, but as piracy and streaming ate away at their bottom line, the only way to keep the revenue rolling in was to appeal to the waifu sector. By adding more fanservice and more characters engineered to create figurine-based infatuations, studios began a race to the bottom that shows no signs of slowing. Now for every Resident Evil 7 we get some eye-rolling trash where underage ninjas jiggle for bonus points. Games can be so much better than this!
From enthusiast zines to glossy magazines to modern sites like IGN and Kotaku, the marketing might of the industry has always tried to curry the favor of whoever had the attention and trust of their potential customers. But GamePro and NEXT Generation weren't The Washington Post, and in a pre-internet era the magazines and the publishers did their dance for an audience STARVING for even glimmers of information about their favorite franchises and characters. Eventually, more people got their news from websites (what with them being faster, more convenient, and FREE) and the magazines collapsed, but the corporations just found a NEW dance partner in the news and reviews sites. Flash forward to now and most gaming content is consumed in video form on platforms like YouTube. Traditional blogs are littered with ads, and are still mostly just TEXT about games when FOOTAGE of games is what people really want. The song is almost over and the industry is ready to switch partners real soon.
What if, instead of making something newer and better than what came before it, we repeat all the same mistakes of the last generation while being sloppier in every respect? YouTube is an amazing platform where anyone has a shot at finding an audience, but it also foists popularity and status upon people so quickly that the results can be catastrophic. Shady undisclosed brand deals, personal scandals, and the occasional illegal gambling racket has tainted the once glimmering potential of independent games media. While traditional websites sunk into clickbait to conquer the Facebook news feed, now creators are degrading themselves every day for a shot at that lucrative sidebar. YouTube changes its algorithm constantly and everyone keeps trying to game it, resulting in misleading video titles, "news" posts with no actual new information, and a million pewdiepie wannabes practically shitting themselves over footage of increasingly shoddy indie games. With very few exceptions, these new media producers are just as easily wined and dined into positive coverage as any other outlet. If they're going to take up the torch, they need to be more ready than this.
Is gaming really being "ruined" for you? Who were you looking for on this list and what exactly is being denied or destroyed that needs protecting? There's tons of games out right now made specifically just for you, made by people who had YOU in mind when they put their blood sweat and tears into their creations. If you're mad at how self-described gamer culture has veered from your politics (too PC? Not PC enough?), you can just let people run their mouths and not lose a single bit enjoyment in life. The industry is evolving every day and games like Overwatch prove that you can attempt to have a culturally responsible outlook towards content and STILL create an incredibly fun experiences. Meanwhile, Nier:Automata confirms that having sexy butts doesn't disqualify something from mainstream acceptance. If modern trends in publishing piss you off, just take a look at the classics and you'll never run out of amazing games to play. Every artform has reached a point where it breaks from a single united culture to a thriving medium with tons of seperate and properly served audiences. Movies, music, literature, and now games. Just focus on the stuff that makes YOU happy and lay off the haterade.
Making this list was literally just a cathartic experiment to vomit out the emotional debris that has infected my body over the years from too much online media. I know that most people don't believe that every developer who thinks "big boobs are rad" is literally Hitler and I know that when a person of any minority says "I wish there were more opportunities to see someone like myself in the role of hero" only a few angry souls actually take this as a personal attack on their heritage. BUT I also know that these issues raise emotions, increase adrenaline, and compels someone to read through a post on an otherwise slow day. So... sorry. It's me, I ruined gaming.