Sector 7 → Words of a Gamer
Words of a Gamer

Posted: November 14, 2003 |  Printable Version | Rating: 9.43 out of 10 (21 total votes)
Author: Bongo | Back to Article Listing

In our modern times, gaming has risen to become a multi-billion dollar industry. Computers are now becoming available to more and more families across the world, with the Internet now an everyday necessity. All of this has led to the widespread production of video games, and the development of the communities that follow them. They build fan sites, create MOD's and conversions to further their gaming experience, as well as provide helpful feedback to the game's producers. But do we, as gamers, fully understand the impact these communities can have on a video game?

 

Like anything, video games have a large following of fans. Just as sports and their diehard fanatics, television shows and their regular viewers, video games have a unique bread of hard-core gamers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go and visit any gaming forum or community board. They're often bustling with activity, with gamers from all across the world gathering to discuss their favorite pastime. They share with each other tricks and tips, modding and skinning techniques, as well as their favorite online experiences. And while these forums - along with what is said on them- may appear harmless to the casual eye, the truth is quite to the contrary; in fact it's what makes a producers dream a reality, or crushes those of an overconfident industry giant.

 

People like to complain. They're unhappy with the things in their lives and wish to let others know. Gamers are no different, often expressing their likes and dislikes of the newest titles. Media hype often inflates an upcoming game with inaccurate information and empty promises, leaving the buyer with a feeling of betrayal and disappointment when he views the finished product. The gamer complains, giving feedback to the developer- who in turn (should) deliver a patch to fix these minor issues. Many of the problems that once plagued the game are fixed, making the gameplay experience a much more enjoyable one. This is known as positive and negative feedback, a prized commodity amongst producers and developers alike.

 

Unfortunately, society today has learned to dwell upon the negative rather than move on to the more positive things, however few and far apart they may be. All too often a gamer reads a negative comment on a community forum, spreads it to other websites where it becomes exaggerated, and it soon escalates to a point of where the game's image is permanently damaged. Many refer to these individuals as "jackals", a group of people that go online in the attempt to spoil a games reputation by making inappropriate and hateful posts. And while there are those that ignore these posts, the damage has already been done and the reputation tarnished. Casual gamers, now overwhelmed with the opinions of ignorant people, slowly begin to believe what they hear as fact. The gamer now thinks it would be best to avoid such a game, and in turn ignores the very thing which he may have purchased had he not heard such things.

 

The effect of these "jackals" can sometimes reach as far as the games developers. Because they rely on the gaming community to purchase their products, industry producers often turn to their fanbase to judge how successful their game will be. If a gaming community is flooded with a plethora of hate mail and resentful "jackals", then the developers would obviously become worried as to whether or not their expectations of success will be met. And because games are so expensive to produce, this can occasionally lead to the cancellation of an entire title, simply because of the few people that ruined it for the rest.

 

This has led to the frustration of many gamers and producers alike, all of whom have seen highly anticipated titles removed from the websites "expected release" list. But what effect do online communities have on games that have already released, or do they have any influence at all? The results are not too different from those of an upcoming game. As most of us know, a gaming community is what keeps these titles going after they've been released to the public. They build MOD's, edit the gameplay and create campaigns of their own, design multiplayer arena's, and flesh out their own online skins. And while this often leads to the prolonged life of a game, a negative community can have quite the opposite impact.

 

If given the choice, who would you rather be around? A person who's excited about what he's involved in, or a negative individual that would rather complain about what's wrong with something than try and help fix it. And while you may think of this as just a matter of personality, these groups of individuals play an immensely important role in the "life after death" of a game as it were. Going back to the people like to complain theory, a group of negative individuals seek others that are like them and feel the same way about a shared interest. To the opposite extreme, a positive group of people would much rather enjoy getting together with a friendly bunch of gamers, all of whom are excited about the experiences the game has brought them.

 

So yes, your opinion as a gamer is much more important than you may think. As big as the industry may be, it still revolves around you (the customer), and the feelings you express are instrumental in a developers decision to move ahead with a project or not. And while words may be the strongest form of human expression, be wary of what is spoken around you and what it is you say. You might just be killing the very thing you're striving to protect.


~By Bongo
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