We Were Abused as Gamers Last Gen, aka Why I Have Soured on Nintendo

I would like to get a Nintendo Switch at some point, but I refuse to buy any system at launch since they are almost always “buggy” in some way. But that isn’t the only reason I’m hesitant to purchase a new Nintendo product. I used to be a HUGE Nintendo fanboy – when everyone else had a PS3 or X-Box 360, there I was waving nunchucks around like Chuck Norris. Then something happened, in 2010-11 Nintendo basically lost my support. They fell into the trap of thinking of the consumers as dollar signs and stopped caring about us. They were just another Japanese company lashing out at fans for something, they themselves, had done.

Let’s go back to that time period. A few weeks ago, I posted an article about how “the West” had been robbed of the third Valkyria Chronicles game at around the same time. Despite a new side-game coming out (7 years later), it seemed as if poor decisions had ultimately “killed” the franchise stone-dead. Up until recently I was in a similar frame of mind with Namco Bandai, who for years, made excuses and shifted blame for poor sales of numerous games in the west, only to suddenly see a spike in sales once they actually tried a mysterious thing called “promoting stuff”. Then we had Capcom. In perhaps the most infuriating example of this out of all the rest, They cancelled a game that was going to be called Mega man Legends 3, and went on a twitter tirade passive-aggressively blaming us for something they did.

it’s a shame the fans didn’t want to get more involved if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds

— Actual tweet from Capcom

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So yeah, Back to Nintendo, they were the straw to break the camels back for me. Remember Operation Rainfall? Something like six years ago, people were furious that Nintendo started blaming fans for not releasing games, even though they basically stopped supporting their own console in 2010. Fans started up a protest, and eventually got all of the games released, but it took years. During that time Nintendo acted like feudal lords that were annoyed by the mere peasants demanding things. The Wii went from a household name to a ghost machine that was literally collecting dust on many a shelf, like your Grandmother’s ancient 8 track player, and Nintendo did not seem to care. Having something to play during that time would have made it less likely for me to jump ship back to Sony, but there I was buying a PlayStation 3 like I said I wasn’t going to do.

My Question for all of you is: How can game companies complain about us not buying their games when they have abused us as consumers for the better part of this decade?

The first few years of the generation seemed to be characterized by a weird release pattern where all game releases were crowded around holiday periods leaving the long boring spring and summer months devoid of anything worthwhile. This made smaller games that had the audacity to get released in the autumn have an immediate death sentence. These guys immediately got buried under an avalanche of Madden, Call of Duty, and Mario games. This situation also made many people unable to afford all the “hot” games when they were still popular making folks resort to the used game market, rentals, and borrowing games from friends. Despite economists always saying that entertainment media is “recession proof”, people can’t spend all their money on games right now.

 

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Disaster: Day of Crisis

This has made a lot of these companies super-selective on what games get released, and in the case of Japanese companies that basically means no games at all most of the time (Thanks Konami!). I find it amazing that fans ask for games all the time, and are basically told that they are idiots. I remember Nintendo of America’s President Reggie Fils-Aime famously saying that he personally axed an American release for Disaster: Day of Crisis because he personally did not like it. So here we have Reggie saying that he “doesn’t think Disaster is a $50 game,” and regards the audio as “laughable.” Thanks Reggie, I seem to remember that being the summer where the Wii had no games at all, and the reason I ended up buying a PSP. But that’s not all; here is a list of first and second party Nintendo games that America never saw that could haave kept the Wii going a bit longer:

Another Code: R
Captain Rainbow
Chibi Robo New Play Control
Disaster: Day of Crisis
Eyeshield 21: The Field’s Greatest Warriors
Fatal Frame 4
Fatal Frame 2 remake
Line Attack Heroes
Pandora’s Tower
Pikmin 2 New Play Control
Takt of Magic
The Last Story
Xenoblade Chronicles

Zangeki no Reginleiv (aka Dynamic Slash)

Note: the games in red were those protest games and eventually came out, just much later on.

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Another Code R

Most of these were already translated into English, and yet sat there in Japan and even Europe, never to see the American gamer. Most gamers wouldn’t even care if the Wii was region-free like their handheld market used to be, but we couldn’t even import games unless we wanted to mod the stupid thing. Nintendo isn’t the only company guilty of this as I could call out Namco-Bandai, SEGA, and basically any Japanese company for these same shenanigans. Thankfully today, more and more consoles are once again region-less – finally I don’t have to modify hardware to buy a game.

So what happened after that in 2011? We got blamed for all shortcomings, Capcom yelled at fans on their message boards for being pushy, SEGA blamed pirates for everything, and others lashed out at casual gamers as if they are some sort of virus impeding on the gaming market. The problem is that these problems including, but not limited to: company closings, firings, layoffs, and even sales not meeting expectations all boil down to game companies taking us for granted.

fuck konami
Type “konami” into Google and see how the fans feel…

Somewhere some idiot got the idea that we somehow work for them, and not the other way around. We are seen as dumb sheep, a collective mass of slobbering idiots that should open our wallets for any game that rolls out just because they say so. God forbid we ask for games we actually want like import games, innovative games, new genres, and artistic games. Hell no, we’re going to play another franchise sports game or shooter, and we’re going to like it. If a niche game or something out of the ordinary does come out, it always seems to be set up for failure due to a stealth release, no advertising, or releasing it amongst the aforementioned Christmas avalanche. And don’t forget the inevitable “rubbing it in our faces” where the company basically says “see we told you that game would fail, we know all”.

 

Gone are the days when game companies actually hired marketing and PR types to, oh I don’t know, market and publicize games; we as gamers are expected to do that as well. Word of mouth is one thing, but when a company completely fails to mention a games release, and then whines about it not selling, and then blames the fan base – something is wrong. Since when did the consumer become the PR department? Since when are we expected to proselytize the virtues of a game that we may or may not like just because the company is too lazy to do their job?

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I bet Kevin Spacey was super cheap

I know money is tough, but spending millions of dollars to have Hollywood voice actors appear in games, having lavish parties at big hotels, and generally pissing money away on nothing worthwhile is not only a lifestyle that has ended with the economic shakeup, but it’s pure irresponsibility. Much like the banks getting bailed out a few years ago, we are there to bail out the game companies. Instead of making a game that holds onto a budget, these guys make lavish Hollywood affairs that cost millions of dollars. This means that we are supposed to buy insane amounts of these games just to let the games break even.

Up to this point, we are given ultimatums: we must buy game X in order to see game Y released. If that doesn’t happen we get chastised like dogs that soiled the carpet. Sorry gamer you didn’t buy Barbie Horse Adventure; I guess you won’t get that new role playing game you wanted to play. Why do this? Then they vaguely say that the game “might be coming out” just to keep our hopes up, hoping we’ll forget about it in the meantime. “we’re listening to you guys, keep it up!” is a common bit of misdirection we always hear. truth is, we won’t see that game, they have no intention of releasing it at all. The simple act of the “bait and switch” that we get sometimes is not only unheard of in just about any other industry, but it really shows how much we are truly valued by these big wig game publishing houses.

We need to stand up as gamers and lay our collective feet down. Enough is enough and it’s time for a change in the way we are treated. As gamers we aren’t your guinea pigs, test group, PR department, marketing firm, and infinite money supply.  You need to take some responsibility on your shortcomings and do your damn jobs. We are not faceless barcodes with giant wallets for you to reap, we are a fan base and we can just as easily become fans of something else. If the masochistic ways that we have been treated do not stop, the collapse of the game industry will be at your feet. Your move, game companies.


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PTSD or Weakness: Real Experts on Why Samus Didn’t Shoot

Close to a decade ago, I worked for a gaming website called Gamrfeed, sadly the site folded and was absorbed back into it’s parent website VGchartz a long time ago. When I started working at my current job in 2011, I sadly did not have time to continue producing articles on the schedule that was required, so I had to drop it. I was really proud of some of the work I did on there, and do not want it to disappear into the ether as most websites do after a while. I’ve been posting a few of these “rescued articles” recently, and I feel that this one was probably one of my best. Since this article is from 2010, the references are incredibly out of date, but that should not stand in the way of the information presented.


Videogames often get a bad reputation for glorifying war and using it as a sort of exploitation.  Often they are criticized for brushing aside the horrors of war and battle for the sense that fighting is “awesome”, much like a Hollywood film.  An argument could be raised that most gamers don’t care about such things in games, or that they don’t want to see it.  Despite this general feeling, a few companies have been trying to express the bad side of conflict in their games.  These messages include the fact that war is not all about shooting faceless bad guys, and that we should change the way we look at it, but sadly this is lost sometimes.  A clear cut case of a situation such as this occurred a few weeks ago, as an anticipated Wii game called Metroid: Other M hit the store shelves.

Before the game actually hit, videos of the game’s cut-scenes began to scatter to the net much to the dismay of some gamers.  Samus Aran, the games heroic female lead, was seen to be given a lot more emotion and personality than ever before in a Metroid game.  Problem was, Samus has issues apparently, and this angered some fans.  The main offender was a scene in which Samus is seen to become weak and unresponsive in the face of her biggest enemy, a huge creature named Ridley.  I was shocked to see some of the responses that the video had garnered on Youtube, such as these:

(I have censored the curse words, but left the bad punctuation intact)

 

“Is it bad to have an emotional s*** who beat the living hell out of this thing 100s of other times, but breaks down crying this time? Yes. Very bad. They took some strong bad ass character and made them into a wimpy emotional s***. “

 

“[Samus is] a hardened professional bounty hunter, someone who’s been portrayed as a strong, fierce woman, who’s been on countless missions prior, faced much more frightening enemies, and has fought, killed and seen Ridley resurrected multiple times before this suddenly has a mental breakdown a cries in fear at the sight of an enemy she’s killed so many times prior to this? F***, you’re right, it’s just common sense. “

 

This attitude has been a common vibe for the past few weeks, as many felt that the game deviated from the established characterization given to Samus.  Some even went as far as to call the game sexist, as Samus was shown in a “weak way.”  The problem is that in the context of the game, the developers are trying very hard to imply that Samus suffers from some variation of an anxiety disorder, such as PTSD.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the many things that folks do not like talking about when it comes to warfare, which is a shame.  During the Vietnam War the United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 830,000 Vietnam War veterans suffered symptoms of PTSD.

This is not the first time there has been talk of PTSD in the Metroid series, as one of the canonized mangas (Japanese comic books) written to flesh out the story leading up to the first game showed a similar occurrence:

I was under the impression that the aforementioned scene and the comic pretty much solidified her status as coping with the disorder, but the negative talk online got me thinking about it. My thoughts are that folks do not understand such a disorder, and were saying things like that due to ignorance of the situation instead of sheer malice.  PTSD is one of those sensitive areas many do not want to talk about, so it can be understandable.

The problem is, it was hard for ME to have an opinion on the matter because I do not suffer from a similar disorder nor do I have a close friend or immediate family member that does.  My main question was, “Is Samus’s behavior in the game a true depiction of what PTSD can do to someone, or was the development team going for another angle?”  I set out to actually interview some folks that know what it’s like to be in situations like this, and get their opinions.  I was able to round up a war veteran coping with PTSD, as well as a mental wellness professional.  Here is what they had to say:

 

The Interviewees are:

Darian Koehne – Former Army (rank withheld), suffers from PTSD

John M. Grohol, PsyD.,  founder and CEO of Psych Central.com

 

Q: My questions today are about PTSD, what are your experiences with the disorder?

Koehne: I suffer with the disorder on a daily basis due to the fact that I am a combat vet the served in the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  I can’t even play games that depict the wars anymore.   It’s too real and I find myself dazing off while really into the game.  I have the same kinds of flashbacks because some the games are so real…and I know I am of sound mind, but I wake up and do security checks in the middle of night about 3 times a night.  I sleep in patterns of a couple hours at a time…I really did have to watch my 6 everywhere I went…. and it’s true when you see the death like that… it sticks with you and the smallest things set off some strong emotions… and the ones closest to us vets are the ones who can tell you even more….

Dr.  Grohol: I’m a mental health expert with a doctorate in clinical psychology (from Nova Southeastern University).

 

Q: I’d like you to watch the following video from a recent Videogame called “Metroid: Other M”.

(Clip was shown)

The context of the video is that Samus, the woman in the red and orange armor, has fought and seemingly defeated the creature (Ridley) in the video on two past occasions and assumed he was dead.  Her confrontations with Ridley all stem from it killing her family when she was a small child.  As we see in the video, Samus appears to be horrified to see Ridley after years of assuming he was dead, and simply freezes.  What are your thoughts on the video?

Koehne: That is very much so how PTSD works…. you daze out of it for long stretches and your brain seems to freeze and do its own thing or render you basically useless…

Dr.  Grohol: Mental disorders like PTSD are recognized disorders of brain and behavior that have decades worth of research and are based upon thousands of peer-reviewed studies. It is no different than having a disease like diabetes or Parkinson’s.

Q: This scene has caused a row amongst the gaming community.  Some feel she has PTSD, and others say that she should be able to “get over it” as she has fought him before and won. Can one simply “get over” something if it causes PTSD?

Koehne: A story answers this for my point of view.  I watched a man burn to death and pulled guard on his body so we could retrieve the remains and not let the insurgents disgrace the fallen soldier by dragging his body around the streets.  To this day I have a problem with barbecues which used to be one of my favorite things to do…. I still do BBQ every now and then…. but things have changed!!

Dr.  Grohol: If someone experience a trauma at an early age, such as having someone kill their family, then something like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is indeed a possible reaction. One does not simply “get over” a mental disorder because these are not choices we make in the first place. Who would consciously choose to be depressed, or to have PTSD? It’s an absurd argument.

Q: How realistic would a situation like the above be, or being a work of fiction, was it handled incorrectly?

Koehne: That is a great depiction of PTSD… and just to think soldiers have to deal with that in real life fights…

Dr. Grohol:   Someone who was in a situation where they had something to trigger a flashback, as what appears to occur in the video, could very possibly react in a similar manner — frozen in place, being unable to act or react for a time. Flashbacks themselves can be traumatizing, and different people will experience and react to them differently. The reaction of the character in the video was consistent with the way some people might react to meeting — once again — a murderer they thought they had previously killed.

 

Q: In closing, how do you feel about videogames beginning to handle tough problems like PTSD?

Koehne: Video games are a great way to teach the public… PTSD is very sensitive but people need to know we have alot of young soldiers coming home and families need to know how to recognize it so they can not become a victim of the PTSD but rather help support through the issue… I wish they would take on teaching the younger public that some people are disfigured from war and you shouldnt go around talking about them under you breath… THANKS FOR BRINGING SOME LIGHT TO PTSD…

Dr. Grohol: I think that video games have great potential to help shed some light onto serious concerns, like PTSD. If they can foster debate and discussion like this about a serious mental illness like PTSD, then they’ve done a great job in helping to educate people about these kinds of concerns.

 

While it’s apparent that Samus as a character most likely has PTSD, one can overlook the plight of many of our REAL servicemen and women no matter what country you reside in.  Having the opinion that someone should “get over it” is not only ignorant, but pretty disrespectful to those that have fought for our countries.  I hope these interviews have at least shed some light on something that a large amount of soldiers, rape victims, murder witnesses, and more have to deal with on a day to day basis.  For more information on PTSD and what you can do to help gain understanding or even help with research please check out some sites like Dr. Grohol’s Psych Central website.


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