Not So Massively: Gaming genre elitism isn’t a good look on anyone

    
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As I noted when I first took over the Not So Massively column this past spring, we live in a time of great change for the gaming world. We’re seeing the rise of mobile gaming as an entirely new platform, as well as the birth of new genres like battle royale.

And a lot of people are not happy about it.

Look at the announcement of Diablo Immortal. People were savage to that game. And while I can’t deny that Diablo fans have some cause for grumpiness after the abandonment of Diablo III, raging at Immortal really doesn’t make any sense. It’s not taking the place of a new PC game; it’s something extra they did on the side. If it doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to play it.

But this is typical of how a vocal portion of the gaming community views mobile titles. They’re seen not just as inferior but as something worthy of hatred and scorn. People often react as if developers have committed some moral failing by making mobile games; mobile gaming is eternally decried as a “cash grab,” as if making money weren’t also the reason for PC games to exist.

You can often find this same sort of scorn directed at popular new game genres. These days battle royales are the punching bag du jour. Before that it was MOBAs. Again, people express not just disinterest but outright scorn and sometimes outrage that these games exist at all.

This shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: A developer is not doing anything wrong by building a game you don’t like.

And this fad can end any time now, I'm not going to lie.

And just to be clear here, I don’t like these games either. Battle royales are just about everything I don’t like in gaming combined, and while I think it is at least theoretically possible for a mobile title to be fun, I’ve yet to actually encounter a mobile game I truly enjoy. Hearthstone was fun for a few days but got old fast.

But I don’t object to the fact these games exist. Why would I? It’s no skin off my hide. I just shrug and move on. There’s no shortage of games out there that I do want to play.

I think at least some of this disdain for new mediums and genres is rooted in the fear that they will replace the older options, but the odds of that actually happening are slim to none. I truly doubt we are ever going to see a future when PC gaming ceases to exist because of mobile gaming.

The only way that could happen is if mobile somehow managed to provide the same graphical power and precision control as PC gaming, at which point nothing would really change anyway. Mobile gaming would be indistinguishable from PC gaming.

Keep in mind also that forms of media are pretty damn hard to kill in general. TV didn’t replace movies. MP3s still haven’t defeated physical music media, and vinyl is even making a resurgence. For Pete’s sake, radio plays are still a thing. We just call them podcasts now.

Not only do I not see the expansion of gaming to new genres and platforms as a threat, but I think it’s a good thing. We’re lucky to live in a time when our favorite medium is still growing and evolving.

Wasn’t it just a few years ago we were all fed up with how every new online game was another WoW clone? Weren’t we all yearning for some new ideas?

We got our wish. Online gaming is growing and evolving in new directions, and mobile games and battle royales are the result. This may not be the exact direction that you or I wanted online gaming to move, but at least it is moving. As long as there’s forward momentum, there’s the potential for something special to be made.

“I swear, every time I hear the phrase ‘PC master race,’ a few more of my brain cells die off, never to return.”
Of course, it’s not like this kind of elitism is new to the gaming world. Look at the endless rivalry between PC and console players. Again, I join with my fellow PC players in disliking consoles, but I’m not down with viewing console games — or, worse still, the people who play them — as inherently inferior just because I personally don’t like them. I swear, every time I hear the phrase “PC master race,” a few more of my brain cells die off, never to return.

We MMO players have also been the target of it. Let’s not forget how often we and our games are looked down upon by the greater gaming community. I’ve seen no shortage of complaints about how mainstream media covers MMOs, and how MMO players are seen as weirdos and no-lifers. Why are we now directing the same scorn at other genres?

Where it gets really gross is when people start directing their disdain for a game onto its players as well. It’s one thing to criticize a game, but it’s not OK to start repeating negative stereotypes based on what we choose to spend our free time on. Liking Fortnite doesn’t make someone dumb or childish, and making assumptions like that says far more about the person making that assumption than it does about the target.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Of course, a lot of this is just human nature, and lest you think I ride too high on my horse, I can’t honestly say I’ve never been guilty of making these kind of assumptions. I have at times passed judgment on PvP fans and high-end raiders, for instance. I did so because of the poor treatment I’ve received from people in those communities, but assuming they’re all bad based on the actions of a few isn’t productive, and I’m wrong to do so. I try to be mindful of such assumptions when they come up. I know I can be better. I know I should be better.

And really, we should all be more mindful of our assumptions and unconscious biases of others when they arise, and not just as it pertains to gaming. The world would be a better place if we did.

So let’s try to stop practicing such elitism toward the games and platforms we don’t like. It’s a very small step towards a friendlier gaming community, and maybe a better world.

The world of online gaming is changing. As the gray area between single-player and MMO becomes ever wider, Massively OP’s Tyler Edwards delves into this new and expanding frontier biweekly in Not So Massively, our column on battle royales, OARPGs, looter-shooters, and other multiplayer online titles that aren’t quite MMORPGs.

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Hravik

Does anyone actually use the ‘PC master race’ thing in all seriousness? Really? I’ve never seen it used outside of anything other than a joke.

As far as the Diablo thing, 100% disagree with it. They dropped the ball and then proceeded to bury it. Any marketing team should have known that backlash was coming, so they either walked into it willingly or stupidly, take your pick.

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Whaar Garbl

It’s not a good look or a bad look. It’s not a look at all. It’s a niche issue within a niche issue, and the people making negative commentary aren’t concerned about how it looks.

If anything, this article would just incite them further. Not enough to be a sleeper cell conspiracy theory. Enough to have a nose snort of a chuckle before reminding someone that Pea Sea is the Mastiff Race.

Elitism is an issue and I’ll agree to that, but ugh. This could use a rewrite. I could get behind a slippery slope of where toxicity could lead gaming culture. I’d even overlook oversensationalization.

But this just doesn’t take me there.

As is, this ain’t a good look. Not too hot.

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Chosenxeno .

This Article is sponsored by….

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Sray

I think this piece needed a couple more drafts before it was ready for public consumption. There’s a decent point of “you do you; and don’t be hating on others for doing the same” in here, but it’s gotten buried under some bad examples; and pretty vague arguments that don’t seem to be sure what point they’re trying to make. You acknowledge the existence of certain stances, but then you dismiss them with little to no discussion of their merits and weaknesses; most notably failing to point out that hatred for mobile games is often confusing the content (abusive monetization) for the container (mobile gaming) and that there are plenty of examples of these games being done without the negatives. If I was a teacher grading this, I’d probably have to give it a C minus: you’ve got the skeleton of a good opinion piece here, but it’s not properly fleshed out.

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Paragon Lost

I attempted to post my thoughts yesterday on the article and instead closed the browser tab with a shrug and a sigh after writing out a reply to the article. Heh

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draugris

Oh boy, what I will never understand about the so-called gaming press. Why is it so hard for you to understand that people as customers voice their opinions. Are you somehow under the impression that we should praise anything that the so-called AAA Industry throws at us? Be it mobile games which are filled with absolute predatory microtransactions or be it the announcement of a mobile Diablo game in front of a PC oriented audience who waited for Diablo 4 for years. It might seem unbelievable to you but these complaints are not for the sake of complaining they have reasons, but maybe you just not fan enough to understand that.

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Zandohaha .

No, they absolutely are complaining for the sake of complaining for some people.

There are thousands of games that come out all the time. *Thousands*.

Do people focus on the things they like? A lot of the time no. They are constantly complaining about everything they dislike instead.

Instead of moving quickly on from things they dislike, they are focusing on it. They are constantly trotting out buzzword phrases like “predatory” and “anti-consumer” and “cash grab” in order to paint everything they dislike as the most terrible, awful thing they possibly can.

Its impossible to see that as anything more than a bunch of people that think everything must be catered expressly to them.

I’ve never met a group of people that approach their hobby as negatively as gamers in the last few years. For a lot of them I’m not sure if their hobby is actually playing games or if it’s just complaining about them on the internet.

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draugris

I strongly disagree with this. People talk about games, for the good or the bad. Cyberpunk 2077 was well received by the fans for example like many other games. Unfortunately, the negative things in gaming at the moment are overwhelmingly more on quantity. Look at Anthem for example. Look at what´s going on in sports games like FIFA and the microtransaction mess, I am not even starting to talk about mobile games. I am not even starting to talk about the disgusting working conditions in a lot of studios, the layoffs, the inhuman crunch times. To be honest I find your comments to be highly cynical. You think predatory microtransactions are a buzzword? Well, tell that people with gambling addictions. But maybe you believe that they are “surprise mechanics” like EA like´s to call them.

People are complaining so much because there is a lot to complain about, again, unfortunately. This has nothing to do with approaching a hobby negatively, this is called passion. All the gaming community is asking for is being respected and the industry is not doing that. With the exception of a lot of indy studios, my impression is that smaller studios are more connected with the fans.

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Jeremy Barnes

People dislike bad cashgrab games and that’s a problem? Yes, there are good mobile games out there, but the overwhelming majority are poor, at best, and designed to be low cost gacha games.

If, say, 3DS, produced these type of games then people would “hate on” 3DS games. Consumers aren’t at fault here.

This article is off-base and tries to hamstring across hate for a business practice into a genre of games. People don’t hate all mobile games. They hate that an announcement of a mobile game means that it’s likely to be a game designed to loot their wallets over providing fun.

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Laughing_Alex

I think its more than hating on other genres. To be fair, the hate on mobile games is hard to blame on people hating mobile games, just look at zynga and the huge amount of cookie cutter cow clicker games and also the huge amounts of predatory skinner box pay to win practices that not only originated with mobile games but infected so many other genres.

But I think elitism can also be to blame directly for a lot of gamings problems.

People with default skins report being bullied into buying skins in fortnite. Many kids who spend on fortnite do so for the skins so they arent shunned all the time.

Many of mmorpg stagnation and lack of innovation problems stem from elitists demanding the genre play like WoW. Even games which are better for not playing that way.

Many nerfs that are unnecessary and kill game popularity happen because developers get pressured by scrubs; elitists who take playing casually to seriously with an ulterior motive to force others to play exactly like they do so they can win.

Going back I certainly remember bright skins in shooters killing the arena shooters popularity among average players. Ugly neon colored blobs do not make a game look appealing or interesting to play.

Fallout 4’s rather controversial and poorly thought out survival difficuly implementation was ruined by elitists. Elitists even argued against making all the features togglable. Even when the game was known to be horribly buggy and unstable. And elitists were all against modding the game when modding is a bethesda games strong point.

Those are all but a tip of the iceberg of elitist trolls killing games.

It isnt just a problem for a genres community reputation. Elitism is toxic on a fundamental level. And it applies to casuals being elitistic(the scrub mentality) as much as it applies to the “only play the way I say! Pc master race!” mentality.

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Anstalt

I get the feeling you’ve confused elitists with some other group. In fact, looking through your examples, it looks like actual elitists are the ones losing out in all of them.

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Laughing_Alex

I’m refering to the general attitude. “I’m x so I’m better then ALL of you and my opinion is the ONLY pne that matters!” There are a lot of forms of elitism. It isnt just tied to loving one genre and hating others its like, a face of trolling and intollerance.

Its not the only reason the gaming community’s problems are as they are, but I feel that stuck up behavior is invasively toxic and contributing to the problems.

Edit: I should mention elitist gamers also sometimes SUPPORT predatory practices. Heck, the fornite example is a good example of elitists supporting and encouraging predatory business behavior.

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h4

So much hate for mobile gaming in the comments. The cash-grab manipulative games are well known, but there are also plenty of honest mobile games without sleazy monetization. Some mobile games are flat fee with no ads. Some mobile F2P are quite generous and enjoyable without actually paying up (whale-subsidized).

Also this Diablo Immortal thing? It was just a convenient scapegoat for the lack of D4. I doubt there would have been any complaints if Blizzard had announced both D4 & Immortal at Blizzcon. Instead, people would be hyped at 2 new games, even if they did not plan to play Immortal.

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Bruno Brito

I doubt there would have been any complaints if Blizzard had announced both D4 & Immortal at Blizzcon.

Uh…yes? That’s the point.

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Baemir

I mentioned that there were exceptions. But in the end that’s what they are, no?

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Oh, yes. Absolutely play spider solitaire on my phone while waiting for the bus. I think that’s as honest as one can expect.

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rafael12104

Alright, let’s talk about genre elitism. The Immortal take stirred the pot, but now let’s move beyond that and have a taste.

So genre and platform “leets” have been arguing over this type of stuff for years. PCs were top dog once and we didn’t care to even look down at the Nintendo and Sega. Oh, those were wonderful times. But, you know the story, technology converges and suddenly consoles are considered as good if not better for games specifically. And the “leets” continue to argue.

And now it’s mobiles turn. Suffice it to say that the experience is more dissimilar between PCs and mobiles but new generations of gamers won’t be so discerning. Net net? The “leets” will continue to argue.

It’s always this way with new tech, right? The early adopters will jump in and extol the virtues. The late and prudent consumers will not give in for a while but slowly and surely the market will sorts itself out.

So I don’t really view this as an issue. I mean, people can get ugly about it, but then that’s not a gaming exclusive and a symptom of yet another problem.

Meh, I’ll give any youngens out there 10 reasons why a PC is and will continue be to demonstrably better. And chances are that when the young heathens finally look up from their phones, they’ll pat me on the head and tell me to go stand in my lawn.

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rafael12104

Quick story. My brilliant 12-year-old niece, my hope for the future, plays games with me on occasion. And being a good uncle, I’m teaching her how to be a good gamer and even how to build her own PC as I’m building one for myself right now.

So, after going over a laundry list of hardware and explaining how it all works, which she understood btw, I could see genuine excitement in her eyes. I told her that one day soon I would help her build her own and she smiled broadly and said “That’s great! Only, I want to build a Switch!”

Err…
comment image

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h4

Well, she’s not wrong. Its just going to cost a trip to China and a lot of cash and grief to pull it off.

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ghostlight

Well-said man. As I think someone here once noted, PC gaming is a hobby, mobile gaming is a pastime.

It’s also worth noting that the comment from Chris Roberts from the early days of Star Citizen promotion is spot-on: “First they said that consoles were going to replace me……now they say it’s mobiles……I am the PC, and rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” This is one of the few things Roberts said that I agree with.

Also, your comment on heathens finally looking up from their phones reminded me of a label someone coined for them…..phone zombies! lol

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Robert Mann

Smombie is… actually pretty common slang anymore.

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ghostlight

I’ve actually not heard that one yet. TY for bringing it to my attention.

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Robert Mann

Welcome.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

My view is that elitism is hard-wired into our genetic code. It’s literally part of our essential biology. We always want the best and figuring that out is one of the main group dynamics of human beings. In gaming, it’s what’s the best class, what’s the best build, what’s the best skill. Ask any of these questions in any game’s WC and before long the answers will get down to such granularity that only someone who actual knows the game inside and out would understand. Chat PvP may well break out over whose answer is best.

That’s not a phenomenon of gaming. Sports is another harbor for “the best” discussions, where actual fisticuffs will break out over whose team is the best. If you are into cooking or eating well or eating at the best restaurants, you’ll find similar discussions about what is the best of anything associated with food.

What’s the best neighborhood, what’s the best school, what’s the best band of the 70s? Ask that last question on Twitter and watch your feed explode.

So the question isn’t are we prone to elitism (yes, we are), but why are we? Knowing the answer to “best” questions is important and defending one’s position and undermining other opinions is absolutely essential.

If we take away everything having to do with modern life and get down to basics, we have these best questions: Where’s the best place to camp tonight? What’s the safest? What has the best water? Where’s the best place to hunt game? Where’s the best place to spend the winter? What trees make the best spears?

Who do you ask? The guy talking like he knows everything or the guy who actually does know everything? And how do you know he knows? Because he’s been right in the past. And how do you know he’s been right in the past? Because he’s an elder of the tribe because he’s been right enough to live that long.

As a species, we just can’t get away from this essential activity.

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Zandohaha .

What you are describing is tribalism too. The need to belong to a group as well as have that group be the best.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Tribalism seems to be more about my group is better than your group because it’s MY group. Once you identify with a tribe, there’s no qualifier. Your group is always right. Everyone else is always wrong.

One could say that were elitism a truly critical analysis, it would always be on a collision course with uncritical tribalism. But, as with all things human, all the lines are smudged and blurry.

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Mush V. Peets

This has nothing to do with rejecting modernity or advances in the horizons of gaming and technology. The simple fact of the matter is that mobile platforms physically cannot deliver the gaming experience that most of us want out of new games for multiple reasons – and that’s even ignoring the reputation of mobile games being often designed with predatory monetization and other nonsense. You shouldn’t expect us to be happy to watch game companies embrace platforms and formats that are simply inferior in terms of their capability to give an experience we want.

As for the PC vs. console internet flamewars, those are a bit more deserving of criticism, but I doubt that you will get anywhere by telling people to try to be reasonable on the issue. :P

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Zandohaha .

This is exactly his point though. People don’t NEED to constantly be taking the us vs them stance. There are hundreds or thousands of games on every platform.

Its just flat out wrong and incredibly silly for people to jump to the conclusion that everything they dislike is somehow depriving them of something they do like, yet this is an incredibly common narrative.

I mean look at the Diablo Immortal thing. The amount of people that decided one spin off game now meant that Blizzard was now focusing entirely on mobile games and completely ignoring them. And it was bullshit. They aren’t even making the damn mobile game. They just licensed a spin off but that didn’t stop people from completely going off the deep end. So I’d say the Diablo Immortal thing perfectly backs up the authors point about people completely losing their shit the second something isn’t expressly for them.

In reality this is not an either/or situation and them “embracing” something you dislike will not affect you but that hasn’t stopped you from wrongly deciding it will. So I think the article hit the nail on the head here tbh.

But it seems this sort of common sense is falling on deaf ears in here and we are chock full of rabid, anti-industry, “everything is shit” types.