The Bandwagon: Loving to Hate Game Developers

The bandwagon rolls into town and we run and clamber over one another to hop on board or at least catch a splinter as it bumps and clatters on its merry way. After a while, the splinter festers and fever grips us. Everyone is getting sick around us, all in a fevered rage; we feed off of their anger and eventually start to see red ourselves. I knew we should have gone to that doctor and let him give us a nice, large dose of reality.

Another day dawns and another day begins with the reminder “You hate this gaming company now”. Or at least for another couple of weeks. People wring their hands and beat their chests, they lament over ‘what could have been’ and what we, the consumers, could have done to stop such a climaxing horror.

We’ve become a community held together by hatred and bitterness. Eventually we stand tall and claim that we’ll never buy a game developed by that company again from this point forward, how this time we’ll bring the battle to them. Our minds construct fanciful scenarios of the lowly gamer single-handedly bringing down the corporate giant.

But who would be scared of us?

The gaming community is caught up in this fantastical idea of the common individual defeating a greater evil. It dominates most of our games to the point that we are starting to associate it with reality. The ride is almost more important than the result; we revel in the camaraderie and the unified sense of community when we believe we can take down the “big bad corporation”, but as time wears on we see it for what it always was: a fad.

The internet has created a quick and easy way for anyone to voice their opinion, to blindly showcase ‘freedom of expression’ while being swept up in emotion, neglecting fact and any sense of reasoning. It’s an amazing tool and it could be used to such a great extent if we didn’t treat it so flippantly. We define ourselves by our online identity, we slap our username into a forum by leaving a comment or type out our names as we sign an online petition, all in order to get the same message across: we want to look like we care.

It’s hard to feel shame on the internet. Though we may have names we go by as we hop from forum to forum voicing our uncensored opinions and snide remarks, there is an overwhelming sense of anonymity. We keep our personal lives at a distance so people can’t track us down, grab us by the scruff of the neck and shout “You! You used to stand for something!”

We spend too much time searching the ruins of the dilapidated hype asking ourselves, “What happened to this? Did we all forget about this?” when we should be asking “Did we ever truly care about this in the first place?” We shy away from self-reflexive thought and don’t take enough time to wonder why we didn’t do more, why we stopped caring. How can anyone take the gaming community seriously when they know we don’t care enough to make a difference?

Take for example Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. PC users were up in arms over the lack of dedicated servers, and in the throngs of passionate anger many declared that they would boycott the game. Of course, their smug feeling of self-satisfaction was stronger than their willpower, and many of them were caught playing the game upon release. Instead of outrage or embarrassment, the ordeal was met with laughter and mocking by those who once fought for the cause; they brushed it off as nothing more than a simple case of “we’ll all look back on this and laugh”.

So the giant will continue to make soothing noises as it tells us that it’s taking our opinions into account, that we have a right to be mad and that change will come soon. We take the sign as a battle won and content ourselves with the small victory, though deep down we know it’s nothing more than dust in the wind. We want so badly to believe that simple measures can make the greatest impact that we concede ourselves to the laziest forms of protest. We’ll holler and call as the giant shakes, too high for us to realise that it’s rumbling with laughter.

And so nothing will change. Every company or corporation the gaming community loves to hate this week will ride the crashing waves until enough nights pass that they can sail on calm waters yet again. Then, in a couple of months time, the bandwagon will roll into town again. People will run from their homes to catch a glance as it jutters past. People will turn to their friends and tell them about how, once, they too cared about caring.