Did you know that, on average, gamers find themselves embroiled in 43% more shouting-matches than non-gamers?
Neither did I, because it's a statistic I just made up. However, enshrouded by the many licks of flame that are now consuming my pants, there's a spark of truth. When we throw down across the 'net, the Lord Almighty actually plugs his ears -- not even He can damn people that hard.
Really, if I were to base my opinion of the gaming community on my harrowing online excursions, I probably would've slipped a full suit of armor under my Green Linen T-Shirt at QuakeCon.
But I don't, and I didn't.
Because, by and large, even the more obnoxious gamers are typically rational, socially acceptable creatures. However, given a headset and a broadband hook-up, everything changes. Outside, you're a walking, talking, glaring, physically imposing person; but on the Internet, you're a whisper bumbling through the static -- at best, a throaty voice who knows its way around a shotgun. In short, you're nothing. Your lack of presence, then, is a bright red target for someone's insecurities. If they're feeling small, they can make you even smaller with minimal effort.
Now let's turn this thing around. When you hop online, do anonymity's rays transform you into, well, a jerk? Or are you immune to Mr. Hyde's advances?
Well, today's Roundup should at least add some flavor to your jerkery. Inside, you'll find stories about GameStop sealing its own fate, NCSoft deciding that size does matter, and Hideo Kojima rallying against in-game advertising.
In the past, I've clambered to the top of my soapbox tower in order to wax ludological about why games should be fun. While riding back down the escalator from atop my exceedingly ritzy box, I gazed upon my audience, hoping that I'd at least imparted one tiny nugget of info: I don't care about difficulty -- I'll even turn a game's masculinity meter down to "Very Easy" -- if it means having a good time. Lucky for me, many of today's game developers seem to agree with my sentiment. They hold our hands like an overprotective mother herding her child across the street. They give us failsafes for our failsafes. They design their games to be "fair."
But therein lies the problem. Personally, I think games should flip us a double-sided coin every once in a while. If the scales never tip, then what impact do our choices have? Take, for instance, BioShock. Whether you saved the Little Sisters or ended them, you still gained roughly the same amount of Eve, and bonus powers were negligible. BioShock was supposed to have us wracking our brains every time we made a choice. Your life versus the Little Sisters' -- power because of necessity versus mercy. Instead, though, the whole thing was a sham.
More recently, Mercenaries 2 made a similar mistake -- essentially replicating its weapon set across the game's different factions, making your choice of gun-toting employer basically meaningless.
And guess what? The onus for this trend rests on our shoulders. If the aliens have nicer weapons than the humans, we hop on message boards and join in a chorus of variously pitched whining. Single-player or multiplayer, if a game isn't perfectly "balanced," we get uppity.
So maybe we should just ease off our "!" key and let developers flex their creative muscles from time-to-time. A few failed attempts would be well worth the successes other games might reap.
But what say you, MPC readers? Should games continue down the sterile road toward same-same fairness, or would you prefer developers give some meaning to our choices, even if it means ruffling some feathers in the process?
Either way, this installment of the Roundup is just what you're looking for -- mostly because you're already reading it. Today, you'll find news about a wicked-cheap font from which X-COM now springs, a good reason to nab an Xbox 360, and episodic gaming's great failing.