4 Ways in Which Gamers Are Ahead of the Curve

Back in August of 2018, I had the pleasure of responding to a Sunshine Blogger Award. After I answered the eleven questions, I, in turn, proposed eleven of my own. To shake things up a bit, I tagged more than twenty random people at once. Though I enjoyed reading these answers, I have to confess that one in particular stood out – and not in a good way, unfortunately. One of the questions I asked concerned what cinephiles could learn from gamers. One individual, in lieu of actually answering the question, took this opportunity to go on a rant on how gamers are anti-intellectual, racist, sexist, exclusionary, and any number of pejoratives anyone versed in the hobby has heard countless times. In doing so, they unfairly put every single well-adjusted person who enjoys gaming into the same box as white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and any number of unorganized bullies they would want nothing to do with.

The sad part is that it’s a typical example of how gamers tend to get portrayed in the media as well. It’s so pervasive that certain gamers have bought into it, and actively feel shame engaging in the hobby. You should never feel shame doing something you like – provided it isn’t immoral, of course. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out the media constantly putting down gamers could be a contributing factor to their bad behavior. After all, gamers have spent entire decades trying to prove they’re not monsters, yet the media pushes that narrative without any signs of stopping. If you tell a group of people they’re monsters for a long enough time, you don’t get to act surprised when they abandon their humanity and become just that. Note that being shunned doesn’t give a person a blank check to behave poorly; barring a debilitating neurological impairment or a truly extenuating circumstance, everyone has the ability to do the right thing.

Fortunately, despite the media’s best efforts, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, one thing I’ve observed over the years, which has become much clearer as time has gone on, is that gamers are remarkably progressive in certain fields compared to consumers of other media. Despite being apparent to anyone willing to do even the slightest bit of cursory research, they barely ever get reported in favor of clickbait articles detailing outlying gamers losing their minds, with the writers not knowing or not caring there’s much more to them than that. By this point, I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m not one to blindly go with the flow, so if the mainstream media wishes to demonize gamers, here’s an article praising their strong suits.

Now, to make things clear, the purpose of this editorial isn’t to ignore reality. I cannot deny certain pockets of gamers have certainly proven to be all four of those things that individual spoke of and more. I also don’t wish to downplay the very real instances in which would-be gamers have been shunned for incredibly petty reasons. Any of these grievances deserve to be called out for what they are. However, by that same token, you have to remember that many of these issues aren’t endemic to gamers specifically. One of the biggest reasons they tend to get the worst of it is because video games still haven’t quite reached that level of mainstream acceptance where most people can rightly dismiss the bad apples as not representative of the group as a whole. After all, if a mass murderer were to cite a favorite film as the blueprints for their crime, the media wouldn’t then go out of their way to damn cinephiles. In fact, if the film in question was mainstream, they would likely dismiss the perpetrator as a lone wolf. So now that I have established where I stand when it comes to gamers’ representation in the media, here are four ways in which I feel they can claim to be ahead of the curve.

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150th Review Special, Part 1: Rev on the Red Line

Well, I’ve done it now. I’ve reached 150 game reviews: one for every Pokémon in the original two games! When I reached 100 game reviews, I celebrated by ranking them all from worst to best, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. All of this time, I’ve been ranking the games between that milestone and this one, leaving me with 51 places. Why 51? It’s because I revised my BioShock: Infinite review. With fewer entries overall, I’m going to split this post into four segments. The games with failing grades go first. After that, the games with middling grades will be discussed. In part three, I’ll talk about the games that received either a 7/10 or an 8/10. Finally, the concluding part will have me talk about every 9/10 I’ve awarded so far. I’ve finished doing that, I’ll reveal the full list, so you can see how they fare against the original 100 games I’ve discussed. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

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Call of Duty: Ghosts

Introduction

Despite major the personnel change following the release of Modern Warfare 2, few franchises could claim to have moved the sheer number of units as Call of Duty by the end of the seventh console generation. Modern Warfare 3 and the two Black Ops installments in particular stand as some of the greatest selling games of all time, with sales figures exceeding thirty-million each. As each entry in the Modern Warfare trilogy eclipsed the last in terms of sales, Activision requested the creation of a new game on an annual basis. By 2013, the seventh console generation was nearing its end. This year in particular proved to be a something of a tumultuous time for the industry. Though titles such as BioShock Infinite and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds were good swansongs, companies – publishers in particular – seemed to become less scrupulous with their marketing tactics. One of the worst cases of this occurred in February of 2013 when, in a move that wouldn’t seem out of place in the eighties or nineties, a review embargo was effected in order to sell one-million units of the terrible Aliens: Colonial Marines.

In November of 2013, the annual release of the latest Call of Duty installment, Call of Duty: Ghosts, installment came to pass. As per usual, the marketing campaign was extensive, ensuring that even those who don’t play games knew of its existence. Taking the reviews at face value, one could get the impression that what Infinity Ward, Neversoft, and Raven Software created was a decent game.

The fan response was a different story. Immediately after the game’s release, a faction of enthusiasts took to the aggregate review site Metacritic to write immensely negative pieces in protest. By 2013, the gaming sphere as a whole had a notorious reputation for being reactionary with their backlash to the positive reception of Gone Home earlier in the year being a particularly egregious example. However, there was one piece of evidence to suggest that these weren’t the actions of an unduly negative, yet vocal minority. While the installments leading up to Call of Duty: Ghosts broke sales records, this one didn’t fare quite as well. Activision blamed the slump of demand on the uncertainty caused by the impending start of the eighth console generation. The mid-2010s was a time when the opinions of critics and those of fans often clashed with each other. Was Call of Duty: Ghosts a decent game unfairly lambasted or the disaster those fans made it out to be?

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100th Review Special, Part 8: The Elite Eights

I have to admit that between the three colors I use, the green tiers are the ones for which my process of assigning grades is the least scientific. When I was developing my rating system, I wanted to make it clear to readers that a game really has to go the extra mile to earn an 8/10 or higher so as not to devalue the highest grades. Admittedly, it does come down to gut feelings to a greater extent than when I’m entertaining the idea of assigning a red or yellow score. For games I’ve awarded an 8/10, there might be a few minor issues present, but they’re easy to overlook in favor of appreciating what they do well. These are games you should give high priority should they end up on your backlog.

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100th Review Special, Part 4: March of the Mediocrity

The primary difference between a 3/10 and a 4/10 on my scale is that I couldn’t personally endorse playing any game from the former tier. With the latter tier, my stance when it comes to the question of recommending a game is less straightforward. Essentially, a 4/10 means that I would be more likely to dissuade people from playing the game in question, yet it does just enough right so as to not make the experience irredeemably bad. In practice, quite a lot of the entries on this tier are games that had historical significance, yet are decidedly inaccessible from a modern standpoint. Either way, now that we’re out of the red-score tiers, you can rest easy knowing that from here on out, I’ll be talking about games that are, for the most part, worth looking into.

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100th Review Special, Part 3: Thrashing the Threes

Whether it was through Schoolhouse Rock, De La Soul’s debut album, or the Planescape setting of Dungeons & Dragons, we were taught that three is the magic number. That is sort of the case here on Extra Life as well. Specifically, 3/10 is that highest score a game can get without me being able to recommend it. The main difference between this grade and the two that preceded it is that I can imagine people liking the following games in a non-ironic fashion. I would suggest several alternatives, but I can see why they would garner a fanbase, as there’s enough to like about them.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 3

Introduction

Infinity Ward’s 2009 effort, Modern Warfare 2, sold around twenty-three million units, overtaking the original by nearly ten million. Shortly after the new decade began, two key figures from the company, co-founders Jason West and Vince Zampella, were fired by the CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, for “breaches of contract and insubordination.” It is widely speculated that this was done so Kotick could avoid having to pay West and Zampella bonuses for their successful campaign. This development in turn caused a significant chunk of Infinity Ward’s staff to leave the studio and file a lawsuit against Activision in order to regain their losses.

During this turmoil, Activision, not wishing to let a golden opportunity to cash in on a popular franchise go by, requested that members of the recently-formed Sledgehammer Games collaborate with Infinity Ward to create a sequel to Modern Warfare 2. This new company was founded by veterans Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey who were responsible for developing the widely praised horror-themed shooter, Dead Space. The burden fell on them and the remnants of Infinity Ward to complete the trilogy, tying up all the remaining loose ends in the process.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2

Introduction

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a huge success, selling more copies than any of the franchise’s previous installments combined. As one would expect, the publisher wished to further capitalize on this triumph. Infinity Ward had recruited Jesse Stern, a writer and executive producer of the American procedural drama, NCIS, three years prior during development of their 2007 hit, impressing him with the scope of its narrative. With him on board, the team set out to make a sequel to Call of Duty 4 with the goal of including even more shocking twists and ensuring the experience they created would leave an indelible impact on the medium. After much speculation from both the gaming press and consumers, the project was completed in 2009 under the name, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” turning the subtitle its predecessor bore into a subseries within the franchise.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4

Introduction

In 2002, a gaming company known as Infinity Ward was established. Among its ranks were three former employees of 2015, Inc.: Vince Zampella, Grant Collier, and Jason West – their most notable product during their tenure being the 2002 hit Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The following year, Infinity Ward launched their debut game: Call of Duty. It too was a success with critics lauding the experience for providing a realistic take on first-person shooters set in the Second World War. The title’s biggest innovation, and part of what made it stand out from its contemporaries, was how it had the player assume the role of one soldier in a larger group as opposed to a lone wolf protagonist. This marked the beginning of a franchise, which included two more sequels that used the same setting as the first installment. Then, in 2007, Infinity Ward released the series’ fourth installment, surprising the gaming community by having the story take place in the modern age.

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