Cynicism vs. Observation

1,044 words.

I’m going to try a new thing this year on the ol’ blog. Last year, I would start writing a post, thinking it was the greatest thing ever, words flowing all over the place, but then I’d hit a wall and couldn’t really think of a conclusion, and I would wander away to something else. Then I would read the post the next day or the next, and realize it wasn’t that good, despite having a kernel of a good idea. So I’d edit it again and put it away. Then the next day I’d realize it’s even worse, and edit it again and again and again, adding paragraphs, removing paragraphs, changing it entirely from what it once was on the first day. Eventually I’d decide it was utterly pointless garbage that didn’t have a conclusion for a reason-because it was garbage-and it would remain forever buried in the Drafts folder. This is one of those posts. But this year, I’m going to post it anyway! Maybe that’s kind of cynical. It feels kind of cynical. But after writing this post, I don’t really know anymore.

I’m sure @Jaedia didn’t intend this, but her comment on my last post brought up an interesting dialog in my head: Where is the line between cynicism and just plain observation? I mentioned that I thought 2018 was kind of a train wreck for gaming, but when I said that, I didn’t feel like I was being cynical, I just felt like I was making an observation of reality that anyone could see if they just looked at it.

That's, uh, let's say, a picture of cynicism. (Actually I think it's a photo I took in the Natural History Museum in New York.)

I wasn’t even talking about the industry, I was just talking about the games themselves. A lot of upcoming games look very derivative and unoriginal to me right now. That doesn’t feel like cynicism, it just feels like a simple observation, an obvious conclusion drawn by connecting a few dots. As just one example: Anthem is clearly a derivative of Destiny, which is itself a derivative of others. What’s new there? It’s another game of people running around with guns and jumpjets shooting at bots to get loot that makes you look cool to other players. I mean, the first class-based jumpjet shooter game *I* played came out in like 1998. The only new thing is “the lore,” which is entirely irrelevant to the core game mechanics.

Sure, it's pretty, but basically more Starsiege: Tribes.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it and play it. I mean if the cost of a new game “doesn’t even register as an amount of money,” as it probably doesn’t for most working professionals, go for it. (I’ve been there.) Maybe it will be the greatest version of Destiny to ever come out, sort of like World of Warcraft became the most popular version of EverQuest. But *I’m* not going to buy it, and I’m surely not going to pre-order it, because (among other reasons) I already played that game back in 1998, and also it might *not* be better. It might be the Battlestar Galactica television series to the Star Wars movie. It could be the Deep Impact to Armageddon (or was it vice versa?). It could be the Unreal to Quake. It might be any number of five million other examples of clones made to take advantage of people’s interest in a popular original. I’m old and wise enough to let other people waste their money now.

But is it cynical to point that out? I don’t think so. I see it more as educational. I *do* think it’s cynical to *make* a clone game like Anthem, though. It’s pretty cynical to sit in a business meeting and propose making an Anthem to sell to all the people who love Destiny, who will pre-order it before seeing anything but a trailer. It’s counting on profiting from the worst of human behavior, which is pretty cynical if you ask me.

Not that I *blame* them for it. Profitable business and marketing is based on deep-rooted cynicism. The basic act of selling a product is the process of tricking someone into buying something they don’t want or need. Wait, was *that* cynicism? Again, it doesn’t feel like it to me. It’s just an observation. That’s literally true, so how can it be cynicism? Is it cynical to pull back the curtain and expose the world for what it is? Or is it a noble service trying to educate and make the world a better place? Or is it more noble to leave people to their happy ignorance?

Maybe it \*is\* cynical to point out that business is cynical.

Regardless, it doesn’t really change the fact that it’s hard to blog about games right now without talking about problems, and nobody really wants to hear about them, and I don’t particularly enjoy beating a dead horse anyway.

I could talk about RimWorld some more, I guess. Boy RimWorld is a great game. The core game mechanics are awesome, definitely *not* something I played in 1998. And there are so many different ways to play it. Completely chill, like a building game or a fancy screensaver, where you just sit and listen to the music. Or super hardcore survival, where every minute is life-or-death decision-making. It’s all up to you! “They don’t care, *it’s your glass!*”

I’ve also been playing a little bit of Subnautica every day. It’s not quite as great, but it’s not bad.

Ugh now I have to find another picture. I’m not writing about anything anymore unless it’s a game that I have a recent screenshot for.

Editor’s note: I’m still trying to edit this post at the last minute before posting it because it’s still complete pointless garbage that doesn’t really make a point, is slightly off, feels wrong, and many other things, but maybe if I just tweak a *couple more sentences* it will all click into place and become brilliant.

Editor’s second note: No. No it won’t. It’s hopeless.

P. S. Bhagpuss added a comment to that last post which I could have addressed here, but I’ll save it for a *different* half-finished post.

This page is a static archival copy of what was originally a WordPress post. It was converted from HTML to Markdown format before being built by Hugo. There may be formatting problems that I haven't addressed yet. There may be problems with missing or mangled images that I haven't fixed yet. There may have been comments on the original post, which I have archived, but I haven't quite worked out how to show them on the new site.

Note: Comments are disabled on older posts.