Thursday, 19 April 2012

Freelance Retro Gaming Journalism: Pet Peeves

The advent of the World Wide Web has changed the way enthusiasts of all types interact with their hobbies.  From message forums and blogs to free services like YouTube and Facebook, cyberspace is bursting at the seams with user-generated content related to anything you can imagine (and some things you can’t). 

Whether or not this is a good thing is entirely a matter of perspective.  Some would be quick to say: “freedom of speech, baby!”  But if I had my way, everybody would be required to undergo a basic accreditation procedure before being permitted to spew unintelligible gibberish on the internet.  Anyway, I digress; I’m not here to deliver a neo-fascist treatise on cyber-elitism. 

I’m here to talk pet peeves—the life blood of any true cynic.  Specifically, I’m going to talk about 5 pet peeves of mine that have been developed and nurtured through my exposure to the deluge of freelance retro-gaming journalism that has taken the internet by storm in the last several years.  Let’s get started. 

[Editor’s note: I’m not going to call anybody out by name, I’m not that much of a tit.]

#5 – Shunning the classics

If you’re a gaming hobbyist who browses the internet for interesting articles and reviews to read then you’ve been exposed to this one, whether you realize it or not.  I can’t count the number of “Top 10 this” or “Worst Ever that” lists I have encountered that read as though they came from a world where video games didn’t exist before 1984.  As an Atari kid, it’s a bit insulting—I know full well that there were sprites and pixels before Nintendo.  Sometimes, it makes me want to take Mario’s stupid head and pop it like a zit. 

#4 – The phrase “back in the day”

I think I was able to successfully deflect the blows and keep the inflicted damage beneath my threshold of pain for the first 13,456,657 instances of this phrase I encountered in media related to retro games, but my defenses have officially been breached.  Now, every time I read or hear this phrase, it’s like salty sweat trickling into a paper-cut under my fingernail.  I’ll admit that I have used this phrase myself in the fairly recent past, but hey, I also used to think Independence Day  was a good movie.  You have my word that it won’t happen again. 

#3 – The word “addicting” 

"I love this game, it is so addicting!”  I understand the sentiment, but personally, I strongly prefer the word “addictive”.  To be fair, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on whether the word “addicting” is technically incorrect, but I don’t really care.  All I know is that, as a self-professed word nerd, the sound of it makes me want to strangle a kitten. 

To all of you out there who use this word, I hope it helps you get dates with attracting women that have seducing eyes. 

#2 – All talk and no play

I don’t know what it is with video games—retro games in particular—that gets so many people blathering on about them without ever actually playing them.  Being a male in my 30’s living in a scary world full of worries and stress, I fully understand the therapeutic power of nostalgia.  But as a motivation for discussing something at length, the nostalgia factor only goes so far.  I’m not that desperate to be 11 years old again—I need to be somewhat actively involved with something to feel the urge to talk about it on a regular basis. 

You’re probably wondering where I get off accusing people of being all talk and no play, but it’s actually fairly easy to spot.  When somebody talks about a game or console that they claim is one of their “all time favourites” that they have been “playing for decades”, you’d think the things they say would be free of glaring factual errors.  For instance, anybody who claims to be an Atari 2600 Kaboom! freak has no excuse for not recalling that the game was played with paddle controllers (yes, that’s a real world example). 

#1 – Shitty YouTube videos

The internet tools and services available to us today can be used to do very cool things, but it’s a double-edged sword.  If you were to give everybody in the world a brick of gold, many would put it to good use, while others would do dumb shit like make fake teeth covered in dollar signs.  That’s the way it goes with such things, and YouTube is no exception. 

Let me paint a little picture for you here.  You’re waiting for your dinner to cook, so you pull out the laptop to kill some time, and end up clicking on a link to a gaming video on the slim chance that you will be presented with something enlightening, interesting, or at least watchable.  The video starts with a pukey magenta background and a succession of “title slides” that fly in and zip away using obnoxious fonts and cheesy Windows Movie Maker transitions, while Nickelback assaults your eardrums.  Eventually, the presentation segues to the grainy silhouette of an unkempt, bespectacled dweeb in jogging pants and Coca-Cola sweater, sitting in front of his webcam in his parents’ basement, the light from his computer monitor glaring off his glasses, and the crappy microphone picking up every last bit of reverberation the unfinished space has to offer.  This freelance hero doesn’t use scripts, no sir, he kicks it free-style because he’s that good.  “Ummmm…. Uhhhh… so guys… uhhh…. Pubestache89 here with another game review… uhh… glad you … uh… found my channel… uhhh… leave a comment if you like… uhhh… yeah, so, uhh… anyway, Kirby is great... so  uhhh, thanks for subscribing… and uhhh… catch you next time.”  Almost like listening to William Hung sing, you somehow continue to watch, curious to see if maybe—just maybe—there will be a redeeming quality to the presentation, but it never comes.  Be honest, you know what I’m talking about here. 

Well everyone, that completes my list.  I almost included a 6th peeve that talked about obnoxious bloggers who get up on their soapboxes and…. hey, wait a minute…

Uhh… well… uhhh.. yeah, uh, see you next time!

1 comment:

  1. I am with you, especially on the "all talk and no play" point. We all love a little nostalgia from time to time, but let's be real: Tron was not that fun a game. It reminds me of people who only listen to the Beatles. They're great. And I loved 'em as a kid. I'd even say they should be mandatory listening at some point in everyone's life - just not for one's entire life!