Not So Massively: Gaming genre elitism isn’t a good look on anyone

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As I noted when I first took over the Not So Massively column this past spring, we live in a time of great change for the gaming world. We’re seeing the rise of mobile gaming as an entirely new platform, as well as the birth of new genres like battle royale.

And a lot of people are not happy about it.

Look at the announcement of Diablo Immortal. People were savage to that game. And while I can’t deny that Diablo fans have some cause for grumpiness after the abandonment of Diablo III, raging at Immortal really doesn’t make any sense. It’s not taking the place of a new PC game; it’s something extra they did on the side. If it doesn’t interest you, you don’t have to play it.

But this is typical of how a vocal portion of the gaming community views mobile titles. They’re seen not just as inferior but as something worthy of hatred and scorn. People often react as if developers have committed some moral failing by making mobile games; mobile gaming is eternally decried as a “cash grab,” as if making money weren’t also the reason for PC games to exist.

You can often find this same sort of scorn directed at popular new game genres. These days battle royales are the punching bag du jour. Before that it was MOBAs. Again, people express not just disinterest but outright scorn and sometimes outrage that these games exist at all.

This shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: A developer is not doing anything wrong by building a game you don’t like.

And this fad can end any time now, I'm not going to lie.

And just to be clear here, I don’t like these games either. Battle royales are just about everything I don’t like in gaming combined, and while I think it is at least theoretically possible for a mobile title to be fun, I’ve yet to actually encounter a mobile game I truly enjoy. Hearthstone was fun for a few days but got old fast.

But I don’t object to the fact these games exist. Why would I? It’s no skin off my hide. I just shrug and move on. There’s no shortage of games out there that I do want to play.

I think at least some of this disdain for new mediums and genres is rooted in the fear that they will replace the older options, but the odds of that actually happening are slim to none. I truly doubt we are ever going to see a future when PC gaming ceases to exist because of mobile gaming.

The only way that could happen is if mobile somehow managed to provide the same graphical power and precision control as PC gaming, at which point nothing would really change anyway. Mobile gaming would be indistinguishable from PC gaming.

Keep in mind also that forms of media are pretty damn hard to kill in general. TV didn’t replace movies. MP3s still haven’t defeated physical music media, and vinyl is even making a resurgence. For Pete’s sake, radio plays are still a thing. We just call them podcasts now.

Not only do I not see the expansion of gaming to new genres and platforms as a threat, but I think it’s a good thing. We’re lucky to live in a time when our favorite medium is still growing and evolving.

Wasn’t it just a few years ago we were all fed up with how every new online game was another WoW clone? Weren’t we all yearning for some new ideas?

We got our wish. Online gaming is growing and evolving in new directions, and mobile games and battle royales are the result. This may not be the exact direction that you or I wanted online gaming to move, but at least it is moving. As long as there’s forward momentum, there’s the potential for something special to be made.

“I swear, every time I hear the phrase ‘PC master race,’ a few more of my brain cells die off, never to return.”

Of course, it’s not like this kind of elitism is new to the gaming world. Look at the endless rivalry between PC and console players. Again, I join with my fellow PC players in disliking consoles, but I’m not down with viewing console games — or, worse still, the people who play them — as inherently inferior just because I personally don’t like them. I swear, every time I hear the phrase “PC master race,” a few more of my brain cells die off, never to return.

We MMO players have also been the target of it. Let’s not forget how often we and our games are looked down upon by the greater gaming community. I’ve seen no shortage of complaints about how mainstream media covers MMOs, and how MMO players are seen as weirdos and no-lifers. Why are we now directing the same scorn at other genres?

Where it gets really gross is when people start directing their disdain for a game onto its players as well. It’s one thing to criticize a game, but it’s not OK to start repeating negative stereotypes based on what we choose to spend our free time on. Liking Fortnite doesn’t make someone dumb or childish, and making assumptions like that says far more about the person making that assumption than it does about the target.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Of course, a lot of this is just human nature, and lest you think I ride too high on my horse, I can’t honestly say I’ve never been guilty of making these kind of assumptions. I have at times passed judgment on PvP fans and high-end raiders, for instance. I did so because of the poor treatment I’ve received from people in those communities, but assuming they’re all bad based on the actions of a few isn’t productive, and I’m wrong to do so. I try to be mindful of such assumptions when they come up. I know I can be better. I know I should be better.

And really, we should all be more mindful of our assumptions and unconscious biases of others when they arise, and not just as it pertains to gaming. The world would be a better place if we did.

So let’s try to stop practicing such elitism toward the games and platforms we don’t like. It’s a very small step towards a friendlier gaming community, and maybe a better world.

The world of online gaming is changing. As the gray area between single-player and MMO becomes ever wider, Massively OP’s Tyler Edwards delves into this new and expanding frontier biweekly in Not So Massively, our column on battle royales, OARPGs, looter-shooters, and other multiplayer online titles that aren’t quite MMORPGs.

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