Gaming culture: Bulletstorm and grown up kids

I’ve been working recently with people who are fans of computer games. “Great,” you think, “we’ll have so much in common.” Well … yes and no. They play shooters on consoles. I play PC games. They like corpse camping people in Black Ops and I’m not big on PvP.

And I get this cognitive dissonance when they’re describing excitedly all the horrible things they did in game to people who annoyed them, when I know that they spend the rest of their day working with young people who’ve been thrown out of their parent’s homes for being unmanageable (as you can imagine, patience and respect is really important in this line of work.)

So I come back with a new view on horrible gamer culture in shooters, which is that most current players probably like it that way. And since they have plenty of buying power, people will keep making what Leigh Alexander calls “man-child bloodbath games,” and they’ll probably be huge hits. I’m pretty sure though that while the guys I work with enjoy the odd smack talk in game, they wouldn’t be down with the sexist, homophobic slurs which are so characteristic of the culture. Or would they? Fortunately I don’t play xbox shooters so I’ll never know.

Bulletstorm is currently kicking up a media furore as the newest entrant into the man-child bloodbath genre.

And I think, “Well, game itself kind of sounds fun … but I don’t think it’s fun to dismember people and have loads of foul mouthed jokes and comments from the lead characters.” And I know full well that to most of the desired audience, that’s a big part of the appeal. They can’t wait to play a game where you get to shoot other people in the bum (graphically, mind) and have achievements with names that go way beyond suggestiive (possibly not safe for work.)

Leigh argues that we shouldn’t criticise games for being puerile man-child fantasies. If that’s what the market wants then that’s what the market gets. Which is fine, but I’m wondering more and more if I am the one who is not the ‘true gamer’ because if I know anyone who plays and likes that game, they’re going down in my estimation. Which again, is part of the appeal.

Games are now being marketed on the basis that women will hate them. You may have seen or heard of the adverts for Dead Space 2, with the tagline, “Your mom will hate it.” Or in other words, if you hate women and want to be really sure you won’t accidentally be gaming with any, buy this game.