Pic from technobuffalo.com, puppyface from Nintendo
This is a transcript of an actual text exchange from a friend:Him
: I was in no way excited or have any interest in the Nintendo Switch. Having watched all the videos and read multiple articles I can confidently say my interest sits at 0%.Me
: Got one reserved, looks like a lot of fun Him
: I figured you'd be into it. Pass but have fun Me
: We do B)
This conversation can be an example of more than just a lack of interest juxtaposed with an expectant happiness. Here we have a beautiful component of modern gaming; the wide range of options, opinions, and interests spread over a massive and growing gamer populace. One man's Dark Souls
is another's Splatoon
. And our gaming industry is big enough for it all.
Once, my choice between a SEGA Genesis or Super Nintendo was a dilemma that took many a middle-school day to determine. Friends and non-friends weighed in from every side of the lunch table. A few years later and I had a friend with a SEGA CD, and another with a Turbo Duo, each desperate to get me in their camp (so we could loan games back and forth, which was incredibly important when we'd only get a new game every few months at most.)
Since the days of the Atari 2600, many a frustrated gamer (and parent) have lamented that there are competing gaming machines that cannot play the other's games. Any of us in gaming retail are used to explaining to someone that no, in fact, there are no Mario games on the PlayStation, and no, they are not going to make one. (And the Economics 101 discussion of why. Depending on your audience, I find the "Ford doesn't make Chevy" explanation as good shorthand.)
Where I grew up in Mississippi, this was contraband and may or may not have started turf wars.
Fast forward to 2017, and this is one thing that still hasn't changed much. Exclusives, timed content releases, and platform franchises still matter, despite some claims. Many folks I know buy Microsoft platforms for Halo
, Gears of War
, and Forza
. Ditto for Sony and Gran Turismo
, God of War
, and JRPGs. And of course, many buy Nintendo exclusively for Mario and Zelda titles. Much as some of us are loathe to admit it, exclusives do persuade purchasing.
At least, in a perfect world.
Now that we're past Christmas, about half of my gamer friends have a PS4, half an Xbox One, and few have both. We're known for being a Wii U household, more-so because few other folks we know have one, but everyone seems to enjoy coming over and playing ours! I'm sure there's a political metaphor there, but let us continue.
Along comes the Nintendo Switch, and it seems gamers are more divided than ever. I hear lots of groaning and negativity, and lots of squees of excitement (many of those are from our home.) How can such a divided industry stand?
Simple; we put them all in the same room on different TVs. As God intended.
On the other hand, put the l33t bragging guy there. And use cheap tape. Pic from memecenter.com.
All right, I admit that isn't ideal for everyone, either in terms of space or cost. I do have to say, having our home as kind of the common ground for console gamers has shown me many interesting ways gaming can divide people as well as unite. Which is weird to me, considering the vast scope of modern video gaming.
Let's just take one angle, that of buying a video game console. There is such a huge variety of games out there, that as long as a bit of diligence is put into the decision of console purchasing it is easy to have more than enough to play no matter what system you buy. Even genre-limited libraries such as the Wii U can be easily supplemented with a handheld, tablet, phone, or PC to round out playtime on the kind of game one prefers.
In fact, there are a handful of notable advantages to only feeding one or two consoles at a time. Price and TV connections are obvious. But as anyone with a collector-sized library can attest, choice-overload can actually be crippling to the point that fewer games are played, or games are played less. Chances are, if you only own and play a few games, you will be pretty choosy on what you play and more inclined to spend more time on what you pick, which can translate into more investment and enjoyment on what is actually played.
If I'm honest, owning a huge collection of video games reminds me quite readily that I'll never finish every game I'd like to play for even for one system, much less so on all of the ones we have. Why own an Xbox One and a PS4 if only picking one meant you still wouldn't finish every game you want to play in its library? It was perhaps a different question all the way back in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, when most games could be completed in less than a few hours at most (if indeed they were designed to be finished at all.) In contemporary gaming libraries, an 8 to 10 hour game is considered "short" and many are designed to stretch into the hundreds of hours. In realistic projections, who really has time to finish, no, even play everything they want? Not counting the attempt at giving a fair shake to the hundreds of games released every year?
So why do some of us who are still at least as much gamers as collectors end up with so many systems and games?
Well I can't speak for other people, and even if I could I'm too tall to pass for a ventriloquist dummy. But those who have heard my same spiels over the years already know my own answer: Other people.
Wait, before you go, know that one of my New Year's resolutions is to stop unnecessarily repeating myself so much, which was ironically my resolution the previous year. So I won't rant right now about awesome IRL social gaming. But I do want to say one of the reasons we pick up so many different consoles is to give the Sony fan a chance to play through Halo
, or someone with no interest in handhelds to play Pokemon
. And while it took awhile, I finally came to the realization that as long as folks were willing to play and have fun when they came over, there was no reason to try and talk them into getting a new or different game machine. In fact, owning various systems means that many of our friends get to play games they enjoy without dismissing them entirely because of that machine they are made for.
In gaming retail, when someone asks me what modern system they should buy, my first question is always to ask if they play online. If more of their friends are playing online on a certain system, I tell them to go for that one. If they aren't playing online with friends, it's a simple math game to me; count up the games released or announced, attach how big of a deal each one is to you, and see which has greater weight. I think that's as good as any method to determine what video game systems to own.
So in the end, don't be pressured into what video game or system you should own. And hopefully it goes without saying not to be that troll that criticizes others for their preferences. The amount of negativity aimed at the Wii U, Switch, or any other system seems pretty ridiculous! We're basically telling someone not to be excited or have fun with a device specifically built for entertainment. I like strawberry, you may like chocolate, and there's room enough even for those vanilla-loving fans. If you're like my buddy mentioned above and a game machine doesn't interest you, that's cool. If you come over and want to play something else, we can probably accommodate. If not, before we claim someone is wrong, how about some Catan
or Magic: The Gathering