Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stop Slapping Me, Nintendo! (Metaphorically Speaking)

A popular rebuttal to any criticism toward Nintendo is that they "March to the beat of their own drum." When Nintendo states that they will not support online play so that they can keep local co-op a priority, and that they will not allow the 'Binding of Issac' on 3DS because of its content, and that when they finally release 'Earthbound' on Virtual Console they omit it from the Wii's VC, gamers who've learned better than to expect anything good for the consumer or modern from Nintendo simply shrug their shoulders and get to mentioning that metaphorical drum again.
But what I can't understand is how Nintendo, the company who are self-entitled paragons of family-entertainment, and who allegedly are all about keeping entertainment and social values present in videogames, can get away with making so many of us, gamers and prospective consumers, feel like total shit all of the time.
My Grandma is Dead, and My Friends Don't Play Videogames Neither
Nintendo's focus on keeping local co-op a standard in videogames is one I'm all about. Playing a game with a group of friends is always a terrific time, and anytime I reflect on those moments it was always a Nintendo title that we were playing, whether Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, or Goldeneye.
Thing is though, those reflections are from more than a decade ago, and while they're still warm and inspire me to recreate them it's a borderline impossibility at this point. As a mid-twenties guy with mid-twenties friends, we're all at the point in our lives where we're either finishing up the last and hardest years of college, working full-time jobs, or have simply grown out of videogames. And yes, my grandma is dead, and even if she wasn't I don't think she could be bothered learning what a videogame is now anymore than when she was alive. Let alone me being interested in playing a videogame with her.
Nintendo's aversion to online in favor of its traditionalist values is not as damaging as it is for a game to ignore local play for online; it's worse.While I recognize that I'm not a kid, and that it is children who are the ones most able to put local gaming to good use, I can't help but think of that reality as a gigantic middle finger. Kid's aren't the ones opening their wallets for these games; I, and fellow persons of working age, are. No matter that videogames once were a hobby deemed exclusive to children that is simply not the case anymore; adults play videogames and they aren't being chastised about it any longer (well, in terms of social-etiquette at least). And as it's adults who are the ones paying for these games the thought of crippling one's actual buyer's product-satisfaction for that of a conservative ideal of the past is not only ridiculous but self-destructive as well. Adults live complicated and stressful lives, and most of the time having anyone over the house is pretty much a chore anyway. Playing online serves the need of not only protecting your genuine consumer's interests but allowing them the space that they clearly want. If this generation has proved anything it's that online-gaming is a beloved addition, if not an endeared standard.
While it be nice to get the best of both worlds, a game retaining both local and online co-op, for whatever reason that's something far too rare anymore. But facing subjection of either one or the other, online holds 100% the more reasonable and satisfying inclusion. But Nintendo instead chooses to remind me how much it sucks being an adult.

Stop Acting Like My Dad, Nintendo: You're Just an Entertainment Provider
This one doesn't even need explanation, but for the short-minded here's two examples of why banning products for the sake of image is total bullshit.
James Joyce's Ulysses was widely banned for its controversial content (toilet humor and sex): it is now one of the most favored and well-regarded pieces of literature of all time.
Cannibal Corpse, the film, was banned for being extremely realistic looking: it is now of the most sought-after horror films for its honest conveyor of true terror and instigator of sincere emotion.
And on and on and on. And even when the banned product turns out to be a real stinker, the only thing that matters here is that the product does not represent anything about the person viewing it. Looking back at any historical time of severe censorship, the modern consensus widely goes, "Well this censored item isn't so bad," or that "It's a very intriguing piece."
No matter that violent or criminal images may inspire someone to commit a crime or doubt their ideology, there is no blame to be placed on the product: individuals are responsible for themselves and what they allow influence themselves.
And in the case of children, which is what Nintendo's banning of Binding of Issac is clearly motivated from--- did they forget how their own handhelds work? It has Parental Lock on it, which means that no matter how crushing Issac is towards the Christian religion (which it absolutely is not, at all, in any way, shape or form) it doesn't matter because the product is only available to those with access to it. Parent's are responsible for monitoring their kids: not Nintendo, a faceless provider of electronic entertainment.
And again, like the above argument, the banning of titles for that of adult, complex, or R-rated content is a total "F' You!" to their adult consumers, the people that these adult-rated titles are exclusively available to anyway. And if this generation has proved anything, it's that mature and complicated themes are greatly admired and sought for in modern videogames: Nintendo choosing to not only neglect but censor such content--- I mean, is any further explanation needed?

Nintendo Doesn't Have to Imitate, but That Doesn't Make Them Less Dickish
I'm always a little bit shocked at the comment sections on gaming websites. Whether it's a Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo article there erupts somewhere in the comments this rash, idiotic war-repertoire of corporation-fanboys who seemingly believe with all their heart that these multi-billion-dollar companies genuinely care about them and their preferential entertainment habits.
They don't. They only care that somewhere in your spending habits a chunk is going towards their products, and that is the full extent of their interest in you.
But it's nice to pretend they care about the consumer, and while these companies really don't the various policies and interactions they make towards the consumer can go a long way in at least kindling that delusional belief that your Playstation has a face and gives you high-fives when you unlock more trophies. Sometimes it's really not that great a meeting-ground, such as Microsoft's lackluster Games With Gold in comparison to that of Playstation Plus, but othertimes it's one hell of a response in the form of Microsoft fully accepting consumer responses to the original policies of the Xbox One and their nixing most every policy that consumers disagreed with.
But Nintendo really hasn't done anything to interact with their consumers, and the rabid devotion that Nintendo fans exhibit is an appreciation thoroughly void of reasoning. With region-locking on all of their modern systems despite constant criticism, shoddy online implementation, and constant moves of consumer-betraying nature as in the form of excluding Earthbound from the Wii VC in hopes it will inspire Wii owners to buy a Wii U (which is not going to happen when your dickishness is blatantly obvious, Nintendo), whatever it is that Nintendo fans are injecting themselves with to retain their loyalty is something I suspect they get from a sketchy guy beneath a bridge, because if they're not hallucinating then they're being plain foolish.
Videogames are a disgustingly costly affair, and being suspect to consumer demands the only way for videogames to go is towards greater and greater cost with more expensive systems, standards, and just about everything. All of this is marking a bottle-neck effect, and for every gamer lost to another system there is a very real negative applied to the losing companies. Sony and Microsoft recognize that they need to work with their customers and to offer what they can to retain them, and while it's a business ploy I still don't hear anyone complaining about receiving free games. And while getting things free isn't necessarily expected from Nintendo, what I really want to know is what the heck Nintendo has done for a single one of their customers ever? Far as I remember that's a flat nothing, and in this market where companies are willing to work with their customers and strive to maintain healthy relations between one-another, Nintendo's absence indicates not their own independence and self-worth, but their utter ridiculous and out-of-date view of their market.

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