Posted by: seanmalstrom | February 8, 2010

Email: Those angry fans

Hello Malstrom,

I’m a bit surprised you bothered acknowledging those crazy Metroid (or really Sakamoto?) fans. Sounded like they had enough to freak out and pop a vein over already. Anyway correct me if I’m wrong, but would you agree that the fans who are all about the narrative are really just low on imagination? Like, they can’t handle the ambiguity of the magical world of video games and must have some sort of logic or excuse to rationalize it?

I’ve always liked making up ridiculous explanations as to why certain things happen in video games. How can Bowser keep coming back despite falling into lava (maybe he uses one-ups too)? How come all the old men in caves in Hyrule look the same (maybe it’s the style of the times)? Why does Dracula hide pot roasts in his walls (maybe he… well, I don’t know)? How can these narratologists possibly enjoy having all the questions demystified? The only reason I can think of is that they don’t enjoy the mystery at all.

I think these are the people who desire sequels to stories that don’t need them, who hate a film that ends without a clear resolution, as if you need the writer to hold you by the hand and explain everything for you. They need to be told what Samus is feeling, because they can’t imagine themselves walking around Planet Zebes. Maybe she’s scared, or frustrated, or totally pumped? But Sakamoto explains it for us that surely, because she’s a woman, she must be feeling girly thoughts of babies and boyfriends. The beauty of “Samus” was that you only saw armor; no face, no dialogue, it might as well be you in that suit. Remember way back when Metroid was new and people didn’t know it was a girl under there? Did it make a difference who she was? You had to be good at the game to even find out it was a woman. You could have played the whole game through, done decently enough, finished, and never learned her identity. Really, when it comes down to it, Samus is the suit. The woman inside is just a bonus. The fans of the narrative and Sakamoto himself seem distracted like an employee who keeps drooling over a female co-worker and is wasting both their time by hitting on her. They really ought to just be getting back to work, killing space pirates and metroids.

I feel sorry for these fans because what they really want is either to have a relationship with Samus or some kind of movie or book about a girl in space who has maternal feelings, and they’re stuck with a video game. I feel worse for the real fans who want a video game about aliens and missile-shooting armor and we’re stuck with cutscenes. Make no mistake, I like Samus as a character, but I don’t need people telling me who she is or what she’s thinking.

PS: In regards to that email about hype, I’d say Mario 5 was really good about it, as it was introduced and released within a matter of months. Just enough time to become aware and save up the money if you don’t have it, but not so long that you forget or get frustrated. The fact that we saw a complete game in action at E3 and months later had it in our hands seems unreal today.

I bolded the above. The thing is that these fans do not remember playing Metroid and not knowing who Samus was. They are young and may not have even been born then. Remember, if you played NES Metroid when it was brand new and understood it all, you have to be at least 30 years old now. You’re a fuddy duddy!

What is animating them is Game God worship. If Sakamoto says Metroid was a certain way, then that is the way how it was. A Game God cannot be disputed.

I posted that exchange with the Metroid fans for this main purpose: to reveal that younger fans shout down the older fans. For example, if I say of Zelda: “Why are there so many puzzles in Zelda? Zelda is not about puzzles. It was Link being a swordsman. Let us get back to that.” That comment, itself, was “shouted down” on many forums if I make it or anyone else makes it. So the older fan either thinks, “Gee, gaming is not for me anymore,” and does something else or thinks things have changed in gaming and that what he wants does not deserve to exist anymore. This is exactly how fans of 2d Mario felt.

Through the 90s and 2000s, gaming has really gotten off track. Perhaps a big issue of this is that the people who stopped gaming never articulated their disinterest. And the reason why they didn’t articulate their disinterest is because they kept being shouted down by the more die hard fans.

You know this Mario in 3d thing? It just isn’t the same as Super Mario Brothers. I don’t like it.

“Who are YOU to say? Shigeru Miyamoto is a GENIUS! A GENIUS!”

So what we get is a parade of praise for the game. If you have noticed, there is a trend in gaming where games keep getting higher rated yet their sales keep going down (despite their higher ratings). It is as if games are given a “Game God Curve” where if a game comes from a Game God, it gets ten points higher than usual.

And there are other reasons to not like the ‘Game God’ route. The “Game God” himself may like the attention and get a very big head to actually believe he IS a genius! Have you ever worked with a genius? They are horrible to work with! It is because they think they are right in everything! So the games that start to come from someone who thinks they are genius ends up being ‘terrible’. And worse, we have many people, who have no business in games, rushing to join the ‘Game Industry’ so they too can become a ‘Game God’. Is this the most strangest thing you have ever seen!?

The young are very vulnerable to “Game God” type worship. Perhaps it is a feature of youth as we all need heroes.

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