Battlefield: Modern Ware-Fare and the Required Elitism within Industry vs. Culture - ejronin Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Battlefield: Modern Ware-Fare and the Required Elitism within Industry vs. Culture

This article is a response to Jimmy2tymes's blog Why Gamer Elitism is Bad for the Industry.

It's football season. I sat on my couch with my 8 year-old son last Sunday and watched happily as Manning lead the New York Giants to their first loss of the season against my home team, the Washington Redskins. You may not be a Redskins fan, and I respect your choice to like sh*tty teams, but nothing you say or do; no degree of valid points or strength of arguments made will dissuade me from my fandom.I think they're the best team. I think no matter what your team accomplishes they still suck and no matter what you think or why, you're stupid for thinking it. My team rocks. When they do good, I look good by association. My tastes are creme de la creme because I only like things that are good. No, I'm not one of those misguided emo-hipster types (you fool) - I'm an elitist (duh!).

Elitism has become generalized over time, much like "gamer" or "hardcore," because they're self-applied. A lack of accepted standard definition has lead the gaming culture down this road and although it's really depressing that despite the overall unity as a culture we claim to want, our labeling of one another speaks volumes to the contrary.

When I talk to some Modern Warfare fans, they tell me that they're "so hardcore, they bought the Elite edition of the games on both systems - didn't care how much it cost, they're that hardcore." Well, by that logic I must be a hardcore "dresser". I have suits that cost more than the down-payment on a brand new Mercedes.

I've heard some of these "hardcore" Modern Warfare fans claim their status on the merit of obtaining every achievement or trophy in every game in the franchise and play on nothing less than elite mode. Get ready - was a "hardcore" student. I went to school on "elite mode" by taking nothing less than honors or AP classes and graduated High School with a 4.2 GPA a year early, joined the military, and still managed to earn four college degrees before I was 30.

Reading the above I do sound like an elitist. Actually, I sound more like an an a$$hole that needs to be punched in the face. We'll just agree that the above sounds like I'm an elitist a$$hole (read: I'll dictate to you the context and definition of terms you will accept, without question). To be honest, I had a hard time controlling myself just in writing that; I was compelled to kick my own a$$ (but I threatened myself with an a$$ beating if I did that, got scared, and backed down.)

Like Jimmy2Tymez,  I'm in my 30's (I'm only a year older than he), I have a job, a family that becomes priority, a long gaming history that overshadows most, and have an education . I wasn't always the mediocre level 11 GI member, I started out as a level 1 during the site reboot and dealt with the same elitism from users transitioning from the old site. I wasn't always the average level 14 PSN account (I have more substantive life goals than trophies), I didn't even get a PS3 until 2 1/2 years ago. I could go on and on about what I have and how I got there from what I didn't, but it's not at all important. The long short of it is I started out like everyone else in the world, wet, ignorant, naked, and hungry. I will also die like everyone else; alone, likely in some measure of pain, and unable to take anything from life with me. It's not a reality we readily accept, but it's the reality we get and I think running from that unpleasant reality is just another self-disservice.

I don't agree with Jimmy's conclusion or how he draws it. This isn't to say he's "wrong" or that I'm better than he is - only that I think there's some important things missed in the reflection upon the issue, and that I simply disagree. I applaud Jimmy for stating his case openly and freely. I wish more would.

From Jimmy's blog I gleaned:

"I'm a gamer just like anyone else despite the various standards among the smaller cliques and sub-groups that  work hard at setting themselves apart with divisive labels. I've been around as long, if not longer than most of the people with the elitist attitudes, but you don't see me with that attitude. Get over yourselves"

Technically, yes - that attitude is there. 2/3 of his blog reads like a justification for acceptance into the same group he admonishes, and uses "I'm like you" as both the causality and qualifier of his opinion. The remaining 1/3 seeks to tie in the reasoning that elitism works against the hand that feeds us. The former is merely Jimmy's opinion and I can't say I disagree completely with the sentiment. The latter however, I think conflates "industry" with "culture" and lacks a certain context that clearly defines either. In either case, the underlying image I get is that someone on the Internet is upset that someone else on the Internet thinks less of them over something unquantifiable about something unqualifiable. Now it all seems a sophomoric, but understandable nonetheless. I've been there before and will be there again on some things. I'm not as perfect as I make myself out to be in my opening (shocked?).

ELITISM HELPS THE INDUSTRY

Elitism is one of the most helpful things in the gaming industry. From a cultural aspect many people hate it. It makes some of us feel bad, embarrassed, or second-class. That's the objective of the attitude by definition, so complaining won't do anything. It's a useless fight. That said, I think a great example of how and why elitism is great in the industry is the heated rivalry between Battlefield and Modern Warfare.

Personally, MW as a franchise has done little more than stagnate and this crap with the "Elite" mode is merely condensing methods of organization players previously sought outside the game, usually for free, and charging money on the justification that the actions are sanctioned by Activision in-house; a one-stop multiplayer experience. Along with the Elite subscription, players get monthly updates of maps and non-subscribers get the quarterly releases of map packs per usual. What's not said is if the monthly updates will be one or two maps a month and if the quarterly maps packs for non-subscribers will now be more expensive to encourage subscriptions. My personal opinion on this is of very little consequence to the die hard fans. These fans will get the game and pay the money regardless of what it is I say. Some of them will act like elitists. So, how is this good - to have people acting like children and promoting superficial rivalry?

It makes money. The strange thing about money is that it's required to do things, fun things - like gaming.

Similarly, for every Washington fan there's a Dallas fan just like for every Battlefield fan there's a Modern Warfare fan. When these fans go at it with each other, the franchise owners bet on making a lot of money. Even now, gamers are making pre-orders on Modern Warfare, some, simply because they don't want to hear "Battlefield outsells Modern Warfare 3 over Holiday 2011." Likewise, there are some people that like Battlefield or just hate Modern Warfare and will buy Battlefield just to help the headline. It's stupid, and I'll agree to that, but it's exactly what pushes the market to some extent.

Additionally, when fans go at it and start listing reason why a title is loved or hated - especially in a rivalry, it would be moronic to think developers aren't listening. Developers and publishers listen to people go to war just as much as they watch and copy other successful aspects of games for their own. If you think Modern Warfare or any modern FPS is totally original and brought truly fresh ideas to the table... then you're probably under 10 years-old or stupid (I'm not ruling out the possibility of both, either).

The point is, elitism is one of the many ways industry taps the pulse of the consumer base. What people like and hold above groups of another become incorporated in the perceived underdog group. When both groups have the same relative talking points, there's a unity and a bridge toward camraderie is built. How this is "bad" escapes me; why this would be "bad" remains ever a mystery to me. I had the impression that fans of any team sought to encourage the evolution of the team.

ELITISM HURTS THE CULTURE

If you've read my past blogs, I've written a couple times about the divisiveness of group labels and how "hardcore" is a misnomer for "enthusiast." In fact, two of my pieces address Jimmy's thoughts directly among the points made:

No ma'am: gender superficiality

Love and Hate of the Gaming Culture

Other users have written on the same topic of Elitism with sentiments of their own and the concepts and feelings expressed are not unique nor exclusive to gaming. In that, we all need to get over ourselves.

To rehash and summarize the points of the two listed blogs - elitism is divisive to a culture, if not moronically superficial but undeniably necessary for the industry to improve, thus a taint we must endure in doses. Going back to football, who cares how many Super Bowls Dallas won, or how many yards John Riggins cleared in his career? Who cares if someone thinks MW if better BF? Will it change our buying habits and perspective of someone else hold an opinion independent of our own? The statistics on sales between rival titles don't amount to anything of tangible value and serve to only fill some kind of emotional gap some can't find anything better to fill it with. The problem, is that once it's filled these people are putting themselves in a position to where they have to choose to remove and replace it. Why not just leave it open for something that actually matters?

It is because there is a  lack willingness to be seen as "average." No one strives for second place, and no one steps up and declares the role of "sidekick" by choice. Those who do, simply settle and in the modern world where everything in the gaming culture is about what gains can be represented with an icon of some sort, we'll have elitism. Will it end? No. it's not something that manifested with trophies and achievements - it was displaying Collectors' Edition titles on a shelf and posting pictures of the useless trinkets that came with them on profile pages before that. Prior to that it was buying imports and prior to that it was having a coin-op in the garage. What will it be in the future? I don't know, probably something equally stupid. The purpose of it though is what I find most unsettling. It has become apparent to me that it's about making ourselves feel better about something we care about. We don't need to look at new or different ways to keep ourselves feeling better, we need to look at what we're trying to feel better than and why we need to feel better in the first place.It's a pretty shallow and worthless cultural community when people respect something like a gamerscore or a list of trophies more than the parenting ability of a father to his children. In that, I can't blame Jimmy for being upset by the elitist attitudes within our culture, but that's not the basis of all elitism or enough to lambast elitist attitudes across the board.

It's not elitism that's to blame and it's not elitism hurting the industry, it's where it is applied, to whom, and under what contexts. Unfortunately, the culture of gaming has spread to much younger generations where a decreasing number of people have the ability or time to teach them the right way to behave and act. Us "old" gamers are too few and the middle-ground gamers are enjoying the peak of their existence within the culture, leaving the next generation to shape what everyone will deal with in 5-7 years. If we don't fix it now, then when? If you don't fix it, then who? We could spend all day b*tching, but last I checked talking is much less effective than doing. 


 

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