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From A Parent's Point of View

The moment we found out my wife was pregnant for the first time everyone around me started telling me how life was going to change. I never disagreed with what they had to say, I figured a few things would change including my priorities, what I did on the weekends, etc... One thing, however, I did not count on was hearing what people say in a completely different light. This has become more and more prevalent as my kids get older. Unfortunately, this perception has bled into my views on the gaming population as a whole. Here are a couple of examples. 

 

Mass Effect's End
Shortly after the release of Mass Effect 3 (and shortly before its release), a lot of gamers took to the internet to release their rage at the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy. They claimed that Bioware had short-changed them and wanted Bioware to go back and re-do the ending. For some, this is a rational thought process, but it is not what I heard. 

 

For me, when I read these comments, I am reminded of a night putting my son to bed and reading him a new book. He would get so into the story that he would not want to go to sleep. Then, the fateful end of the story is read and he gets a sad look on his face. As I went to tuck him in he said: "Dad. You need read the story again with a different ending, I didn't like it." As I explain the concept of an author and his right to make a story as they see fit and how it is not wise for us to try to change that story to our desires, he begins to cry and insist even more loudly that he didn't like it. After about 15 minutes, I finally gave in just to get him to be quiet and go to sleep so I could go play a game.

Personally, I love Mass Effect 3 and see it as an amazing capstone to the series. I felt my decisions had impact on the galaxy and the way the story ends is not exactly a happy one, which I am good with. But it is always important to remember that we are just experiencing what someone else has created. We cannot expect the creators of those experiences to bend to our will because we don't like it. If you don't like it, express your distaste like an adult and move on with life.

Used Game Credit
The sale of used video games has become big business and people are taking sides on if it is good business practice or not. One of the areas of strong debate is the amount of credit you get by trading a game in. In fact, recently Game Fly introduced an ad, mocking GameStop and the low amount of money offered in trade or cash to people trying to trade or sell games to them. The commercial goes on to show people getting extremely angry to the extent of throwing a poor excuse for a Master Chief replica through the front glass door. 

 
Seriously how the world views us

One day, my son came home from school in an extremely bad mood, throwing his backpack on the ground and acting very different from his normally happy self. When questioned about his attitude he responded that he had traded one of his toys for another toy. Later on, that same kid traded his new toy for something even bigger and my son saw it happen right in front of him. He then said: "It wasn't a fair trade! I want my other toy back! He should have given me more for my toy."

The fact of the matter is that we are not being forced to trade games for low amounts of money, we choose to. GameStop survives because of their used game business (blog to come on this shortly). If you don't like the amount of money being offered, don't trade your games in for the credit and you won't have anything to complain about. You have plenty of other avenues to pursue when it comes to selling your games, GameStop doesn't monopolize that market.

Online Passes
Online passes have become a source of contention in the gaming community recently. Many gamers have become happy with being able to buy their games used and don't want to soend the extra on a new game. At the same time, however, they want to have access to multiplayer capabilities with those used games. After reading some blogs, discussions on Twitter, and debates in forums, it has become clear to me that this is a huge issue for a lot of gamers.

 

Occasionally, I find that my kids are smarter than I give them credit for. At one point, I explained to my son that we pay for parks in our neighborhood via taxes and HOA dues. These payments give us permission to use the parks as we like. A few months ago, a soccer league started and my son desperately wanted to join, but the sign-up fee was $250, money I did not have at the time as it was an unexpected expense. He cried for hours, using the argument "But we paid for the field, we should be able to play on the team!" I tried to explain to him that the league costs money to play in because there are expenses beyond those covered by our taxes and HOA payments, but he simply wouldn't see reason.

Multiplayer capabilities cost publishers and developers money to maintain. People are always finding ways to cheat in multiplayer, servers must be monitored, and other quality assurance issues must be handled and expecting them to be handled during development is far too much to be asked of games given how complex they have become. When we buy used, those publishers and developers don't see any direct income and see no offsetting income for their expenses. You can call it corporate greed all you want, I will simply disagree with you.

Pre-Order Bonuses
Pre-order bonuses are becoming a popular incentive for stores to get you to buy games from them and to do so ahead of time. Publishers and developers are even breaking into this, seeking our devotion to a game before it is released and gaining them more sales of new games. Unfortunately, some gamers get more than a little frustrated that they don't get an extra gold key for the Sanctuary chest or don't get a bonus side quest. 

 

The other day, I picked my son up from school and he was livid. He handed me a notice from his teacher stating that he had to have detention during lunch because he refused to leave the playground in the morning to start school. When I asked my son about this he said: "Other kids got there earlier and got to play on the slide more! I just wanted what they got!" I explained to him that if he got there at the same time, he would have the same benefits, but he at least got to ride the slide and have a similar experience.

Developers and publishers want to give incentives to buy their game and to buy it quickly. It is their right to do so. It is also my opinion that they are the ones to dictate what goes in a game and what does not, that is not a player's decision. If they feel something is not vital to a game should be taken out and given as a pre-order bonus, that is their right and it is your right as a consumer not to buy the game or to buy it without the pre-order bonus, you and your wallet decide your fate.

 

As I have grown up, I have come to the shocking conclusion that life is not fair, at least not in the way we think fair means. This, I believe, is the primary difference between an adult and a child: the realization and acceptance that life just isn't always going to be fair. I love my kids, but when they get whiney it drives me nuts. I love the gaming community as well, but sometimes we sound like a bunch of whiney brats, especially given how much we really have out there.

 

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