Posted by Saurabh on February 14, 2012 – 10:23 AM
I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. In fact, I come from a country where having the privilege of owning a computer system or even a cable TV is considered a privilege that is only available to the upper class of society. When I was 11 my dad bought me a “gameboy” for my birthday. The “Gameboy” was a bastardization of the Nintendo 64 name. People in India weren’t aware that Gameboy is actually a handheld console where as the Nintendo 64 as a system you’d hook up to the TV. I remember owning my very first cartridge for that system and it was Contra. An amazing game which I will never forget because it helped me set a foot inside this virtually amazing world of gaming. I fell for it. Soon my collection grew. From Duck Hunt to Super Mario to The Green Beret. I was immersed in the world of console games and I loved it. Soon after one of my neighbors who owned a computer introduced me to Road Rash and WWE Wrestling on the PC. At that time my discrimination of PC vs Console gaming was very little. Everything was innate excitement for me. I enjoyed these games regardless of whether they were on my neighbor’s PC or on my “Gameboy” and those were the days where games served as a symbol of entertainment and excitement.
Although, my biggest problem back in the day was my imagination. It was so creative that if it wasn’t fed even by a third party, it would seem to get upset. I remember playing Road Rash and once you completed a level a cut scene would appear and a girl would come up into the protagonist’s (me) arms and she would sit on his bike and ride off and that was it. Game over. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know if they rode of into the sunset or did they get run over by a bus while riding towards the sunset. This was 11 years ago.
Fast forward to today and as I still continue to embark upon my journey through video games and the lives of their protagonists I still find it hard to end a game with this overactive imagination. When a game ends I demand more. I want to know more and blame the publishers for not feeding me more. But is this rationalization really applicable? Is my sense of entitlement really justified? Do the people who created the game owe me the generosity to continue the story just for me? Of course not! That is merely a selfish sense of entitlement I have because I wish to know more! It may be an innocent demand but at the same time this demand of mine has repercussions.
A couple of days ago a good internet friend of mine, Surf (Brett) went bezerk and manually invited everyone on the Steam Forums Users Steam group to his “A Call for Communication” group. His efforts paid off when the group’s membership signup gained momentum and soon caught the eyes of various news media outlets. The premise of this group being that Valve owes us fans the right to communicate properly about the next Half Life game and it’s development. I have to admit that I am one of the admins of that group and everyone might expect me to take a side which is in no doubt partial to Brett and his group. The truth however remains to be somewhat different. I remain neutral, if not a little bit against the group. My colleague and co-host Brad (Mimaz98) said in his blog that Surf has done things right after all. He uses references to the infamous Left 4 Dead 2 boycott group and Operation Crowbar in order to demonstrate where they went wrong and where Surf did things right. But looking at the big picture was the “Call for Communication” group really on the right track or just mascaraing as a less abrasive form of the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott and Operation Crowbar protest?
I understand and sympathize where this group is coming from and their premise being that Valve, as the creative publishers of everything Half Life should have the decency to inform us of their future plans of their franchise. Essentially saying that as fans we are the most important cog in your Rube Goldberg Machine and if you don’t listen to what we have to say, your products will fail and as a company you will perish. But this is wrong. This sense of entitlement is just plain wrong. There is no doubt that as fans and consumers of such games we play a vital part but we have to realize that we play a vital part in an entire system which will not collapse anytime soon. Remember the Call of Duty boycott? The one where people pledged that they will not play a Call of Duty game only to have 75% of that group end up playing the game anyway? Yeah about that. It is true that publishers like Valve depend on us fans for the success of their product. In fact this is why Valve introduced the idea of community mods for Team Fortress 2. A sandbox platform which has the community’s input. A game for the gamers by the gamers. Some people even argue that if it wasn’t for gamers buying Half Life 2, which is exclusive to Steam, (i.e. you have to use Steam in order to play the game) Steam wouldn’t have been so successful.
All of this is great but since when did this become an opportunity for the fans to tell the publishers what to do? The relationship between fans and the studios/publishers is what biologists describes as symbiosis or a symbiotic relationship between two species. A relationship between nitrogen fixing bacteria and the plant that it clings on to for example. This means that the balance is of equal proportions. Since when did one species in this relationship tries to consume the other in order to benefit itself? There is no doubt that publishers depend on us gamers. If this wasn’t the case then Bethesda would be in the dumps. An initial copy of Skyrim is released, we, the first line of defense, goes out and buys it and reports the bugs to Bethesda. The studio relies on us to provide them with valuable feedback so they can make the game a better experience for future buyers. But since when is this an excuse for people to demand a sequel or information about a sequel? We play an important role but not important enough to dictate what publishers do or don’t.
There is a line that has to be drawn somewhere and as dramatic as it may sound it should be drawn at the end of each game. When Eli died at the end of Episode 2 I knew that the next Half Life game will be of epic proportions. I let my imagination fly like it used to when I was young but this time things were different. I didn’t demand Valve to immediately develop the next Half Life game or even give me a hint about the game in order to satisfy this innate curiosity which not only plagues me but the 55k members of the “Call for Communication” group but instead I chose to wait. I chose to wait for something tangible because I know that Valve is here to serve my entertainment needs just as I am here to serve them for their play-tester needs.
Posted by Sam on August 27, 2011 – 4:56 PM
Although the second birthday of Steamcast was over a month ago (our first episode was released on 7th June 2009), I felt that I should write this post to show how much we appreciate what our fans have done for us.
Posted by Sam on June 28, 2011 – 6:08 AM
Hello everyone! As you may have noticed the website has received quite a dramatic redesign in the past few weeks. We really hope you enjoy the new site design, and we’d appreciate all types of feedback as there will be ongoing improvements and small changes to the design! Many of you might be wondering why we decided to redesign the website in the first place — hopefully this blog post will provide answers to all sorts of questions about the redesign. Speaking of which, we are also happy to (re)introduce an official blog for Steamcast, which will also be discussed in this post. Following is a handful of question-and-answers, but if you want to inquire about anything that hasn’t been covered here, please feel free to post a question in the comments below!