Sex, Lies, and Video Games
Hype. We've all seen it at work. In books, movies, music, t.v. and video games. And we've all, at some point, been affected by it. Hype can be a positive thing for various reasons of course. Hype builds anticipation, expectation, speculation, motivation. And by that last bit I mean it leads to some people to want to get up and go to their nearest store to either buy the product or pre-order it. All the while we let that hype fuel our optimism. We hope, we expect, we want it to deliver on what it promises us. But just as it can be a force for positive thought, it can be a thing that ruins a company's reputation, disenfranchises a fan base, or even causes some businesses to implode and cease to exist. Especially when that Hype is significantly better than the actual product.
Our first case in point is the 2008 release of Haze for the PS3. Described as a potential "Halo Killer", Haze failed miserably upon release both on a critical and consumer level, and eventually led the developer, Free Radical Design, to soon go into administration. Luckily most found a home at Crytek and, as you all know, Crytek has given us the Crysis games. So it's not all bad. Something positive, at least, came out of it all.
Another failure of the Hype Machine would no doubt be Too Human by Silicon Knights. This is a game that was notorious for it's rather extensive ten year development cycle. Originally designed as a four-disc Sony PS1 game, it then skipped to a proposed Nintendo Gamecube exclusive title, only to eventually be bought by Microsoft and released for the Xbox 360 in 2008. And was critically panned shortly thereafter. Recent news hasn't been kind to the developer by the by. Not only was its X-Men: Destiny a critical and commercial flop, but the developer has been siphoning tax-free monies from the Canadian Government to help keep itself afloat, monies they were supposed to be using to hire on more personnel to help finish various projects currently in production. But instead, SK laid off "a small number" of employees shortly after releasing X-Men: Destiny.
Make you wonder what they're doing with all that free money they're getting, doesn't it?
I Want to (Not) Believe
But now we get to the heart of the matter. The reason why I'm posting this blog entry in the first place.
Big question time: When does Hype excuse a developer or publisher from making outright false promises to the customer? In other words, when does Hype become the go-to excuse to outright lie to us? When does, or rather why, is it o.k. to say, "Well, we might have embellished it all a bit. It was just hype," and we're perfectly fine with that explanation? The answer should be obvious. Hype is not an excuse to lie. Consumers, for the most part, are not stupid. And for those that do believe in the Hype no questions asked, well, maybe we can help them see a little clearer in the future.
Being lied to is, at least to me, a deplorable act. When you lie to me you assume I'm gullible enough to take you at your word. That I should trust you, explicitly. That I should believe in you, wholeheartedly. That I should never question, voice an opinion, or think ill of you. Now I'll admit, I'm willing to give people a chance. But that's only after I look at what they've done, good or bad in their bodies of work. If they've had a decent track record doing what they do, then I'm willing to cut them some slack. I'm willing to take their word for it. For now. And after building a repertoire with me, in that I consider you a believable, trust worthy sort, then I can feel comfortable taking a chance on blind faith. In other words, I myself (yes I admit) have been prey to the Hype.
But imagine my distaste, my disappointment, and my small sliver of shock and outrage, when I look back and see that the Hype not only did not live up to the promises that it made, but it contradicted itself and outright lied to me. My current, eh, favorite bit of Hype in this regard comes from someone who I thought I could trust to do the right thing. Not only by me, but to the franchise that they were responsible for. Of course, I'm talking about Casey Hudson prior to the release of Mass Effect 3.
And I quote: “Yeah, and I’d say much more so, because we have the ability to build the endings out in a way that we don’t have to worry about eventually tying them back together somewhere. This story arc is coming to an end with this game. That means the endings can be a lot more different. At this point we’re taking into account so many decisions that you’ve made as a player and reflecting a lot of that stuff. It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings, where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C.....The endings have a lot more sophistication and variety in them.” - In an interview regarding Mass Effect 3's "multiple endings"
I suppose that statement will haunt that man for years to come. No matter how much good he does, I think there will be a very large group of people who will always remember that little bit of dialogue. And honestly, they shouldn't forget. They really shouldn't. Because those that forget the evils of the past are doomed to repeat them in the future. I think the following quote sums up my feelings on the matter the best:
"I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Trust is Earned, Not Expected
So, you might be asking yourself this question; if I can't trust the hype, or the developers, or the rumor mill, or even the critics, who DO I trust to help me decide what I should do. The answer is simple. Trust yourself. Do your homework before you go out and buy something. Look at the company making it, look at the customer comments, look at the critical responses from the people you trust the most. They don't have to be professional reviews or comments. But rather someone who you think does a better job than these so-called professionals. Are they always right? Of course not. One man's 'Othello' is another man's 'See Jack Run'.
No one person or collective is right. Not all the time anyway. Because we are imperfect beings. Some of us will still listen to the Hype. Some of us will take it at its face value, as always, and repeat the pattern of trust (or eventual distrust) all over again. But there are the select few, these empowered consumers, these learned ones, that have learned to look past the hype, look beyond the developer promises, who have learned to actually pay attention to what's been said, and what's been proven to be. And learned to simply trust themselves.
These are the people that you should trust the most.
The question is; are you one of them?
The Hype Machine
Blog entry posted by wastelander75, Jun 20, 2012.