Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Time to Address the Haunting Problems With the Sports Game Glut

Fellow gamers, we need to have a talk.  I have a feeling there might be some negative backlash to this post; allegations that in light of my recent affiliations, I'm a hypocrite for taking on an aspect of the game industry that's obviously been sustained by market forces, or maybe just that I'm the epitome of a spoiled white gamer venting at the epitome of a First World problem.  Yet reveling ever more lately in Gamer pride just means that I'm more attentive to the bits of this industry that really do annoy me, and I feel really could use at least some degree of reform.  I'm talking about sports.

So many sports.

Acronym, Acronym, Acronym...
Row upon row of sports.

Okay; disclaimer, I have never had any interest in most sports.  I was in the occasional little league baseball and soccer teams as a kid, but I wasn't very good at them.  I kind of liked basketball, but again, I was bad at it.  I do not watch sports on TV, with the occasional exception of martial arts.  I find most things that end with "ball" to be a reduction of individuals to overexposed labels bouncing back and forth in buildings likewise full of overexposed labels.  Finally, video games based on sports feel as pointless (or maybe point-missing) to me as decaffeinated coffee and non-alcoholic beer.

All that being said, I don't wish to portray my tastes as dogma.  I wholeheartedly support motivating people to get into shape (which is the aforementioned reason why I don't understand sports video games, but whatever), I respect the rights of people to buy and play what they wish to buy and play even if it's not what I wish to buy and play.  Still, holy shit.

When you run out of shelve space.

There's more!

We were so much better off back in my d--Never mind.
On the chance that maybe a picture is not actually worth a thousand words, here's some more words: Not long ago, Macklemore, one of my idols, albeit less for his musical talent and more for his subversive attitude, made it cool to go buy curios secondhand.  From that day on, those of us who went around looking in stores where we were bound to find something unique, which we couldn't find in places more caught up in the ratrace, began to around looking in stores where were bound to find something unique, which we couldn't find in places more caught up in the ratrace, with a sense of pride!  From clothes that were cool until they were uncool, and have now been uncool so long they might be cool again, to discontinued toys that might cost much more online, to books about a broad variety of things, to cassette tapes of things that might not even have become downloadable yet, these places are mints of uniqueness...and then there's used games.

The Genesis of a blight.
Whether sifting through the bargain bin at a mainstream video game store, or a drugstore, or a Big Lots, or the hip ma-and-pop emporium for games of all eras, where I took all of the photos in this article, one is forced to sift through sports title after sports title after samey sports title; their minimalistic boxart, brand-year names, and dreaded common EA logos numbing his or her head with their unapologetic uniformity until the few unique games, sought-after out-of-print classics, and/or irresistibly odd obscurities don't even register.  This has gone beyond "don't-like-don't-play" territory.

Can you spot a non-NFL game there?  I can't.
Beyond it, because thanks to the sports game industry, the stores, shopping convenience, and desired quaint atmosphere of those of us who like video games for what they can do unique unto themselves, are being infested by a swarm of banal conformity that wastes space and time until shelves take on the aesthetic effect of a neighborhood full of communist housing projects.

The problem behind this is not simply that these games are made and sold.  I don't oppose that.  The problem is that these games keep getting made and sold, year by year, $50 by $50, same acronym by same acronym, with minor edits less than those one would find in a (typically free) PC game mod or retro cartridge hack, and somehow, people put up with this.  This is largely the doing of EA games, and any new excuse I get for bringing that trust old punching bag out, is welcome.  Somehow, there is a desire to continue paying for the experience of allegedly accurate teams every year, and apparently there aren't many nostalgic years.  I am aware fans talk about good years for individual teams, like, "Boy; The Chicago Bulls sure kicked ass when Michael Jordon was in them" (I'm assuming they did, anyway, based on how big a celebrity he was), but I don't hear about good years for the sports in themselves, wherein there were so many awesome basketball players and teams that such-and-such a year is worth experiencing again and again.

The result is what my photos document; the people who rush to buy the latest hyped-up hack job also unload last year's models as used games, and they proceed to pile up in the bins, on the shelves, in the cabinets and on the floors; passed both by people who don't like sports games and by people who don't like outdated sports games.  Used game shopping becomes a chore as these people fight through the mud to get to the gold nuggets that may or may not exist amongst it.  So I say to the world...

I'm posting pictures of all of the piles; deal with it.


For all of our sakes, stop eating EA's shit!  Stop letting yourself be swindled out of fifty dollars a year for minor edits to games you already own!  Stop buying that you won't enjoy outdated rosters in otherwise identical games!  Stop funding the continued survival of a corporation that absorbs and ruins esteemed game franchises like SimCity and Command & Conquer!  Stop it all!  You deserve the following for your taste in games: You buy the game, and for that service they release yearly patches you can download; substantially less than $50 a pop.  You can force their hands stop giving them a raw deal, and it'll take willpower, but if you achieve the world devoid of that price-gouging and the new economic muscle it gives you, you won't want to go back.

And we all can finally be rid of used game shops that look like this.
I had to check the photo names to make sure I hadn't posted this one yet.

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