Much like the staff working for the company, the gaming world was hit with the unexpected news that, after 13 years in the business, popular gaming news site GameTrailers would be shutting down. It wasn’t the first time a staple of the news industry had shuttered in the last few years, and it likely won’t be the last, but even still our hearts go out to the entire GameTrailers staff and we hope they all land softly on their feet.
But beyond the surprising news of GameTrailers’ closure was the reaction shared across social media and in the comments of posts remembering the pioneer site. While plenty shared in the loss of such an institution, others responded with comments like “Good,” or “About Time.”
To say that the negative comments about GameTrailers were shocking would be to put it mildly. Say what you will about GameTrailers’ quality in recent years, but to celebrate the closure of a business meant purely to entertain is very strange. Not to mention the fact that a lot of seemingly nice people lost their jobs with no time to prepare.
But even if there were some negative feelings about GameTrailers in recent years, the lack of empathy is still somewhat weird. Video game websites are, at the end of the day, a business and if things aren’t working they change to try and stay afloat. To say you didn’t like a site’s new direction is a fair criticism, but to want them to go back to the original format is wholly unrealistic. If the original format worked then the site would still be using it. But that’s beside the point.
The fact that some reacted so negatively (and not in the “good” way) to such depressing news says a lot about how gamers have changed more than anything else. Now, reactions to games and gaming news has become reductive to the point its almost binary. Either you love something or you hate it, and there’s little room in between. A game can’t be a “decent distraction” or a “so-so experience” – it’s either the best game ever made or complete “garbage.”
There are plenty of examples of these extreme feelings (Call of Duty comes to mind a lot), but nowhere can that be felt more evidently than with the detractors of Destiny, who are a very vocal and adamant bunch. While there are plenty of gamers who enjoy Destiny while still criticizing its shortcomings, others treat the game as if it has personally hurt or offended them. Like Destiny came into their house and stole their favorite toy or something. At worst, Destiny didn’t deliver on its price point, which is a fair criticism of the game, but not a reason to feel a sense of hate or to treat those who disagree about the value poorly.
Gamers can be a passionate bunch but it’s hard not to look at the reactions to certain news items/games and wonder why everything has to be so binary. More to the point, how can someone hate a game like Destiny when it’s just a piece of entertainment? And furthermore why do people who like said piece of entertainment get criticized for doing so? Entertainment is purely subjective – no one can definitively say that something is “good” and something is “bad.” It’s why we release a Most Disappointing Games of the Year list not a Worst Games of the Year list.
Obviously, these types of reactions are on the extreme ends of things, but the extreme also tends to be what is surfaced the most often. The casual gamer who simply likes a game doesn’t comment on message boards, they don’t fight tooth and nail to defend the game he/she loves. In fact, many of these gamers have no idea that the game they enjoy playing is labeled by others as “garbage.”
Things get even more interesting when you consider there are those willing to go to bat for games/movies/TV shows/etc. that aren’t even out yet. Saying “I hope X game is going to be good” is logical, but saying “I KNOW X game is good” without having played it is, again, what we tend to see more often. It can even get to the point that gamers are claiming a game is superior or of a higher quality without having played it. Why can’t The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 both be Game of the Year quality?
In our unique position, we see these types of extreme labels thrown around more often than most, but it’s always fascinating to see the discussions that pop up. Make no mistake, the passion is respected and appreciated, it’s just a little disconcerting when you see someone say “good” when reporting the news that a website closed down. Maybe it’s something about the psyche of the fan or maybe it’s simply the Internet norm nowadays. Either way, one has to wonder why the default response is “I hate” and not “I don’t like.”