Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rated M for Manly

OK, I think I figured it out. It isn’t a pretty answer, but I think I know what is going on. I have been wondering about why there seems to be so much hate within the gaming industry about the Wii.
Take for example this article on the future XBox. Here I will quote for you.

Just look at what happened with Nintendo's Wii. It hit the market without any HD output, reduced graphics processing capabilities compared to its competitors and an unwieldy, user-unfriendly interface for online gaming. Had it not been for the wider world's embrace of the console's unique motion control features, Nintendo would have had a disaster on its hands. It's no surprise at all that the Wii U is the first console announced for the next generation; Nintendo has some catching up to do.

So the Wii sold more than both of the other systems combined, and somehow it lost? It has ‘catching up to do’? At what point does it seem like stupidity to not notice that the narrative is not working that way at all?
When an entire Meme is about how much money the company has made over the years of the systems lifetime, I would say its time to stop saying that somehow the Wii, the DS, or Nintendo has somehow lost.
There are some outer reasons like, a Nationalistic promotion of XBox and PS3, or that somehow the Wii was a fad. I want to get a little deeper than that though, I want to see the reason why these promoted ideas are working on gamers everywhere.
First, off lets look at it from the proper angles. The majorly promoted hardcore games have a pretty common look to them.
Gears of War
Modern Warfare

Most any FPS shooter at this time actually.

They all look like this.

I come not to bury, this idea which has been said before many many times, but to point out what is really happening. These games are being promoted as manly, and that’s why they have problems. The characters all have gruff manly voices, and are muscled up and do dangerous things.
No, I don’t mean they are manly, I will show you a manly deep game at the last part, no, this is the image of manliness. It is sort of easy to figure out why as well.
Let’s look at the common game maker. I highly doubt he grew up with any hard life aspects to him. In fact, almost every single presenter at a trade show seems to want to portray themselves as really manly and tough.
I went to a videogame bar the other day to see what it was like. The colors were drab, and everyone there was playing dark and dingy games. The thing is, we live in freaking Oahu. There are actual dark and dingy places here, and also beautiful green ones.
There was a sign up that girlfriends and wives could play free. If that sounds like a sexist attempt to lure in girls to attract more men, then you may have noticed I called this place a bar.
The next thing I noticed that most of the kids playing were playing rated M games. We have had a real problem with this where I work since the big popular games are all rated M -in movie terms this is the same as R- and many of the people coming in are not old enough to play these games. Eventually I just said no, they could not play. I can’t say I am happy with everything about this, for instance Halo 3 is M and seems far tamer than the other games offered, but it is what I got.
When I tried finding other games with lower ratings, I noticed something really big. The majority of the games were rated M. In fact, the games all had the same feeling to them. The dark gravely voiced men.

Yes, those were the majorly promoted recent games. I heard the trailers to them at Gamestop and couldn’t tell the difference.
So, the major hardcore games are supposed to be manly, and have an archetype to how every game is supposed to be. There are others, but they are not the common ones.
So lets look at the Wii now. The games are majorly promoted with bright colors, and fun for the whole family.

This image base seems to work fine, until you see that it goes against how manly gamers want it to be.
After visiting the bar, I went to a Long’s Drugs and it was brightly lit, had colors everywhere and was majorly promoted to women. I don’t mean that in a kind of sort of way, I mean it was obvious that anything for men was being sold to women to buy for men. A beard trimming kit was in the make up aisle.
Now this wouldn’t be a problem except that the Wii is being promoted with similar ideas. Let’s look at its shell first of all, it is white with easily defined buttons and a light for where the game goes. It is cheerful and happy.
The Wii games are also just as happy, and I admit after watching some of the videos I felt a desire to be happy with these games as well. This is a pretty obvious trick of marketing, but that is the narrative Nintendo wants to give.
Let’s compare that to the narrative of the manly dark and grizzly games. It is the same promotion, only instead of happy it promotes manliness.
So, being a man, why do I not care about these games? I think it’s because I don’t have a problem with my manhood anymore. Yeah, this gets deep, sorry. I don’t know the exact moment it happened, but I do know an obvious sign. I was in Wrestling and quit because I didn’t want to feel angry anymore, in fact, I was tired of it. I don’t want you to think that I stopped being angry at things, I just no longer desired it.
It sort of works out when I grew up all over and did a lot of things that are considered manly like fishing and hunting, along with seeing the poorer parts of town and the things involved with that. These ideas are romanticized as manly and tough even though really its just common life for most of my friends who lived in it. Fishing for instance is not that big when you are constantly going into the woods for camping anyway.
So this archetype of manliness happened and I got over it. I would bet that the majority of guys who stopped gaming had similar things happen in their lives. They stopped worrying about their manliness since they obviously accomplished it already.
There aren’t a lot of chances to do manly things within a suburban neighborhood. So, the boys trying to be men attempt to recreate them using videogames. It is an attempt to relive all of the manly things they have heard of, in other words, it is their manhood practice before it is time.
Women got it too, just not in the same way.
Go ahead and think about high school for a minute. The basic set up was that certain people met the ideal woman or man image and that others were not that. So there was a constant attempt to be like that person.
In fact, much of the entertainment for teens of that age seems to be the idea of being an adult and knowing what you are doing. Usually this is shown in a pretty strange light.
When you reach adulthood, it will seem strange and even stupid. In the above movies case, it seems almost illegal what all happens. If you realize it is a 13 year old girl, the entire situation she is in with her boyfriend causes a long moments pause. Go ahead, let it register that the Jennifer Garner character would be chased by Pedo Bear and feel awkward. I let my baby sister watch spiceworld but not this one for that reason.
The idea works so well that at times you end up wanting to kick yourself. Go ahead, think about all of your complaints about Star Wars, now ask if it’s because Anakin isn’t a gravely mouthed hard drinking warrior? Is Jar Jar Binks really that scarring to your childhood. Were there problems? The same ones as the first films actually. What happened was the majority of complainers remember the movies as children and allowed the love from childhood to continue on to enjoy the darker elements of the movie. The prequels made them face that reality pretty harshly.
Thus, the harsh response to the Wii wasn’t just some marketing scheme, it was a question of a person’s masculinity. The fear of not being manly is so strong that the response -along with some nice marketing dollars from Sony and Microsoft- have made a sign of derision from players. It gets a little worse. You see, the game makers themselves openly hate the system.
Nintendo in response tried to make more game maker centric games. They all failed. So, Nintendo is now making a system just for those game makers. Yet, it isn’t really. It’s still got the Wii sensibilities and ideas. It is still for everyone and not just people who want to be men.
Microsoft and Sony have come out with their own versions of a Wiimote, and the Kinect has some pretty nice games actually. The original article was that the newest XBox will be attempting to copy off the newest Nintendo system, and that the newest Playstation should as well. Kind of odd when you realize the writer says that Nintendo needs to catch back up.

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