There’s this weird thing that happens where something I wrote a year ago (or two, or three) doesn’t get much attention at the time that I write it, but then someone on Reddit (or Twitter, but usually Reddit) finds it and posts a link and all of a sudden I get a flurry of views and nasty comments about GOD HOW WRONG AND AWFUL I AM.
This has actually happened a few times with my post about the ways in which The Last of Us could have been better, which is especially amusing given that I wrote that post after writing my post about the reasons why I loved The Last of Us to little bitty pieces. But apparently, expressing criticism of a thing completely invalidates any other statements you might make about the thing and I should have known that. Because saying “here’s how thing thing I love could have been even better” is the same as saying “here is a thing that should be destroyed with fire and if you like it you should feel bad because you are bad.”
And I thought that if people are determined to misread me writing about a thing that I actually really, really liked, well shit. Why don’t I at least give these guys some decent ammunition?
So with that in mind…
Unpopular opinion the first: Violence is boring
VIOLENCE IS BORING.
And games where the system or mechanics exist only to create violence? Those games are boring as shit. Hell, I’ll go even further and say that any piece of media centered on violence and/or murder and nothing else is just really, really dull.
For example – this weekend, at the insistence of a friend, I watched John Wick, which is basically 20 minutes of Keanu Reeves being sad about his dead wife (always with the dead wives…) and then like 1 hour of Keanu Reeves just straight-up murdering like a jillion guys, interspersed with people speaking subtitled Russian. Except it was even more boring than how I made it sound, because he didn’t even go on a murderfest because of his wife, it was because someone killed his dog and stole his car – which for some reason inspired this total murderpalooza that happened while Keanu Reeves displayed absolutely no facial expressions. ACTING! And Christ it was So. Goddamn. Boring. It wasn’t shocking or edgy or any of that. It was just the dullest fucking thing I’ve watched in at least a year.
Increasingly – how I feel about John Wick is how I also feel about games.
I’m not saying because I think violence in games is evil and it should go away forever! I was part of the first generation of people to grow up playing video games with explicitly graphic violence beyond just a few red pixels – so it’s certainly something I’m used to seeing. Plus I’m addicted to Final Fantasy and BioWare games, which means I’ve played a lot of games that feature violence. But unless a game brings some significant not-violence gameplay to the table along with the “murder a ton of [bandits / orcs / demons / robots / aliens / zombies / whatevers]”, I’m just plain not interested.
Call of Duty? Counter-Strike? Hell, even any of the Hitman games? Yeah I have less than zero interest in ever playing them. BioWare at least brings relationships, romance, sex, diplomacy, and alliance-building to its games, and advancing the game means you have to take breaks from murdering all the things in order to deal with the talky bits – which are just as important as the murdery bits. And even despite my deep-seated love of BioWare games, I’m finding the gameplay of Cities: Skylines more engaging and compelling than Dragon Age: Inquisition right now.
The same goes for tabletop games. If the rules support only killing things and maybe taking their stuff? I’m just not interested. So things like Warhammer? War Machine? Yawn. No thanks. And even D&D I find I’m increasingly bored with. There’s very little room for innovation in tabletop murder/violence-simulators these days. The design stuff that excites me are the people working on different ways of telling stories that aren’t centered on violence.
But wait, there’s more!
Now that I’ve said I don’t like violence in games, that’s pretty much the same as admitting that I’m not a real gamer, right? However, I’m still concerned that these might not be grounds enough for you to dismiss me, here are some additional opinions that I hold that you can use to completely discount anything I have to say from now on.
I am bad at being a gamer (in the spirit of #badatfandom)
We ❤ Katamari is a better game than anything made by Ubisoft
For that matter, so is Bejeweled Blitz.
So is Angry Birds.
Hell, so is Triple Triad.
I hate every Final Fantasy before 7.
I didn’t finish FF6 because I didn’t care what happened to any of the characters.
Final Fantasy X-2 is a fucking masterpiece and I will cut anyone who says it’s not.
Payne forever and always.
I would rather play Chocobo Hot and Cold for three hours than play a tabletop minis game.
I would rather do laundry than play Warhammer.
I would rather clean my bathroom than play StarCraft.
I hate playing D&D and wouldn’t be sad if I never played it again.
That said, point buy all the way. Random stat rolling is for chumps.
Larry Elmore’s art is okay, I guess, but it’s really not my cup of tea.
Despite having written for Vampire, I’ve never played a tabletop WoD game and I don’t really mind that.
Steampunk is not a genre, it’s an aesthetic, and a baffling one at that.
No BioShock isn’t some deeply philosophical journey. It’s just Ayn Rand plus bazookas.
I enjoy things inspired by Cthulu far, far more than I enjoy anything that actually adheres to the mythos. For that matter, I don’t ever intend to read any Lovecraft.
I only buy one or two roleplaying games per year, and I’ve only ever backed two KickStarters.
I think origin stories are tedious and boring.
I would kill Ashley every time. In a heart beat. EVERY TIME. Don’t like Kaidan? Don’t care. At least he’s not some xenophobic asshole.
I romanced Kaidan.
Peter Molyneux’s games aren’t that great.
The last decent fighting game was Soul Calibur 2. Everything after that is dead to me.
I’ve never played a Zelda game.
Kirby is more interesting than Link.
I only played 3 hours of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I found it tedious and boring.
I played 10 hours of Skyrim. I found it tedious and boring also.
I played in a Vampire LARP for 12 years and I still think that the system is complete fucking gibberish.
The “dumbed down” gameplay of Civ 5 (before the expansions) was better than any of the Civ games that came before it.
Xenogears/Xenosaga are terrible terrible games and I would rather do just about anything than play them.
The exploration in Dragon Age: Inquisition is way, way more fun than the combat.
Describing something as “gritty”, “dark”, or “grim” is the perfect way to get me to never ever play it
 Jesus. It’s enough to make me say that any movie where a wife/mother dies in the first 20 minutes is automatically a bad movie. That shit is so overused it’s just plain BAD WRITING.
 I remember specifically promising my mother to never become an axe murderer if she would let me buy Mortal Kombat.
 Though to be fair, that’s probably because DA:I is hands down the worst PC port I’ve ever played. The UX is SO SO BAD.