Gamer Gratitude: A Hardcore Thanksgiving Special Column

Thanksgiving is upon us. This is a day we get together with our friends and family, eat way too much and have uncomfortable conversations with weird uncles that frankly creep us out. Among us gamers, it also affords an opportunity to share some of our favorites and win new converts to our pastime. Most importantly, it is a time to reflect upon our lives and what we are grateful. As gamers are a contentious lot, me more than most, this seems like a good chance to share a few things that make me glad to be a gamer. Brace yourself: it’s going to get sappy.

1. I am grateful for the breadth and depth of games today. 

While many complain about the homogenization of games today, there is a larger picture to be missed. Yes, many big budget titles tend to be sequels or reboots of existing properties. This is a fact of the business. There is also a massive variety of titles from which to choose. Music games, shooters, thoughtful strategy titles, racing…the list goes on. It is getting to the point where games are like wine or cheese. There is always something available to perfectly complement a mood.

In my youth, having something called a “Pile of Shame,” a stack of high quality games sitting at home waiting to be played, was unheard of. There simply weren’t that many great ones that met our attention. Yes, some overlooked gems existed, but the variety available tended to be platformer, racer, sports, with the odd RPG thrown in. With the lowered price of games over the years combined with the ease of tools to create a dream, the variety is seemingly endless. Hell, these days, even a dating sim about wooing birds can garner attention.

While not as much as I would like, there is even some experimentation to create products that I didn’t even know I wanted. What comes to mind is Guitar Hero Live and its built in TV functionality. Upon its initial introduction, it seemed a way for Activision to nickel and dime players to death with microtransactions. What it has become is, in fact, an endless supply of fresh songs to be played at a near constant stream. With this comes a rotation of people to compete against for the highest score. No fuss, no muss. That is just one example.

Though I would be extra grateful not to see this particular one again.

Though I would be extra grateful not to see this particular video again.

2. I am grateful for the wide audience this hobby has earned.

The availability of so many differing titles would not be possible if this, the greatest hobby, had not accrued such a wide ranging fan base. It does not matter what age, gender, race, orientation, or whatever identifier one cares to ascribe. It does not matter what interests the individual. There is something available for that person.

This can lead to some contentious bickering among the fanbases. There are those that fear the inclusion of other groups may lead to the watering down or removal of their favorite titles in the future. Even today, people are freaking out because Dead or Alice Extreme 3 won’t be coming stateside. The developer says that it is because they are afraid of backlash, which has some fans up in arms. I respond “bull plop.” It is not coming over here because it will not be profitable. Considering how long it took numerous local stores to unload their copies of the last iteration, even after it was marked down to three dollars, I was amazed that another would be created at all. I digress.

Look, folks who want macho fantasies will not see these dry up. I am grateful for this. I love macho fantasies! Those who want thoughtful introspective pieces will find that happening more and more, too. I like to think! (On occasion…) This is a big pool that we have been blessed with. Sure, some people pee in it, but it’s big! It’s possible to swim away from the warm spots.

Did he just say people pee in here? OH GOD NO!

What did he say people do in here? OH GOD NO!

3. I am grateful for readers like you.

Yes, it seems patronizing and schmaltzy, but I mean it. Without readers like you, I am not able to babble on and make a fool of myself in the pseudo-intellectual style that I seem to adore so much. I would not have this grand opportunity to write about something I am so passionate about. This only exists because the readers of this site are so wonderful.

Here is an example: I recently wrote a review for a game I enjoyed. In this review, I happened to mention something that bothered me in the story. Most of you disagreed. This is fine. In fact, it was awesome. Because of this, some of you stepped forward and offered well thought out, interesting arguments about why you thought I was wrong. These arguments managed to show me a differing perspective on something we shared together. This broadened my horizons and I learned from this. Because you are awesome.

So, thank you for indulging me this small exercise in holiday tradition. May you all have a great Thanksgiving. Go, eat too much. Share something you love with the people you love. We’ll get back to being jaded and bitter soon enough.

...and people wonder why.

…and people wonder why.