The Five Biggest Gaming Controversies of 2012

Gamers just want to play their games in peace. Unfortunately, we usually don’t get our wish; there’s always some asshole that has to do or say something stupid that casts a bullshit-colored shadow over the hobby we love.

5. Mass Effect 3’s ending causes an uproar. Despite my own opinion on the matter, the finale of Shepherd’s story left a lot for most gamers to desire. A game that had previously been predicated on and renowned for the choices it offered gamers failed to incorporate that series hallmark into its denouement, providing instead three cookie-cutter options that differed mainly in the color of the light involved. Online petitions demanding a new ending sprang up in all the places online petitions spring up, and one intrepid fan sent Bioware over 400 vanilla cupcakes with red, green, and blue frosting as a means of protest. Amazon and Origin offered unhappy buyers full refunds. Bioware responded with extended cut DLC that was only slightly less of a waste of time than the original ending.
What did we learn from the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy? $1000 worth of cupcakes can get you some shitty DLC.
No, you big jerk, what did we really learn? Whether it’s right or wrong, gamers feel a sense of entitlement and aren’t afraid to express their displeasure loudly and creatively. This makes me nervous; rather than pushing the boundaries of the medium, developers might look to the controversy surrounding Mass Effect 3 and decide instead to rely on generic fan service that won’t ruffle any feathers. Commenters on this article are sure to tell me this is stupid; I hope they’re right.

4. “Girlfriend Mode.” In an interview with Eurogamer, Borderlands 2 lead designer John Hemingway referred to his game’s newbie-friendly Mechromancer DLC as “girlfriend mode.” Those two simple words provided gaming columnists everywhere, myself included, more than enough fodder to get through a slow summer for gaming. Despite the non sequitur, the Mechromancer DLC did indeed fulfill its intended purpose of easing new players into the game–we tested it.
What did we learn from “girlfriend mode?” Somehow, the rash of people saying dumb things to the media that piss people off has yet to teach people not to say dumb things to the media that will piss people off.
No, you twit, what did we really learn? The perception that gaming is the realm of loverly menfolk is one gamers of both genders really want to break, and comments like this do nothing to help that.

3. Tomb Raider developers reveal the inclusion of an attempted sexual assault in Lara Croft’s next adventure. Supposedly the idea behind this one is to both make the player more attached to Lara and to deconstruct her so she can be built back up into a self-sufficient hero. To many, this sounds like exploitation; Lara Croft is as big of a sex symbol as gaming’s got, and putting her in such a position could simply be a cheap means of titillating the stereotypical gaming audience. Those who’ve played through the scene are looking at the whole thing with a more critical eye.
What did we learn from Tomb Raider? You couldn’t pay me to try to make a joke about this one. See the previous chunk about “girlfriend mode.”
No, you scaredy-cat, what did we really learn? Gender is still a huge issue in gaming.

2. 38 Studios takes a $75 million dollar loan from Rhode Island, promptly tanks. Hey guys, it’s Curt Schilling! Remember him? The pitcher with the bloody sock! He was great! Curt really likes MMORPGs and thinks he can make a really good one! No one wants to come to our crappy little state, so let’s loan Curt a shit ton of money so he can follow his dream! He’s hired R.A. Salvatore to write the lore for his world? Oh wow, this can’t possibly miss! Wait a minute…what’s this Kingdoms of Amalur thing? It isn’t an MMO, the world is boring and generic, and it’s lacking the polish of most modern games. Uh oh. Now Curt can’t make a scheduled payment on that loan we gave him! Nor can he make payroll! Now the offices are closed and everyone’s laid off! Oh well–at least we got this sweet crate of Kingdoms of Amalur mouse pads from the bankruptcy auction!
What did we learn from the 38 Studios debacle? Never give a former pitcher $75 million to start a video game studio.
No, you fool, what did we really learn? This game development thing is harder than it looks. It’s expensive, and the market is extremely crowded and potentially saturated. Money and good intentions will only get you so far.

1. In his official statement following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, the NRA leader Wayne LaPierre calls video games “a corrupting shadow industry.” To which the games industry promptly replied “Takes one to know one!” I’m not going to get up on a soapbox and claim that video games have never inspired anyone to kill; I’m also not going to make that claim about anything else, including such seemingly innocuous things as tractors, lawn furniture, and house plants. Pointing to video games or the media as the cause of our country’s violence problem is silly and short-sighted; there’s more to it than that, and it’s time for a rational, grown up discussion about what’s going wrong and what we can really do to fix it.
What did we learn from Wayne LaPierre? Video games aren’t as deadly as guns.
No, you lunatic, what did we really learn? Video games remain a convenient scapegoat for those looking to redirect blame. That shit needs to fucking stop.

Check out Episode 123 of the D Pad D Bags podcast for our takes on Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Metal Gear Solid 4:

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  • Rafael

    I’m commenting on some of the controversies. I played mass effect 2 and 3, the ending was great, no, I didn’t think so, not even good, but the whining and histerical reactions were completely exagerated. I agree that gamers constructive critcism is very important, and I think that the new ending bioware released helped, and that wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t complain, but come on, there are ways to express yourself. The immaturity of lots of adult gamers isn’t helping to change how gamers are perceived.

    About the “girlfriend mode”, I didn’t tought that was offensive at all, I think it was just a joke. Sexism in games is a serious issue, as is the despiction of minorities. I’m a guy, and I consider myself a hardcore gamer, but my boyfriend is a complete noob, when he plays at my house I have to put something like little big planet, or maybe god of war “girlfriend mode”, in my case, “boyfriend mode”, he can’t control character and camera at the same time, he just mashes the buttons haha, it’s hilarious. I don’t think it was sexism, I think people was defensive because it’s a delicate subject. I’m sure many hardcore gamers could relate to trying to introduce their partners to gaming (sharing interests is part of a relationship, and many guys I know dream with a gamer girl) only to be so frustrated to their inaptitude. I could be wrong, the guy may be a prick, I don’t know anything about him, but that was my impression from the statement alone.

    I also think the Lara drama was out of proportion. As I said, sexism is a serious issue, in many games girls are just there to support male characters and carry boobs, they have no personalities or depth. Sexism in the world in general is still a issue, but equality isn’t treating everybody the same, it’s recognizing differences and adapting means so everybody is treated with respect and has just oportunities. Men and women aren’t the same. In the tomb raider situation, a rape scene would be unpleasent, I’m not against violence in games, but I think there are limits. But there’s not a rape scene, just insinuation, and a woman in that situation would be raped, come on, it’s not unrealistic, and I think that the physical agression in the scene justifies her first human murder.

    Well, if anybody read or not, cares or not, those are my toughts. See ya.

  • Thomas Muir

    I was with you till you hit #1. Is it video game violence, is it movie violence, is it the fact most people aren’t basic firearm safety? I think it the fact that most people are desensitized to violence in general. Life in general has been cheapened over the last 25 – 50 years.

  • David Chase Hawisher

    It’s a good thing science doesn’t agree with you.

  • Chopin

    Rose-tinted glasses. The world is just as depraved as it’s always been, always will be. Violence is in the human nature.

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