Ok, I’m about to confirm for you all what a gaming pariah I am. I don’t like first-person shooters. I don’t like third-person shooters all that much. For that matter, I’m not really a fan of the shooting genre as a whole. There are select few that I like, but very rarely does a game with shooter in the genre get the “Tidman Seal Of Approval.” They’re just not the game for me.
Yet, they are the game for a lot of other people. Shooters are now the most dominant genre in console gaming. I’m not sure if they still take the cake when it comes to PC gaming, as MMOs seem to biggest draw for that crowd from my college experiences, but it’s easy to see that gamers love shooting stuff. Aliens, Nazis, clay pigeons, ducks; guns and gaming seem to have close ties right now. I have no problem with that.
Oh, there may have been a certain disbarred lawyer who claimed that games were “murder simulators” and would bring our culture down to its figurative knees, but I see shooting games as a healthy way to vent frustration, not a way to channel it into a real-life reenactment. If there is a link between homicidal psychopaths and gaming, it’s that those kinds of people are attracted to those kinds of games, not that those games create psychopaths.
So if I’m not organizing a rally to denounce these horrible influences on our youth, what’s my beef with shooting games? I have a couple. Please note, I’m not saying that shooting games are bad for these reasons, I’m saying these reasons are why I don’t like them.
Nintendo hasn’t done it right yet: Say what you will, but Metroid Prime and its sequels are not proper shooters. The one that comes closest to what a shooter is has to be Metroid Prime Hunters, and even that is adventure first, shooting later. It’s my weakest complaint of the bunch, and the most likely to be fixed in the future, but it is one. Maybe there’s some Nintendo gem that is a shooter, but if that game exists, it doesn’t pop to mind.
The crowd is too competitive: I love competing in games. A few years back, my sister and I had a heated competition in Mario Kart 64 to see who could get the most best times in time trial modes. I won, but it’s not as close as you might expect. But the shooter crowd makes me look like your friendly neighbor in comparison. When you can get cussed out by three people at once just for having the misfortune of being put on a team of pros when you’re just starting out, it is enough to turn everyone away. Shooting games are not the only kind of game where this attitude thrives, but it is one of the major genres that holds on to “Stop Having Fun Guys.”
Haxxorzzz!!1!: So when I do find a game where the crowd is at least tolerant of new players, it’s only a matter of time before a group of people descends on the game and turns something fun into something unplayable. Case-in-point: The Conduit. I remember being so excited for the game when it came out because it was something that Wii gamers didn’t get a lot of, a shooter made specifically for the console. It was fun, though it was slightly flawed in some ways. The online experience was also pretty good with plenty of friendly players. Then a few weeks after the game was released the online was ruined by hackers. Matches where opponents came equipped with rocket launchers from spawn and couldn’t be killed? It might have been fun for them, but it sure wasn’t fun to be caught on the other end of that explosion. Now I know that this was a single game, but we hear about players getting banned pretty much every time a new online-enabled shooter hits the market. As long as new shooters are released, there will be hackers who cheat or exploit the system for their own twisted pleasure.
I’m just not that good at them: Yeah, my last complaint basically boils down to sour grapes. But do you continue to play games if you’re just not good at them? If you really, really suck at Super Smash Bros. Brawl after putting hours and hours into the game, do you still keep going back for more? I’m going to bet you don’t. I really have tried to get into a shooter from time-to-time– stuff like CounterStrike, Call of Duty, and even Halo. They were fun games, but after putting hours and hours of playtime into them, I still sucked at them. One semester in college, I played CounterStrike almost every evening after dinner with the rest of the guys on my hall, and at the end of that semester I was only passable at the game. It just seems like I’m missing something when it comes to these types of games, which is probably my biggest reason for not playing them.
So there you go. Maybe you agree with some of my points. Maybe I’m completely off base. Either way, I’m just not sold on this whole shooter genre. Here’s hoping that some day a game will come along that will make me see the light. And I don’t mean the bright, white light that I see every time my character dies and is tea-bagged.