NY Comic-Con: A window into the soul of the casual gamer
I’m not a huge fan of people. Being around the general population for an extended period of time often leaves me feeling irritable, frustrated, and annoyed. After all, it’s the general population that made Susan Boyle relevant, voted Bush into office twice, and thinks “Global Warming” is an actual threat to our future — it’s not. People are the worst.
And while I love conventions that cater to my inner geek, it seems they often bring out thousands of the aforementioned. Even in a city as progressive as New York, the numbest of numbskulls seemingly flock with delight when the Comic-Con circus rolls into town, raining on my parade. Personally, I attend Comic-Con for the video game exhibits, always eager to play the latest builds of upcoming titles from the publishers themselves. I also love seeing the legions of devoted fans dressed in their very best cosplay garb. But it’s around those confined quarters on the show floor that you truly learn about the general population’s take on the industry. Not press, nor cosplayers, nor enthusiasts. I’m talking everyone else, the “casual” crowd if you will.
We gamers sometimes forget that not everyone out there is as knowledgeable about our precious medium as we are, so being patient with the less fortunate is necessary, although nearly impossible at times. As industry know-it-all’s, our frustration with the uninformed at least provides a glimpse into the harsh realities of what a marketing department has to go through to get their product information out to millions of people who seemingly lack the capacity to comprehend, or to listen.
At the Nintendo booth, I overheard a gentleman in his 30s say he was finally planning on buying a Wii soon, and thought the new Zelda would make a great first game. Totally agree, as Skyward Sword is shaping up to be a stellar title. But dude, it’s 2011. If you haven’t purchased a Wii yet, why are you doing it now? Did you somehow miss out on the last 5 years of your life, and just found out about the little white console? It seemed clear from his further comments that he has no clue what a “Wii U” is, nor does he know it’s just around the bend. The conversation had sadness written all over it.
A dweeby kid in his late teens approached a Nintendo representative and told him that Nintendo needs to be more competitive with Microsoft and Sony. He followed up by asking if Pokemon Rumble Blast was going to be available as a ROM download for his emulator. Apparently the youngins thinks illegally downloading software is commonplace, possibly even legal. It’s not, and the Nintendo representative wasn’t pleased, telling the kid to stop asking him questions.
Another attendee in his early twenties was in line behind me for a game demo. After seeing some gameplay footage, he yelled to his friends about how “the new Call of Duty is going to suck!” Does he have a point? Well, despite switching between two different developers over the past several years, each entry in the COD franchise has been consistently praised by critics and consumers. To deduce that Modern Warfare 3 “is going to suck” is unfathomable, and simply childish. He proceeded to bash the game, telling his friends they were stupid if they thought about picking it up, and said it won’t sell very well. He must be unaware that each iteration of the FPS franchise breaks sales records time and time again.
Clearly not a scientific case study, however I submit to you these samples because they are indicative of the conversations I overhear on a daily basis. These aren’t the words of industry experts, nor knowledgeable gamers. Instead, I’ve come to find that the majority of the “casual” population consists of these folks: the uninformed. If only we gamers started acting like brand ambassadors in every instance of consumer dementia, we might be able to reverse this cycle of stupidity. Then again, judging people isn’t something I’m ready to give up.
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