I took some time to write about the experience of purchasing Batman: Arkham Knight for PC. Yes, it’s been an experience. I wanted to make sure that everything had settled a bit, and at this point is has. The general atmosphere surrounding the PC release has shifted from volcanic indignation to a simmering hatred. Think of Brooklyn in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and you’ve got the appropriate tone.
It all started when I recently upgraded my media center PC with a shiny new video card. It’s certainly not top of the line, but the GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB was affordable and still lets me tool around the islands in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag at near ultra settings. Before this card, it had been a while since I did any major PC gaming. I have an Xbox 360 and played most current games on that. Otherwise, I would play some casual platformers and old point-and-click games on my media center. But the summer Steam and GOG.com sales rolled around, and I found my collection suddenly had games that I couldn’t play. So I cracked open my case, put in a new card, and queued up a few dozen gig worth of games to install while I headed off to work.
Right after these sales I stumbled across a reseller with Arkham Knight at a curiously cheap price. I loved the first two games, hated the third, but was pleased to hear that the original studio was back for this last installment in the series. I pre-ordered it the day before it was released.
I learned a few things the next day. The gaming world has changed an incredible amount since the last time I was a part of it. We’re talking many, many years now so that’s not much of a surprise. I knew that it was hyper-aggressive, and the community at large is generally why I stopped current generation gaming when there was a strong shift to multiplayer. But even so, I was still pretty shocked to find out about the new normal. So on day one of the release I was treated to the following facts:
- There is a huge war between PC gamers and console gamers. I knew this, but had no idea how much vitriol is involved. It puts the Mac vs. PC people to shame. And it seems that PC gamers have chosen the label “PC master race”. It seems to have started as a joke, but it’s a bit of nomenclature that I can’t get comfortable with. There’s a bit of a history with that term and my people.
- It’s impossible to read a single comment on any discussion of a game without it turning into a console vs. PC argument. And by argument I mean people just listing the urban thesaurus entries for “shithead”.
- It seems to be de rigueur to have gigantic patches released on day one for popular games.
- It’s common knowledge that one should never pre-order PC games. Game developers have found such success rolling out additional features through staggered downloadable content after a release, that they are now trying the same system on basic features and functionality.
Armed with all of this new knowledge, I look at my beautiful game box and my copious content, and can’t shake this sneaking suspicion…
Oh, what a world I’ve stepped back into. The real kicker is that Arkham Knight was probably the worst game to learn on. The experience has been like learning to drive a car in an eighteen wheeler, covered in confederate flags, on the ice. There’s so much power, and so much hate, that I don’t know what to do!
Though a refund was offered1, I’m keeping the game. Roll-outs and development has changed a whole lot since I was running current generation games, but I can wait this out. I do have Alien: Isolation, Assassin’s Creed IV, and Witcher 3 ready to go, before I need to scramble for a big title.
But the real take-away from all of this is much bigger than just the mess of a Batman game. It’s that the social pool around gaming is so frakking toxic, even when just looking for tech news and forum support. This isn’t news to anyone who’s heard anecdotes about any sort of chatter that goes on during a Call of Duty match. The problem is that it doesn’t even matter whether it’s the majority of gamers, or just a few. They’re the loudest, and after a single week of poking around, I’m completely pulling out of the social side of things. Gaming is a leisure activity. I’m not expecting it to be the most relaxing thing in the world2 but when I’m looking for advice on technical specs I’d rather not see people being called faggots who should die, just because they use AMD, or are looking for a Linux compatible driver.
And I totally get that this is hyperbole. Except that fact doesn’t make it fine. These posters are setting up a social environment where they are ratcheted up to 11. And while they probably don’t think that everyone they call a faggot is homosexual, they do think that the idea of it is insulting. And while they may not actually want everyone to be murdered, they are creating a situation that is consistently violent.
But as Gamergate trickle-down continues, these people, who aren’t the worst of the worst, are still setting a baseline of rage, hatred, abuse, rape threats, and cruelty. That’s the standard, mind you. That means that if someone wants to show an elevated emotional level they need to exceed this. That’s a volume I’m not comfortable speaking in, or hearing on a regular basis. Acidic situations like that will make you go deaf and hoarse, trying to be heard in that crowd. It’s disgusting, and the fact that not everyone finds it terrifying is, in itself, terrifying.
So I’m pulling my toe out and leaving the scene of the ongoing crimes against humanity. Because after asking whether I would be able to play a new game on my current hardware, I came away with a huge list of things to do before I can get an answer. I need to kill myself, shove my dick up my own ass, get raped in the ass, have my parents die for the crime of having me and raising me the way I am, shut the fuck up for not shutting up and getting a PS4, kill myself again for expecting a game to work during the first month of its release, and kill myself again for being retarded enough to pre-order a PC game.
And when I take care of all that, I should check to see whether I have the most compatible drivers for my video card, and if not download the recommended release.
|↵1||There’s only so much face one can save when the game has been pulled from sales altogether, until the patches bring performance back up to acceptable levels.|
|↵2||In fact, it’s most certainly not. Just watch as I repeat the same mission, over and over again, as I approach a wall at just the wrong angle and don’t make the climb, get stabbed, and start again. Just a little more frustrated.|