We've all heard the common complaints about tired trends in gaming, but some trends don't get called out quite as often. Here are a few themes in games and the gaming community that have earned a well-deserved rest.
Our hero is a chiseled military man with muscles the size of tree trunks. He is always determined, he never gives up, and he's way too tough to show weakness or any emotion short of righteous rage. He is always heterosexual, but he never experiences any form of rejection by a woman, nor does he show too much attachment to his loved ones unless it's in the form of valiantly fighting a foe that threatens them.
This is the kind of man that is becoming an endangered species on movies and television for a reason. These male power fantasy characters are shallow, uninteresting, and laughable. Really, the death knell for these characters should have rung when Duke Nukeum became the kind of character he originally lampooned, yet they continue to star in far too many games.
The hypermasculine character is gaming's male equivalent to the eye-candy female character. Both pander to the lowest common denominator and completely fail to advance gaming as an entertainment medium. It's time for us to grow up and embrace male characters with emotions, actual flaws, physically possible musculature, and interesting character arcs.
Yes, zombies. While many people love them, it's time to give the poor shambling undead a break. Over the last decade, gaming has put zombies just about every place it possibly can. We've seen zombies and not-zombies-but-basically-zombies in cities, in space, in several post-Apocalypses, in not-Spain, on tropical islands, in the Arctic, and even underwater.
While there have been a number of well-made and compelling zombie games, creating mindless, brains-hungry enemies can also be a crutch for lazy game development. Why struggle with advanced enemy A.I. when the enemy could simply be the walking dead instead? As gamers, we shouldn't put up with that.
Why not give a few other kinds of undead creatures some time in the spotlight? A great video game is the perfect candidate to rescue vampires from their current state of Twilightification. Ghosts haven't had enough time to shine lately, outside of obscure Japanese horror games. Maybe we could even bring out the mummies. Brendan Frazier would probably appreciate the voice acting work.
Bagging on World of Warcraft
The gaming community seems to be filled to the brim with World of Warcraft haters, most of whom have played the game extensively at some point or another. The amount of bitterness that some people seem able to summon up about this game is pretty impressive. My fellow former World of Warcraft players, it's time to let go.
Part of the World of Warcraft-hating trend is related to a general gaming community trend, which is an inability to accept that others might enjoy something that one personally does not enjoy. This gets particularly bad with popular games, and World of Warcraft is one of the most popular games of all time.
The other part of the trend is that of gamers who seem to be mourning the fact that they eventually tired of a game that they played for years. For those ex-WoWers, welcome back to the wider world of gaming. Go forth and enjoy the many other excellent games out there. Surely a span of years is longer than we expect most games to keep our attention, so let's focus on remembering the good times and moving on. Gaming should be about fun, joy, explosions, and the occasional epic quest, not bitterness and regret.
Ninjas and Pirates and Monkeys and Robots, Oh My!
These gaming trends are by no means the only tired themes in the industry that should be retired. What do you think? Is it time for these gaming trends to pass into the great yonder? What other tired trends do serious gamers still seem to love?
As for this article's title, while the whole "pirates versus ninjas" theme is certainly an overplayed Internet meme, we haven't yet seen a major game that actually pits our favorite seafaring scallywags against their stealthy star-chucking nemeses. Make it happen, games industry. Make it happen.
Date: October 10, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*