In defence of First Person Shooters

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GenericFPS

I’m going to preface this article with a disclaimer. For the record, I play very few FPS’s. I’ve played some of Black Ops 2 single player, some zombie matches and a couple of random CounterStrike matches. I’m writing this article as somewhat of an outsider to the FPS scene. But I felt prompted because I feel that there is a very passive dislike of the genre, giving it a bad reputation. With the release of Battlefield 4 in North America yesterday and the rest of the world soon to follow, it made me ask, ‘Why is there such a stigma associated with FPS games?’

Video games and shooting things are bread and butter. Before we had proper military FPS’s we had MegaMan with his buster and Contra with the spread gun. Even as early as Space Invaders and Asteroids, you were shooting things as an objective. Of course it’s not as simple nowadays, but the idea has been with us as a medium for a long time. It’s an easy sell as a game to have that simple objective be the main goal.

It’s because of this simplicity that FPS’s are immensely popular. Popularity is always frustrating to those who aren’t fans of a game or genre. The market saturation of Call Of Duty for example is overwhelming to me. I had a similar problem with the success of Minecraft, until I actually tried it and lost days building a giant 16 bit Samus Aran. Unfortunately, the same didn’t happen with Black Ops 2. I had fun doing the single player shooty shooty blam blam, but it wasn’t enough to hold my attention. Multiplayer on the other hand was confusing and brutal so I cried for a bit and left.

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The idea of high level play on COD had never occurred to me until I watched a stream on Twitch. As a fellow competitive gamer, I understand what it means to sink months, even years into a single game; to understand the mechanics and to understand effective strategy. It was then I understood what COD’s appeal was. Even at a casual level, the satisfaction of getting the jump on someone and getting the kill is incomparable . This is especially fun in team play, where co-ordination and planning is important. As a fish out of water, trying to play an online match was agony. Run into hallway, dead, respawn and repeat. Even in skill matched lobbies, you’ll get creamed the first time around. It’s the level of play that makes the idea of Kill Streaks seem so impressive. It became clear that this could be someone’s time sink, as Minecraft was mine.

There’s also a misconception that everyone who plays military based FPS’s are either 12 year olds or the most belligerent of energy-drink-fuelled, headset-wearing, shit-talking shitheads. Which reminds me, Jimmy De Santa in GTA: V is the perfect analogy for the perception of most FPS players. I mean, playing ‘Righteous Slaughter’ while questioning other player’s sexuality? Rockstar couldn’t have captured it better. It’s a masterful parody, but I can’t help but think "Yeah, that is exactly how everyone thinks."

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I think the hate is unjustified. I’m guilty of it myself. I think there’s merit to games that open up gaming to a wider audience. I’m thrilled when people I know who aren’t gamers go out and buy GTA: V simply due to the buzz surrounding it. Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts are sure to have a similar effect. I can only hope that the public opinion also thinks this is a good thing.

Last Updated: October 30, 2013

stephens

Once upon a time, in a land long forgotten, I wrote for this site. The details were gobbled up by an errant database, so instead you’re reading this painfully obtuse default bio.

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