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Video game series: NOT dealing with the Fallout

In late October, I published a post called Video game series: dealing with the Fallout, inspired by a conversation I had with Bandicoot Warrior in the summer about my weird gaming habit. It sounds odd, and it’s prohibitive in that it prevents me from playing well-loved titles others rave about. But it’s something I’ve always done and just can’t seem to shake: I’m unable to play a game in a series unless I’ve played all previous instalments, even if they’re now unavailable or absolutely terrible.

It’s meant I haven’t yet completed a single entry in Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG series. I’ve tried several times to get the original Fallout working on my PC but all it wants to do is crash after two minutes (although several bloggers have recommended trying the GOG version to resolve that). As a result, I’ve never made it through the franchise despite it now being over 20 years old and one of the most popular – and I’m well aware I could be missing out on something special.

So after publishing that post last month and receiving a lot of positive comments, I geared myself up to try once again. All I needed to do was finish off the final Myst game so I was done with one series before moving on to the next. But in the couple of weeks between that happening and the release of Fallout 76 on 14 November 2018, something changed; now the last thing I want to do at the moment is visit a nuclear wasteland and deal with super mutants.

All the way back in March 2017, Ben wrote an article entitled Too much, too soon? about the sheer amount of information available on upcoming releases before they’re out. He summed it up nicely with this paragraph: “Games, especially the big blockbusters, are revealing more and more about themselves in advance of a formal release. Usually I can deal with the barrage of trailers, demos, beta trails and social media exposure but there have been a couple recently that, in my opinion have gone too far.”

Since the beginning of the month, the feed on my mobile has been rammed full of articles about Fallout 76. I’ve just taken a look and eight of the first 20 entries have been about the title, with another five being about a certain other release. Professional websites aren’t the only guilty party as the WordPress reader suffers the same fate: seven out of 20 posts there. Everyone wants to get out as much information as they can about the title to bring in the views, even if it’s not particularly news-worthy.

I’m sick of hearing about Fallout 76, and I’m tired of hearing about Rockstar’s Red Dead Resolution 2 too. So much so that I now have absolutely no desire to play either of them despite not reading a single article, and it’ll be a very long time before that feeling of reluctance changes. It’s not my weird gaming habit preventing me from starting a series on this occasion but an over-saturation of pointless details, clickbait headlines, annoying spoilers and exaggerated reactions.

As Ben wrote himself, I long to explore vast worlds and meet the people within them for myself. Those moments when you watch an opening cutscene and see a new story unfold in front of you are some of the most magical; and having too much information before I’ve even picked up the controller takes away some of their mystery. Similarly, I want to read news articles and blog posts that open my eyes to video games I as yet know nothing of – without removing any of their wonder.

Super mutants and cowboys have been put on the back-burner and will both have to wait until some undeterminable date in the future. Right now I’m off to find a new adventure, one full of magic that hasn’t yet been spoiled.

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8 thoughts on “Video game series: NOT dealing with the Fallout Leave a comment

  1. This is exactly, EXACTLY why my gaming habits have evolved as they have. I believe Mass Effect 3 was my personal “tipping point” where I just went “sod this, I’m doing my own thing” — there was just SO MUCH stuff out there written about that game that I had absolutely no desire to play it. Well, that and the furore over the ending and the subsequent rift that developed between games journos and gamers, of course — a wound that has never healed.

    I get the same with TV shows. A friend of mine insists that I should watch Breaking Bad at some point but I have absolutely no desire to simply because of all the hype. It’s just overload — and, as someone who formerly worked as a professional in the games press, I unfortunately know exactly why this happens, and it is exactly as you suspect.

    Putting [recent release] in your headline bumps you up the Google search rankings. With people’s search habits, you can get particularly “good” results if you make sure that you include a common question as part of your article or even your headline. You’ll notice that “guide content” has become an obnoxiously prevalent part of a lot of big gaming sites in the last few years — that’s because this is a more insidious form of clickbait that most people don’t recognise as clickbait.

    “Five Things You Don’t Know About Red Dead Redemption 2’s Horse Testicles”? Obvious clickbait. “How Do You Get the Best Guns in Red Dead Redemption 2?” Less obvious clickbait… to the average Internet browser, anyway. And, worse, guide content is typically minimum-effort stuff — when I was on USgamer, the guide content I was forced to “write” (presumably to stop me actually writing my own words about all those disgraceful, child-corrupting Japanese games that weren’t from big publishers or Indie Darling Flavour of the Month) during my final month on the site was simply copy-and-pasted from our partner site Prima Games. Blech. At least I made a point of still writing about those disgraceful, child-corrupting Japanese games that weren’t from big publishers or Indie Darling Flavour of the Month during this period as one final “screw you”.

    Yes I’m bitter, though I feel like I’m justified, particularly when I read things like this. Although the upshot of all this is that I now have a much more fulfilling gaming (and writing) life as a result, so I guess it did me a favour in the long run!

    Gratuitous plug: my friend and I did a podcast on this very subject last month. If you want something to listen to/watch at work/in bed/on a bus later, please feel free to check it out 🙂 https://moegamer.net/2018/10/01/the-moegamer-podcast-episode-10-hype-hype-hooray/

    Liked by 1 person

    • The best (worst?) headline I saw on my feed this morning was something like: ‘Weird Fallout 76 glitch morphs players into half-naked beasts.’ And my response was: ‘I couldn’t care less.’

      I originally drafted this post around a week ago and the situation hasn’t changed at all, with rubbish headlines like this still appearing far too often. It’s even got to the point where I’ve taken to blocking certain sites because I’m so fed-up with seeing the same recycled stories and clickbait titles.

      Thanks for your insight – I can only imagine how soul-destroying it must be for a professional writer to have to produce this drivel. At least as bloggers we can choose to create whatever we wish and know it comes from the heart, rather than a copy-paste.

      And feel free to plug all you want! I’ll take a look at that podcast on my commute home this evening. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel this so much with Red Dead. Rockstar games just flat out don’t interest me anyway, so then seeing them be so overblown and hyped and filling my entire newsfeed is a pain in the tail. I’ve definitely been guilty of covering a big release at the same time as everyone else (Breath of the Wild in particular), so I get why it happens – but as you said, there’s a difference in covering a game out of passion versus talking about it in vague terms to snag views. I like to think I do the former!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You certainly do! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with covering a new release if you’re writing from the heart and giving your own views. 😀

      But what *is* wrong is writing just for views. The thing that bugs me the most is seeing the same ridiculous story over and over again, with the same stupid clickbait headlines as described by Pete above; it’s killed any desire I had to play either Fallout 76 or Red Dead Redemption and it’s going to be a hell of a long time before that changes.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So I’ve finished the Nuka World DLC for Fallout 4 since your last post Kim. I can tell you, after almost 500 hours on a game I put off for years, it’s easily right up there as one of my favourite games ever now. I’m looking forward to starting 3 or New Vegas and going back through the series.

    I’ve avoided the nonsense around Fallout 76, but I did purchase the Prima guide, since they’re closing shop.

    I completely ignore those BS “top 5” articles littering the internet and feel much better for it. They’re often completely devoid of substance or repeat things you’ve already read or watched elsewhere. It’s the reason I stopped using Flipboard too, as it just highlighted how much the same stuff just gets written over and over. So boring, I’d rather just be playing games!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funnily enough, the stats I gave in this post about the number of Fallout 76 articles in my news feed actually came from Flipboard! I think I’m going to have to stay away from any news feeds for a while because the situation is starting to drive me bonkers. 😂

      Like

      • The echo chamber! It’s exactly what attracted me to sites like Later Levels. At least when you discuss a popular topic, you have something different or interesting to say 😎

        Like

        • Well I shall take that as a compliment, kind sir! Over the past year I’ve stopped using news articles for game recommendations, and now stick to blog posts or suggestions received through chatting to other bloggers. They tend to be much more reliable. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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