Concerning Scorpia and her departure from CGW and all that, I’m reminded of a little idea that’s been kicking around my noggin for a little while now. Jeff’s comment that she “…just kind of lost touch with the audience and with PC gaming in general” is probably as accurate as can be and I have no point in particular with which to debate. I also can’t comment on her departure or her disposition or anything of the sort, since I only read her stuff and never knew her outside of her work I’d read in the magazine each month.
I’m sure Scorpia did lose touch with the audience, from one point of view. The other point of view, and it may be an entirely invalid PoV because it’s just something I’ve been toying with personally, is that the gaming media is far more influential than one might suspect.
What do I mean by this? Let’s pick on G4 for a second, or maybe X-Play in general. One of their big demands seems to be that every game simply must have multiplayer. If a game comes along that doesn’t include a multiplayer component and isn’t a critical hit type of game (which they always rate well, regardless of the fact that similar games are usually trashed, but that’s a whole other can of worms), they will knock it severely for its lack of the feature. It doesn’t matter if the game lends itself to a multiplayer mode or not - they’ve come down firmly on the stance that multiplayer is the future and the now and they make the claim, repeatedly, that it’s what gamers want.
That’s really what I have issue with - the “it’s what gamers want” idea. We all know how easily the general population is told by the media at large what they are supposed to approve of, disapprove of, want, and not want. The same goes for the gaming population and the gaming media, I think. It’s far from Fox News levels of dragging the dog’s leash, but I think it’s there and I often wonder just how much the gaming media saying “gamers want feature X” is accurate and how much is the bias of the one doing the speaking.
Let me try and condense my stream-of-thought ramblings by posing a simple question: Did Scorpia lose touch with the gaming audience or did she lose touch with the gaming media? I’m sure it’s a little bit of both and a whole heap of other things, but I myself remember not caring for Baldur’s Gate, either. I was a big fan of story and world driven RPGs (think Ultima) at the time, and the whole while I was being innundated with how Baldur’s Gate was reviving a dead genre, was the wave of the future, and one of the best RPGs yet made, I couldn’t help but feel like I was more or less being “forced” to like the game by both the fact that there weren’t many other RPGs out at the time and by the strong-arming of the gaming media telling me that I was so very wrong with my feelings about the game. I even remember trying to play through BG1 several times, many of such times having been motivated by reading yet another article or review praising the merits of the title. I felt like I just didn’t “get it” and if only I could, I would understand and enjoy what had to be a wonderful game. After all, it re-launched the genre and spawned a slew of copycats, all of which were designed in this new RPG style that I just did not like. I was lost.
I did enjoy BG2 a great deal, though. I’m not sure why I liked it when I hated BG1 so much, but its story hooked me and its world and the exploration of it was more interesting, I guess. I’m not sure what it was, actually. Go figure.