Opinion: How To Freak Out About A Video Game

The latest edition of Gus Mastrapa's Joystick Division column, Pretension +1, tackles the recent player rage over Blizzard's decision to require a connection when playing Diablo III. Let's jump straight to the main thrust of the column entitled "How To Freak Out About A Video Game":

"If you want to see some truly artful shit fits look no further than the kerfluffle inspired by the recent Diablo III press event. Gamers found three major issues to take umbrage with. They're mad about the real-money transactions in the game's auction house, they're upset that you need to be online to play the game and some are ticked off about the game's simplified skill system. It takes a certain, single-minded focus to find that many flaws in a video game you've never played. But gamers have a certain talent for going ballistic at the drop of a hat. All it takes is a headline. Reading the article is optional."

He goes on to explain why gamers fly off the handle so easily over seemingly little things. One of those reasons is because a lot of us – myself included – invest a lot of time, energy and money in our hobby. Admittedly some get a little too carried away at the slightest amount of change, and other times that rage might be justified.

Of course the column is called Pretension +1 for a reason, and Mastrapa goes on to list some ways that gamers can be extremely ridiculous. We'll just grab the highlighted points:


  • In order to really get pissed about a video game you have to pour all of your being into that game.
  • Make sure that your reaction is extremely emotional.
  • Another valid approach to video game outrage is to make it a matter of principal.
  • The key here is to be unflinching and unbending in your beliefs.


Finally, he closes with this gem:

"And lastly, if all else fails, if every petition or angry message board rant fails there's always the nuclear option. Blame Activision."

But honestly, the real nuclear option, if you really are outraged with what Blizzard is doing, is to simply not buy the game. Gamers are over reactionary online because they can be and because it is easy, but the truth is they'll buy Blizzard's next game because they know in their heart of hearts that company doesn't do things like force players to stay connected without a good reason.

They claim the always on connection is to keep players from cheating and because they want you to be able to play your single player character in your multiplayer game (it's tough as hell to hack a character that isn't actually stored on your computer, after all). So if all that sounds like nefarious reasoning to you, or you just can't stomach that kind of DRM then speak with your wallets..

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  1. 0
    Kojiro says:

    It's not a "matter of principal", but a matter of principle.  Your principal is your pal.

    Usage note
    The noun principle  and the noun and adjective principal are often confused. Although pronounced alike, the words are not interchangeable in writing. A principle  is broadly “a rule of action or conduct” ( His overriding principle is greed ) or “a fundamental doctrine or tenet” ( Their principles do not permit the use of alcoholic beverages ).


  2. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Actually, not buying the game is the best solution.

    When people simply complain but buy the game anyway, there is no incentive for the game creator to listen to complaints because they are rolling in money.

    However, if their game is tanking, they are losing money and will actively seek out what went wrong with the release. Granted many game companies will latch onto "piracy" as the problem and not what actually went wrong.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  3. 0
    Neeneko says:

    It is called derailing.

    Some people get bent out of shape when people care about something they do not, and they find it threatening, so they come up with reasons why those people should be ignored and shut up.

  4. 0
    Shahab says:

    Its because we still live with the stigma of being "Video game nerds", those fat, basement dwelling creatures born with hearts three sizes too small and acne three sizes too big, those people who swill mountain dew to wash down the lard covered bean burritos that drip down and dry in their neckbeards. The people who hack your e-mail account and have your mom's house swatted b/c you wouldn't give them that rare drop from the raid last night. Its cool to make fun of gamers and even games "journalists" don't mind taking part in the fun.

    While things are getting better there are still employers who won't hire you if they know you play games, as they think gamers stay up all night gaming and will be unable to function properly at work. Hopefully as gaming continues to grow as a medium and the audience widens this stereotype will fade away and so will these types of articles.

  5. 0
    beemoh says:

    I know the original column is meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but could someone please tell me why, whenever any gamer in any way disagrees with anything whatsoever, it has to be characterised as 'rage' or 'angry'? This doesn't seem to happen to anybody else.

    Here's the thing: I've never seen any generally negative games discussion be any worse than any similar thread from another pastime.

    The BBC isnt going to be showing the full Formula 1 season next year, instead sharing it 50/50 with Sky- the entitled whining from F1 fans was unbelievable, everyone branding it a "disgrace" and "shameful", like Formula 1 coverage is some sort of god-given right. It even got to the point where people were posting on the government's new e-petitions site, demanding they step in and reverse the decision.

    Does this get called "F1 fan rage"? Are people "freaking out" over it?

    No, it's barely been covered. What little coverage there has been of the broadcast deal has been more about the decision itself, mostly backing it up as a necessary evil, with little or no mention of the riots occurring in the comments sections.

    It's not just them, either- on a TV forum I frequent, the mods keep having to step in every time the issue of 24/7 live feed for the next series of Big Brother comes up, because a fortnight ahead of the show starting, live feed hasn't been formally confirmed or denied and that's causing a lot of anguish and arguments- but are Big Brother fans accused of throwing a "truly artful shit fit"? No. In fact, beyond a small number of dedicated fansites generally owned by the forum members in question, there's not a media outlet in the land that's even acknowledged the issue.

    Yet, a gamer dares to suggest that something is anything other than The One Single Greatest Thing In The World, Ever, it's a demonstration of how "gamers have a certain talent for going ballistic at the drop of a hat", and I honestly don't understand why.


  6. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    Not buying the game doesn't get the problem fixed – it just puts companies out of business. Whining incessantly about it might actually help fix the problem while keeping people in work – which is why I can never understand all the shrieking from mindless fanboys whenever someone criticizes a game.

  7. 0
    Prof_Sarcastic says:

    I didnt buy SC2, despite not bothering to rage about it on any forums.  Now, I'm complaining about D3, but I'll probably buy it :(

    I think the likelihood of a person following through on their claim of not buying it is inversely proportional to how strongly they feel about it.

  8. 0
    Nerd42 says:

    > "But honestly, the real nuclear option, if you really are outraged with what Blizzard is doing, is to simply not buy the game."

    +1. Definitely not buying the game here.

  9. 0
    Shahab says:

    "But honestly, the real nuclear option, if you really are outraged with what Blizzard is doing, is to simply not buy the game. Gamers are over reactionary online because they can be and because it is easy, but the truth is they'll buy Blizzard's next game because they know in their heart of hearts that company doesn't do things like force players to stay connected without a good reason."

    I have noticed a small number of people who cover gaming have come out and tried to put people down for their reaction to some of this news, like the always on Internet requirement. It is very condescending and not at all friendly to your readers. Don't try and tell me what I know in my "heart of hearts". The sole reason Blizzard is requiring a constant Internet connection, even for single player, is to combat piracy. For all the cheats and other reasons they mention those only apply to the MP aspect, where you obviously have to be connected the whole time anyway. I am sick of companies inconviencing the paying customers to try and fight a losing battle against the people who don't pay them a dime.

    I usually have a constant Internet connection but I don't always. I do game on the go. I do game on plane trips, which I take several of a year. Luckily my home Internet is almost always up but not everyone is that luckly. My sister and her boyfriend can't afford Internet. When Ubisoft did this everyone was pissed and I don't remember anyone coming out in a patronizing tone telling everyone they were whining about nothing, that Ubisoft had our best interests in heart, and that we would all buy the games anyway. I haven't purchased an Ubisoft game since they first released a game with the always on Internet connection requirenment. I didn't buy Starcraft II and I won't buy Diablo 3, as long as they persist in this customer hostile form of DRM. I know they will still have tons of sales. Maybe this is a losing battle for now I'm voting with my dollar, the only one I can vote with.

    Keep in mind some people like to play their old games. I still play Morrowind, a 10 year old game, Master of Orion 2, a 13 year old game, and even D&D Darksun, a game that must be 16 years old. Whenever Blizzard decides to shut down their servers your $60 game is so much useless code. The only reason this really bothers me is b/c the sole reason is to combat piracy. I'll bet anyone here a pound of donuts that Diablo 3 gets pirated. Ubisoft's DRM, while difficult, got hacked. Starcraft 2 got hacked. Diablo 3 will get hacked. So guess who gets to play offline if they want? Yup, the people who don't pay. What kind of incentive is that for your paying customers?

  10. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Yeah, see, no… I won't buy Diablo 3 just the same as I won't buy Starcraft 2. I still am a huge consumer of game and I am keenly aware that they will barely notice the drop in sales. Still, I can't count on my stupid DSL to stay connected and any game that doesn't require by its nature to be online that implement this or a similar DRM will be skipped on principle alone…

    "a matter of principal"

    principal indeed.

  11. 0
    MechaCrash says:

    We know this can be done, because Diablo 2 had this setup: you had your regular characters which could be played offline or on (some) online games, and Vault characters that were stored server side so you could be sure they weren't tampered with. And if you wanted to, you could make a local copy of the Vault character so you could play around with it offline, although anything you did with them would, obviously, not be reflected in the pristine version. The addition of the RMT stuff (which Blizzard charges you to use, it doesn't matter if your item sells or not) could be kept clean by only allowing Vault characters to use it. If you're from the hard drive, well, presumably the item you want bad enough to buy can just be edited in.

    The fact that Blizzard is not doing this is because all their reasoning is transparent bullshit, they're just copying Ubisoft's terrible DRM that also screwed people without constant internet connections and failed to stop piracy.

  12. 0
    JoshuaOrrizonte says:

    I’m gonna send that letter to Blizzard!Santa too. Despite being excited as hell for D3, I’m not buying it; I don’t want to play it online, and even if I wanted to, my connection drops frequently enough, and for long enough, that “always online” DRM would probably make it extremely difficult to play the game. I don’t know this for sure, as I’ve never tried- but I’m not dropping the cash to buy a game that I’ve good reason to believe I won’t be able to play. It’s also not Blizzard’s problem my wireless setup sucks, but again- not dropping the cash on a game I don’t think I can play.

    If Blizzard changes their plan to allow offline single player mode, I’ll reserve it in a heartbeat, but I doubt they will. Them’s the breaks, I guess…

  13. 0
    Sporge says:

    Yeah that is the real thing I can't understand.  It makes sense to not allow an offline character online when you can hack items and otherwise cheat, but then keep online a slightly different entity that you can keep secure.  In this age where I go around the country with my laptop, I cannot maintain an internet connection everywhere I want to play games.  In fact I turn to games on my laptop when there is no internet available.  Apparently this will not be one I can count on in this situation anymore.

  14. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Dear Blizzard,

    I've been really good this year.  I even humored my sister and played Barbies with her a few times.  Please bring me the option to play the single player portion of Diablo III offline.  I'll understand if that gift's attached string is that I won't be able to use my offline character online.

    Please help make this the bestest Christmas ever!


    Your friend,

    Andrew Eisen

  15. 0
    Algus says:

    or you just can't stomach that kind of DRM then speak with your wallets..

    And in the end, how many will actually do just this? Not very many I imagine.   Still, using this as an argument to completely dismiss the discussion is kind of insulting too.  It would be nice if Blizzard would hear gamers on this and think of better solutions to their DRM without us having to just all not buy the game.

    It isn't like if we refuse to buy the game, Blizzard will go "Gee, I guess we screwed up" and release a version of Diablo 3 with offline content.  That kind of thing doesn't happen. 

    Still, it is hard to have a legitimate discussion with how vitriolic some opinions get.  

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