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Too Much of… Everything

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By Nelson Schneider - 05/05/24 at 04:00 PM CT

Recent data from the TV and movie industries have shown that, when given access to the entire depth of said media, viewers tend to gravitate to older stuff, leaving modern shows to flop and flail, unable to recoup their multi-million-dollar budgets, let alone become the type of shared cultural touchstone TV and movies of the past were. Sadly, the same is also true of videogames, especially the loss of shared experiences.

I have lamented the loss of shared experiences before, but in the world of gaming, the process just keeps getting worse. While during the Console Gaming Golden Age of the ‘90s, most Gamers played and praised the same games – with the notable exception of those who were on the losing side of the Console War – since the turn of the millennium, gaming has fragmented from a unified, shared experience with the common ‘identity’ of ‘Gamer’ tied to it, into a large selection of exclusionary echo chambers, each with wildly different definitions of what ‘gaming’ should be and what makes any given videogame ‘good.’

While our modern Aristophanes, Jerry Seinfeld has pointed out Hollywood’s difficulties, and is quick to blame Political Correctness and Woke Leftism for the decline in popularity of modern productions when compared to classic productions – and he’s right! – the other problem causing new media productions to struggle is sitting right there in plain sight: There’s TOO MUCH of everything!

During the late 20th Century era of classic movies, television, and videogames, the number of new releases was sane and reasonable, and thanks to the lack of preservation efforts combined with great leaps in technology, nobody was really all that interested – or able, if they were interested – in experiencing early 20th Century media. The good productions were well liked and considered ‘good’ by most people. Professional critics hadn’t sabotaged their legitimacy by injecting divisive ideology into their reviews. Anyone who really enjoyed media could easily keep up with the good stuff and discuss said media with their like-minded friends.

Today, more new media is released in a year than in an entire lifetime of old media… and the old media is still there, acting as a foundation for an ever-increasing pile of content, all desperately searching for an audience willing to invest time and money. The result is a seething morass of media that’s nearly impossible to keep track of, let alone actually sit-down and engage.

This same root problem has been out in the open for all to see within a specific niche of tabletop gaming for decades already, but with tabletop gaming being so niche and most people being far too stupid to draw parallels between different markets, it has gone largely unnoticed. The Trading Card Game, or Collectible Card Game space if you prefer, has been struggling with the “TOO MUCH” problem since the ‘00s, with big games like “Magic: The Gathering” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!” buried beneath the weight of well over 100 sets of cards totaling over 22,000 discrete cards for “Magic” alone. The sheer volume of ‘stuff’ there makes it difficult for players to stay engaged simply because the burden of memorizing what all of those cards do, let along figuring out synergies between them, is simply TOO MUCH. I ultimately dropped out of playing both “Magic” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!” for exactly that reason.

So, to take things directly back to videogaming, while a Gamer could, in the past, experience the best of the best and even have the opportunity to re-play their favorite titles multiple times, with the firehose of content being sprayed into the media landscape today, it’s impossible to keep track of everything, especially when so much of that ‘everything’ is bad, infested by tropes aimed at the mythical (as in, ‘does not exist’) ‘Modern Audience.’ Thus, we have our fractured modern gaming landscape where there are Retro Gamers, e-Sport Gamers, Live Service Gamers, Souls Trolls, Weaboos, Westaboos, Indie Gamers, and ever-more-fractious Console Fanboys, none of whom can agree on what makes a ‘good’ game, let alone what games are ‘good,’ as said games spray forth in an unending geyser. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if the geyser stopped for a few years, giving us all a chance to catch up and take stock of what already is.

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