Don’t Spite-Buy Games

Wyatt Hnatiw / January 31, 2015 at 8:00 AM / Archive

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I don’t plan to play Hatred. I don’t plan to buy HuniePop.

I do want the option to play Hatred. I do want the option to buy HuniePop.

These aren’t contradictory statements, but these days some people disagree and disagree loudly.

Its nothing new; Postal and Postal 2 had their own dedicated protestors, Manhunt set Australia on fire (shocking absolutely no one) and in 2015 we’re seeing the same behaviour aimed at games like HuniePop, Grand Theft Auto and yes, Hatred. So when Hatred comes out I will be happy that as an adult I have the option to buy it, but unless my editor assigns the review to me, I probably won’t and I’ll explain why.

A lot of gamers (myself included) believe that developers should be free to make whatever they want. If they want to make a game as violent as GTA or Hatred, they can go for it; if they want to make a game as *ahem* adult as HuniePop then they should be allowed to. The sensibilities of people with popular blogs should not be the arbiter of what is allowed to exist in the world, and the fact that those same bloggers disagree says a lot about their ego.

The crazy thing is that these are the people who want gaming to ‘grow up’; they want tragicomedy vignette games and desperately want games that aren’t fun, but when a truly controversial game crops up, these people cower away from adult themes. To some people, games are serious business until something they don’t like appears and then they’re treated like toys for kids that must be sanitized of such objectionable content. Or, more succinctly; they want to BAN THIS SICK FILTH.

I disagree, if something is made for adults and adults want to play it, wherein is the harm? I don’t want to see GTA V or HuniePop sold to minors, but that is the responsibility of retailers and services, not the creators. If the public find the content of a game objectionable they won’t buy it, the game will fail, and a ban would be unnecessary. If people want the game (and they are of sufficient age to purchase it) it will be successful, and games bloggers will have to face the inconvenient truth that not everyone agrees with them.

Can adults handle this? I believe they can.

Can adults handle this? I believe they can.

However, with games like Hatred and HuniePop, we see people resolving to spite-buy games just to piss off a blogger they hate who called for a ban. Besides a likely misplaced belief that your most-hated personality is watching the sales figures and crying, if you do this you aren’t playing by your own rules. The basis of that system of freedom is people buying and playing the games they want. When you start buying games for other reasons, then by your own definition those games don’t deserve to be bought.

We shouldn’t try to turn the games industry into a political warzone. We as gamers need to be better than the reactionary personalities who call for these bans. They believe society unable to think for itself, we shouldn’t be proving them right by spite-buying something just because someone we don’t like would prefer we didn’t. If this is the norm for controversial games then what is to stop developers from creating games designed only to create controversy and reap the publicity and spite purchases that come with it? If we believe developers are artists then why reward them for any reason other than appreciation of their art? We do the games industry no favors by making successes of games we don’t want just to anger someone we don’t like.

I don’t plan to buy Hatred because it looks like a twin stick shooter and I don’t particularly enjoy twin stick shooters. What I do want is for that choice to be mine. I vehemently disagree with people who want these games banned but purchasing the game is not my response. You can advocate for the existence of a game without playing it and you can support the free market without buying something.

But hey, I can’t stop you from buying a game for whatever reason you choose. But I just want to ask you to buy games because you want to play them, not spite-buy them because some blogger you hate says you shouldn’t.

Wyatt Hnatiw

Staff Writer

Wyatt Hnatiw is a lifelong gamer with a borderline inappropriate love of BioWare RPGs and Bioshock. Maybe he just loves the prefix Bio...