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Awhile ago an individual asked me why I no longer participated on StarCraft Legacy. I explained to that individual the how's and why's. Recently, another individual I talked to marked their discomfort and unease on the b.net forums, how the vitriol and vindictiveness of certain members were preventing him/her from participating. For my own part, I will never, ever return to SCLegacy for the reasons I mentioned in that first message, whereas the second more or less encapsulated why I refuse to engage in discussion on b.net. Browse, yes, because it's a good place for links to articles that I may have missed. But participate? No. "Never say never" as the saying goes, and I may end up eating these words, but I'm not counting on it.
Just today, I was browsing Kotaku and came across this article. It was a discussion of No Mutants Allowed, a Fallout fansite that was built around the first two games of the series. That, and their vitriol towards Fallout 3, and more tellingly, anyone who dared to actually like the game. I looked at the website myself out of curiosity, and soon left it. Because not only was that vitriol there, but I was reminded of my time on SCLegacy. Heck, even the layout and forum code is practically identical. And what really got to me while reading the article is that if you replaced "Fallout 1/2" with "StarCraft I," "Fallout 3" with "StarCraft II," "No Mutants Allowed" with "StarCraft Legacy," and "Bethesda/Black Isle" with "Blizzard," then you can more or less write the same article on the StarCraft fanbase. The comments themselves? Practically word for word.
Now, this isn't an issue restrained to either of these sites. And in both series, I don't doubt that comments made stem from genuine feelings towards Fallout 3, StarCraft II, or, as I've seen recently, Fire Emblem. Yes, Fire Emblem Fates is coming out, and already I'm seeing the fanbase turn on anyone who was introduced to the series with Awakening. Not to the same level, not yet at least, but...yeah.
For my part, yes, I did play StarCraft first. It was the second RTS I ever played (Tiberian Dawn was the first, in case you're wondering), and it gets the no. 4 spot in my top RTS games of all time. StarCraft II, believe it or not, I consider better, getting the no. 1 spot on the RTS list, and no. 6 spot on personal top ten games of all time. As a net aggregate, I think the original surpasses the sequel in terms of music, and maybe in sound effects (e.g. unit lines), but otherwise, I hold SC2 as being the net superior game. But I ask myself, what if the opposite was true? What if I thought SC1 was the better overall game? Would I be in the position of bashing people who didn't think the same way?
That's what bothers me. It's what's always bothered me. Bashing the work? Fine. I've no problem with that. I'll happily bash a work I don't like. Heck, there's plenty in SC2 I think can be criticized. The story isn't without flaws, especially in HotS. Mission design is great, but maybe too easy at times. Lack of LAN support. Certain VO decisions. You want to bash SC2, fine. I can live with that. But when you're criticizing the people who enjoy the work you dislike? When you're calling them everything from "delusional," or "a terrible person," or saying "oh, you're just not looking at it correctly," or whatever else? Is this it? Is this what it is to be a "gamer?" (a term I refuse to call myself, even though I've been playing games since the Sega Master System.) For the above, all of those lines are words that were applied to me. I've seen other insults applied to others. And what's worse, I'm probably just as guilty of doing the same. Of insulting people, because of the atmosphere being generated.
Reading the Kotaku article made be both happy and sad. Happy, because it acted as a reminder that my experience wasn't limited to the one franchise/fandom. Sad, because of the same reason. The reason why I refuse to call myself a "gamer." Because I don't want to be associated with one medium I happen to consume, along every other. Because I don't want to be associated with the identity that can generate such a mindset. The same mindset that labelled the term "casual" as an insult. Of a culture that can generate incredible things, but act terribly as well. I can name a user who said that "Blizzard must have reached their target audience [6 year olds]" in light of a commenter stating that they liked the story of SC2. That same user also created a mod that received widespread acclaim. It's my personal philosophy as well, that if I want to say something, I'll say it through writing. To channel feelings into creation, rather than insults towards a person who doesn't share my viewpoint.
Legacy of the Void is coming out relatively soon - likely early 2016, though possibly in late 2015. It will conclude a series that began in 1998, and while I'm not ruling out the SC universe continuing in some form, it'll be a long, long time before we get a third installment, especially in RTS form. I would personally argue that the story doesn't need continuation, under the proviso that we deal with Amon and the hybrids, but others will disagree, pointing out the UED for instance. I also don't doubt that the game will generate the same discussions - some will love it. Some will hate it. Will I? Hopefully. Of what's known, there's some things that I like, and some things that I don't, in both gameplay and story. But I can only hope that the discussion will be civil. A false hope, certainly. But maybe if by the time SC3 comes around (if ever), we'll all be older, and more mature. SC2 introduced people who'd never played SC1 to the series, as Fallout 3 did for people who'd never played the original games. Maybe, in the event of that far flung future installment, we'll be able to accept new people and new viewpoints, to convey our own, as negative as they may be, while still respecting others.
A dream, maybe? Well, a hope. It's why I've broken my rule and created a blog post. And to quote Jim Raynor, "some things are worth fighting for."