Games to try to Hate. (What is the Pink Floyd of video games?)

The previous post discussed indie games as being the punk rock of video games. I chained this to the “I Hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt that Jonny Rotten apparently wore once. And I said that we should wear “I Hate World of Warcraft” t-shirts.

But really, what is the Pink Floyd of video games? What should the t-shirt say; what games should we hate?

I take it the late 1970’s objection to Pink Floyd was that they were rather pretentious, stodgy, had too big and expensive sets. I am a big fan but I see the point. So what is the Pink Floyd of video games?

The obvious line of attack is to go for the good big-budget titles on grounds of their big budgets and hardcore sensibilities:

  • I hate World of Warcraft: one game, incredibly expensive, you actually subscribe to it as not to have other games.
  • I hate Grand Theft Auto IV: Rehash of the formula, decent voice acting and story, huge budget, but same-old, same-old.

On the other hand, Pink Floyd was always in somewhat “good taste”, which would lead us to an attack on exactly the games considered to be good taste:

  • I hate Wii sports: Excellent game design, fun for the whole family, content that no one could possibly object to … but that is exactly the problem! Where is the edginess, where is the depth?
  • I hate Okami or Rez: Smooth and “wonderful” graphics, conventionally “edgy” but really … who cares about mythical sun goddesses or mainframe computers?

What is the Pink Floyd of video games? (You don’t have to really hate it, just bring out your inner punk!) What should the t-shirt say?

34 thoughts on “Games to try to Hate. (What is the Pink Floyd of video games?)”

  1. WoW is really the perfect candidate, because not only is it overly baroque, but it’s designed to stimulate only the cheapest dopamine releases on a schedule that encourages you to spend as much time as possible doing something completely meaningless and one-dimensional, the purpose of this is to give you a sense of investment that drives you to renew your subscription. It’s the quintessential establishment game, and it works in a manner similar to the global economy – fiat money, systematic and regularly schedule warfare to appeal to a consumerist desire for bigger and better stuff. Plus it’s universally well known, so people outside of games get the idea.

  2. “I Hate God Of War”:

    The game totally micro-manages the player. There’s exactly one ideal+obvious button-press at each given second of the game

  3. Mentioning Braid makes it quite interesting to compare punk to video games: One reason to hate Pink Floyd was their pretentiousness; the claim that their music was Art with a capital A.
    Punk, on the other hand, did not in any way aspire to be art.

    With video games, the relation is reversed: The big AAA titles do not claim to be art, but the little indie games do.
    It is Braid wants to be Pink Floyd, to enrich players’ lives.

    That is the alternative interpretation: Video games are in the early 1960’s of rock music, where people are trying to make “art”. We can only really hate Pink Floyd once Pink Floyd has been established …

  4. Not totally true, with Rotten modeling himself after Richard III, the punk look being coined by Richard Hell as a knock off of Arthur Rimbaud, the musical origins going back to the Velvets who go back to John Cage, and the band-leader of the kinda-first punk band calling himself Verlaine.

  5. ““I hate Assassin’s Creed” – that’s not outrageous, that’s a review.”

    Haha, that’s true. Unfortunately the game did very well, which I think fits with this analogy. After all, Pink Floyd was easy to hate BECAUSE they were so popular.

    I would also say that as indie games get more attention we’ll see the big budget games co-opting their rhetoric. Witness all that garbage that came out of the Army of Two team about the game somehow being a “critique of private military organizations.”

  6. I hate Psychonauts.

    It was funny, colorful, and creative….

    …and infuriating to play. The controls were sloppy, you spent all your time collecting crap, the map was useless, and you were often left wondering where to go next. The only reason to play was to get to the cut scenes and watch some more of the plot. It would have been better as a movie. No matter how arty your game is, if it’s not fun to play, it’s a crappy game.

  7. I worked on it, so I can say it:

    BioShock.

    High production value, sprawling in its ambitions, critically acclaimed and yes, pretentious. And Blow’s critiques of it cut straight to the heart of its flaws, which is actually a lot more constructive than the punk “fuck X” vector. So I’d say it’s a mainstream that really benefits from having a counterculture to keep it honest.

  8. “I hate Manhunt” <= I never understood how such a loosy designed game could get so much attention. Talk about pretentious, cliché violence is not enough to make a game, Mr Rockstar. Not to mention the “fame” around the sequel even before its release.

    on the “good taste” side :
    “I hate Guitar Hero” <= Such a cool game, both casual and hardcore, but… more than 10 years after the inital “Guitar Freaks” release, maybe it’s time to make something… new ?

  9. Please, “hate” sounds like too much. Personally, I like or dislike games. There are good games and bad games; there are fun games, boring games; there are pretentious high-production games that suck and games that do a lot with little. But “hatable” games… Sounds like a bit too much..

  10. Kadrick said: “And what about a simple “Indie games are dead” t-shirt?”

    Really? I’d say it’s more like “AAA games are dead.” That industry is the one that spend millions of dollars to be pretentious like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock, Halo, Grand Theft Auto IV, Portal, and World of WarCraft.

    Oh, and indie games? They needs to stop being so nostalgic about their AAA cousins and start doing their own shit.

    In conclusion, “I hate AAA”

  11. Oblivion, or Mass Effect. RPGs are so Prog-Rock. Overly complicated, sprawling messes that had folk roots, but have completely lost them. Fallout 3 is going to be the gaming equivalent of The Wall.

    I’m biased, but I figure God of War is much more Metal than Prog. Iron Maiden maybe?

    Oh, and BTW, Rotten loved Floyd.

    http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/rotten%20i%20love%20pink%20floyd

    “I never hated Pink Floyd. I was having a laugh.

    “How could you hate Pink Floyd? It’s like saying, ‘Kill the fluffy bunnies.’

    “If you’re going to make me a monster, at least give me something worth really rebelling against.

    “I’ve run into DAVID GILMOUR several times over the years, and he thinks it’s hilarious. He’s a great bloke.”

  12. In defense of the punk cred of MGS: prog is about “nuance”, MGS is pretty raw, uncouth stuff, pushing every aspect of itself over the bounds of reason and taste.

  13. Aren’t the examples wrong if we’re doing a parallel? Because it was “I hate Pink Floyd” the parallel would be “I hate id” or “I hate Blizzard” or even “I hate Sony”

  14. Steve, I agree – but I also think that players generally are fans of specific games rather than developers; there are fewer emotions towards devs than towards games.

  15. I hate GTA because wannabe gangsters are annoying enough without also being armchair wannabe gangsters. There’s also something about this contemporary gangster fantasy that is more annoying than other fantasies, you can have similar character archetypes, the callous nihilistic wise guy, but if he’s in a space opera or military thriller I don’t find it annoying, put him in the gonzo world of GTA though and he seems to invite a more delusional identification than others. All this subversive paraphernalia seems to be deeply disingenuous.

  16. Well, what’s a bit special about Pink Floyd is how they managed to top the charts for so many years with *so different albums*
    Think of it. Dark Side –> Wish You Were Here –>Animals–>The Wall. Not to mention the differences in their earlier albums AND the two last ones. They made pretty different albums and different music for each one, which few bands can claim to have done similar.

    So, I think the question is wrong, the Pink Floyd of games can’t be one game. If you prefer The Wall, well, maybe it’s a thematic and linear game a la Grim Fandango (oh well, I just got a free chance to mention one of my favourite games) And if you’re into UmmaGumma maybe Portal is the game.

    M:)rten

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