THE BLOG

Why I'm a Gaming Hipster

15/04/2014 12:23 BST | Updated 14/06/2014 10:59 BST

We live in a world where it is now possible to be a gaming hipster. Yes, there's always been those special individuals who proclaim "I only play Super Nintendo" with the resounding air of "I don't own a television" or the guy back in 1972 whom, having had his fragile mind blown by a concoction of acid and pong, married a six foot paddle. But these chaps are more enthusiasts than hipsters. The Super Nintendo devoted nerd does not care what's 'hip' they're too busy trying to score the Game of Thrones soundtrack on Mario paint.

http://soundcloud.com/kyle-van-tastique/mariopaint-game-of-thrones

Writers Note: Oh Internet, rarely can I best you.

Hipsters know what's 'hip', 'trendy', 'radical' (they'd avoid that word). How they do this depends on your level of skepticism towards the hipster. They are either attuned to the cosmic waves of human awareness, surfers of the collective consciousness, simultaneously drawn to the same games at the same time, or they read the same websites.

It is interesting that overnight sensation Flappy Bird is in fact one of the best arguments for hipsters cosmic synchronicity. Let me explain: Flappy Bird was never a trendy game, it was drab, stole Mario's pipes (not cool man, not cool), and its primary mechanic was to simulate a mildly abusive relationship:

"What! you can only pass three pipes? Call you're self a Flappy Bird? You'll never be a Flappy Bird. That's why you're alone, playing Flappy bird. "

The essence of Flappy Bird was to offer a crap game but only allow the tiniest glimmer of said crap game. It was this peepshow mechanic that meant the player would imagine something better than the experience itself.

Flappy Bird is the modern naked lady behind the packs of peanuts. You'd buy the first bag of peanuts to reveal a beautiful woman's face. Then her arms, then her Page 3's. Before long you'd be staring at a cardboard image of a lady thinking 'What do I do with all these peanuts?'. My point: Flappy Bird's short game cycle lead players to imagine something more than the game ever offered.

Flappy Bird used our imaginations against us. Tapping away at the screen thinking "Maybe, if I get past 50 points, the game will start". However despite the internet's criticism Flappy Bird became a sensation. This was not a game being raved about or shouted from the roof tops (unless it preceded a plummet). No, It was simply a word of mouth hit. Even if many of those mouths were frothy lipped players adamantly proclaiming: 'This is not a game' in the same self-delusory objectivism a despot dictator would use to point at a nuclear weapon and call it 'a deterrent'. I for one would like to say to Dong Nguyen (The games creator):

"Well done, and if you're interested I have an idea for a similar game where a monk jumps through giant Sonic rings. Then if anyone disrespects it we can explain: "It's a metaphor for Buddhism" and continue to build our moon base with the profits.

Flappy Bird is an example of a game not sanctioned by gaming aficionados (although defiantly talked about) which became a hit. Maybe games can rise to prominence without using sanctioned media channels. Perhaps those hipsters don't all just read the same websites. I have however massively digressed, so much so that if this article was a First person shooter we'd now playing a level serving tea cakes to Victorian male suitors in what could be described as one of the most seductively regal Quick Time Events ever. Call of Duty: Black Forest Gateau.

My initial point was that the gaming world is now so ginormous gamers don't all speak the same language. Don't believe me? Ask someone how their StarCraft game is going, and why they are now bankrupt.

Call of Duty fans are scoffed at as 'the jocks' of the console generation. Indy kids proclaim: "I only play titles involving tea party Quick Time Events spliced, as an ironic twist, into huge blockbuster games, at great expense". Publishers now pay yours truly for the great idea citing: "We realised the impact of 16 levels of shooting and avoiding falling things could only be heightened by a quick, if very expensive, level where the player chooses their favourite dress and cake combination".

With all this diversity I think it's important to not let ourselves become fractured and tribal if only because we'll miss some great games. I love atmospheric pixel art titles and point and click adventures but don't regret, for one second, purchasing the bombastic Titanfall. A game chocked with upgrades, explosions, bonuses, XP, and killing.

I would happily wear a Titanfall t-shirt to an Indy game convention because it's brilliant fun. Titanfall simply feels and plays right like another big game from a simpler time: Super Mario Brothers. I'm a gaming hipster because I refuse to let what's good slip by, and that's ok. We are the gaming kid generation and what unites us is playing.

"Hello, is that Titanfall HQ?... Great. I wrote the article...Yep I said you're arty too...Cool. Can you give me the XP you promised? Thanks. PS... Don't fuck this up."

Jay Cowle is on Twitter @JayCowle, and does a very silly podcast on iTunes called Holland & Cowle.