Gaming Graphical Controversies
The recent #PuddleGate controversy over the new Spider-Man game has made me realize how much people tend to overreact over graphical presentation in video games. To those who may not know, #PuddleGate revolves around a screenshot from early footage of the new Spider Man game that featured a smaller puddle than the same shot from one of the E3 2018 trailers. This prompted hundreds of people to complain about this graphical “downgrade” which was eventually clarified by the game’s director as the scene taking place in a different time of day, resulting in different lighting and a smaller puddle. Graphical controversies like this seem to involve more recent games such as the Witcher 3, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Fallout 4, and the majority of games released by Ubisoft.
This is mainly derived from game showcases like E3 that are meant primarily to showcase new features of previously announced games or entirely new games. Due to the main goal being to draw hype for a game’s release, the showcases often use game footage with higher resolutions or showcase cutscenes instead of actual gameplay. Though attention is garnered for the game, these tend to leave people misled when they actually buy the game.
The thing that perplexes me is why these issues have only occurred recently. Numerous companies had been doing similar things for years prior to most of these controversies. As companies and their employees become more experienced with newer game engines, graphical presentation continually improves yet people still find ways to complain.
The overabundance of games shown at conferences makes people put the graphics above everything else. The masses tend to want a game that looks amazing from every conceivable angle. The gameplay, narrative and characters seem to fall by the wayside.
This is an intriguing issue since near the end of the 7th generation of consoles (Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3), graphics seemed to have reached a reasonable point as to which everything looked presentable. Until early 2016, there were numerous multi-platform games that released on both older and new generation consoles with only minor graphical differences. As of now, graphics seem to be stagnating since developers have had years of experience to refine the aesthetics of their game worlds. However, the expectations of gamers don’t always align with what developers are capable of creating.
The rise of social media plays a large part in making these controversies spread as fast as possible. While social media has existed for years, its growing prominence makes simple concepts so easy to spread that even people who have no interest in games can hear about them. This also plays into the fast flow of misinformation that is held by the internet.
Misinformation on things that people are very passionate about like video games can easily lead to chaos. When people feel like the games they were hyped about have lied to them, mistrust builds towards the developers and the companies they work for. This continually builds and makes it harder to watch trailers or gameplay videos since they don’t truly know what has been fabricated for the sake of appealing to the most people possible.
Though not all gamers react aggressively to controversies like this, it doesn’t negate the fact that they happen in the first place. Growing graphical quality inevitably leads to higher expectations and hopefully the gaming community will taper their expectations to a point where minor changes don’t become topics of discussion.