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October 16, 2017 | by  | in Games |
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“It’s all over but the crying…”

After three years, 57 published pieces (including two features), and hundreds of dollars spent on games for reviews, this will be the last thing I write for Salient. It’s going to be hard to give this up, but I never anticipated my words being a consistent presence in this magazine, and now that the end of my degree approaches, the time is right.

Three years is an eternity in gaming, with constant technological developments meaning the state of the industry is always in flux as key players try to keep pace with one another. But the old cliché of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is true as well — many of the issues I talked about in 2015, such as the Steam store’s decline in standards and pre-order bonuses, are not only still relevant, but have become even worse than before. The attitude that many major gaming companies exhibit towards these issues, especially where monetisation is concerned, seems to be along the lines of “how far can we push our customers without pissing them off?” — rather than attempting to create a product that people enjoy on its own merits.

But the gaming industry is not just the big companies with deep pockets and insatiable greed. There are thousands of small developers looking to create quality experiences that don’t need downloadable content or microtransactions to be profitable. Hell, they don’t need to even make money at all, as long as there are fans out there who will enjoy their games regardless. One of the regrets I have of my time writing this games column is that I haven’t been able to showcase any of the games coming out of New Zealand’s developing scene, one which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They may not exactly be big sellers (except possibly for Grinding Gear’s Path of Exile), but the scene deserves your attention, especially with Dean Hall’s Rocketwerkz studio kicking things into gear.

I wish I could be as optimistic about the wider gaming subculture, however. While there are many great people wanting to eliminate toxic influences on gaming discourse, the truth is that many of those same influences helped put a fascist idiot into the White House, and as such are more galvanised than ever into making the wider gaming community as unwelcoming as possible for anyone who dares to speak for change. I constantly worry that I will be lumped in with these idiots solely because gaming is the hobby I express myself through. The difference is that I proudly put my name to every piece I write, no matter how controversial it may seem, while so many keyboard warriors stay behind their wall of anonymity and fling mud over the top. As far as I’m concerned, there is no place for bigotry and hatred anywhere, especially gaming.

Despite all of that, I have immensely enjoyed every moment of my time at Salient. It has been a chapter in my life that I will treasure as I move on to bigger and better things. To the editors I have worked under (Sam, Emma, Jayne, Laura, and Tim), thanks for giving me the opportunity; I hope I haven’t let you down. To those who have contributed to the gaming section, thanks for offering your unique insights. To the publishers who have provided me with review copies, thanks for doing so, even if I didn’t get to review everything you sent me. To Mum and Dad, thanks for believing in me. To everyone who has read my pieces, thanks for taking time out of your day to read some fat nerd’s opinion; it means everything to me. Finally, to any media organisation reading this: please hire me!

SEE YOU SPACE COWBOY…

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