The Problem With The Term ‘Hipster Games’
Recently a article posted on N4G decided to tell people why gamers/people disliked hipster games. The site that posted it shall remain nameless (after all naming and shaming seems a bit silly) but their statement on ‘hipster games’ just came off as quite silly. Team Ico’s titles Shadow Of The Colossus and Ico were immediately pointed to as prime example of hipster gaming. This slightly confused me. Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus never came off as pretentious at any given point. If anything it came off as a game created by people with a vision, a vision that didn’t include the staples of video games that seem so overly abundant. Both games did have a ‘artsy’ feel to them, but this honestly (to me anyway) felt more like the Japanese culture seeping through into the game.
Both games have flaws, that’s undeniable, but for each of their flaws comes a stunning piece of imagery or epic encounter. Every time a player successfully defeats a colossus the sense of achievement is undeniable, as is the sense of guilt. Both Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus offered enjoyable video game experiences that left a genuine impact on the player. Does this make it a hipster game? no. Does it mean those who enjoyed the game hipster gamers? no. Sure there will always be at least a few people who impose their impressions and interpretations of video games onto players in a pretentious matter. The same can be applied to most forms of media.
The likes of Journey, Bastion and Limbo have also been given the label of hipster games (seeing a pattern here?). All three games are lower scale releases that offer distinctive art styles as well as simple, yet effective, gameplay. Again it’s purely dependent on the person playing the game how they interpret each part of the game at hand. Some can take enjoyment in Limbo purely as a platformer with puzzle like elements, others look for deeper meanings around the ideas of its protagonist. The same can be applied to Journey, for me Journey is a social experience rather than just a video game. The co-op elements of the game create a whole new experience to playing Journey alone. For others Journey is exactly what it says on the tin (so to speak). And once again the people looking for hidden meanings can extract so much from Journey to the point they could write a university grade essay on it.
Hipster games are simply a myth. Video games (much like films, books, art and music) can be used as a platform to showcase a persons visions and imagination. Those who enjoy the results of someone’s imagination can also use their own mind to create extensions of the product they are currently enjoying. This is where those who look into things for hidden meanings flourish. Are they pretentious? Sometimes, but this is not a totally negative quality. If anything it shows that people can enjoy a game so much that they are willing to sit down and truly dig deep into every aspect of a game.
The term hipster gamer can only be applied to one type of people, those who lie. It’s not rare, even more so in a age of social media, for some to straight up lie about what games they have played. Whether its to maintain some kind of image or to try dig into a trend, there are those willing to lie about what games they have played or enjoyed. Those are the only people that the term hipster gamer can be applied too. At the end of the day people should be able to play what they want, they should also be able to draw from their game of choice what they want. Don’t criticise those who look further into a game than most others. Most importantly don’t criticize a game, or wrongly label it, purely because its trying to be something more than just another video game.