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No Man
Today would have been the original release date for No Man’s Sky (NMS) in the UK so it’s a good opportunity for me to add my thoughts to the recent controversy. Let me take you back to the news that NMS has been delayed several weeks (August 10th) and the outrageous response from some “fans” over this apparently life destroying news… even going so far as sending death threats to the developers. I’ve seen games delayed before and you do get a few unreasonable "bottom injured" peoples complaining about how unfair it is, but I haven’t seen it on this scale. It has been suggested that maybe the hype surrounding this game has attracted those Not Of the Normal Gaming Element or Nonges, as I will now call them.

No Man’s Sky is a niche game with mainstream marketing and an unreal level of hype. NMS isn’t designed to be the next Call of Duty or FIFA, I don’t think it was intended to be mass marketed to an audience that could be described as casual or mainstream. No Man’s Sky is being developed by a small indy team experimenting with procedural generation to create sci-fi worlds they had only read about and dreamt of from their childhood, just for people to romp about in and explore, I think there's a certain core of niche gamers that would be happy with that, without the constant demand for “moar gameplayz”.

Could this be a sign of what happens when geek culture becomes mainstream? The famed geek passion but no-longer tempered by an appreciation of the art?  Maybe this is the millennial sense of entitlement I keep hearing about? It's saddening to see this happening to a community I've always known to be supportive of those creating the things we love. I prefer to keep my faith in humanity and think perhaps the rise of the internet and social media just allows a vocal minority to shout even louder.

But then, I have seen other signs of this fusion of cultures having some undesirable side effects, fanboy wars and stories of elitism and body shaming in cosplay. For example, I can’t see why someone with a bought costume should be able to enjoy cosplay any less than those capable of sinking hundreds of hours and a fair bit of money into crafting something and I’ve never felt like cosplay means you MUST exactly replicate an existing character,  These all seem too much like the mainstream marketing concepts that push an unobtainable “perfection”. That is something I hope geek culture can avoid. With its long history of accepting the unique, quirky and outcast the geek community is well placed to resist prejudice and discrimination.

Just like gaming, cosplay is about creating something, and then sharing and enjoying it, both can be counted as an art form and a form of self-expression. It’s completely reasonable for creators to expect to be treated with respect. I’m sure you’d agree that if something or someone doesn’t meet your expectation, that doesn’t somehow make them less than human. If you bought a game and it happened to be buggy and broken or you bought a print from a cosplayer that happened to be poorly printed, perhaps you’d have a right to complain, maybe even claim your money back, but no one would deserve threats and profanity. Those examples actually deal with scenarios where the creator is obliged to fulfil a contract, but waiting for a game to be released or seeing someone enjoying a hobby shouldn't produce that kind of response and definitely shouldn't generate the kind of hatred I've read about.

Is it really "Niche vs The World"? Are these phenomena something you have witnessed? Do you have thought’s on why this kind of thing happens? Or do you disagree with me completely? Comments welcome below!

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