Recently, in the RKG group, there was a post by a guy (gender relevant) which stated that it may be an unpopular opinion, but you cannot say you truly beat Bloodborne unless you do the Chalice Dungeons and beat all the bosses (paraphrasing). I posted my opinion which basically is who the fuck cares? I was more diplomatic than that, but it’s what it boils down to. I hate gate-keeping in…well, anything, but I notice it most often in things I care about, naturally.
First of all, just fucking state your opinion. That’s tangential to my rant, but it irks me when someone starts anything with ‘this may be unpopular’. Own your shit! Who cares if it’s unpopular or not? Of course, I might be particularly cynical in this instance because all of my opinions are unpopular. Well, not all, but many of them. In addition, my whole lifestyle is unpopular in one way or another, so I’ve become inured to it. In addition, it has a whiff of excuse giving in the beginning. Kind of like, ‘I’m not racist, but’ blah, blah, blah.
Again, that’s just a side note to the real irritation–men who unilaterally decide the markers that make someone a TRUE whatever fan. I later tweeted on Twitter that while I loved the Souls games, I hated this aspect of ‘the community’.
Side note: I love the Souls games with the intent to replay them. I love Sekiro, but it broke me. I intellectually thought Bloodborne was a good game, but I didn’t love it. I would replay it if it were on the PC, but I don’t like playing on the PS4. I would replay Sekiro until the cows came home if I could co-op. I understand why I can’t, but I’m not willing to spend ten hours on bird daddy or the last boss once again. So when I’m talking about the community, I mean the FromSoft community in general.
Anyway, I know the gate-keeping thing isn’t specific to FromSoft games, but there’s something about this kind of game that brings out the extreme toxic masculinity. I think it’s because the games are difficult to begin with, so if you play them, it’s easy to get an attitude about it. I will say beating a FromSoft boss is unlike any other feeling, especially after hours of failing against the same boss. There is a dopamine hit unlike any other, and it’s why I continue to play the games.
Part of my disgust is because who gets to be the keeper of the gate and why? Historically, it has been men. Mostly white straight cis dudes who hang every part of their identity on their knowledge of a certain thing. It’s a way to keep people out, and it’s similar to a ‘no girls allowed’ sign. It’s a way to make someone feel better about himself.
Point being, who the fuck cares? It really boils down to that. What does it matter to, say, Chad, if Bob decides to summon for every boss in Dark Souls? Does this lesson Chad’s achievement of one-broing it all the way through while playing on a DDR dance mat with one foot tied to his crotch? That’s why I bring up toxic masculinity. In it, if I’m going to be up, then someone else has to be down. How can anyone know how great I am if there is no defining factor?
I’m prickly about it because my way of playing Dark Souls was denigrated from the start. Not to my face, but in what I’ve read in ‘the community’. One. Magicks. This is called easy mode by lots of people, most of whom have never even lifted a wand/staff. “You run around shooting off your OP spells and never have to worry about getting hit.” Incorrect, especially in the first game. *Deep sigh because I’ve explained this so many fucking times* In the original Dark Souls, you were limited to how many spells you could use between bonfires. Once you run out of spells, you have to use your melee weapon, which in my case, was a Battle Axe for the entire game. I loved my Battle Axe, but it’s definitely a starter weapon. Even when it’s +15, it didn’t do that much damage because I left my strength at 16 (which is what’s needed to wield it, if I remember correctly).
In addition, there is so much to manage when you’re doing magicks, especially if you don’t want to be limited to one type. There is magic, pyromancy, and miracles in the first game. Each takes a different implement to use. Magic takes catalysts; pyromancy has the Pyromancy Flame; miracles need a chime. You are allowed to equip two weapons with each hand, which means with my axe in my right hand and a shield in my left, I can only use two of the three above. In later games, you can equip three in each hand, and in DS III, they have implements that will allow you to use two of three magicks. That still means you need two implements for three magick-types, and it’s a lot to juggle, especially in the middle of a heated battle.
Also, having finally played as a tank, I can attest that it is MUCH EASIER when I’m able to smack around the enemies with my zwiehander. Speaking of which, that is considered not cricket, either. It’s too OP, ‘they’ say. Same with the Drake Sword. You can’t get the ‘real Dark Souls experience’ if you use the OP swords. Oh, and you can’t wear Havel’s armor because that’s cheesing it as well. Ideally, you’ll be naked, using a broken sword hilt and no shield, and you won’t level up any of your stats. This is a real thing, by the way. It’s called being a Onebro, and I tried it in Dark Souls III for about a quarter of the game before it became way above my paygrade.
See what happens when you start gate-keeping? The gatekeeper keeps moving the goal posts because it’s not really about standards or any bullshit like that–it’s about feeling superior. It’s about keeping the ‘them’ firmly as a them. It’s also about making something so exclusive, only a select few can reach that bar.
I don’t have time or patience for any of this. Let people play games they want to play them, for fuck’s sake. I don’t see how it takes anything away from the me if someone else plays Dark Souls in a different way. It doesn’t make my achievements any less valid–or more. At the end of the day, people play video games to have fun*, so why not let them have it?
*Shorthand for fun, engaging, engrossing, etc.