Still Won't Kiss This Pig

sequined lips

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. -- James Klass

My Playstation 3 console has started twinkling. WTHeck!?

At first I thought it was a problem so I hit the internet to see if anyone knew what I had done to my television's settings. It wasn't me. Apparently Firmware 3.0 causes the wavy thing moving in the background of your system menus to sparkle like Edward in the noonday sun. Why? Well, it's a feature. According to Sony anyways.

A little more Google-fu showed I was even farther behind the times than I thought. Firmware 3.10 came out in November and was part of the download/install that brought our glittery upgrade. It upped the ante with PS3-oriented Facebook functionality. Oooooooh! If I am ever inclined, I can now spam all my Facebook friends with every trophy I've earned, thingy I've downloaded, or as I'm playing certain games various events will be announced to all.

Microsoft isn't exempt here, either. The "new experience" they touted for Xbox Live last year came in with some very mixed reviews. The kids like it better than I do; I give it about a thumb and a half down. Even after all this time trying to get used to it, the organization really annoys me. It reminds me of trying to find something in the phone book. I always have to roll through all the menus trying to guess what category they've decided to call a particular download.

I haven't explored our flashy PSN too far yet, but I'm already not amused. I did find out how to turn off the sparkles, but I can't get rid of their annoying widget that streams marketing headlines at me. And they've plastered what was once a fairly clean menu interface with obtrusive deep links to their store. And I'm not even going to dignify the Wii's number-crunching nightmare excuse for online interaction with a comment.

Game companies are still mostly developing and marketing games and hardware under the assumption that we're all 17-year-old boys, despite years of statistics and real-life data to the contrary. They seem to have no data that they're willing to apply to guide them towards features that actually might be a selling point for any other kind of users, so they've decided to spackle this pig with a heavy coat of lipstick in the hopes that someone will kiss it. It seems we're very far away from seeing games companies understand and address that gaming hardware has to fit into a context of users' and others' lives.

I don't know where the companies are getting the notion, but they keep claiming this kind of stuff is what users want. What kind of users? Aesthetic-only upgrades don't expand your customer base towards non-gamers, and they alienate your current one by ignoring what they really are asking you for.

Most gamers could give a rat's bikini about the color scheme or any of the rest of the aesthetic upgrades because they only see the system dashboard just long enough to load their game. The stuff that would keep them around—friends lists, messaging that doesn't suck and other online ways to interact—don't seem to be part of the plan. The only feature I see listed as coming out of these last two upgrades that was at all interesting to me was the suggestion that 3.10 would shorten load times. I haven't seen a real difference yet, but I'm still optimistic.

The tardiness of my disgruntled reaction highlights the disconnect. The fact that this has been out since September and I didn't see it until the day after Christmas when my son plugged in his newly unwrapped God of War Collection should tell you how much of my PS3's time is spent streaming anime to my daughter rather than roaming their network offerings. I'm not sure I even know what color the screen background on my profile is much less how fancy it is. If I'm on the thing, it's because I just plugged in Final Fantasy X again to help me bear the wait for Final Fantasy XIII and once it's loaded I'm in Spira, not Sony-ville. Same with Xbox Live. I'm on the system nearly every day, and I didn't even know Xbox Live does Facebook as well as Twitter and that's been out for over a month.

Other types of users aren't any more likely to care. They might vaguely notice frills like this, but they already have a PC and a smart phone and are already using these features there in a much fuller fashion. Even if consoles added a way to interact in a way users cared about, they wouldn't have any friends on there. The Facebook functionality is so hobbled it unwittingly turns anyone who uses it into a Sony-driven comment spammer, which is a good way to get blocked in my neck of the woods. If Sony's lucky, they're at the system dashboard long enough to plug in the Blu-Ray disk they're trying to watch because that's how the gamer in the household convinced them to buy the system.

It's a general problem of principle, not just a specific feature or two. It really doesn't matter much what it looks like on the outside or under the hood. You could call it the OrlandoBloom-box and slap a beefcake pic of him on the faceplate you'd still be getting nowhere. Your non-gamer wife or girlfriend doesn't hate your 360 because it's got a dumb name and a pea-green color scheme.

The idea that you might somehow bring in a non-gamer with a useless feature like an animated theme that changes to reflect time's passing is a sly way of discounting all of their real concerns like:

  • It takes your time away from her and the things that need doing around the house.
  • It costs a fair amount of money both initially and with recurring costs over the long run.
  • It and its ever-breeding paraphernalia take over the entertainment center and half the living room. Or worse, they make you hide in your mancave with all your toys and not talk to anyone.
  • It makes you and the kids act like jonesing addicts when she says you all can't play with it, or act like vegetables when she does give in.
  • Her friends and her mother tell her it's a juvenile thing to pass the time with, or she gets the ever popular "at least he's not doing drugs or cheating on you" line that in your father's time used to cover project cars and basement poker nights.
  • The media and many authorities tell her there's nothing but blood and gore and nudity and sex in all of the games and it's harming her kids by making them violent and fat.

From her perspective the whole thing seems to have nothing she wants to deal with and she doesn't really understand why you even want it. A while ago the satirical website The Onion posted a spoof news announcement about a fictional product release that, swearing aside, gives a pretty good idea of her perspective (warning: lots of blue language).

Making your PS3 scintillating doesn't help any of this, and neither does adding hackneyed cross-platform links to stuff that she's already familiar with and works better on another platform. And both companies adding their own pointless Mii-wannabe avatars and an entourage of virtual dress-up stuff doesn't fix the real reasons she's not fighting you for the controller like it were the TV remote.

If they really want to expand into those areas and truly make the console the center of the living room, maybe game companies could think about what really causes issues for people and spend the time and money to solve them instead of trying to sugar-coat useless things with a new color of paint and a few glitzy words. How about they spend some of the millions they invest in market analysis on something useful, like:

  • Don't slather a large percentage of the stuff that you bring home for it with pictures of overwrought weaponry, guns, explosions, blood-splatter, or cheesecake;
  • Help her understand the parental controls and the other tools at her disposal to help her deal more easily with the jonesing/vegetable cycle and to protect the kids from harmful interactions (or in the case of the PS3 and the Wii, make those controls actually useful);
  • Work with the ESRB on their content rating system to make it express people's actual concerns, report content more accurately and communicate the issues with it to them understandably so she knows what's really in the box;
  • Put save/level designs in games that allow you to get in and out more quickly to avoid the "Just a minute Honey/Mom, I've got to get to a savepoint" discussion (always a sore point);
  • Build something besides a Japanese RPG or an arcade/puzzle game that she has a decent chance of being interested in, and actually market that game in such a way as to bring it to her attention (Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil could have been a contender.)

You want to hook up a cross-platform link she can use, why not work with the ESRB and the MPAA's websites to display the game/movie rating and the content descriptors for the game in the selection menus? Instead of hundreds of avatar pics, how about the ability to change the fonts in the system to make it handle both older and new televisions without inducing eyestrain?

Or maybe it's time to realize that all users really aren't of a piece. How about going deeper into the UI to give different types of users the experience they prefer? You can have a sparkly interface for those who are interested in that sort of thing, but when your no-frills type logs in, they could get something stripped down and ready for action. I'm sure your marketing guys can think of ways to ad-spam and monetize it.

If they keep going the way they are, each update that's forced on users just adds more inescapable marketing cruft and bloatware they have no use for. And what have we to look forward in future updates? Are we finally going to get the ability to talk across single-player games in PSN? How about background downloads of patches and firmware? I don't have a lot of hope.

Comments

Your main complaint seems to be that the contents of the console updates are not something you particularly care for. While I also have absolutely no use for twitter or facebook on my console, I have a hard time just saying that no one else does. You seem to be glossing over some of the updates that I, and probably many others, find very useful. I watch a ton of netflix over my xbox, a feature that Sony just added to the PS3, and I imagine Last.FM gets plenty of use. If they added in support for Pandora, I'd be all over that as well. You make a number of good points for areas of improvement, but I think it's important to remember that just because the update seems pointless to you, it's not necessarily pointless to everyone.

A good read.

I think a lot of the feature bloat comes from two sources.

The first is trying to make their consoles into PCs without going the whole hog and doing it properly. Consoles for the ages were single purpose devices, plug in a cartridge or disc, connect it to a TV, power, and a controller and it was a game playing device. Now they have the capability to do practically anything a PC can yet want to put themselves in the middle-ground between 'slot in the disc and play' and letting you have pages of options, signing in to 5 online services and displaying the results with cutting edge technology. I don't think MS, and to a lesser extent Sony, know what they want their consoles to be.

The other is refusing to accept that for the purpose of entertainment electronics they should be done with most of their evolution, yet they keep changing their product in an effort to keep it more interesting than a blender. Some company executive or PR goon yelling that "Our console now supports {buzzword}" gets a great big yawn from me. Get the product description embedded in concrete when you first make it, and keep it near that description over it's lifespan. I buy your product to do a job, and it should do that job well without interfering.

Great article with some good one-would-think common sense points that the industry would pick up on. A quick note though:

Don't a large percentage of the stuff that you bring home for it with pictures of overwrought weaponry, guns, explosions, blood-splatter, or cheesecake;

I need a verb here. I'm super confused.

Are we finally going to get the ability to talk across single-player games in PSN?

I believe that was intended to be included in 3.10 but was bumped to a later version. But be assured, it's coming.

momgamer wrote:

Put save/level designs in games that allow you to get in and out more quickly to avoid the "Just a minute Honey/Mom, I've got to get to a savepoint" discussion (always a sore point);

This, this, and this. A million, billion, gazillion times this. I cannot sufficiently express my loathing for checkpoints and save stations. It's not about the "challenge". It's not about the "design". I am a busy, responsible adult, and soon to be father. My gaming may very well occur in five minute increments for the next five years.

Every modern system has storage. Let me save my game when I want to save my game. I don't want to have to fight with my wife. I don't want to have to stiff-arm my kid away from the remote until I cross your stupid invisible line. I want your game to conform to my schedule, not the other way around.

Spackling the pig with glittery lipstick and the rat's bikini were both phrases that both gave me giggles.

The bullet point "all of her real concerns" list is probably the best written and most realistic anti-video-gaming list of concerns I've ever seen, especially since it includes mention of spouse and family. Yep, it stung, especially the whole-family-jonesing part, and it's a good thing only gamer geeks read this blog because otherwise you'd have handed an entirely too sharp cutting implement to the anti-gaming, angry wives and girlfriends of the world.

Lex Cayman wrote:
momgamer wrote:

Put save/level designs in games that allow you to get in and out more quickly to avoid the "Just a minute Honey/Mom, I've got to get to a savepoint" discussion (always a sore point);

This, this, and this. A million, billion, gazillion times this. I cannot sufficiently express my loathing for checkpoints and save stations. It's not about the "challenge". It's not about the "design". I am a busy, responsible adult, and soon to be father. My gaming may very well occur in five minute increments for the next five years.

Every modern system has storage. Let me save my game when I want to save my game. I don't want to have to fight with my wife. I don't want to have to stiff-arm my kid away from the remote until I cross your stupid invisible line. I want your game to conform to my schedule, not the other way around.

I was disappointed to discover that full Wii and WiiWare games don't have the same save-state system as Virtual Console titles. At any time, you can hit press the Home button to save your game state exactly like it is; that state is thawed and discarded the next time you play that game. A system like this in all games would allow designers to use whatever save systems they desire, to whatever ends, while still allowing players to drop out of games at a moment's notice if they so choose.

Lex Cayman wrote:
momgamer wrote:

Put save/level designs in games that allow you to get in and out more quickly to avoid the "Just a minute Honey/Mom, I've got to get to a savepoint" discussion (always a sore point);

Every modern system has storage. Let me save my game when I want to save my game. I don't want to have to fight with my wife. I don't want to have to stiff-arm my kid away from the remote until I cross your stupid invisible line. I want your game to conform to my schedule, not the other way around.

PSP wins for this, hands down. One-flick of the power button puts it into sleep mode for any game.

And I'll throw stones at games that don't let you pause, even when playing solo, that means you my much loved Sacred 2! And that's why I never bought the neat Patapon games, too.

Almost as bad as the new Castlevania game on Wii that not only doesn't let you save, it doesn't even have an ancient password system for continuing your game. That's how obnoxiously lazy that developer was. Blech.

I think you overlook that the primary coders of the boxes are man-boys who want a quick way to say to the boss, "Look we made it relevant!"

I think your other points are valid though, the save game thing would be beneficial to many a family. One reason I hardly touch my 360 is because on 99% of PC games I can save anywhere to lend a helping hand when the kids are pounding on my wife's last nerve and give her some alone time.

FSeven wrote:
Are we finally going to get the ability to talk across single-player games in PSN?

I believe that was intended to be included in 3.10 but was bumped to a later version. But be assured, it's coming.

Before or after smoke signaling?

Lex Cayman wrote:
momgamer wrote:

Put save/level designs in games that allow you to get in and out more quickly to avoid the "Just a minute Honey/Mom, I've got to get to a savepoint" discussion (always a sore point);

This, this, and this. A million, billion, gazillion times this. I cannot sufficiently express my loathing for checkpoints and save stations. It's not about the "challenge". It's not about the "design". I am a busy, responsible adult, and soon to be father. My gaming may very well occur in five minute increments for the next five years.

Every modern system has storage. Let me save my game when I want to save my game. I don't want to have to fight with my wife. I don't want to have to stiff-arm my kid away from the remote until I cross your stupid invisible line. I want your game to conform to my schedule, not the other way around.

Not only that, but Nintendo already implemented that feature on all Virtual Console games from the SNES generation and before. Granted it functions only like a one time save state that when you load the game, it's right back at the point you just ended at, exactly. But the thing is, it's possible and for some reason they only allow it for the really old (2D generations) games

Anyways, I agree with the point of the article. Instead of focusing on the 'bling factor' or whatever, try making it truely accesible and rich with features that make the purpose of a gaming machine easier to get to.

Not only is Nintendo's online gaming thing (it certainly isn't worth being called a strategy, unless they're trying to kill interest) totally wrong, but their channel system just make getting to any feature that much more of a pain. Especially the online enabled channels. If the Wii is connected to your wireless router properly, it takes an extra minute for the system to load the channel, look for the internet, keep looking, then spit an error message at you that only gives you the option to click "ok" before it closes that channel and reloads the main Wii menu. What a wreck!

the 360 never got it right even in the begining. The first time I turned on my roommates 360, it took me 10 minutes to find the play the game option, which was a small line of text at the bottom of the screen and the highlighted graphic was at the top of the screen, and this was before the new experience that just looks like they tried to make it less functional and I admittedly never actually spent time with the controller in my hand, but watched the roommate use.

Ok, I rambled enough, so I'll end it there.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

Not only that, but Nintendo already implemented that feature on all Virtual Console games from the SNES generation and before. Granted it functions only like a one time save state that when you load the game, it's right back at the point you just ended at, exactly. But the thing is, it's possible and for some reason they only allow it for the really old (2D generations) games

I still wonder if this is a glitch that accidentally made their interface function better by mistake. It just seems too convenient.

It's all a race to convergence, right? The iPhone wants to be your phone, your media player, your portable gaming device and your GPS; the HD consoles have similar ambitions. (Hell, even the tagline of Sony's recent marketing campaign for the PS3 is that It Only Does Everything.)

Some of this is a calculated growth strategy; even though Twitter and Facebook integration may add no value to you as a power user, it's a perceived value improvement at minimal cost (though we'll come back to this last bit in a second). Some of it, I think, is also a fight against obsolescence: there's a natural tendency for technological convergence in devices anyway, so Sony and Microsoft want their platforms to remain adaptive to meet any other potential competitors that may enter the fray. In either case, it's not going away any time soon and, in fact, I'd be surprised if Nintendo didn't jump on the bandwagon with its next console iteration.

The big issue, I think, is that Sony and Microsoft wasted so much potential with the implementation of these features. Thanks to limitations -- architectural or self-imposed limitations via scope/costs-- the HD console solutions for Twitter are, at best, half-baked. I actually do find myself clicking to Twitter or Facebook in between games on my 360 at times, but only for checking the feed; actually posting anything to those services (especially on Twitter, without the benefit of a real-time character count) is a tedious, obnoxious experience.

How useful could it have been if Microsoft had integrated the My Community segment of the NXE as an optional blade on the guide menu? Twitter, in particular, seemed like a natural fit for this situation, potentially giving me the ability to throw out a quick tweet in-game to see if anybody wants to hop on X-Box Live and join my party. That's not to say that I need ongoing twitter updates or refreshes while I play; simply populate the list in real-time, whenever I specifically move to view it from the guide menu.

As it stands, the implementation doesn't really take leverage the strength and accessibility of those tools and, ultimately, introduces more clutter in a menu system that some people already find difficult to navigate, even after the NXE tune-up.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

the 360 never got it right even in the begining. The first time I turned on my roommates 360, it took me 10 minutes to find the play the game option, which was a small line of text at the bottom of the screen and the highlighted graphic was at the top of the screen, and this was before the new experience that just looks like they tried to make it less functional and I admittedly never actually spent time with the controller in my hand, but watched the roommate use.

Just for the sake of clarification, there is a setting on the 360 (and I believe there's one on the PS3 too) to fire up the game immediately after you put the disc in the drive. Easiest way to move past all of this stuff, if you just want to jump in and play.

I really like the sparkly glitter PS3 menu - in fact, the PS3 dashboard is one thing I really prefer over the Xbox. Does that make me a bad person?

The idea that you might somehow bring in a non-gamer with a useless feature like an animated theme that changes to reflect time's passing is a sly way of discounting all of their real concerns like:

I think you might be overestimating the amount of time/importance attributed to such interface tweaks. It's a sparkly background - no more, no less - and I think that Sony did it more to get a little smile out of suckers like me who actually dig on the aesthetic than to bring in non-gamers. And some of us are suckers for this stuff - one of my complaints about Steam is how damn ugly (Though well designed) the interface is.

That being said, I absolutely do agree with all the things they should be doing - I'm just not sure that the whole sparkly background thing is what's preventing them from doing those things. Can't we have both?

I didn't notice the sparkles until late December myself. Probably about the time I signed up for the MAG beta. I love/hate my PS3 simply because of the obnoxiously long download and install times. Say what you want about the 360's hardware quality, but in functionality it has the PS3 beat even if it does sound like a jet engine about to take off.

Funny though, the whole Live update which was so highly touted and reorganized everything seems to have no logical place for Facebook or Twitter. I grin in slight amusement at how it's just kind of stuck in there. Microsoft has developed a very inflexible and non-extensible user interface. However, Sony gets no points for being unable to follow their own rules in theirs.

I'm not sure who their designing these systems for, and more importantly I don't know how it helps them sell consoles. No one is buying a 360 for the "New XBox Live Experience" or sparkles when they boot up their PS3.

Microsoft quietly patched in support for DivX movie files a few years back.

That was my idea of a quality aftermarket enhancement. And yet they didn't shout about it nearly as much as they did last year with Facebook / Twitter.

Well, DivX doesn't exactly have the same cultural cachet as Facebook or Twitter, does it?

OzymandiasAV wrote:

Well, DivX doesn't exactly have the same cultural cachet as Facebook or Twitter, does it? :)

Nope, you're right there, but the DivX codec been used approximately 9000 times more often than Facebook and Twitter. At least on my 360. Because it makes sense to play movies on the TV. Updating my Facebook status with the default thumbstick keyboard screen? Not so much.

I just figured Microsoft didn't announce the DivX thing too loudly because they didn't want the MPAA jumping down their throats.

Fun article. I especially enjoyed the "sparkle like Edward in the noon-day sun."

Dax wrote:

Great article with some good one-would-think common sense points that the industry would pick up on. A quick note though:

Don't a large percentage of the stuff that you bring home for it with pictures of overwrought weaponry, guns, explosions, blood-splatter, or cheesecake;

I need a verb here. I'm super confused.

Verbs feature bloat.

Gravey wrote:
FSeven wrote:
Are we finally going to get the ability to talk across single-player games in PSN?

I believe that was intended to be included in 3.10 but was bumped to a later version. But be assured, it's coming.

Before or after smoke signaling?

The disturbing truth about cross-game chat is that Sony has been banding about the idea of including it as a pay-only feature when they start monetizing the PSN. That would be a terrible idea, Sony. Bad, bad, bad, bad bad!

I don't have a clue what Sony/Microsoft want their console OS's to be, but what they really should start including in the package if they're intent on broadening their appeal is a damn wireless mouse and keyboard. Call it the "Family Edition" instead of that Elite crap, which really, does it make anyone feel elite? Or just stupid for spending all that money on a console skin?

Great article, so in true geek fashion I'm going to comment only on the two points I had a problem with. (-:

Work with the ESRB on their content rating system to make it express people's actual concerns, report content more accurately and communicate the issues with it to them understandably so she knows what's really in the box;

The ESRB system is already one of the most descriptive and informative of any ratings system of its kind. I'm not saying that there's no way to improve it, but any kind of useful discussion of how to do so would probably take another article as long as this one. I don't think that a throwaway statement that it doesn't express people's "actual concerns" (whatever that means) is particularly useful or valid.

Build something besides a Japanese RPG or an arcade/puzzle game that she has a decent chance of being interested in, and actually market that game in such a way as to bring it to her attention

That's exactly what every major publisher has been busting their asses to do all generation. Granted, they've failed FAR more often than they've succeeded, but it's a tough nut to crack, especially when they've had 20+ years of experience catering to pubescent boys and maybe three trying to do the same to anyone else. And there have been successes, especially in the rhythm game space. Clearly the industry still has a long way to go, but I don't think you can fault them for effort.

Dax wrote:

Great article with some good one-would-think common sense points that the industry would pick up on. A quick note though:

Don't a large percentage of the stuff that you bring home for it with pictures of overwrought weaponry, guns, explosions, blood-splatter, or cheesecake;

I need a verb here. I'm super confused.

Try "slather"... that works for me.

Also:
IMAGE(http://img25.imageshack.us/img25/875/ratsbikini.gif)

I'd love if the interface could change depending on who logged in! Then I wouldn't have to remind whoever was holding the remote how to navigate to the 'DVD' section depending on which console was hogging the HDMI port that afternoon. It would just go straight to media options (AKA, girlfriend mode). Maybe you could customize these 'favorites' for each profile. If you can customize the buttons on the home screen on a phone these days, why can't you do this on consoles?

Great piece, and this stuff bugs the hell out of me too. I understand that there are those who find some of these features really useful, but my problem is that it's all rammed down the user's throat with no regard for what she wants the character of her machine to be. If I buy your console, that doesn't mean I want your marketing team entering my living room with every new update, adding features that they swear they know I'll love.

Schmutzli wrote:

I'd love if the interface could change depending on who logged in! Then I wouldn't have to remind whoever was holding the remote how to navigate to the 'DVD' section depending on which console was hogging the HDMI port that afternoon. It would just go straight to media options (AKA, girlfriend mode). Maybe you could customize these 'favorites' for each profile. If you can customize the buttons on the home screen on a phone these days, why can't you do this on consoles?

That is a truly excellent idea. I can't imagine that it'd be hard to code, and it would hugely increase both the usability and acceptance of the devices.

Scratched wrote:

A good read.

I think a lot of the feature bloat comes from two sources.

The first is trying to make their consoles into PCs ...

at least on a PC you can enable adblock /sigh

Thanks all, for your comments. I'm sorry I haven't been here to discuss - that whole "withJobs" part of the site's name bit me right in the backside today.

Welcome to our Coffee Grinders.

Thanks to those who pointed out that I dropped that verb. I owe a forfeit to our Cimmerian Grammarian Wordsmythe for that. :blush: I liked BadKen's suggestion better than what I had in there, so I went with it.

And BadKen, where did you find that rodent? It's awesome!

Infinity - I wasn't trying to hand ammo to the enemy. It never dawned on me it could be read that way. I was hoping the gamer geeks and any industry types who read this article might be a little more cognizant of that side of things. I straddle both worlds, as a gamer and as a mom, and so this stuff doubly infuriates me.

hbi2k - You're right, it would take another article to expand on my thoughts for improving the ESRB. I've commented on this many times in my writings on Gamerdad, but I've only brushed on them here.

And Dominic, yeah, I figured you'd catch that.

Dax wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

Not only that, but Nintendo already implemented that feature on all Virtual Console games from the SNES generation and before. Granted it functions only like a one time save state that when you load the game, it's right back at the point you just ended at, exactly. But the thing is, it's possible and for some reason they only allow it for the really old (2D generations) games

I still wonder if this is a glitch that accidentally made their interface function better by mistake. It just seems too convenient. :P

I'd guess it was just easier to implement for old virtual console games. The SNES/NES must have had less than 256KB RAM or so, so it's very easy to just save the entire virtual machine's state to flash.

Don't slather a large percentage of the stuff that you bring home for it with pictures of overwrought weaponry, guns, explosions, blood-splatter, or cheesecake;

This.

I've been a gamer for over 20 years now, and some of this annoys me to the point where I might not buy a game based on it.

Ugh, the facebook and twitter options on xbla are totally worthless. I can't believe someone got paid to make those gimpy piles of garbage. I tried them for all of a few minutes before I was irritated and insulted by how bad they were.