Xbox One
Members of the media photograph the Xbox One. (Credit: Reuters)

I remember playing games as a kid and wishing my parents would just understand. So what if I was flattening pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto? So what if I could see Nina Williams' cleavage? Games were cool, they were fun - if mum and dad would have just played them they would have got that.

I imagine that was a frustration felt by a lot of people playing games in the 1990s. Over-the-top news reporting coupled with deliberately provocative advertising made games look poisonous to children. Thanks to things like Night Trap, Mortal Kombat and Lynda La Plante's rubbish Killer Net, it was hard to get anyone over 16 to trust videogames. Then came the iPhone and that all changed.

Today, everyone's a gamer. From your nocturnal son spending hours on Call of Duty to the woman sat opposite you on the Tube, games are for everyone, and on everything. Your phone carries games, your tablet carries games; your Facebook, web browser and desktop carry games. The game industry's expanded to fit around everyone. With so much on offer, and so many inclusive ways to play, maybe now my parents would understand.

Polygon Man

But maybe now I don't want them to. Watching the launch of the Xbox One last night, it felt, very much, like videogames had lost their way. Who are consoles even for nowadays? With the PlayStation 1, we had Polygon Man boasting about specs that would "fry your cerebral cortex" and developers that had been "chained to a desk creating over 400 games."

It was macho, dumb and adolescent, yeah, but at least it was games. At least it wasn't someone waving their hand in front of EPSN like it meant something. If this is what inclusivity means - dilution - then forget it.

Xbox One Half Life 2
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast. (Credit: Valve)

The reason I wanted mum and dad to "get" games was so I could show them Metal Gear Solid and Half-Life, not so we could watch telly together on my PlayStation. With the One and the PS4, it doesn't feel like we're taking computer games to new audiences, but away from older ones. It feels sycophantic, pleading; it feels like we're hiding all these wonderful creative works game makers do beneath a veneer of television because...I don't know why.

My stance has been completely reversed. I used to feel like it was the responsibility of developers, hardware makers and us, the press, to make people who don't understand games feel at home. Now I'm much more militant. If you want to get into videogames, get into them. Learn how they work; learn how to use a controller; learn to read.

These all-in-one, "play games only if you like" consoles feel like the equivalent of picture books. When I look at something like Grand Theft Auto IV, I feel like if you're not going to take the time to learn how it works - if you're not going to put the effort into trying to understand - then why should we listen? Why should games keep coming to you? If you don't have the patience, humility and respect to learn how to read then why should you be allowed books?

Fifty Shades

I suspect a lot of people working in games and the game press know, deep down, that what the industry produces is garbage. This is why we have the Xbox One and its video and TV add-ons - it's so we can smuggle games through customs. It's hard for me to sit here telling people to learn to read when all I have for them are penny dreadfuls and Fifty Shades, but nevertheless, illiteracy won't help.

If we're pandering to a market of non-readers, then how are we going to get past picture books? How are games going to become better if we're constantly selling them to people who don't know what a good game is?

Fallout 3 Xbox One
Fallout 3. (Credit: Bethesda Softworks)

A lot of people are mad with the Xbox One because it comes with a muddled marketing message and Microsoft didn't mention games enough. I'm frustrated games were mentioned at all. They shouldn't be something companies feel they can half-do. We have things like Fallout 3 and BioShock. If you want to play them, get in the ring. If you don't, just make a TV service and have done with it.

I want my console back. It's snobby and elitist, but compared to films, music and TV, when have games ever been allowed to be elitist before? We are the still the lowest form of expression. From the looks of the Xbox One, even the people with the most power to turn that around don't want to anymore. They just want the TV watching grown-ups to be nice to them.

There's no confidence to these new consoles, no chest beating. It's all "look, if you just play one of our games you can have all this Skype and internet and NFL stuff." It's the equivalent of me showing dad Rayman instead of Resident Evil; it's subsidising, belittling and self-deprecating. Games are good. We shouldn't be scared of showing them off.

And who knows? Maybe people will like them.