Experienced Points: Why Games Journalists May Not Reflect the Ideas of the Gaming Public

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 2, 2014

Filed under: Column 232 comments

So often I see people accusing game journalists of being biased, pretentious, or having a hidden agenda. There’s a little bit of truth to that, inasmuch as talking about games requires you to have an opinion, and people who comment on games professionally tend to drift away from the positions of people who merely play them as a hobby.

Of course, this column suffers from a bad case of preaching to the choir. If you’re the sort of reflexively angry person who expresses outrage when a critic assigns a “wrong” review score or brings up a topic you think isn’t important, then I doubt my article is going to temper your rage. Moreover, I doubt you read my stuff to begin with. But we do what we can, and sometimes calmly offering some perspective is cathartic.

I actually really dislike the “pretentious” label. I get it on rare occasions, but Campster gets hit with it all the time because his stuff is a little more academic and highbrow than mineWhich is one of the reasons I love Errant Signal so much: It presents a viewpoint I couldn’t extrapolate on my own.. It implies you don’t actually believe the thing you’re advocating, you’re simply pretending to believe it to seem smart / educated / tolerant / whatever. It’s an ugly attempt to wall off deeper discussions and analysis. I can understand if someone thought Gone Home was dumb, or boring, or whatever. What I can’t stand is someone making the presumptuous argument that everyone secretly feels the same way about it, and are just pretending otherwise. The assertion is part conspiracy theory, part ad hominem, part attempt to portray shallowness as virtue.

Anyway, yes. I’m preaching to the choir. After the service I’ll be sure to ask the choir what they thought of my message, and then we can all go to Applebees for lunch and agree with each other. Someone else can pay this time. I paid last time.



[1] Which is one of the reasons I love Errant Signal so much: It presents a viewpoint I couldn’t extrapolate on my own.

From The Archives:

232 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Why Games Journalists May Not Reflect the Ideas of the Gaming Public

  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

    First of all. Sorry to give you trouble.

    The only time I found Campster to be a little bit pretentious was ironically when I think he was trying to preemptively apologize for it. He described Stanley Parable as “Walpole-Fry-Somebody” or something and even though I didn’t really know what he was talking about, it didn’t bother me. It was his “erm surely some of you got that” was what made it a touch pretentious. Like he knew he was doing it and did it anyway. It wouldn’t have bothered me if had just done it without the extra comment. (And even then, it only bothered me a bit, the rest of the review was great.)

    Bottomline Chris, you’re attracting an audience that wants your slightly academic delivery style, no matter how much flack you might catch for that, you don’t need to apologize for making the occasional high brow reference when doing so.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I agree that Campster has nothing to apologise for. Campster has before now [citation pending] described himself as ‘pretentious.’

      He is wrong.

      There are times when dictionary definitions are hair-splitting, and times when they’re useful. I see this as one of the latter. I’ve said this before, but ‘pretentious’ means ‘pretending to a depth you do not actually possess.’ His analyses – whether one agrees or not, and I certainly don’t on occasion – cannot be faulted for ‘lacking depth.’

      (Note that I’m not actually arguing with you, W and N – I’m not even really addressing your second paragraph, except perhaps to suggest that the issue you identify there is not strictly one of ‘pretentiousness,’ as such. And I completely agree with everything in your final paragraph.)

      1. Bropocalypse says:

        In very literal terms, the electric guitar is the most pretentiously held of all instruments in the modern era. Just as an example.

        1. MichaelGC says:

          The electric guitar in that regard has only one real rival … the air guitar.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I’ve always just inferred from context that pretentious meant “stuck up” or “putting on airs” or “show off” or even just “You think you’re better than me don’t you? >:( ” . Thank you for this definition. This makes the word more useful to me.

        So that’s what I meant.

        And you’re right, Campster doesn’t fit the actual definition.

        1. Shirdal says:

          The definition you describe here is how most people seem to use the word these days. Language evolving the way it does, both of these meanings can be considered valid, but that doesn’t stop them from being misused more often than not as a weapon to dismiss someone else based on simple disagreement.

          Language on the internet evolves in a peculiar way: people will misuse a word often enough that a new definition for it is inevitably created, and then they will proceed to misuse THAT definition and the word loses any coherent meaning.

          One day we will communicate only in approving purrs or dissenting growls.

          1. MichaelGC says:

            Indeed, and that’s why e.g. ‘grammar nazis’ certainly have a positive role to play in what has functionally become a pseudo-Darwinian linguistic ecosystem.

            Irregardless: moo, if not baa.


            1. Trix2000 says:

              But *twitch* irregardless is not *twitch* a word…

              …Anyways, I really like that phrase: Pseudo-Darwinian linguistic ecosystem. Survival of the fittest…words!

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Or for short:Survival of the wittest.

              2. Benjamin Hilton says:

                Just to be that guy, irregardless is in fact recognized by Merriam_Webster as a word which has the same meaning as regardless. However even the editors of Merriam Webster suggest you use regardless simply to prevent conversations being derailed by people shouting “That’s not a word!”

                All that being said, given the reference earlier in his post to ” grammar Nazis” I think MichealGC used it purely as a joke.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Language on the internet evolves in a peculiar way: people will misuse a word often enough that a new definition for it is inevitably created, and then they will proceed to misuse THAT definition and the word loses any coherent meaning.”

            That is literally true.

            1. MichaelGC says:

              I’m not sure whether to purr or growl.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                You can always prowl.

                1. Shirdal says:

                  I see that Espurranto is already taking off.


            2. evileeyore says:

              I literally want to punch you write now.

          3. Geebs says:

            I’m totally nonplussed by your thoughts on how words take on wrong definitions, by which I mean I’m totally fine with it. In fact, I could care less!

            1. MichaelGC says:

              You are eeeeeeevil!

          4. Steve C says:

            Language on the internet evolves in a peculiar way:

            That’s just how language evolves and has nothing to do with the internet specifically. EG- People aren’t ‘fired’ they are ‘laid off’. Oh wait they aren’t ‘laid off’ they were ‘made redundant’. Oh wait no… they were ‘dehired.’

            1. Mephane says:

              Well in that specific example, it is less a matter of language evolving and more a question of whether you want to talk straightforward or cover up the matter in euphemisms, which usually happens deliberately.

      3. Actually Campster is Prà¦tentious.

    2. krellen says:

      I used to work for a pretentious person. For about nine months (it was only three months before I told him I didn’t want to work for him.) He was our new IT Manager and he spoke constantly in jargon. Everything was IP this, MAN that, VLANs, VMs, LDAPs and VPNs. The man could not speak of a single technical thing in layman’s terms, and I would wager that the attempt would reveal just how little of the business he actually understood.

      He used his pretension to convince the entire workplace that he was a genius and I was a sub-vocal moron, and used it to justify my firing. Pretension is not just “putting on airs”. It’s actively damaging.

      Most accusations of pretension, however, are completely baseless. Campster is most definitely not pretentious.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        People are just jealous of his beard,thats why they are attacking him with all the buzzwords.

  2. Bropocalypse says:

    I’m neither really a connoisseur nor a producer of high-concept works, but I’ve never taken seriously when others try to attack something as being ‘pretentious.’ It’s only a different version of saying, ‘This guy is secretly an asshole, and I have nothing to base that on.’ Maybe the author DOES use high concepts in his creation, and maybe he’s aware that, as a result, fewer people will enjoy it. But really, who cares? It’s the author’s work, and as such is the sole director of the work’s content.
    It’s a human problem, I think, wherein a part of our brains is hardwired to hate and deride things we’re not often exposed to.

  3. Pastacat says:

    I’m in an awkward place on this one, because while I would normally be fully on the journalist side this debate has gotten quite bloody. Both parties are throwing hate speech and threats at each other, and the sudden deluge of “gamers are a dying breed” articles was… not very civil. Even MovieBob posted a few awful things on Twitter, and I’m his biggest fan.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Yup, what has happened is that the games media has flooded their respective sites with verbal waste, for no other reason than to communicate oh so insightful mantra, “Harassment is bad, mmkay?” No shit Aristotle, got any more pearls of wisdom? It constitutes a frankly hilarious refusal to come to terms with the reality of communication on the internet.

      It’d be a great thing if everyone on the internet was considerate to others and didn’t harass and make death threats or what have you. It’d also be great if unicorns existed and humans could gain sustenance from rainbows.

      Blaming gamers for for the actions of the subhuman trolls is not something I will stand for though, I don’t give a shit how well meaning the criticizers are.

      1. Shamus says:

        Keep in mind that the harassing, doxxing, and swatting (!!!!) is happening to the friends and colleagues of these people. Yes, it’s not fair to shrug off the whole culture because of a “few” bad apples, but when those bad apples seem more numerous and cruel than ever before, then I imagine it gets to you. When you wait for them to calm down and they intensify their harassment, then you feel like you need to do something, and giving in to their demands simply isn’t on the table.

        1. Anonymous says:

          I know a streamer got swatted recently but I didn’t think he’s involved with the shitstorm. Who are you talking about?

        2. Chamomile says:

          This isn’t a single person flying off the handle, it’s a coordinated effort which is both counterproductive and unethical. Counterproductive because lumping in all detractors with the most unreasonable and repugnant of their party is obviously only going to strengthen their distaste for you and because the Streisand Effect is real and attempting to censor the discussion has only spread it, and unethical because pretending that the only people complaining are trolls and misogynists and that the only complaints are that things are getting too progressive is dishonest, and also the DMCA takedown against MundaneMatt was blatantly fraudulent and therefore actually illegal, so there’s that, too.

          From the way you are reacting, I am genuinely uncertain whether or not you’re even aware of the other side’s perspective. I’d like to find a less antagonistic way of putting that, but I seriously can’t tell.

          1. arron says:

            I think there is an additional factor when a PR/Media firm is basically paying a press site or journalists for using personal connections to gain media coverage whilst trying to make it look like they’re impartial.

            A lot of media that is paid-for declares that it is an infomercial or a paid commercial reviews so you can make a judgement knowing it is a commercial piece on behalf of someone. It wasn’t that long ago that we had this, where a ‘secret code’ was used to indicate positive coverage and endorsements for the Xbox One via Microsoft PR.



            There’s certainly a phenomena that is infesting UK press called “Churnalism” where pre-packaged news items are dropped into a news feed effectively promoting a product. It’s a gift horse for the lazy hack – merely top and tail the piece with an intro and conclusion and then it’s money in the bank.

            One thing that I have noticed that certain article writer names involved in the “Death of Gamers” article cluster are either running their own PR outfit where they promote clients or are linked to a larger PR/media firm. Obviously as an evidence based science-type guy I’ve no idea how much influence the PR firm has or whether they’re ideologically aligned by choice, but it did make me question exactly how impartial certain articles are. Or whether the ‘cluster’ of articles by different people released a few hours apart are really independent reporting.

            These links were easy to find if you looked, but not declared explicitly. I find this particularly troubling because rather being their ‘informed opinion’that I might respect and are interested in reading, I could be reading material as part of a coordinated PR campaign. A campaign trying to use a raft of pre-packaged articles to influence general feeling that is entirely manufactured. And that’s heading into dangerous territory if someone’s agenda is trying to change something in their favour.

            That’s why the “Gamers are Over” seemed incredibly tone deaf to the actual gaming demographic. It looked like it was invented for the occasion to obtain a certain public reaction – Which can be used later in the PR campaign.

            This is another common problem with PR press briefings for the mainstream press. What appears to be spontaneous news reporting around a hot public issue is fed to journalists by appointment by a government press office, and in some cases largely written for them.

            The reason for this is largely to judge public reaction on certain policies. You have a news report (for example) is thinking of targeting immigration. These ‘exclusives’ wind up in the press, and they then do polls to find out how people find out about them and their opinions. Then this news piece is either quietly dropped, or moves closer to being official government policy.

            In summary, I think the take-home message to continually ask questions if (1) what is reported seems strange considering documented evidence or (2) the people that do the reporting seem to reinforce or attack a certain phenomena repeatedly. There may be a a good reason (and being paid to do so is a good reason) to why they might hold that opinion.

            1. arron says:

              Forgot to include the Churnalism link:


        3. Klay F. says:

          I just want to say thank you. This is probably the most rational response I have seen so far on this issue. It really feels like a breath of fresh air. I, just like any ration, sane person, do not approve a harassment or death threats. Swatting is VERY illegal and as such the necessary law enforcement steps should be taken to catch the perpetrator, along with anyone else who takes their trolling to the realm of illegality.

          The sad reality is that harassment will always be present in the realm of internet communication. That’s not to say I approve of it, I obviously don’t if anyone bothered to read the previous paragraph. I also recognize there is nothing I (or anybody else for that matter) can do stop it other than not giving such subhumans the attention they crave.

          This is a sad fact that most people have seemed to have lost sight of. With just about everyone in games media coming out with these articles, they are drumming up vitriol against gamers, while simultaneously giving the subhuman trolls that which they desire most: attention. They are so focused on making gamers seem like terrible people while forgetting that the trolls don’t care at all.

          There are legitimate things to criticize about the behavior of the two people whom this whole thing is centered on, but that discussion will never happen now because the games media refused to even entertain that notion.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            You could take your third paragraph there and turn it entirely around. But of course, you shouldn’t, because it would still be wrong.

            It’s disingenuous to say that the discussion has been ruined by terrible, hateful people in the journalism community, regardless of how many genuinely very good and honest people there are on that side who just want to write/make/play/think about games, and then say that they did so by refusing to distinguish between all the terrible, hateful people in the gaming community, regardless of how many genuinely very good and honest people there are on that side who just want to write/make/play/think about games.

            1. Klay F. says:

              Its not disingenuous at all. Where are all these so-called game journalists that are talking about anything other than the distributed talking-points? Show me a single one, and I’ll change my mind. Oh, you can’t? Thats what I thought. The only people bothering to talk about it are youtubers, who are subsequently called mysoginists because they didn’t recite the talking points memo verbatim.

              The “terrible hateful” people in the gamer community are subhuman trolls, and fucking EVERYBODY ON THE PLANET has said so by now. Did you read anything I wrote, or did you just pick a paragraph at random in some ill-conceived attempt to turn what I said back on itself?

              1. Shamus says:

                Okay. Topic closed. I don’t need this bile on my site.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  A blog question:Is there a way for you to insert this comment at the start of the thread itself?Not everyone will notice this one small comment in an instant,but the yellow bar flowing down to the very end of the conversation would be more noticeable.

                  Or maybe making a picture for closing a certain line of conversation.Your pictures are almost always the first thing people notice.

        4. Daemian Lucifer says:

          They only seem like that because media gives them more attention than ever before.While I dont know actual crime statistics,I doubt that they are on the rise* now that internet laws are becoming harsher(for better or for worse)and police gets more and more leeway into ones privacy.But I do know that media has increasingly turned into tabloids,reporting on stuff before verifying all the facts,taking the side they think will give them more coverage instead of being unbiased,and reporting overblowing everything.

          *Mind you,I am talking percentages here.The higher number of people on the internet also means the higher number of bad people,but its the number of those bad people compared to everyone thats important,not just sheer quantity.To use a terrible car analogy:If 10 cars crash out of 1000,thats 1% car crashes,but if 50 cars crash out of 10000,thats 0,5% car crashes,even though 50 is 5 times higher than 10.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Yeah? So what? What percentage of fatal car wrecks should you find palatable? What percentage of rot-souled trolls is acceptable in a population? What level of tolerance is reasonable or unreasonable?

            If we have the same number, or fewer, but just decided they all have to go now, why is that bad? String ’em up, and tell the time by their shadows. Kill ’em all. We will all be so greatly disencumbered by their passage.

            1. Budgy says:

              None need be found palatable.

              But a blanket application of preemptive zero-tolerance will ultimately only make it impossible for the non-rot souled to meaningfully communicate. They’ll only be allowed to repeat the party line that happens to be in vogue.

              To build on DL’s car analogy: You’re talking about junking the remaining 9,950 cars, or banning cars entirely, because there is teeny tiny chance they MIGHT wreck. The response is disproportionate to the problem and would result in a cure far worse than the disease.

              1. The Rocketeer says:

                Please educate me about this.

                What is the Dooms Day Scenario? What, exactly, are “real gamers” so terrified is going to happen? People keep referencing an Orwellian coherence to a rigid dogma, but the thing about that is that I can’t identify any kind of unified views on the part of the Ivory Towered journalists and devs, while the people that actually started this stupid fight are pretty well-unified in their desire to stop women, gays, or dark people to make, affect, or talk about games.

                Now, I’m pretty sure no one has ever expressed any desire to go after anyone but that particular group, but assuming that the Horsemen really do ride out of the eclipse and the SJW’s take over, what will that mean aside from exchanging the institutionalized reflexes of noxious bigotry of the current toxic splinter group for the institutionalized… what, exactly, of the other? Are our minds going to open too wide, so our brains fall out? Assuming this often-referenced and much put-upon legion of “real gamers” simply caught in the crossfire don’t want the prejudices to plague their hobby any longer- and this must be true, or there would be no collateral damage to argue against- what is it, precisely, we have to lose? Considering that the tumult of this ordeal has seen a few women threatened with being raped to death if they continue to talk about video games, a future where we aren’t allowed to talk openly about video games seems tragically comfortable.

                If the SJW’s own prejudices and orthodoxy are what we fear so badly, then I have two questions: first, what the heck is it? What are the new commandments they will hand down that we will be forced to sheepishly obey? Because you tell me this is possible, but it’s proven practically ineffable for those who fear it. But secondly, once the Bogeyman is shown to be real and he is ruling over us, will his axioms and dictates be better, worse, or comparable to what we have now? Because if it’s anything but worse, I don’t know why we would actually care.

                I mean, again, we, the “real gamers” that are allegedly being threatened by this can’t claim any love of the current batch of bigots and regressives poisoning the hobby, so why would we prefer their brand of poison over Devin Faraci’s? I mean, I find it hard to believe that a diminutive cabal of academics and historically marginalized demographics could seize, usurp, and irreparably corrupt an artistic medium, since it’s never happened before in human history, but assuming it’s possible, I’d honestly spin the wheel and trade the devil I know for the devil I don’t. Novelty is the most handsome diabolic quality, after all. After the goatee.

                1. Budgy says:

                  I don’t really think there is such a thing as “gamers” as some sort of cohesive whole, or that any real “gaming culture” exists. I also don’t think there’s necessarily a media conspiracy, though I do think the games journalism community (like any other media outlet you care to name) is rampantly corrupt (can anyone seriously argue they aren’t just another de facto branch of corporate marketing?) and given to inserting their own opinions (or regurgitating press releases) in place of factual reporting. Shamus has frequently touched on the absurdity of trying to meld artistic criticism with consumer advice and passing it off as journalism, so I’ll let that particular rant of mine rest.

                  Just so it’s clear where I’m coming from, I haven’t played a videogame in a few years, for the reason many critics complain about, but I enthusiastically play board games once or twice a month – both are games, both (of the kind I tend to favor) tend to function around similar concepts and rule frameworks, but I doubt either “side” of the issue at hand would consider me a “gamer.”

                  I also don’t think there’s any kind of organized conspiracy of any kind taking place anywhere. Which is where the issue comes in, and is why this whole thing exploded in the first place. What we’re seeing is more of a cultural clash (or a series of multi-directional clashes) all being triggered by the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory coupled with the gold old fashioned journalistic bread and butter winner, selling sensationalism. Or really Penny Arcade’s GIFT coupled with controversy = clicks = pageviews = ad revenue.

                  We have several journalists/critics who, unlike Campster, genuinely are pretentious, attention whoring, SJWs who constantly bitch about about the market catering to the people who make up the largest, most lucrative portion of the market. Now there isn’t anything wrong with complaining about the juvenile sameyness of much of modern AAA gaming, I do it all the time, it’s why I haven’t played anything for so long. But seeing as claims of victimization are the current political/social currency in the western world this group (I’m not going to name specifics to avoid making this personal for anyone) tends to frame itself as some sort of noble crusade against the evil patriarchal gamer fascist overloads who want to ensure that their AAA games remain the sacred bastions of good old fashioned ‘Murican morality they’ve always (never) been.

                  Before I continue let me be clear that I don’t support the trolling. If someone’s an asshole, it’s a waste of energy being an asshole back if you’re genuinely interested in engaging their arguments. However if your only goal is to get a rise out them you couldn’t ask for a better target. Which only increases the shrillness and gives the SJWs proof of their correctness and the rightness of their noble cause.

                  After that everything gets inadvertently polarized as both the instigating groups (who aren’t really groups in any organized sense) attract the notice of more moderate voices. These moderates are then assigned to whichever “camp” they in anyway echo by that camp’s opposition – see Campster or George Weidman for examples of more moderate, but progressive viewpoints to which this happened.

                  But to finally answer your question, on to the coming doomsday! Essentially what will happen is that we will exchange, to borrow your wonderful phrase, one set of “institutionalized reflexes of noxious bigotry” for another set of the same, but potentially worse. The current situation is due to a lack of demand for games other than our current crop of whack-a-mole third person shooters, but they are becoming prohibitively expensive to produce and failing to meet sales forecasts. Meaning the market can’t support it and things will change. It’s not guaranteed to be for the better, but it’ll be different and there will still be the growing indie market for games willing to risk something different. On the other hand, if the SJW types get their way, we’ll essentially have inclusivity requirements that result in a desert of bland, soccer-mom approved, everybody gets a participation ribbon boringness.

                  Basically, Saints Row couldn’t exist because it contains ethnically stereotypical rival gangs (RACISM!) and lets you beat women to death (MISOGYNY!) with giant dildos (phallic imagery = PATRIARCHY!) while dressed like you just walked off of a pride parade float (HOMOPHOBIA!). Or rather, it could exist but anyone caught playing it would be guilty of some BS micro-aggression, or unconscious racism or some other nonsense. And everyone else would have a moral duty to ostracize them until they performed suitable penance.

                  A less hyperbolic example of what I’m talking about would be the recent controversy over the latest Far Cry box art because it showed a villain (who was so lily white he positively glowed) in a potentially racist pose. The fucking villain! Why can’t we suggest evil things on the part of evil characters?

                  Cliff Notes: The current lack of diversity is the result of a lack of market demand, which is changing and doesn’t prevent the free expression of alternative views. Embracing the SJ position will result in a similar situation of creative bankruptcy, but one which permits no alternatives due to its belief in its own moral superiority. Watch/read some of Rowen Atkinson’s excellent semi-rants about the artistic and cultural dangers of creating untouchable classes – and this coming from someone who holds positions Atkinson made a career of mocking.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    I technically closed this discussion last night before I went to bed because I didn’t want a giant blow-up to deal with in the morning. But I’m going to overrule myself and let these comments stand. Thanks so much to both you and Rocketeer (and some of the other folks) for making this a discussion about ideas.

                    1. Budgy says:

                      Sorry, Shamus, didn’t mean to post on a closed topic. Would it be possible to maybe shade closed threads slightly or otherwise mark them? It can get a little difficult to keep track of which threads of a discussion are closed amongst all the divergent child posts.

                  2. Anonymous says:

                    This is probably the best and fairest summary of this whole mess I’ve seen so far.

                    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Agreed. Well done. :)

                  3. The Rocketeer says:

                    Thank you. This is the kind of response I had been hoping for, and I find it ironic that it comes from someone who “isn’t a gamer.”

                    And this, then, is simply that part where we bust out that old chestnut and agree to disagree. You say that what we don’t and shouldn’t want- and this, I certainly do agree about- is an environment of witch-hunting, of a community that judges too quickly and too harshly the intentions of those making games. And that this would stifle the attempts of anyone who wanted to confront, examine, or challenge certain sacrosanct ideas, or, on the other end of the spectrum, simply make popcorn games rooted in the old standbys of gore and titillation.

                    I agree. This is a reasonable thing to fear. It isn’t an environment I would want. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s a reasonable thing to expect. This equal, but opposite, status quo, I simply do not believe that it will materialize, or that it could. I do not believe anyone truly desires it, and I do not believe that anyone could accomplish this change if they did.

                    At the end of the day, this whole “gamergate,” or whatever this is, is most likely to go the same way of all other controversies: its momentum will falter, and something else will replace it. It might be strange to call this a hopeful opinion, but I cannot ascribe monolithic and conspiratorial qualities, nor the power that accompanies them, to any element in the discussion, and that makes me hopeful indeed compared to too many: what I think will, or can, actually shake out about this is simply getting people to talk about it both inside and outside the typical gaming and gaming journalism community. And, following on, that just talking about it might make things better. Not too much different, realistically, but as a step in a given direction.

                    Part of it is, as mentioned, the simple fickleness of news outlets and audiences, and the extreme fatigue that has already more or less claimed everyone otherwise interested in the discussion. But it’s also a matter of size. If the status quo wasn’t larger, more rooted, or more vicious than any opposing idea trying to unseat it, it couldn’t exist as a status quo. I don’t believe that we, ruled by a lion, shall see this lion challenged by a meerkat, slain by it, and become ruled by the tyrannical meerkat thereafter.

                    Rather, I think the most it could do, in any realistic expectation, is confuse, unbalance, or stun this lion, just for a second, and we, the subjects, can use that to ride the lion, and master it instead. It seems to be reflexively accepted that the actual majority of gamers aren’t well-represented by either “side,” so if there are so many of us, and we apparently have this power that we aren’t applying, why not use it to this end? If the actual core is too large, or too disinterested, or too disorganized for energetic, concerted action, then all that can be done is for those at a given extreme to create chaos and feed convenient opportunities to us. And I think that’s what this is, or could be.

                    You say that the status quo is already changing- that market and demographic forces are already taking us in the direction we presumably want to go, and that this is the path we should stick to instead. Once again, I agree with you, but I don’t think these forces are separate. I think these kinds of clashes are the inevitable consequence of this exact process. Whenever a great number of people begin moving in a particular direction, two groups will always emerge from it: a group that forms astern and urges everyone to either stop or reverse, and one who forms ahead to urge everyone to keep going, and speed up.

                    But it’s always important to keep in mind that neither of these groups actually steers the ship. It falls to everyone in the middle to decide who to listen to, and for how long- because progress in neither direction is, or can be, quick or absolute. For now, I am hopeful for the folks on the bow. And I hope that it is people like you and I determining that course, and that we can keep headed in the direction we both seem to desire, and drop anchor before we end up in a foreign storm.

                    Until we get wherever we’re going, I hope you have fun with your board games, and I will keep playing my video games, hoping for the best.

                    1. Budgy says:

                      Fair enough, and I don’t have any substantial objections to your points. I’ll simply close by noting that my concern isn’t so much that the Meerkat will attempt to rule in the manner of the lion it supplants.

                      Rather what worries me is that the Meerkat here is not, in fact cannot be, a creature fully formed. It’s based on a doctrine of perpetual change for it’s own sake and that “Progress” is always a good and positive thing. In my experience, this philosophy’s most ardent proponents often possess an unshakable quasi-religious conviction in this concept of constant momentum, despite having no point of reference for that progression other than it being away from the way things currently are. It’s philosophical/cultural/ethical revolution for its own sake, without any firm conception of the final desired end state. Such efforts ultimately tend to end badly for all involved, i.e. France circa 1789-1815.

                      To stretch this tortured biological analogy (which is by far more entertaining mental fodder than a car analogy, let me tell you) further: species evolve. Both the lion and the meerkat are feliformia, but the Meerkat here isn’t really a meerkat at all, but an amorphous creature that may very well ultimately reveal itself to be a shoggoth. :P

                      It was great conversing with you by the way.

                2. poiumty says:

                  The thing some people are afraid of isn’t so clear-cut and obvious that a single statement can explain it all. I consider myself savvy on this whole affair, and the signs of a changing moral zeitgeist are becoming pretty obvious, and it saddens me to see we’re going down this route. And that’s because I believe in a games culture that thrives on diversity, not one where moral outrage and self-righteous indignation dictate the taboos we impose upon it.

                  Because there shouldn’t be any taboos in gaming. Unlike the other side of the fence, I fully support the existence of virtual outlets for the things we cannot do in real life – because that’s part of what games are supposed to be, and it’s a sad state of affairs to have people who decry that games change and warp a person to act like the characters in them instead of giving them healthy alternatives to what might otherwise be illegal or immoral tendencies. Diversity is what we need, because games aren’t REAL, and exploring the possibility space of our imagination is something that games let us do, but it’s a squandered opportunity if we apply arbitrary real-life social taboos to it.

                  The other day I had someone ask me for a game recommendation on Steam: an action game with scantily-dressed characters. It’s just what the person felt like playing at that moment. Good thing Saint’s Row exists, because I had a hard time thinking of any PC game like that beforehand. And it just occured to me that if today’s third-wave feminism becomes commonplace, games like this would be, at best, rare and very hard to find. The story on Divinity: Original Sin’s art design confirms this for me as more than slippery-slope thinking. Because it’s already happening.

                  And that, I feel, is a loss for all gaming as an art form.

                  1. There shouldn’t be any taboos in gaming? What, none? Why not? That’s a nice-sounding phrase but I see two possibilities:
                    1. It doesn’t mean anything.
                    (That is, it really means “There shouldn’t be any taboos except the ones I have internalized sufficiently to be unaware of them, and I tacitly assume everyone’s are identical”)
                    2. It means something horrifying.
                    No taboos. At all. So for instance, it would be OK to have a game where if you achieved a high enough score or unlocked the right achievement, the game company would pay ISIS or some similar outfit in a conflict zone to execute a prisoner and send you the video.
                    You know, I dunno about some people but I’d be happy to have a taboo against that. There are lots of other things I want to have taboos against in gaming. And I don’t have a real problem with taboos against death and rape threats.

                    I would also want to say that it’s OK to have taboos against a fair amount of stuff that we don’t want to make illegal. There’s a difference; when taboos are transgressed, people get spoken ill of for doing it. When laws are broken, people get fined and jailed. People speaking against heinous speech acts may be trying to establish a taboo against them, in favour of acting civilized. I think that’s just fine. It’s not the same as trying to pass a law. I believe in people’s right to talk like jerks (short of libel etc.); I believe in my right to say they’re talking like jerks and encourage other people to agree that it’s unacceptable behaviour–ie to establish a taboo against talking like a jerk, although not a law.

                    1. Budgy says:

                      The danger lies in who gets to frame the whole affair by defining what “civilized” means for everyone else.

                      Since roughly the 1980s to the present we’ve seen a cultural shift (at least in The States) toward greater freedom for individuals to define “civilized” for themselves, within the limit that they don’t forcefully interfere with the rights of others to do so as well. (My rights stop where yours begin, and vice versa, etc.) Now such a thing is ridiculous rubbish from the standpoint of trying to find coherent meaning/truth, but it’s a useful political fiction (in the vein of, all people are equal) because it fosters an environment of unparalleled autonomy and liberty for the individual.
                      But we’re currently on the cusp or losing all of that because some people’s insecurities about themselves or their beliefs are so deep-rooted they won’t leave others alone.

                      It won’t just be a return to the bad old days when certain minorities were singled out for persecution, but worse. Worse, simply in terms of the number effected, because the greatest possible sin will be possessing connections of any type to any past majority.

                    2. poiumty says:

                      There’s absolutely no need for taboos on any of the things you said. Terrorism is already illegal, and “a taboo against talking like a jerk” has nothing to do with games. If anything, that taboo would act against portrayal of effective villains if you did apply it everywhere.

                      Don’t assume I’ve “internalized” any taboos. I fully respect games like the one about school shooting and any game about rape, even as I respect their critics’ rights to criticize them.

                      But criticism is one thing, and “this should not exist” is another.

                    3. It still sounds to me like both of you are managing to live with your terms largely by avoiding defining them. So for instance, “Criticism is one thing, and ‘this should not exist’ is another”–how does that make sense? Criticism implies something should not exist. Even mild constructive criticism = “You could have done this slightly differently and it would be better” –> the different version would be distinct from the present version –> parts of the present version should cease to exist in favour of improved parts. It’s distinct from advocating forcing the something not to exist, but then my comment already made that distinction.

                      As to “the danger lies etc.”–sounds like you’re advocating the abrogation of free speech. My way, everyone gets to frame the whole affair. I was advocating people’s right to say negative things about (people who issue death threats etc.), you still seem to want to say that while (people who issue death threats etc) should be able to continue doing what they do, people should not be able to advocate for different standards of behaviour. Why do the creeps get to “frame the whole affair” but other people don’t? Your position is this weird inversion where heinous conduct is OK but criticizing it is heinous; you can’t defend that on a free speech basis, it’s incoherent.

                      On a side note: The extreme example I made need not be illegal. Say your Jihadi group was going to execute the prisoner anyway, so the game company was in no way responsible for the murder–they just arranged that the executioner, say, gave the gamer a little shoutout in the video, like “This killing’s for you, Zergfanboi327″ and the gamer got to choose between knife, firing squad and guillotine. If dealing with terrorists is the legal stumble, have the arrangement be with the government of Egypt or somebody and they can dedicate the killing of a journalist to the gamer. Very likely no laws against it. Is it OK then? Shouldn’t be any taboos?

                    4. poiumty says:

                      Replying to this because of the limited comment thread.

                      When Campster criticized the psychotic tendencies of Lara Croft, he didn’t mean to imply that Lara Croft’s psychotic tendencies should not exist or that they’re an affront to gaming, he just presented them for our consideration of another side of Croft that isn’t discussed about, and contrasting them in new ways to serve as food for thought. So criticism doesn’t necessarily have to condemn. In fact, its major role is to expose a different point of view and broaden people’s considerations about the subject matter. In this case we’re dealing with narrow-minded, cherry-picked criticism that is nonetheless effective to people who don’t know better and to people who buy into this narrative for well-meaning but misguided reasons. This is what pisses people off. If people started condemning the Tomb Raider games as “participating to the condoning of psychotic actions from the people who play them” and “a growing trend in the psychotic epidemic that is sweeping the nation” with strong undertones of blame and guilt-tripping, then we’d have a problem. Thankfully Chris isn’t Sarkeeisan-esque in his criticism.

                      And on the topic of the extreme example presented in favor of taboos: I was clearly talking about taboos regarding games’ subject matter, not games determining real-life consequences. In other words, the point is what the game being played is about, not whether a terrorist group says your name out loud as a result of playing it. Find a game theme, setting or subject matter that’s deserving of a social taboo against it, and we’ll talk.

                3. NotDog says:

                  In a nutshell, I suspect the people behind “GamersGate” are afraid all their favourite games will get replaced by twine games and clones of Gone Home and Mountain. It’s coming from a similar place as people who complain about games getting dumbed down for the “casuals” (only with, you know, extra sexism).

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    If serious,then:

                    Thats the same as saying that feminists are just afraid that if they dont say anything,men will stop making fabulous shoes for them to buy,and theyll all have to settle for the ugly no heel ones.

                    1. NotDog says:

                      I never claimed that logic was correct.

        5. deda says:

          The truth is that game journalists are the cause of most of the vitriol they complain about, by only giving attention to trolls they make it look like that is the only way to be heard, and by constantly insulting their audience they make them really want to be heard.

          But regardless of the reason, game journalists have declared themselves to be the enemies of gamers, I don’t see why I should feel any compassion for my enemy.

          1. Shamus says:

            Those “enemies” are people I know. I’ve met them. They’re good people. I’ve watched this happen on Facebook as one friend after another has shared some ghastly bullshit sent to them by an annon hater. They’re human beings, and they are not your “enemy” in any meaningful sense of the word. They don’t want to hurt you, they don’t hate you, and they love games like the rest of us.

            1. Anonymous says:

              And I’ve watched adults unironically compare people who play video games to ISIS and chemical weapons dealers. Those probably aren’t friends of YOURS Shamus but the sympathy for these people is long gone.

            2. Klay F. says:

              I disagree. They do hate us, or at least want to make all of gamerdom feel guilt over all that has happened, regardless of whether on not we deserve it, a single glance at Leigh Alexander’s insipid article was enough to prove that.

              “These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers — they are not my audience. They don't have to be yours. There is no “˜side' to be on, there is no “˜debate' to be had.”

              I’ll just let that quote speak for itself.

              They’ve made it crystal clear that gamers are the enemy to be fought. If you have anything to say against the official party line, you are the enemy. Of course every article that came before hers said the same thing in essence, just with fluffier wording, such was the strength of everyone seemingly rehearsed talking-points. Its not hard to feel like the enemy.

              What it all comes down to for me is this: I’ll remember which side drew the metaphorical battle lines.

              1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                I’m going to give this one shot and see what happens. I agree that some journalists have gotten vicious while others are shy to debate or simply uninterested. And it does frustrate me too. I’ve posted about it here.

                But this post right here, while certainly far far removed from the trollish bile they are decrying, is still a part of the problem. It contributes to the polarization Its ok. I’ve been a part of this problem too, getting too angry and too irritated.

                Think about it. Why would they categorically declare gamers the enemy? Why would a game journalist do that? Maybe it sounds that way but its because they get angry just like we do. And this wouldn’t be a quick anger, this would be a slow burning anger that they probably fought the urge to post about for months before giving in. So if you read a declaration of war, its probably just a poor choice of words on their part. Its probably them having a human lapse of judgment. Lets give them that. Maybe they haven’t given us that, but we can take the lead this once.

                Take a deep breath, reel it back and get back to representing us in a calmer and more rational way. We have enough problems with the trolls who don’t care making us look bad.

                But you do care, which means we need you at your best, not your worst. Please, do it for the rest of us who are tired of our opinions being dismissed because of the trolls.

                All we can be is patient. The gaming press right now is worked up because this thing has come to a head and they experience it personally. That’s the point of Shamus’s article and I believe him. They may need us to remind them that we aren’t against them just because we disagree with them.

                (EDIT: Oops, just saw this thread was shut down. If you want to remove this, I’ll understand.)

                1. Trix2000 says:

                  This is why I’m not sure I believe much in the ‘vocal minority of trolls’ being the only culprits for this sort of thing. I mean, they DO exist… but I suspect a lot of cases are just normal people making mistakes – like all of us do.

                  As you said, all it takes is a lapse of judgment, an upswing of emotion, and we can do some crazy stuff that, logically, looks horrible. And this goes for ALL people involved.

                  It’s not an easy thing to eliminate, even from one’s self. I know I spend most days wondering what sort of things I’ve done wrong without realizing it (heck, maybe even in this post?). But I just want to try my best to recognize and understand when and why it happens, to better avoid it in the future. My greatest hope is that everyone can do that as well.

                  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    I was just listening to a podcast that pointed out that there were 8 or 9 articles like this posted on the same day declaring the death of the gamer. I’m a little more understanding of Klay’s reaction in light of that.

                    That said, to Klay and to those journalists, this is silly. Gamers have weathered bullying and attacks by well meaning but misguided groups. Your fundamentalists, your concerned parents and your Jack Thompsons. Its silly to think that the gamer is dead or that this latest group killed us.

                    Its even sillier to believe that this group of journalists declaring the death of the gamer are doing anything other than shooting themselves in the foot. They certainly aren’t a threat to anything but their own reputations.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      People were saying that for previous outrages,but what about the donglegate guy?Or how about comics and movies,and various censorships they went through.Or australia and their ratings system.

                      The thing is,while these guys probably wont do a thing,its probably because of the public backlash that they wont be able to get anything more than publicity.But imagine if Jack Thompson had no opposition.Do you think that he wouldve still failed to do something significant back then?He was a threat,but he managed nothing because he was called out on his bullshit so early on,and with smarts(numerous studies were thrown at him to prove him wrong),not just blind rage.

                    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      But at the same time, its because of part of that backlash that they’re even getting any attention or influence in the first place.

                      I’m trying to do my part to get people calmed down so that we don’t give them more ammo. Anita is about to appear on ABC over the death threat thing and I’ll bet ABC doesn’t dig too deep. It won’t be hard for them to find instances of trolling and they’re just going to see those two sides. The first time around back shortly after her Kickstarter, she got on Ted Talks because of the threats. Ted Talks for crying out loud. She has to be the least worthy guest they’ve ever had.

                      And she’s there because the angrier among us put her there. Not through any virtue of her own. Do we maintain opposition? Yes. I’m just trying to put it in perspective.

                      Besides, she can be of some use. There should be more female protagonists or female options in games. That part is reasonable. The rest is where you start to get into her problematic statements but that stuff isn’t going to fly anytime soon and we’ll get warning when its imminent.

                    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “And she's there because the angrier among us put her there. ”

                      Not quite.The angrier among us lashed at Thompson as well,but media ultimately dismissed him because our media,gaming media,were constantly pointing out the smarter ones,the ones that were doing papers on this topic,the ones that were giving rational arguments.

                      But in the case of Sarkeesian,our media,the gaming media,also points out the trolls and no one else.Never mind that her first contact with them was so fabricated you could use it to make a solar sail.

                      Also,she does have a hand in her media coverage and monetary support.Because unlike her talk about games,her playing of the victim shows considerable skill and smarts.

                      And before someone goes on to say that she really is being harassed,I get that.But her response to it is not one of someone bothered by it,but of one fueled by it.If she were to get shot,she would first go to twitter,and only then call for a doctor.Thats what I mean by “playing a victim”.

                    4. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Meh. That, like all of her ideas, is borrowed.

                      She’s basically using Alinsky style tactics. Its not hard. On the whole we’re not a sophisticated lot. If she grew up watching the news, paid attention, then read a little Alinsky and his ilk in college, that’s all she’d need to do this.

              2. Well, I looked at that quote that supposedly speaks for itself.
                “These obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers “” they are not my audience. They don't have to be yours. There is no “˜side' to be on, there is no “˜debate' to be had.”
                OK. So, does this quote say that “these obtuse shitslingers” was the same as “all gamers”? No. It then says “they are not my audience”, which if the person writes about games and has an audience suggests to me that by definition they are not referring to “all gamers”, and the strong suggestion would be they are not referring to an appreciable portion of gamers.

                So no, I don’t think that quotation speaks for itself, and indeed I don’t think that quotation speaks for your argument. Instead, it sounds to me like you are the one projecting something–that the journalists in question are inveighing against internet trolls purveying vile language, death threats, rape talk and so on, and you are upset with this because while you don’t do those things, you have negative opinions about the same people the trolls don’t like and so you are, perhaps unconsciously, identifying criticism of the trolls with criticism of you. And also you arrogate to yourself bellwether status–criticizing you is criticizing “all gamers”. But all that’s your problem, not the reporters’. They’re just calling out some people who really, really need to be called out.

            3. deda says:

              Well, you’ll understand that it is hard for me to belive that these people don’t want to hurt me when they have spent the last week saying that they do.

              And I don’t care about anonymous death threats that people get, I’ve also received them, everyone who has been on the internet for a while has, I imagine it must be worse in the case of a public figure but triying to use that as a tool to gain pity and support for some campaign to “destroy gamers” is just despicable.

              (When I say that I don’t care I mean that it cannot be used as an actual argument or an excuse, of course I would prefer if these things did not happen).

              1. Shamus says:

                So you say it’s not fair to condemn all gamers because of a few trolls, but you’re going to condemn all journalists because some of them said they wanted to hurt you. (Who? Who said they wanted to hurt you?) Even to the point of refusing to have compassion for real people who have endured real personal hardship.

                “Destroy gamers”? Are you talking about Gamers are Over by Leigh Alexander? http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php

                It’s pretty full of hyperbole, but even the most literal reading of it can’t be twisted to anything approaching “destroy gamers”.

                This is a nasty feedback loop. Journalists get dumped on. They (finally, after suffering for days in relative silence) lash out. Haters get more outraged, intensify and broaden their attacks. And so on.

                You’re free you keep feeding that beast if you want, but please don’t do it on my site. Thanks.

                1. Shamus says:

                  Uh. Sorry for asking questions in this post and then closing the discussion. I decided halfway through that this wasn’t going to get us anywhere and nothing good would come of it. Let’s just move on.

                  1. The Rocketeer says:

                    I replied to a few posts before seeing that you had closed the thread. I apologize.

                2. deda says:

                  I have a confession to make, I actually look forward all the time to having a discussion on your site about this topic, because it is the ONLY site I’ve found where all sides seem to be properly represented (despite all the shit I gave you the first time, I take that back), and even the most angry and rude comments here would be considered civil anywhere else, it’s the only place where I feel like I could explain my point of view to someone who does not already share it.

                  And that was what I was trying to do, maybe I made the mistake of generalizing or stating my views as unquestionable facts, but it really feels like there’s a lot of people trying to gain and exploit the sympathy of others, it really feels like game journalists are forcing me to pick a side between sj and gaming, and I have not seen them try to defend themselves, I’ve only seen counterattacks.

                  1. Shamus says:

                    Thanks for the bit of perspective.

                    At the same time, I’ve been actively avoiding this because I suspected everyone would end up arguing in circles and I’d have to moderate a lot of pointless anger.

                    And I suppose we were both right: This is probably the best version of the argument so far, but it still didn’t give us any results.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Id call confirmation that you can still have a civil argument on the web even if everyone ends up still being in disagreement a result.A positive result even.

                      And still less anger than that pre-fallout 3 discussion.

                    2. Kingmob says:

                      I think discussions rarely have a direct result. Even the best of us are unlikely to change their mind completely on the spot. Discussion is a slow process of years involving many people. It evolves your way of thinking and depends on relative polite discourse. A positive discussion without a ‘result’ is about the best you can hope for, especially with social topics like these.

                      In then end people will end up with boring middle of the road ideas more often than not ;-)

                3. Psy says:

                  I wonder about the rationality on the gaming media antagonising 4chan since /v/ has taken such articles as targeting them. 4chan has never lost a flame war, at worst their Internet war ended in mutual destruction where 4chan and their target DDoS each other when the flame war went nuclear thus the rule of the Internet that you don’t mess with 4chan. This site is safe (because I doubt 4chan knows or cares) but the popular gaming sites could be targets for 4chan DDoS attacks if the war with /v/ escalates that far.

                  1. Anon says:

                    Dude, calm down. 4chan is not the Legion of Doom. They don’t sit around all day plotting the downfall of all the good little boys and girls. They mostly just sit around and bitch about things. /v/ is actually actively telling people NOT to do anything like that since they know it would make them look like shit and give the other side ammunition.

                    1. ehlijen says:

                      And even if it was the Legion of Doom, sparing 4chan because of the threat they pose would be bowing to cyber terrorism.

                      It would be a guarantee that things never improved.

            4. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I hate to add to this thread now,so please delete this if you think Im out of line,but havent you written in your autobiography that youve met a very decent man when you were a kid,who turned out to be a horrible racist?So why do you still think that just because someone is decent most of the time they are unable to have a view on this one issue that is horrible?

        6. Cybron says:

          The problem is the bad apples don’t have to be very numerous to make people miserable. How many people does it take to carry out this harassment? A few hundred? Maybe even thousands?

          Now how many people are what the media would point to as a ‘gamer’? Any reasonable estimate is going to be in the hundreds of millions. Obviously we expect the majority to condemn the harassment of the minority. But then trying to project the actions of this small minority (which in the end probably add up to less than 1%) on to ‘gaming culture’ at large doesn’t seem right.

          I can only agree that it seems to be rooted in unrealistic expectations.

        7. Nidokoenig says:

          Thing is, that’s just one side of the story. The other side is people like The Fine Young Capitalists, Jayd3Fox and Milo Yiannopoulos getting death threats, TFYC’s charity fundraiser on IndieGoGo getting hacked, and Wolf Wozniak getting shouted down for daring to speak up about sexual harassment. Full disclosure: I’m a backer of The Fine Young Capitalists’ IndieGoGo campaign.

          There’s a lot of bigotry, hatred, stereotyping and shaming people for having too much or too little sex coming from both sides, and everyone writing articles on it only seems to mention one side or the other’s misdeeds, which gives both sides a sense that the opposition is a propoganda-driven hostile force that’s prepared to use every bit of bastardry they condemn the other side for using.

          I think a critical part of why this got so ugly is the silence. As the saying goes, the cover-up is worse than the crime, which is why this didn’t just blow over like the Doritos Pope affair or Gerstmann’s firing over his Kane and Lynch review, where the evidence was much more substantial. Every gaming site felt free to dig in on those previous occasions and take pot shots at each other over the silliness of it, whereas this time they closed ranks, blocked comments and launched synchronised broadsides of articles, giving the conspiracy-mongers perfect material to brew up a shitstorm with.

          The internet seems to be locked in an ugly war of attrition with infinite supplies on both sides. If this keeps clogging everything up I may have no choice but to ignore the whole sorry business and go play some video games until it dies down.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Well I can see how a group of people agreeing about something could look like a conspiracy to someone that disagrees. But what makes it a conspiracy, is that anything that disproves the conspiracy, becomes part of the conspiracy.

            The journo side of things doesn’t pretend that their opponents- their real opponents, not All Gaming As We Know It- are anything but a large, disorganized mob of angry, nasty people.

            But the people trying to take down the press have all these sinister notions. They aren’t agreeing, they’re following talking points. They don’t have beliefs or ideals, they serve The Agenda. They aren’t kickbanning trolls and angry commenters, they’re closing ranks.

            What’s the endgame? Who’s really in the cabal and who is only a toady? Is the Moon Base complete, or merely underway? No one knows, but it has to be a conspiracy. People in a shared field with similar values and knowledge don’t just gravitate towards similar conclusions. They have to have some object of enmity, and since the True, Free-Thinking Gamers are the only target pure or brilliant enough to present a threat to such a deeply-rooted machine of deception, it must be them.

            The reflexive allegation of conspiracy by your detractors, in the absence of any actual proof, is a highly reliable sign of insecure narcissism. People with anything real to fall back on don’t resort to conspiracy theories, and conspiracy theorists don’t regard evidence or truth as imperatives in the face of the obvious absolute moral right.

        8. Paul Spooner says:

          I’m rather surprised that you chose to address this on your site. The discussion of the behavior of large groups, and their proper regulation, is nothing if not political.

      2. MichaelGC says:

        Ack – I see what you’re saying, but I would like to go to my grave believing that a resurgence of basic human civility and the taking of responsibility for all of one’s actions are slightly more realistic goals than the industrial mining of unicorn farts for the purposes of rainbow construction.

        Slightly. And I just want the vague sense it may be true. On my deathbed. Tall order, for sure. I feel stupid for even having suggested it. But crazy things happen, sometimes.

        1. Klay F. says:

          By all means, you are welcome, nay, encouraged to try and change this. You’d even be called a realist for not expecting such change to come about in your lifetime. Hell, my personal dream is to help advance the cause of manned spaceflight, but I know I won’t get that cause to where I want it to be in my lifetime.

          One hurdle is on the technological level, the other hurdle is on the human nature level, but if we could change human nature that easily, the world would already be a utopia. All in all, I’d say my dream is easier to achieve than yours. :)

          1. MichaelGC says:

            I wish I could, but find it hard, to argue with you. That said, human nature is vastly more malleable than the laws of physics. I’ve only been here 40 years – and have only really been paying attention for about maybe 20 – and ‘human nature’ has changed a lot, in that time.

            Which doesn’t mean we’re all on the brink of treating each other as human beings, nor that we’re all on the brink of daytrips sightseeing on Mars. But one is more likely than the other – more likely, not likely, and the difference will do for me, for now.

            1. Mephane says:

              I've only been here 40 years ““ and have only really been paying attention for about maybe 20 ““ and “˜human nature' has changed a lot, in that time.

              I don’t see how human nature has changed at all ever since primeval times. All that has happened over the course of history is that we managed to coat and cushion most of that human nature in a myriad of codes of conduct that often even conflict each other (and in some occasions are actually detrimental to our lives). These rules are called culture, but the animal underneath has remained unchanged since prehistoric times.

              1. Melfina the Blue says:

                We do murder each other a lot less. You’re way more likely to die by violence in a hunter-gatherer society than modern society. Granted, some of that is much better medical care, but still…
                We know we’re still physically evolving (the adaptation of modern Tibetians to thinner air) so why would this not involve our brains? Of course there’s no reason we can’t be evolving in an ultimately detremental fashion, I just prefer the positive view.

                1. Mephane says:

                  Everything you say is true, that does not change the fact that this progress can be entirely attributed to changes in culture, not nature. According to Wikipedia, the modern Homo Sapiens appeared around 200,000 years ago already. If you’d brought back a newborn child from that long ago and raised like any other child in our modern world, no one would notice any difference.

                2. Budgy says:

                  I’ll be the cynic and point out that we only murder each other less on the individual level. On the societal scale we’ve turned mass murder into a veritable art form as of late. The implementation of Communism alone (not to mention National Socialism/Fascism or even Representative Democracy) managed to murder more people in the 20th century then all the individuals of all the previously recorded millennia combined.

    2. Sean Riley says:

      Yeah. I’m in a freaking muddle of feelings about it all. The thing is, the actual ideals presented in ‘gamergate’? I’m fine with that! Jeff Gerstmann being fired over game scores was fucking appalling, for example, and we can and should be angry about such things.

      But the entire Zoe Quinn thing doesn’t even BEGIN to look like that. A reporter backing a kickstarter isn’t corruption, it’s enthusiasm. To quote Arthur Chu: “Corruption goes the other way.” You worry when a game studio backs a publication, not when a publication backs a game studio. (Unless, one supposes, they’re investing rather than just backing. That genuinely would represent a conflict of interest.) To give a good example: Jim Sterling backed Among The Sleep and shouted to the heavens about how good it was and you should go back it. As it turned out, game was mediocre at best, and even Sterling said so. That? That’s not corruption. That’s Jim Sterling being wrong about a game. It will happen.

      But on my mutant third hand, good GOD some of the people on my side of the debate have behaved badly. Not ‘actual threats’ appallingly, granted, but still really badly.

      1. Classic says:

        I was introduced to “Gamergate” as the “5 Guys Scandal” and the first on the list of whatever litany of unforgivable crimes Zoe Quinn was supposed to have committed was some variant of “having sex”. With a few slurs almost exclusively used to berate or humiliate women (for having sex) included.

        I can’t for the life of me see this whole thing as anything but how it has been hijacked by people who want to push a different, unrelated agenda.

        1. Sean Riley says:

          Exactly. I should have said ‘stated ideals’ rather than presented, but that’s exactly my point. As you say, they’re hijacking a genuinely worthwhile idea to disguise rather disgusting ones.

        2. Cybron says:

          When the only site on the internet willing to allow open discussion on the subject is also a horrible cesspit, this sort of crap is going to happen. Good ideas are going to be confounded with bad ones. It’s the responsibility of the observer to sort the two out for themselves.

        3. Volfram says:

          I only learned about the event at all when Adam Baldwin started posting about it on my Twitter feed, and I only started trying to actually find out what was going on yesterday. I’m fairly lazy when doing searches on news that shows up in my Twitter feed, and as Shamus has written a couple of articles on, the state of internet news is less than ideal when it comes to educating people who are late to the party.

          Between 2011 and 2012, I had a job as a software engineer(after 2 years as a software intern), and of course we had periodic company-wide “training sessions,” as you do. These mostly consisted of getting a link in your company E-mail inbox to a private website where you had to click through a slide show and then take a quiz to prove that you’d actually read it instead of just hitting “next” 20 or 30 times, and covered things like company privacy policy, security of intellectual property, and hazards of geotagging.

          And Conflict of Interest.

          Here’s the short version. If my company was making a bid for a project, and I received a gift, however small(There was a monetary guideline, I think it was something like “$5 or less is OK), from an individual associated with the organization we were submitting bids to, that’s a conflict of interest.

          How serious is a conflict of interest?

          I could have been fired and the entire company could have been kicked out of the bid. For accepting a coffee mug.

          This is why contests and raffles disqualify friends and family members of employees of the raffle holder(so for example, my family could never have submitted anything to America’s Funniest Home Videos, because my dad’s older brother was a special effects engineer working for the Walt Disney company at the time), because it raises questions about whether someone actually earned their spot or whether it was a “favor” to them from a friend or family member.

          I don’t care about the sex. Sex is just another form of currency. It does, however, indicate an exchange of favors which could constitute a conflict of interest, and the incident itself reveals a much deeper problem in that it turns out an awful lot of the Indie development and Games Journalism community are engaged in personal relationships(not necessarily sexual) which are sufficient to draw suspicion.

          It’s not that they’re automatically corrupt, it’s that because of connections they have, they should, ideally, be observing protocols to minimize the bias that their personal relationships with each other will have. And a lot of them have not been.

          1. Sean Riley says:

            So why the hell now? Why Zoe Quinn? Why not Jim Sterling, who has not just publicly backed games like Among The Sleep, but advocated hard for others to do so, coped this kind of abuse?

            Now I accept that yeah, in a bidding situation like you’re describing, you absolutely have to keep yourself squeaky clean. There’s potential lawsuits, there’s all sorts of concerns with impropriety, etc. The reason the conditions are so stringent is because the stakes are so high. Sure. I get that.

            But here, we’re talking about entertainment and art journalists contributing to a game they think looks good. At most, this merits a considered discussion about how crowdfunding and backer models interact with the nature of criticism. Instead, it’s being treated as a major scandal, when things that genuinely have been major scandals have been far less controversial. We’ve seen the “Doritogate” thing generate a few considered articles. Gerstmann basically was a flash in the pan. Both have far more solid evidence of journalistic integrity being thrown to the wolves.

            I’m prepared to accept that there’s a good discussion to be had about crowdfunding and journalistic ethics and the boundaries in between. But I’m sure as heck not prepared to think that’s why this has exploded.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Jim Sterling didnt do a bunch of other bad stuff on top of that.

              And funny that you mention doritogate and Gerstmann.Remember how the majority of press were on the side of the consumers back then,and condemned the practice of publishers having influence over the press.Equally valid question now is:Why have they now moved to the other side and say that it doesnt matter?

              1. Volfram says:

                Indeed. It may be only just now because Jim Sterling didn’t do anything that brought it to peoples’ attention, or it could be that he hasn’t been abusing his connections to act as something of an arbitrary gatekeeper to the independent games development community, ending peoples’ careers ona whim, and running false flag operations against image boards where women are forbidden from openly posting because they would actually be a very real threat to the lives of the men there.(Or maybe he has and I just don’t know. I honestly don’t follow Jim Sterling or Zoe Quinn)

                No, I’m not being sarcastic, I’m just being speculative. Like I said, I honestly don’t know what Jim Sterling’s been up to, but it does sound like he’s been abusing his connections as well.

                The whole mess also illustrates that Indie games development isn’t the big party that it always seemed to be on the outside. “Oh, some no-name person got tons of money.” Well OK, actually that no-name person has connections. With everything. In fact she’s not really that independent at all and if she leveraged her connections it would almost be a AAA studio.

                And then there’s the fact that I’m an average guy with neither the money nor the sexual experience to make having sex with me any sort of real benefit. I can’t use sex as a bargaining chip to get my games published, which is apparently the best in for the community.
                (Again, this paragraph is not satire, this is an actual consideration I’ve made in response to the whole issue.)

              2. Sean Riley says:

                What “bad stuff”?

                No really, fill me in. What are her alleged sins?

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  No,Im not talking about the stuff that Volfram mentioned,that was the culmination.From what Ive gathered,the earliest incident was the stuff with wizardchan.

                  Also,I agree that who someone sleeps with is not public business.But,when talking about public figures(journalists,developers,publishers,politicians,…),who trades favors,of any kind,is public business.Who is deceitful is public business.Who is hypocritical is public business.

                  Plus there is the small thing of how she described certain things in connection with cheating(no I wont talk about that here).

                  1. Volfram says:

                    I consider the Wizardchan incident utterly despicable and a good justification for why women aren’t allowed to post on that forum.

                    Seriously, it’s a bunch of guys who are so afraid of women that one guy took a loss on a sale while trying to raise money for Christmas gifts because doing otherwise would require mentioning something to the female shipping clerk.

                    It’s a predator’s dream, and the harassment accusation, against a group which are too socially maladjusted to stand up for themselves, is nothing if not predatory.

      2. poiumty says:

        The problem goes way beyond a developer backing a kickstarter, though. It’s journalists contributing directly to the devs’ paycheck. I can agree that Patreon is kind of a new thing and the ethics of using it haven’t been fleshed out but it’s not the same thing as backing a kickstarter.

        Nor is it just that – Zoe used to be (and still is) a spokesperson for feminism and tolerance, and now there’s strong, unrefuted evidence that she’s a compulsive liar in at least one facet of her life. Meanwhile, journalists and indie game devs hang around in circles patting eachother on the back and being friends with eachother (not to say that’s a bad thing by itself, mind), false DMCA claims, relationships that go beyond business (and I’m not even talking about Zoe) and to top it all off, a giant wedge driven between gamers themselves that plants them on two very conflicting and vitriolic sides. This is WAY bigger than Jeff Gerstmann.

        1. Sean Riley says:


          We have absolute proof that Eidos threatened Gamespot, that a journalist was fired because he gave a game a bad score, and that a journalism outlet succumbed to such threats, and that’s a ‘bigger deal’ than this?

          Frankly, bullshit.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Because stuff like this dont come over night.Zoe had a few other bad things(to say mildly) that she did before,and mostly all of those went unnoticed by majority of the gamers.But those werent forgotten,they were merely festering.Plus,the whole thing with Sarkeesian only merged with this.So,while it was just one single event that has sparked everything out of control,it was numerous smaller stuff that provided ammo.

            Its the same method why ea was voted for the worst company over others,because they had years and years of bad treatment of their customers.

          2. Cybron says:

            I think the reason why people are acting now is very simple.

            When you see the media covering something like the Gamespot debacle, you see that you aren’t alone in disapproving. You see that the media is watching and disapproving, you see that public opinion is against the wrongdoer, you see that the industry is taking notice. You’re confident that all will be well, because everyone knows this is wrong. SOMEONE will take care of things.

            In this other case, no media is picking it up. The industry isn’t commenting, they’re closing ranks, and when they do comment it’s to brush off the incident as a non-issue or to trash the people speaking up. You can see the conversation being actively suppressed by the people who were ‘on your side’ in the other incident. Nothing is going to happen, nothing is going to change unless you, the gamer, are the one who makes the push for change.

            It’s a strange intersection of the Streisand effect and the bystander effect.

          3. poiumty says:

            As cybron said, this is big because it’s controversial. Jeff Gerstmann getting fired wasn’t – everyone agreed it was bad, the other journalists sang his praises, Gamespot lost a lot of readership. The end.

            This incident has separated the entire gaming scene, driving a gigantic wedge through it and put people on two very passionate sides. And unlike Gerstmann being fired, this is composed of lots and lots of smaller events (countless twitter screengrabs, for one) that add up over time.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yeah,I was willing to defend MovieBob for a lot of what he did,even though Ive disagreed with much.But his last two one sided articles about social issues made me realize that I dont want to follow someone like him.

      1. Classic says:

        What did MovieBob write that so offended you?

        1. Sean Riley says:

          While I think his articles were fine, his twitter feed was… troubling. He engaged in a lot of lockstep behaviour with Devin Faraci that included stuff that could be construed as bullying and in one instance, fat shaming. And frankly I agree with that interpretation; it was foul stuff. He since apologised.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Moviebob? Fat shaming? That’s… huh…

            1. evileeyore says:

              Yeah, I know right?

              Be like Twiggy trying to thinshame someone.*

              Yes, I just dated myself. I’m like Shamus old. Or even older.

              1. The Rocketeer says:

                Hey now, blonde women in V12 convertibles are timeless wonders.

      2. Felblood says:

        I thought his stuff was pretty even handed.

        Considering how completely transparent he was about how very angry he was about his friend being chased out of her own home over this stupid shitstorm, I’d say I might not have down half as well.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And who was he angry about in his MRA bashing article?I mean you could excuse that one by saying that he wasnt familiar with the actual movement,but rather with the stigma surrounding it(even though he boasted that he knew about it for a long time),which is why I dint mind that one much.But he received tons of messages from MRAs who were polite and respectful(just go to the comment section of his married with children article if you want to check)and who pointed to him why its wrong to take the vocal minority and smear them across the whole group.

          So what did he do later?He took vocal minority in this shitstorm,and smeared them across an even bigger group.Both under the guise of a professional journalist.Meanwhile boasting Devin Faraci as something that is good.Thats pretty far from even handedness on its own.

          But I have a lot more to say about his anger over something bad that has happened and how it ties into his hypocrisy,but Ill leave that out of here.If you are really interested,pm me on the forums about it.

    4. The Rocketeer says:

      It’s not that gamers- as in, people who play games- are a dying breed, it’s that “gamer” is becoming a label with no meaning. The demographics have grown too varied and large for it to have any use for taxonomy, and in the new landscape, the term is more and more associated with the stereotypes of older gamer culture, and- more to the point- with people who would prefer those old stereotypes become and remain true.

      That’s all that “gamers are dying” means: the old guard and its very strict parameters of age, ethnicity, gender, and so on, is going away- if it was ever valid to begin with- and most are glad to see it go. Now, no one should really be too attached to the word “gamer” itself- its rather famously most derided by us gamers ourselves, since we associate it with an altogether different kind of atavism. So, while people angry about the whole “gamerz is dieing” rhetoric are, in most cases, just put off that so many people, often professionals within or outside the medium (people that could easily be called ‘outside the core,’ if you care about that), seem a bit too eager to take the piss out of our hobby- which stings a bit- the people advancing that rhetoric are actually just glad to see the that old, small stereotype finally being pressed into the coffin, as symbolized by the term “gamer” finally becoming too quaint/toxic to rally behind anymore.

      In other words, they’re really just putting down an old. They might be taking a bit too much pleasure in it for the taste of the the dog’s owners. But we don’t really want to keep the dog around anymore.

      1. Mephane says:

        It's not that gamers- as in, people who play games- are a dying breed, it's that “gamer” is becoming a label with no meaning.

        I think it was a mistake to ever try to give it any meaning beyond “people with the hobby of playing video games”. Or, maybe even simpler: “people who, when asked, identify themselves as a gamer”.

        (The latter form of definition actually works surprisingly well for many things. For example, studies showed that the simplest and quickest way to find out whether someone is a narcissist is to ask them “Are you a narcissist?”; as it turns out, a real one usually has long since realized they are, and would openly admit so since they tend to regard it as a good thing anyway.)

    5. The Rocketeer says:

      Here’s how I feel about this.

      There are, on the side of journalists and developers, or however this is supposed to be split up, a relatively tiny number of people. This is obvious, and undeniable. It cannot be otherwise.

      Now, these people- not all of them, thankfully, but too many- receive, on a regular basis, with or without anything “real” to incite it, torrents of hate mail, threats, trolling, scorn, whatever. This is, again, and unfortunately, nothing new. It is taken for granted. If you deny that this occurs, you are wrong.

      Now, in this instance, this constant, lingering, background scorn is the product of thousands of people. Not very many, proportionally, to the whole of whomever they claim to represent, thankfully. But that’s how it stands: thousands, versus, generously, a few dozen.

      Now, all of this having been brought to a head by events too stupid to recount in detail, these few dozen are sick of the treatment of the thousands, and have begun counterattacking. Most of the time, this is done smartly, and ethically. On a regrettable, though thankfully small, number of occasions, it is being done with the same opportunistic meanness that the other side exercises exclusively, eagerly, and at all times.

      Now, having seen that this relatively tiny number of undeniably harassed, justifiably fed-up cadre of journos and devs, along with their fans, have failed to conduct themselves with unassailably constant and sterling ethics, now characterize them as being no better, in part or in sum, as the group who, through great and patient effort and with no reasonable or defensible motive or objective, provoked exactly this response.

      This, as I understand it, is the entirety of the clamor against the insidious venom of the Social Justice Warriors and their grand conspiracy to usurp and destroy True Gaming once and for all. It amounts to a pack of dogs attacking someone whose scent they disliked, ripping at their throat and slashing at anyone who tried to defend them, and once they find themselves with teeth busted out and ribs kicked in- because its opponents were invariably smarter and better organized- those who came to defend the attacked, since it is common knowledge that no good person would harm a dog, are accused of animal cruelty. By the attacking dogs. Who continue to attack them as they are loudly judged by passersby.

      It is both true and necessary to identify the times when people supposedly standing against bigotry and small-heartedness conduct themselves according to a reflexive cruelty. And in an even match, over a solid and important issue, it might be enough to topple them from the moral high ground. But if you think for even a second that these few, though unjustifiable, missteps on the part of the bloggers, vloggers, writers, programmers, and whomever else on that same level, or even lower, than the kind of grease-souled shit that, by the dozens, every day, with no moral standing of any altitude, make the kind of threats, challenges, and insults that good people, for the sole crime of not only trying to express their voice but for even asserting that they have a voice to express? That’s sinister. That’s as backwards as you can get it.

      There is no moral equivalency between the small group of people trying to promote the self-evidence of their right to create and think and live without a fear and doubt staked in their very identity and the people standing beside that claim, and the people who hate and fear this idea and its proselytes with such vehemence and urgency as to seek their silence and invisibility, of their own volition and with no further provocation than the idea of those beliefs gaining traction.

      And do not for a second think that I’m trying to say that they are therefore universally justified in the actions that they take to their ends in this regard. I’ve already spoken against that notion, and the frequency with which people point this out, even though no sane person could ever nor has ever gainsaid it, makes me believe even more firmly that they are otherwise dispossessed of any worthwhile retort. But the idea that whoever is having the backlash aimed at them for whatever stupid thing they said in hot blood, be it Faraci or Moviebob or whomever else, forfeits, automatically and without recourse, any claim that they could have to be advocating any sort of good cause- in short, that if someone is not wholly, beatifically perfect and gracious in the levying of their affairs, they are unworthy of the attempt, or that this necessarily equates their endeavors to the crusades of the kind of breathing garbage that would tell a woman they want to rape them to death and force a tire iron into their uterus? Or that someone is less worthy of defense from that kind of abuse because you don’t totally approve of the tone or rigor of their academic pursuits?

      If anyone can even glance sideways at that assertion without a hint of self-awareness, then please, Teacher, cast the first stone, for truly I could never be worthy to kiss the dust on the feet of the person who could believe that without shame.

      And for goodness’ sake, no one is trying to attack or destroy gamers. It is impossible to assume or assert that kind of universal prejudice on the part of the press folks, this inability to distinguish between the twisted faction of trolls and the pure, innocent gaming populace merely caught in the crossfire, without committing this exact same fallacy yourself. If anything, it’s worse; at its most savage, even if everyone on the side of the journos abandoned all civility and decency and simply returned all the worst that they had received with interest from their most vicious assailants in the name of revenge, they would still have the teensy-tiny scrap of justification, however abandoned, that they had at least pursued something of merit, and that they didn’t begin nor desire the entire stupid, pointless conflict. These are two things that, at their best, the detractors and attackers cannot claim. They have never had any motivation except cruelty and insecurity and they have never claimed any reasonable, defensible position except to crowd behind it en masse as a staging area to wage an assault they already desired, nor do they remain with that position for any longer than the eyeblink it takes do dispel the disguise before abandoning just as quickly and returning to naked debasement.

      Neither does it make sense to believe this prejudice truly exists. One who is defending themselves from attacking dogs cannot merely be assumed to hate animals. And if they, freshly bleeding, told me that they did not, that afternoon, particularly care for dogs, then I, a dog person, would try to find it in my heart to be patient with their misgivings.

      Do not assume that one who could blame a handful of tired, angry, tired, scared, tired men and women and their friends and acquaintances for sharing a side with, or momentarily regressing to, one with shorter sight and lower standards than desirable could, meanwhile, exempt themselves from occupying a hobby not merely adjacent to but rigidly fortressing a comprehensively and tirelessly execrable class of human being. You either share that blame with those you have made your opponents, or you exempt them from it with you. If it came to it, I think I’ve made it pretty clear what lot of undesirables I’d rather hang with.

      What the abusers, neanderthals, and scum are doing is not a new thing. They are spilling as much blood as possible, so that when some of it splashes on their enemy, they can point to the stain and call them butchers. But I only have so much sympathy to spare, and it is reserved for the underdog, for the idealist, for the clever and indefatigable. The dogs are being put down now, and I will not flinch no matter how bitter their howling. I might even get a kick out of it. Maybe I shouldn’t. But that’s just how I feel about it.

      So, I’m done talking about that for a little while.

      1. Mephane says:

        This is a fantastic explanation of the entire situation, thank you.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Yes down with the trolls. We agreed on that ages ago.

          Now back to the real discussion. Not the one you all invented as a strawman.

          Your summary doesn’t help at all Rocketeer. Its typical of what we encounter when we try to legitimately argue about the problems with SJWs.

          “And for goodness' sake, no one is trying to attack or destroy gamers.”

          No one is actually saying that. What we’re saying is that if the SJWs got their way, lots of games just wouldn’t exist. As budgy pointed out earlier, Saints Row IV would be stripped clean if the SJWs got their way. Shooters would be bloodless. Comedies would be toothless. Story driven games would be brainless (“ethical dilemmas? but we already know whats right. Why would a story need an ethical dilemma?”) You might as well hand your script over to them and let them write it.

          They’d be as bad as the Moral Guardians were in their heyday.

          1. Disc says:

            To be fair, it doesn’t really help to keep throwing the “SJW” monicker around. I’ve seen way too many people already take the stance that since it involves the words “Social Justice”, it must be a good thing by default and then decide that it’s the side where they should obviously dig in and defend.

            Which probably would be justifiable in an enviroment that wasn’t up to eye level in bullshit.

            As long as people at either side keep justifying making accusatory, hurtful statements and acting like shitheads (just speaking in general here) because “OMG LOOK AT WHAT THOSE INSERT_POPULIST_DEROGATORY_PSEUDO_SLUR DID”, this war just isn’t going to end, ever.

            What sickens me the most is people who act like they’re entitled to it and still expect not to get any flak in return and/or believe they couldn’t possibly hold any responsibility themselves for the ensuing chaos.

            You’d think it’d be obvious what you get for fighting fire with fire or picking a fight with a wild bear in that you’re more than likely not going to come out of it the winner in any form.

      2. Classic says:

        At the end of the day, when someone brings up something to do with social justice or representation or censorship or basically anything else, everyone has the option to make a sacrifice of themselves to try and benefit someone else.

        It isn’t a zero-sum game and in lots of situations a relatively small sacrifice of time, effort, or money done by many people can have a dramatic impact for many more.

        What I see are a lot of “gamers” choosing to do is reject any notion that they have or should undertake obligations to be civil to their peers. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it has to do with how gaming is a somewhat expensive and privileged hobby? Maybe it has to do with a problem that is far bigger than “gaming” and “gamers”. And I really hope there’s a silent majority of people who aren’t entitled assholes.

        But… I don’t feel good reading the comments on Campster’s “Assassin’s Creed and Emotionally Resonant Mechanics” video.

        1. Disc says:

          You could just call it regular internet culture, which can and will manifest anywhere regardless of context of the discussion. Having followed a good part of the discussion as it happened, I’ve seen equally toxic and insane people coming from both sides of the argument. There definitely isn’t much public saints left at either side of the fence at this point and the only people with their dignity left are the ones who chose to stay out of it.

          The worst part of it all really is witnessing how all the toxicity and spewing of bullshit from both sides keeps fueling the flames, constantly justifying (in their eyes) the image the forces at large have painted each other to be. SJWs are the crazy, psychotic nutjobs who’ll nail anyone in even slight opposition to their cause to the cross and Gamers are all misogynistic, all-around hateful x-phobic filth.

          Still, I can’t blame either side for getting angry, because God knows trying to keep a level head between all the self-righteous posturing and false accusations hasn’t really been easy all the time.

      3. Nixorbo says:


    6. Kingmob says:

      I feel people are in some serious denial that there are people with different opinions that are actually civil and make sense. The focus on the worst of trolls is almost obscene, as if people WANT to be angry (which might be the actual truth).

      I have honestly not seen a single post in this whole mess of a reputable writer that makes sense. I’d go as far as to see that a lot of them are full of pretension (to go back on topic a bit ;-)). By which I mean, they have a pretence of civility and rationality, but generally make everything worse.
      (I think Shamus has stayed out of it, which is a smart thing, this’ll likely just spread, regardless of his personal beliefs, or the quality of the post by now)

      The term ‘gamer’ has been misused quite a bit, and it is getting progressively worse. I think the idea that there is a gamer culture is frankly absurd. It would be akin to saying there’s a movie-er culture or a book-er culture. This tendency to see everything in extremely broad strokes and not see the diversity is at the heart of all this mess imo.

      The culture that people are getting worked up about doesn’t actually exist, it is just a lot of different people who enjoy the same, by now incredibly common, medium. What they are trying to discuss is society as a whole. And you can’t label nor solve that with a few witty observations.

  4. syal says:

    You’re a bit off on what pretentious means, Shamus. It’s not that you don’t believe what you’re saying, it’s that you’re pretending to be smarter than you are to make your argument look better.

    As far as I’m concerned, all it ever means is that you’ve successfully sounded smart to someone who doesn’t like what you’re saying.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      That sounds like a better working definition than the dictionary one!

      (I (obviously) don’t know where you got your talent for pithy statements but if I may be so bold, it is a rare one.)

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      Each is a subset of the other.

      You can fake it to try and look smart, and you can church up hogwash in jargon to make it appear believable.

  5. Akuma says:

    What I don’t get is people who claim conspiracy theory on any issue, regardless of it’s importance (Game reviews on the spectrum of things that actually matter is not that high regardless of how we feel about them).

    You can tell these people have never actually been in a conspiracy before. It’s really difficult and stressful and can go wrong in a hundred ways and usually does. Honestly, conspiracies are not worth the effort.

    The gaming internet audience is a wide range of 10 to 30 year olds, and there’s alot of emotional energy going into these things, so when something touches a button people get a bit passionate. I tend to find one good way is to imagine said arguments in real life and if you feel like you’d be ridiculous saying it in a public space where everyone can see you, chances are it might be ridiculous.

    1. Chamomile says:

      People conspire to throw surprise birthday parties semi-regularly. They usually aren’t terribly stressed out about it. Some people get really excited over this kind of thing. The stress and tension from being in a conspiracy comes from the consequences of getting caught, and if the consequences of getting caught is “the internet will dislike you,” something that is already a game journalist’s occupational hazard, it’s probably not going to cause them a good deal of grief. Especially not when the internet has made keeping communications secret from people who are not the government much easier.

      The recent hash of “death of gaming” articles after close to two weeks of uniform silence on the subject have made it entirely obvious that yes, multiple websites totally are coordinating talking points. You can make a semantic argument that this isn’t a real conspiracy, but it’s what people are talking about when they call it a conspiracy.

      Few things irritate me so much as the idea that because most conspiracy theories are unfounded, human beings are somehow incapable of conspiring together. Conspiracies do happen, and no amount of holes in one theory makes other, completely unrelated theories less likely simply because the conclusion (i.e. that people are making plans together when the general public does not know they are working together) is similar.

      1. Doomcat says:

        It could be possible all these ‘death of gaming’ articles could be caused by a ‘Jack said Jill said’ type of dealie, one site does an article on it, which causes smaller sites to do an article which in turn causes bigger sites to take note, ETC.

        It becomes a domino effect, a lot of news sites use OTHER news sites to catch on to stuff that’s going on, besides their own sources.

        I’m not saying they’re NOT coordinating this, its a perfectly reasonable explanation as well, but just because a lot of sites are doing the same types of articles doesn’t mean their in cahoots.

        1. kunedog says:

          I saw a list of nine articles on eight different sites (Gamasutra hosted two of them) blasting “gamers” as a negative culture/identity, all posted in just two days (Aug 28-29). That’s not enough time for a domino effect, and the chance of nine such similar articles being published independently seems really small. IMO it is a coordinated campaign.

          I don’t say “conspiracy” because AFAIK they admit to doing this kind of thing and are proud of it. On the other hand, one of the Gamasutra headlines did catch my attention (and raise a chuckle) by including the word EXCLUSIVE.

          1. BaronBytes says:

            Of course game journalists talk to themselves. It is a small comunity and they will network because the other gaming sites are potential jobs, they also see each others at events and tend to share their outlook on videogames. When they feel their profession is under attack they will defend themselves. Instead of a conspiracy what is more likely is that a few editors and journalists talked to each other in the lead up to PAX and those conversations spawned those articles.

          2. Soylent Dave says:

            Whether in this case it is a domino effect or not, two days is absolutely enough time for that to happen. A few hours would be, in the right conditions.

            Was the first article on a particularly high profile site? Or did the original article go viral? Was it otherwise a slow news day?

            It really doesn’t take all that long to write a decent article – not if you’re a halfway decent journalist, and especially not if another site (or sites) have done a huge chunk of your research for you.

            Even quicker if it’s an opinion or response piece, and someone else has been kind enough to give (or inspire) a topic.

            (more likely of course is a combination – there’s a community of journalists who talk to one another, and it doesn’t take long to respond to an article that taps into a zeitgeist (especially if it’s a zeitgeist you’ve already been talking to your friends about..!) )

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              Yep! In fact, most of the longer comments right here in this thread would qualify as response articles in every sense that counts.

              As to the allegation that there’s a conspiracy to paint “gamers” in a negative light… my response is long, detailed, and intensely political, but boils down to, “Ignore people who call you names, and litigate law breakers.”

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Yes.That is the proper response.Dont involve media,involve the authorities.Sure,they may not always be able(or willing)to help,but at least they can help.Media most assuredly wont help anything other than their ratings.

    2. Cybron says:

      I don’t believe in a conscious conspiracy of any sort. Groupthink is very real though, and I feel it applies here.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Bah,conspiracy theories dont exist.They were first thought up by queen elizabeth the I,who was totally a free mason,and she used them to debunk all those who were in the know about her ties with the illuminati.Later,with the spread of mass media,it was stalin who used fake conspiracy theories in order to make his opponents seem ridiculous,and this was copied by americans.And now its the conservatives who use plants to spread all these fake conspiracy theories in order to cover up the fact that they are all actually moon nazi vampires.

  6. MichaelGC says:

    Great article. Not sure whence the flamethrower hate, though. Have you had bad experiences with things that incinerate or something?

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      There must have been quite a lot of energy involved when deciding that example…

      1. Bryan says:

        But no training. Never any training.

    2. ehlijen says:

      Don’t poke fun! We all have our burdens to bear.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        Just wanted to add some fuel to this debonnetcle.

  7. One of the things I like to think about is the difference between “high brow” and “middle brow”. People’s definitions of “middle brow” differ, but I’d render it as something like “stuff that isn’t simply vapid entertainment and addresses artistic issues, but still concerns itself with entertainment value and doesn’t worry about whether it’s High Art”. Wikipedia cites The Wire and Breaking Bad, I’d add things like The Incredibles. Still entertaining, yet thought-provoking, if you let it.

    Perhaps high brow art at its highest is the best that humans can produce (a lot of which was produced quite far in the past, BTW), but quite a lot of high brow art and analysis really is just pretentious signaling to people in their upper class social circles that really is nearly devoid of actual content. It’s unfair to dismiss the entire high-brow segment of the field, but rather a lot of really is, in my highly biased opinion, simply low-brow art dressed up in high brow social signal vocabulary. To my mind, Dumb and Dumber and some high brow pretentious black-and-white French movie about the existential ennui of life that doesn’t actually say anything except that gosh, isn’t life full of existential ennui & stuff are both nearly devoid of content and thus have a lot more in common than either side would be comfortable hearing.

    For myself, I unapologetically consider myself middle brow, because I think that’s where the best work is actually done. Where analysis concerns itself not with whether it can use postmodernism to twist the work in pretzels to suit the preconceptions of the analyst, but with actually analyzing the target work, which in the high brow world appears to be the sort of idea that gives them the vapors and promotes loud exclamations of “I never!”. Where “message” and “plot & entertainment” are required to work in harmony, which IMHO is much harder to pull off than either alone, and correspondingly more satisfying when you see it. Where the hardest work is actually done, and where the standards are actually the highest and hardest to meet.

    I “hang around” here and listen to Campster, etc., because it’s middlebrow analysis, and pretty good stuff. Sometimes people (even here) will say how dismayed they are at the lack of academic analysis of games, but I for one am not really that concerned about how the high brow crew don’t deign to study gaming, because it’s the middle brow analysis being done here and by people like Campster that is actually interesting and moves the genre forward.

    … and that was all actually a set up to say not to be worried about being “accused” of being academic. Many people don’t understand this distinction (that to some extent is my personal distinction so who can blame them), and simply associate all attempts at being academic with being “high brow” and therefore quite likely (even if not for certain) actually an attempt at pretentiously signaling to their social peers that they believe High Brow things. Thus when they see anyone saying academicish things, they fling out the standard Pretentious High Brow Academic attacks without stopping to check to see if they are justified. In my considered opinion, in this case they are not. What I see on Errant Signal and Spoiler Warning isn’t pretension… it’s analysis. If it’s still thin on the theory, well, that stuff takes time to develop, and I think Campster is at his most interesting when he tries to develop frameworks built off of the more raw analysis that you see in things like Spoiler Warning.

    I say at the very least you should be comfortable with being middle brow, and I’d suggest even taking pride in it.

  8. LazerBlade says:

    Related videogame history trivia: Hovertank 3D was a 3d ID shooter that came out a few month prior to Catacomb 3D.

  9. Pretentious doesn’t mean that you’re *faking* your opinion, it means that you have an inflated view of your own importance, dignity, or value. Jim Sterling portrays an extremely pretentious character (“Thank God for Me”) for laughs, but some people genuinely do like to trot out the academic jargon and sniffy attitude when reviewing anything.

    That’s one thing I like about how you guys have done Spoiler Warning on Marlow Briggs, for instance–yes, the game is ridiculous, yes, it’s not a great game, but in terms of sheer wild nonsensical craziness there’s something about it, and while you critique it for being absurd, you also seem to kind of dig the absurdity on its own level. Which is NOT pretentious.

  10. Dt3r says:

    So glad to see you rebut the pretentious label. Pretentious is one of the most annoying and overused words for shutting down a discussion, perhaps second only to the phrase “white knight.”

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What about elitist?

      1. syal says:

        You’re both wrong. It’s ‘Nazi’.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          You’re wrong. Its Double Nazi.

          . . . erm, we’re just kidding right?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            What you mean has a name already.Its twin clones of hitler.

        2. Dt3r says:

          Only took 3 layers deep for Nazis to be mentioned. Good to see the internet is functioning as normal.

  11. BaronBytes says:

    “Who are these guys? Why am I shooting them? Why should I care? Is this all there is?”

    I’ve hit this point very recently. I totally get why someone would want to find something else. I went with comics and TV series but if your job is playing videogames you will start looking for new things inside the media because you can’t look outside to find something else and clean your palate.

    I remember when I was 12 and the TV Guide rated Star Wars 2/5, it made me furious. How could they not know how amazing Star Wars was? Now I get it, I’ve trained myself by experiencing lots of media and seeing what I like and don’t like. I’ve learned to live with the fact that my tastes aren’t universal. I would hate to live in a world where my tastes where the norm.

    But 12 year old me who had built his identity on liking Star Wars hated that his tastes weren’t liked by everyone and was afraid that the movies that were made wouldn’t be for him but for that TV Guide reviewer instead. I see a lot of this in the hate certain games get, people who are afraid things will change so that the games they like aren’t made anymore.

    1. Daimbert says:

      But if reviews actually matter, then that’s a valid fear: if a reviewer ranks a movie as below average, and that gets people to think that it is below average and not worth watching, and so people don’t watch it, and that means it doesn’t make money, and if people read the review and decide that the things that you liked and that the reviewer didn’t were what caused it to fail, then yes, you won’t get movies like you want to see anymore. So if reviews matter, then they can cause the problem, and if they don’t, then why do them?

      Personally, from a review I care less about an objective score and more about whether after reading it if I’ll know if I want to play it or not. Which makes Shamus’ approach and that of others who give their opinions and simply say what the game does really valuable.

      1. BaronBytes says:

        I can name a lot of critically praised games that didn’t sell and games that were destroyed by the crtics that sold well. I think the review score matters less than the conversation about the game, brand identity and marketing.

        The next CoD game or the next Madden will sell incredibly well whatever the score is. The next Paradox Grand Strategy will never reach those numbers even if it was the highest rated game in history (something that would have happened in the early 90s with games like XCom or Panzer General). I’m not even sure review scores have a major impact in someone’s choice between Battlefield or CoD anymore as brand identity probably plays more of a role in there.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I do think that reviews as reviews are definitely becoming less relevant, at least in part because of a greater ability to get “word of mouth” advertising. I also think, though, that that’s happening because of the disconnect between reviewers and customers, often for the same reasons that Shamus talks about here. I’ve certainly read game reviews and reviews of other media in the past that panned a work but when I read what they didn’t like my thought was “Hey, that sounds exactly like what I want to play!”, and games that were praised that I think “That sounds really, really dumb!”. For video games I’d say, in particular, that reviews should be more professional and less opinionated, with opinion pieces taking on the role of expressing the opinions. But what we’re running into, I think, is that on the Internet you have so many options that most people get into it not to be professional, but to express opinions, and aren’t necessarily good at separating the two.

      2. syal says:

        “So if reviews don’t matter, then why do them?”

        Because they’re entertaining. Roger Ebert didn’t get famous for being a good critic, he got famous because he and Gene Siskel had an entertaining dynamic of their own. The reviewers themselves are the draw, and the insight has the chance to make people smarter along the way (or, occasionally, dumber).

        1. Daimbert says:

          But why a review rather than a commentary show or opinion show or whatever? It being entertaining is what makes people watch them instead of someone else, but we need to ask why people watch a review at all. In general — or at least in the past — it’s more about finding out if you want to play/watch/read something, and so you want that information AND you want it done in an entertaining way. This would contrast with a review like, say, is done at SF Debris where it is more about analyzing the work and less emphasis is placed on giving you the information you need to decide if it interests you, even if you can get that from the review as well.

          So I’d say that the primary purpose of a review is to provide information, and second to entertain or to examine a work in detail. And if that’s the case, if you’re doing a review, you should try to do that. If you don’t want to do that, then do a commentary instead … and for God’s sake don’t score it [grin].

          1. syal says:

            I fail to see the difference between a review and an opinion show.

            People watch reviews for the same reason they watch How It’s Made or Mythbusters; it’s interesting to see all the steps that go into making something.

            Or they specifically want to hear someone agree with their own opinion about [product].

            1. Daimbert says:

              Actually, that’s what I call a commentary, like SF Debris or the stuff on Agony Booth, and that’s why I watch/read them (I’d include Spoiler Warning in that, but I don’t watch it). A review is something that’s given an official score, and is ranked on a number of categories in an attempt to tell people if they should play/watch/read it or not. The differing purposes is what distinguishes them, to me, which is how I decide which of them I need to watch/read at a certain point.

              EDIT: To perhaps put it better, when I want to decide what game I should buy or what movie I should see, I read a review. When I want to read about an analysis of how it works as a whole or fits into a genre or anything like that, I read a commentary.

              I’d have to say that not seeing a difference between the two is indicative of my problem with modern reviews/commentaries [grin].

              (As an aside, even though the site is now gone I’ve actually written both, and did take a different approach to either subject).

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                “A review is something that's given an official score”

                No.If you want a quick summary,words like good,average,bad,amazing,stellar,crap,etc are just as valid.But a quick summary presented in any format is not a requirement of a review.

                A review is,simply put,an evaluation.And that evaluation can be expressed in numerous ways.Via a predefined list,with a numerical score,with in depth analysis of every single part,in limerick form,as a simple sum of its part,as comparison with similar stuf,…..it doesnt matter what form it has,as long as its an evaluation.

  12. Daimbert says:

    The issue is this, I think: if you’re reviewing something and not just giving opinions on it, then people expect you to make your biases clear and limit them as much as possible. In the case of someone who has played or watched a lot of a particular genre, people don’t want them to express their boredom with the genre in the review, and especially don’t want them to hold that against the game. If the game is formulaic, they want to know how well it implements that formula, and if it does anything different, and how that works. They don’t want someone saying that a game that tries something different is better than games that stick to the formula if the game doesn’t work, and doesn’t work, in part, because of those new elements. People who have a lot of experience with a genre know what works, what doesn’t and how it all fits together, and it’s that that people who aren’t as experienced want.

    The “pretentious” line, I think, comes from people who might seem to claim that the “deeper” or more “arty” games, or games that do things differently, are “better” because of that, and try to encourage that over the more formulaic games … even if playing those games aren’t necessarily a lot of fun. In short, people who treat games MORE as art than as a game to be played and as something entertaining and advantage the artier games over the ones that are more entertaining. That annoys a lot of people … including myself.

    And I see it in a lot of things. I compare, for example, the original Battlestar Galactica series to the reboot and find the reboot wanting, but its more serious approach got it rave reviews. And as things go on, I find it hard to find TV shows or even games that are just plain entertaining, without trying to make some kind of point (even sitcoms), whereas in the good old days that’s ALL you had. Now, I’m not advocating for mindless pleasures with nothing intellectual or arty behind them — in fact, I even prefer clever sitcoms — but one isn’t necessarily better than the other, and we certainly shouldn’t have only one of them. Sometimes you want a deep game that makes you think … and sometimes you just want to go out and kill things. When I want the latter, I want a review of the game to tell me how good it is at letting me kill things and not hold not being an intellectual game against it … and vice versa.

    At the end of the day, I think a lot of this comes from the extremist nature of the internet and a growing sense of intellectual snobbery that seems to permeate our culture at the moment … and people who don’t subscribe to either end up getting caught in the crossfire.

    1. MikhailBorg says:

      The Galactica reboot… now there’s some pretension for you. IMHO.

    2. Geebs says:

      Regardless of how arty or not it may be, I think the only real miss-step a videogame can make is to give the person consuming the game nothing to do but passively observe. That’s a key failure to understand that what makes videogames unique is a deeper two-way interaction between designer and consumer.

      I reckon that Spoiler Warning, and Chris’ own show, do a good job of applying their critique from the perspective of players – all of them are familiar enough with the medium that they can tell whether something on the screen is likely to be fun or not even if Josh is the only one who has played the game.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Actually, I think the misstep is the one that all media are vulnerable to: make it so that the consumer doesn’t want to consume the work. For a game, that means that they don’t want to play it, but HOW interactive it is doesn’t matter for that. Someone may prefer a simple “interactive movie” type of game over one with far more interaction, and both types can be made so badly for a number of reasons that, at the end of the day, no one wants to play it anymore.

        1. Geebs says:

          My personal corollary is that only being allowed to move the camera about doesn’t count as ‘interactive’ – after all, you can do that in a multi-view DVD. If, as a designer, you’re stipulating that all the consumer can do is shut up and watch – well, you could have just made a movie or a song or a comic, why go to all that trouble?

          I love plenty of barely-interactive games, like NaissancE for example; but barely interactive still involves the designer directly challenging the player, and the player meeting that challenge.

    3. Budgy says:

      As much as I hate “liking” or +1 posts, I’d totally do that here. I think you just summed up everything I wanted to say, better than I did with half the words. Why can’t people just play what they like and vote with their money? Just because you don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean no one else can.

  13. MikhailBorg says:

    The absolute beauty of Gone Home was how I went in prepared for practically every first-person trope I’d ever experienced, and the damn game fooled me from beginning to end. It was a brand new experience for me in first-person video gaming, and I treasured that. Worth every penny.

    On a tangent: The Doctor Who reboot frequently references the idea that the Doctor travels with young humans because he’s centuries old, and he’s so rarely surprised by anything any more; but he still gets to experience surprise and wonder second-hand through his companions, and he craves that experience. Perhaps game and movie reviewers should all have a twelve-year-old at hand for emergencies.

    1. Robyrt says:

      I’m getting some of that vicarious thrill right now, reading your post. :) I had already been prepared for Gone Home by similar first-person-walker games like Dear Esther and Proteus, and I’ve read my share of Forbidden Love romance novels, so I found the whole experience rather underwhelming, but in general people seemed to get a real kick out of it. More power to them!

    2. syal says:

      “Perhaps game and movie reviewers should all have a twelve-year-old at hand for emergencies.”

      Somewhere in the past, there is a movie review in which 10-year-old me is quoted as saying that Anaconda was an awesome film.

      Not sure whether that proves or disproves your theory.

      1. MikhailBorg says:

        In October, I’m going to see the RiffTrax crew live in Durham, NC as they work their magic with “Anaconda”. I’ll let you know :)

  14. Blackbird71 says:

    “Note how many movie critics treat formulaic stories like romantic comedies or buddy cop movies with such disdain, even though audiences love them. That’s the effect of repeated exposure. Very few of us will see more than one rom-com a year, but your average movie critic will see nearly all of them. They know the tropes and gags and story beats so well they can look at one scene and tell you who is going to be in the next scene and what will happen, because they’ve seen this movie in various forms over a hundred times in their career.”

    I’m just going to leave this here:


    It’s directly related to that particular paragraph, but in concept deals a lot with the theme of the article. That, and it’s fun. Anyone who’s bored could do worse than to spend some time viewing some of their other vids.

  15. HiEv says:

    “The assertion is part conspiracy theory, part ad hominem, part attempt to portray shallowness as virtue.”

    I think you mean “part insult”, and not “part ad hominem”. The two aren’t the same thing. An “ad hominem” is when someone is saying that X is wrong because of (fill in insulting term here).

    If they call you pretentious, then they’re just insulting you. If they say that you’re wrong because you’re pretentious, then that’s an ad hominem.

    Maybe they’re saying, “you’re wrong and you’re pretentious”, but unless they’re saying that the pretentiousness is their evidence of you being wrong, it’s not an ad hominem.

    In any case, it sounds like you’re saying they’re using it as a symptom of a (supposed) problem, not a cause.

    1. Bryan says:

      Woo, it’s time to don my nitpickery hat!

      Ad hominem is a logical fallacy, where a claim is made that some conclusion is wrong not because of “fill in insulting term here” (insulting actually has little to do with it), but because the person who said it is *anything* you can come up with, while their actual argument did not depend on them being or not being whatever you claim. It’s responding to the person, instead of the argument.

      Mind you, use of ad hominem doesn’t actually mean the conclusion is wrong, either. If I say “2+2 = 5”, and someone says “that’s totally wrong, because you’re a Nazi”, then they’ve committed an ad hominem fallacy in that statement — but regardless of the fallacy, their conclusion is still right; the original statement *was* wrong. It’s just that the reasoning they used to show that I was wrong was also wrong.

      On the other hand, if I say “I am *totally* not a Nazi, and because of that you should believe me that 2+2 = 5”, and someone says “but you are; therefore your conclusion totally wrong!”, then that’s not actually this fallacy, and *if* the “2+2 = 5” conclusion actually depended on me not being a Nazi (…and I’m having some trouble coming up with a conclusion that would, so go with it I guess?), then — if the assertion in the rebuttal is true, of course — it does invalidate that particular line of reasoning.

      And then it starts to get really complicated.

      Ahem. *doffs nitpickery hat*

      1. Budgy says:

        So if I understand you, you are saying that you understand 2+2 =/ 5? Meaning that you are educated and, because Socialism and Mathematics were both refined in universities… You must be a Nazi! ;D

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Wrong fallacy.Thats association,not ad hominem.But faulty logic is to be expected from a commie.

          1. Xapi says:


            “What Campster said is wrong because he’s a pretentious jerk” is an ad-hominem fallacy.

            “I dislike Campster’s reviews because I find him to be pretentious” is a matter of personal opinion and not up for debate.

            “Campster’s claim that Gone Home suffered from Ludo-narrative dissonance is baseless and unsustainable, it is a rethoric gimmick that seeks to make him look as more cultured than he really is. He uses such devices because he is pretentious.” is an argument that may or may not be true, but isn’t an ad-hominem fallacy (the fact that Campster is pretentious is actually relevant to the fact that he is trying to look more cultured than he really is).

          2. Budgy says:

            Sir! I’m not a Communist! I am a Contrarian! Or a Contra if you prefer.

      2. syal says:

        (…and I'm having some trouble coming up with a conclusion that would, so go with it I guess?)

        A Eunich talking about how a sex-free life is superior to a sex-filled one.

        An Amishman warning about safety hazards of new technology.

        A blind man saying blue is an ugly color.

      3. HiEv says:

        You’re not really disagreeing with what I said, merely repeating it and clarifying a bit.

        However, I fail to see how/why anyone would attempt to use this logical fallacy to claim someone was wrong without using what they perceive as an insult. I doubt, “He’s wrong because he’s a genius,” would carry much sway with most people. Meanwhile, substitute “Nazi” (like you used above) for “genius”, and now you have something you’re actually likely to hear in an ad hominem argument.

        Anyways, the more important part of what’s wrong with an ad hominem is that the insult to the source of the claim does not necessarily have any relationship to whether the claim is true. “You believe that 2+2=4, but you’re wrong because you’re a Nazi,” in no way invalidates the claim that 2+2=4. That’s why ad hominems are a logical fallacy, they attempt to disprove something using a cheap emotional appeal, instead of using a logically valid method of disputing a claim.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “You dont understand because you are a man”.Thats a classical ad hominem,and is not an insult(unless you are a bigot).

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    There is however the problem of numerous critics not being good at their job.What you should do first when you become a reviewer is establish what makes a piece of art average,and not give everything the score of 7 or more.Look at Angry Joe and how he judges games.I may disagree with him on what games he (dis)likes,but his reasoning is always solid,and his scores match what he is saying.

    1. Taellosse says:

      I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but, for the sake of discussion, why shouldn’t a 7 out of 10 be “average”? In academic grading, a 70% is a C, which is, traditionally, “average” – if you score a 50% you’ve failed. Scoring that poorly is indicative of not having gained a sufficient grasp of the material. By analogy, a game that scores only 5 out of 10 (insofar as a numerical score can convey useful information about something inherently subjective, but that’s another conversation) has failed to achieve a sufficient degree of entertainment value.

      Besides which, a percentage system like that (where a 70% is considered “passing” but not especially good) is going to be almost universally familiar due to the widespread use of such grading in academics, and diverging from that pattern to set 5 as the average might actually be construed as confusing.

      All that being said, I’ll certainly grant that even by these lights, there is a tendency (especially at the larger gaming review sites) to be overgenerous when handing out scores. Though I have the sense it’s less bad than it used to be (that could be an erroneous impression on my part, though – I don’t spend a lot of time on sites that hand out numerical review scores anymore, so my impression is somewhat second hand).

  17. Jay says:

    I think this is also why JRPGs usually don’t fare well in reviews. Not only are they chock full of standard tropes, but they’re designed to be played over the course of 60-100 hours or more. A reviewer just doesn’t have the time, and even if one honestly tries they’ll be constantly frustrated by how long everything takes and how far behind schedule they are.

    1. deda says:

      Where did the concept of jrpgs repeating their tropes more than other genres came from anyway? in any case they are of the ones that do it less. Most of the tropes that people say are in all jrpgs I’ve only seen in final fantasy 7 and 8.

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        It’s probably got a lot to do with Japanese tropes being a lot more visible to us. Westerners will barely notice all of our old cliches the same way a fish won’t realise it’s wet, but we’ll pick up on, say, a retelling of Journey to the West or odd visual metaphors like arousal causing nosebleeds because, ironically, we see less of them, so the repetition stands out more.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Indeed. The very things that make them refreshing and novel to a western audience also make them easy for professionals to critique.

        2. deda says:

          Now that you mention it there’s something I’ve been thinking for a while, maybe it’s because I really don’t like western rpgs (most of my knowledge of them comes from this web site), but I’ve noticed that they like to make racism one of the main themes of the narrative a lot, and it’s almost always used the same way. Am I the only one who finds this really tyring? because I never see anyone mention it.

      2. The Rocketeer says:

        Funny that those two games were, on their release, seen as radical departures. They ruined the series forever, you know. Or so I was told at the time.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          Nono, see… IX ruined it forever. And X. And XI. And VI. And I. And…

          At least, that’s what I thought I’d heard before.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Well, kinda: Final Fantasy I ruined the series forever, but then Hironobu Sakaguchi broke the time loop, and everything was okay forever.

            If any Final Fantasy titles don’t seem incredible to you, simply grab the fabric of reality and firmly shake; your timeline may not have centered correctly on the new causality.

      3. syal says:

        They’re primarily story games, so story elements are more prominent than elsewhere.

        Also if you list the tropes (e.g. “Orphan Boy learns he is Special after his Village is destroyed by the Number One Servant of the Evil Empire and must gather a Squad of Teenagers including a Magical Girl and Some Kind Of Animal Thing from around the world to battle the Empire and their Dark God who is also the Village-burning Servant from earlier”, or “silly hair”), I’ll give you some other games that do them.

        …but seriously, 8 had more tropes than anything else? That’s, like… what the hell kind of tropes are these that FF8 is the pinnacle? That game was stark raving mad.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          You’re right about FFVIII. I’ve long maintained that FFVII is neither the radical departure from its predecessors that it was greeted as, nor the stock recapitulation that a too-broad reading and its own influence eventually painted it as.

          But Final Fantasy VIII? That games was in the business of self destruction. It deliberately presented the keystones and foundations of the preceding series and smashed them in turn. A real odd duck.

      4. Taellosse says:

        I’m not sure JRPGs are MORE full of tropes than other genres of games, but they’re pretty full of them also. Some of the tropes are common to most RPGs (not just the Japanese variety) such as grinding for experience or similar resources, improbable gear drops (wild animals dropping money? really?), parties of misfits banding together to save the day; some of them are common to most games in general like power creep, apocalyptic scenarios, and a hero’s journey; and some are unique to Japanese entertainment because of their own cultural mores such as crazy anime hair, giant melee weapons, and turn-based combat. You can find most or all of those (and more) in not only almost every installment of Final Fantasy, but tons of other JRPGs as well. Western RPGs, action games from all over, strategy games, sims, and everything else have their own tropes too, though.

        1. Classic says:

          Players complaining about monsters dropping money has always run hollow to me. I’ve taken it as an abstraction for salvaging/pillaging salable goods from the corpse. I don’t think anyone really wants to count up the basilisk eyes and goblin-tooth gold fillings that they’re selling for chump change. Nor do we want to really consider what gets recovered from a thri-kreen’s crop or the bowels of a bulette.

          1. syal says:

            Besides, it’s easily explained by the animal eating a traveller and their coin purse.

            1. harborpirate says:

              It turns out I’ve just been saving creatures from the inevitable slow and painful death. Virtually all of them have been foolishly swallowing swords, shields, entire suits of armor, boots, coins, and other detritus that would have undoubtedly pierced or blocked their digestive system.

              I’ve been performing a valuable service to the entire video game creature ecosystem. :)

              Apologies for the high snark level. I’ve gotten to the point where I can mostly ignore it, but this is something that has always bugged me.

          2. Nidokoenig says:

            Those that do, play Etrian Odyssey or Monster Hunter, both of which use crafting items from monster parts as a basic mechanic. Recettear didn’t have money bags drop, either, IIRC. It’s a nice excuse to fill out a bunch of item descriptions with lore and indications of weaknesses or whatever, but if a game doesn’t have crafting or similar, yeah, it’s a bit pointless.

        2. NotDog says:

          And lets not forget how 90% of western RPGs are rehashes of Forgotten Realms.*

          * A lot of people would say Middle Earth, but really it’s Forgotten Realms that gets rehashed.

  18. Tizzy says:

    The article is solid and to the point for me. One thing missing for the younger crowd, maybe: first-person shooters didn’t exist, way back in the days, and people were still gaming. Actually, when Doom popularized the genre, so that, for several months if not years, its shareware episode was on every CD that came bundled with any computer magazine (this is just to insist on how long ago this was), gamers did not immediately embrace the genre. Many didn’t care for it that much. Or at best found the concept an amusing diversion rather than a serious game. That’s in part because the first FPSes were so simplistic. Worse: interchangeable.

    Devs had to convince gamers to embrace that change. And they did, pretty well, even though we had to suffer through too many gratuitously “3D” games that were made worse by the premature technology switch. But I am truly glad that gamers showed themselves open to change. That they said: “we’ll go for whatever will be entertaining.” Where would we be otherwise? How many gems would we have missed.

    Just be open-minded. And when you say: “this type of game is not for me”, in the back of your mind, think to yourself “at least, not yet.” The tech may change, make it viable; and your tastes definitely will.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      More touching on what was gaming “back in the day”, before gaming existed. It’s kind of a long article and most of the good stuff is at the end, so bear with it.


      1. Geebs says:

        Thanks for the article!

        I actually think it’s a good demonstration of why the whole ‘debate’ is so intractable, but more by exhibiting the same symptoms as nearly everybody else who has argued about the issue than through its conclusions:

        1) Assessing another person’s psychology over the internet is always a mistake.
        2) You can’t generalise a construct of an individual’s psychology to an entire group of people.
        3) The internet is great because it’s a babble of individual opinions. Making the assumption that the person you’re arguing with is part of an organised group is a mistake; doubly so when you have no way of confirming the identity of the person you’re arguing with.
        4) Making an assumption about the state of mind of a bunch of people and then arguing from the position that those assumptions make them bad and wrong is terribly passive aggressive.
        5) This ‘gatekeeping’ concept is an example of Protesting Too Much. People expressing a preference in a tactless and over-generalised manner is hardly gatekeeping – I mean, you haven’t seen organised protests outside BioWare’s gates, have you?

        I think it hasn’t helped that the entire ‘debate’ has been couched in a bunch of terms that are specific to North American academia; while in some ways this is reasonable, because North America is the place that games come from, people from other cultures a) get upset because they misinterpret the concepts used and b) cause upset by contributing without understanding the nuance of the terms they’re using. Note the fact that the whole ‘debate’ has been happening in English, which means that an American university undergraduate may not realise that the person they’re arguing with is a 12 year old from Moscow.

        From the point of view of North American academic feminism, it’s perfectly reasonable to make the assumption that the person oppressing you is white, male and privileged because that’s their local situation. The thing is, the USA is famous for the number of its citizens who don’t even have a passport, and academic feminism in the US is noted for its tendency to look inwards and prefer satire to action. Trying to generalise those ideals globally is always going to fall prey to nitpicking. For example, in the article they make the point about privileged white guys and then illustrate it with a quote from somebody who, while a guy, is almost certainly not white. Globally speaking, everybody with an internet connection is privileged already.

        For their part, the ‘gamers’ don’t understand the academic/critical approaches and misinterpret the language as attacks. In addition, they are stirring conspiracy theories, and trying to make their arguments look academic without really understanding what they’re doing, which just brings the level of discourse down.

        TL:DR – everybody has been making assumptions about who everybody else is, and a flame war is the inevitable result. I don’t think either side has exactly covered themselves in glory, and they never could because the whole thing is totally mired in misunderstanding. Critiquing people over the internet is never productive because somebody will always get insulted. Everybody involved really should have known better.

        If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the fallout shelter :)

  19. Phantos says:

    The problem for me isn’t that there are game reviewers out there who are biased, trolls or have “an agenda”. It’s not even the ones who are corporate prostitutes, for whatever developer paid for their server costs that week.

    Frankly, it’s just that most game reviews are awful. I mean compared to film reviews, which are rarely eloquent as it is. A critic worth their position can make the most boring product at least entertaining to read about. These people take games about dragons and reduce them to a grocery list. Graphics, Sounds, Gameplay, Controls, Replay Factor, etc. Sprinkle in a few cliches and suddenly they think they’re Pauline Kael.

    It’s like they make this crap from a template. And even if a bad game comes out, nobody wants to admit it or give it even an above-average score, ever since the Gerstmann/Kane & Lynch fiasco.

    (For a recent example of this, and if you don’t mind spoilers, check out Joystiq.com’s Jessica Conditt review the season finale of The Walking Dead game Season 2. It’s like hearing someone bend over backwards trying to convince you that a turd doesn’t smell nearly as bad as rotting flesh. And it’s just so bland the whole way through. I’ts hard not to think she’s doing it just to avoid the headache of angry comments, but to me that’s not as bad as being a boring writer.)

    And it’s not helping matters that the public doesn’t want this to change. They just want people to give everything a 10 out of 10. Roger Ebert once said that he wrote reviews for people who can read, not people who can count. I think we need more people like that writing professional critiques, and we need more people to encourage that. I should not have to scour Youtube of all places for intellectual discussions about this hobby.

    Even if I don’t always agree with people like Campster, and even if he were “pretentious”, I’ll take that over spineless and stupid any day of the week. And at the very least, he tries to make his arguments interesting!

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Nah, see, people want everything given a -5/10, since everyone knows games journalism is teh bias and that’s what they all really deserve anyway… except for that one game they super infini-love, which deserved a 10^10^10/10, and it’s only because games journalism is teh bias (which everyone knows) that they can’t recognize real genius when they see it. That’s why the only proper response to any review is outrage.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      These people take games about dragons and reduce them to a grocery list.

      In fairness, for almost 50 years fantasy fiction as a whole has taken a whole genre about dragons and reduced it to a grocery list. And most of the fictional genres other games lean on aren’t that much better.

    3. nerdpride says:

      I agree with this, basically. Also, I think the number one tool for me deciding whether I’d like something without actually buying it (which I’d rarely do) has been Spoiler Warning. So thanks everyone. It’s longer than a review and contains spoilers and terrible puns and hideously stretched metaphors but actual reviews are really missing something IMHO.

      I’m curious what the reviewer-types would say about why they spend lots of time playing and talking about games. Why is the cast providing this service to me? And why do you play videogames that you know you don’t like when you could be doing something that could pay better and might be higher net utility? And if you know you don’t like something, why can’t you be free and (while being fair and not too angry) just say it? I think the main thing I get out of Spoiler Warning is honesty.

  20. V8_Ninja says:

    Amongst all of the controversy that Zoe Quinn is somehow part of, I just wish that people would just stop and chill for a couple of seconds. Yeah, some of the stuff that some people may or may not be involved in is uncool, but no one’s going to get anywhere by sending death threats en masse and continuing to harass Phil Fish. The majority of those following all of this drama should just kick back, play some games that they like, and hope the smarter people know what they’re doing.

  21. Commissar Moose says:

    I think the anger over games journalists recently largely stems from a perception of nepotism and a lack of ethics and professionalism within the games journalism field, not necessarily that the journalists are starting to review games that the majority of consumers don’t find very interesting. Obviously, there are differing views over whether or not games journalism should be about criticism or about consumer advice (I think there’s room for both, quite frankly), but I think the anger and frustration has a lot more to do with the fact that people think that reviewers are being influenced by the companies putting out the games. For instance, games such as Call of Duty and other dudebro shooters will still get consistently high review scores even though they’re a stale, tired old formula, which seems suspicious to readers when there’s ads for said game plastered all over the website. Whether or not there’s anything suspicious going on, people see this and immediately cry foul. Besides that, a lot of people (myself included) find that the content of a lot of gaming websites tend to focus on issues that a lot of people find to be insignificant and unimportant. Sites like Kotaku frequently post articles that are devoid of any legitimate gaming content and are simply clickbait for more views. A lot of people find the quality of these websites to be substandard and unprofessional, myself included.

    So when the whole business involving Ms. Quinn popped up, people viewed it within the context of some larger problem involving games journalism, and the whole thing blew up. Throw in some harassers who hate her and/or have a vendetta against female developers, and the whole situations blows out of proportion. Both sides attack each other, people get banned or silenced for supporting the side criticizing her, death threats are sent, and so on.

    At this point, everyone just needs to calm down and take a deep breath. People should stop harassing each other, sending death threats, and stop assuming that everyone involved in this whole mess is part of some conspiracy or automatically hates all women in video games. That being said, I think that this is a good opportunity to reexamine the gaming community at large, the quality and ethics of games journalism, and the role that sexism plays within the industry. Self-reflection and civil discussion are a whole lot more constructive than anger and harassment.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    After reading a bunch of comments,I think one other huge problem with game reviews is that they are being treated like any other medium.

    Books usually run from 100 to 500 pages,which you can read in about a work day.Movies run from 60 to 180 minutes,which you can watch 3,4 times in a work day.A music album goes on for about 60-90 minutes,which you can listen to about 6 to 8 times in a work day.But a video game can run from 4 to 40 hours,which is the difference between a single work day and a whole work week.Yet we expect the same types of review for all of them.

    Then there is the huge difference of mechanic.Sure,a horror movie differs from a comedy movie,but both will be watched in the same manner.But a sandbox game and a linear shooter are experienced in completely different manners.And thats not even going into the difference between controllers and keyboard+mouse,let alone between various specialized controllers.Yet we expect the same types of reviews for all of them.

  23. ehlijen says:

    I’m not sure this is on topic, but I thought I’d share some thoughts on why I don’t seem to get much of this controversy:

    1: When I got into gaming in the mid 90s, Lara Croft was being heralded as the face of gaming. Many imitations tried to copy that success, so for me gaming never had a problem with female protagonists. Sure, they could have been handled a lot better and their existence did not absolve the industry of sexism, but they at least existed. So why would anyone cancel Remember Me because of the lead’s gender? I don’t get it. Even if the industry wanted to stay a boy’s club (which I’d not recommend), that doesn’t excuse an all 30ish white male cast, does it?

    2: Accompanying my entry into gaming was the gaming review media in germany then: magazines with a cast of reviewers. That meant that reviewers were plentiful enough to concentrate on their favourite genres, sometimes in small teams. Add that the schedule was monthly, not weekly and you get a lot more time spent on games they actually cared about than single person review sites today like Yahtzee (nothing against him, but I think he could benefit from a laxer schedule). It also meant that I learned early that different reviewers have different opinions on things and neither might match mine. So I don’t understand why there is now controversy around reviewers not perfectly matching their audience. To me, that was always a given.
    Those magazines had their problems (too many 30ish white male team only ones for example), but I think just having more than one person and filtering who reviews what was a good plan.

    3: On the death of gaming…I’ve been there. Sort of. My favourite genres are turn based wargames and space shooters. Those genres nearly died out in the early 2000s. I was angry at consoles for ‘driving my genres into a niche’ for a bit, but I think I’ve grown since then. I hope. And it turns out that the genres are not dead, just small. And other genres have evolved to the point where I can enjoy them as well, now. I never liked the old tomb raider games due to their controls. The latest reboot was fun, though. Fallout drew me with turn based combat, but pulled me into RPGs as a whole. I discovered mecha and FP shooters, when done well, were just as fun as space shooters.
    So I say: if you fear the death of gaming for any reason, take a short break, then try that new thing that scares you with an open mind. Maybe it’s not as bad as you feared?

  24. Mephane says:

    Shamus, you say you “wear your bias on your sleeves”, but I don’t think those are even biases in the first place. All the things you mentioned, are a matter of personal taste. The problems, and the real bias, only starts when you have personal stakes in portraying a game in a certain light (be that positive or negative), and are effectively only doing PR or anti-PR.

    Also, your “biases”, you personal taste, this is the reason your readers are, well, your readers. Many of us would rather read a dozen 100% subjective rants about a game from people with different tastes, than a single “objective” review.

    The funny thing is, I’ve found your rants, dissections and discussion an order of magnitude more informative than a “normal” review. I’ve never been misled by your articles; even where you might say “game ABC is crap because XYZ, DEF being nice doesn’t help”, I’ve had it where I said to myself “well I actually like a good dose of XYZ, and DEF on top of it sounds awesome, I’ll buy ABC”. In other words, even a subjective dissection that the reader strongly disagrees with can be a much more valuable source of information than yet another bog standard so-called professional review that one would actually agree with.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but what if the game in question is NBC,and it has much TMI,but FYI is still good in it?

      1. Mephane says:

        Is this a critizism of how generalized I formulated the example, or a reference to something I just don’t get? :)

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Nah,just a random joke about acronyms.

    2. Shamus says:

      You’re completely right. The “bias” I was referring to is the way it’s used by fans when trying to dismiss a review:

      “He’s just biased against shooters.”

      “He’s just biased against DRM.”


      The usual approach to reviews is to try and appear aloof and not reveal what you like or don’t like. And as you said, that makes for dull, flavorless reviews.

      1. Cybron says:

        I can definitely agree with this. Taking the time to discuss in depth what works and doesn’t is so much more useful AND more entertaining than just saying “I hate this” or “I love this”, no matter how unbiased your opinion may be.

        1. Ofermod says:

          Agreed. I like going into a review knowing if the reviewer is biased in favour of something… because a lot of times, I can judge how much I’ll like it based on how their known tastes/biases compare to mine. I want to know how much a person who likes games I like liked the game, not what a person who doesn’t care about the genre thinks about it.

  25. johnp says:

    I don’t take issue with the fact critics are looking for something novel and interesting. On the contrary, I find myself in the same position. What bothers me is the direction in which they’re looking. So often, it’s to things which are secondary to gaming and borrowed from other media, like unique graphic styles, interesting music and new narratives, whereas the mechanics, the actual interactive systems which make games what they are, should be the center of every critical analysis.

    It’s perfectly fine that critics are bored by dudebro shooters. But the alternative is not to praise mechanically trite nonsense like Gone Home or Depression Quest merely because of the framework they’re presented in. The actual gameplay innovations from the indie scene are often abstract and perhaps without a political message, and I feel current critics give them too little attention in favor of the pretentious but shallow.

    1. Cybron says:

      I think I can agree with this to some extent. I’ve never been interested in shooters at all, and I’ve always been a fan of weird, divergent games like Dwarf Fortress and roguelikes (before they were popular! /hipster). And I feel like there’s so much space we could be exploring mechanics-wise that we just ignore.

      I don’t want to completely dismiss high-narrative, low-mechanic games, because one of the games I enjoyed most in recent memory, To The Moon, had extremely minimalist gameplay (though what little was there was effective and compelling, all the more so for following up on hours of walking around and talking to people). I also enjoyed Analogue: A Hate Story, even though some people claim the message there was political. But at the same time, it’s definitely not a direction I find interesting for its own sake. And I definitely wouldn’t praise a game just for going that direction.

      1. NotDog says:

        As much as using phrases like “walking simulator” demonstrate that one is a jackass…

        I do think some game developers and critics look too much towards movies, TV shows, and books; and not enough towards actual real-life games like chess, soccer, and musical chairs.

        (Though a lot of the hate towards Gone Home was/is homophobia. I don’t recall Dear Esther causing that much rage.)

        1. Cybron says:

          While I agree that some of it is homophobia (quite plainly so), I also think much of it was caused by the universal praise Gone Home received. I don’t recall Dear Esther receiving too many Game of the Year rewards. It kinda reinforces to the stark divide between gaming journalists and their supposed audience, which is what I feel is at the heart of the current issue as well. Erik Kain’s newest article does an excellent job touching on that.

  26. Vect says:

    While I’ve certainly heard of Campster being seen as “pretentious” and while I might not always agree with him, I feel that the stuff he says is worth saying and he never really comes off as truly pretentious. He is at least fairly self-aware that the stuff he says is likely to fly over people’s heads and never really seems like he talks down to the audience.

    On the whole issue of game journalism, I’ll just say that while I’m biased towards the “Gamers” side, I try to keep myself somewhat neutral in the affairs and the people I agree with the most are the ones who are simply asking both sides to stop this and just go back to playing video games (TotalBiscuit and Boogie2988) and better are the folks who simply stay out of it completely. That’s all I will say of that.

    1. Disc says:

      Talking about Boogie2988, he put this up:


      I’m still debating whether to sign it myself or not, but I feel for these people. Whatever someone might think of the gamer title, it’s not up to them to decide what it should mean for other people or how they should feel about it.

      1. Shamus says:

        Man, I love Boogie so much. I don’t actually care for his skits, and his humor sometimes makes me cringe, but when he steps away from the Francis character and talks about his life or games, he’s fantastic.

        Also, dude has an amazing speaking voice. Like, “radio newscaster” voice.

  27. Dreadjaws says:

    I’m one of those who consider Campster “pretentious”, but not because of the language he uses, or for disliking some particular genre, but because more than once in his videos (and arguments in comments sections such as this one) I’ve received the vibe of him believing his opinion is more important than others’ in many different subjects.

    I might be absolutely wrong about him, perhaps my perception is blurred. I understand he says interesting and smart things, but I don’t know, he seems like he put just too many points in his ego when creating his character.

  28. AdmiralJonB says:

    Just want to point out about release dates. The primary day for releases is Friday for us in the UK. Quite often I feel like I see a game release on the Tuesday in America and then release on Friday over here in the same week with exactly the same version.

    I’ve always seen it stupid how the release dates are generally Tuesdays in America. Why release it in the middle of the week, when if you release it at the end of the week everyone gets the entire weekend to play it.

    There are some games that get released on a Tuesday to tie in with an American release date, but most I find are still on a Friday.

  29. Sean Riley says:

    Also, [url=http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=128547146&postcount=318]Wooster freaking nails it here.[/url]

    Edit to add: Also, [url=www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=128547146&postcount=318]Wooster nails it here.[/url]


    “A lot of gamers seem to forget that there’s nothing particularly special about “Gamergate” (ugh). The actual conflict of interest presented by Quinn’s relationship with people who’ve given (some) coverage of her games is troubling, but really nothing more than a minor fuckup on the part of a handful of journalists who warrant a stern talking to from their editor. Embarrassing, yes, but hardly important to the industry at large. Of course, it’s now been incorporated into the ongoing, and utterly mystifying, “all games press are corrupt” narrative which paints a bunch of people making less money than your average McDonald’s employee as a shadowy cabal that runs on yacht money from EA.

    So I dismiss Gamergate not because I don’t care about ethics in journalism, but because thus far it’s doing more damage to our industry than Quinn’s actions ever could. We’ve lost voices, the kind of unique voices the press is really lacking, to harassment done in the name of the movement, and it’s given some [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTGoJjzXI5U]utter shitbags[/url] a platform, a chance to make a quick buck and access to dissatisfied, easily swayed minds.”

    1. Shamus says:

      What. Just. Happened?

      I read a comment from Sean Riley. It was pretty edgy (angry) but not really more angry than the posts it was replying to. I hate when this happens. Nobody is technically guilty of any particular crime, but the whole thread in general is kind of overheating and fracturing off into many little sub-arguments. I should stop it before it gets nasty. On the other hand, this might be the most civil example of the discussion in existence. I dunno.

      I thought about nixing it, worried that doing so would be unfair. Finally I just let the thread go and crossed my fingers.

      Then I came back half an hour later and the comment was GONE.

      I checked the spam filter and found a DIFFERENT comment from Sean Riley. But this one isn’t threaded, even though Sean is clearly addressing someone else. (Is it Volfram? Maybe?) So I fished this comment out of the spam filter and posted it, but I have no idea what just happened to the original comment.

      So… just a general apology for any confusion this causes. I really don’t understand what happened and I’m very confused.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Maybe he clicked the request for deletion instead of edit,then went back and replied to himself?

        I saw the comment myself,maybe 10 minutes before responding,and thought you deleted it when it was gone.

      2. Sean Riley says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure either. I went to edit the initial comment, which was… yeah, fairly angry, because I was (funnily enough) angry, but I hoped it wasn’t out of line. (I even edited out all the swearing! I was trying, honest!)

        I then saw the comment from Wooster, and thought, “THAT. THAT’s what I’m trying to say,” and rather than put in a new comment, decided, “Eh, I’ll edit it in, seems fine.”

        The checker than decided it was spam, so I said, “Eh, that’s fine. It was a tangent anyway,” and clicked cancel, and the whole post just vanished.

        I have a hunch it may be that I used BB code rather than HTML for the tagging, because brainfart?

  30. TheQuirkyOne says:

    I went to Vox from your article on internet news and found this.
    This sums up perfectly everything that happened with #GamerGate and why it happened AND calmly.

    1. Cybron says:

      I certainly wouldn’t call it perfect. There’s some things in there I would object to, such as the insinuation that people made an active campaign to keep Depression Quest off Steam and the statement that ‘gamer’ is an inherently gendered term.

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