Experienced Points: What Is the Future of Video Game Journalism?

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Feb 3, 2015

Filed under: Column 278 comments

This column was really tough to write. The whole time I felt like there was this pull drawing me towards talking about #GamerGate, like playing pool on a crooked table.

But I really don’t want to talk about #GamerGate. And I also don’t want to moderate a discussion with other people talking about it. (Hint, hint.) It’s just that it’s pretty dang hard to talk about games journalism without talking about GG. Do your best!

And in response to the question I posed in the column: I don’t care if you call me a journalist or not. I usually call myself a “pundit” to sidestep this very issue.

Edit: Two days later. Well, we weren’t supposed to talk about it, but that was probably the calmest and most civil conversation on #GamerGate that’s ever taken place. Thanks to all of you for being so cool. I’ve closed the comments. I think now is a good time to move on. You folks are awesome.


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278 thoughts on “Experienced Points: What Is the Future of Video Game Journalism?

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And I call you Shamoose.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Scourge of the seven systems!

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        (That would be by me, mistyped the email)

  2. Dev Null says:

    “Am I a game journalist?”

    Of course not. Games journalists give things stars. It is their raison d’ etoile. You don’t give out nearly enough stars to be a games journalist.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What are you talking about?Shamoose gave us at least three stars.And Josh.

      1. Cuthalion says:

        *amazed clap*

    2. Chuk says:

      I wish I could upvote “raison d'etoile”.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “More importantly, gaming journalism is more intimate and connected with the audience. In the newspaper, it’s rare to care or even notice who wrote any particular article.”

    Not quite.I mean yes,gaming journalists are more intimate with their audience(as for connected…..yeah,Im not gonna go there),but I think its because of the internet more than the nature of vgj.These days,people that write for newspaper or tv are more and more intimate with their audience,especially in tabloids.Which leads to:

    “But just like the internet didn’t kill the newspaper”

    But it sure did change it.A lot.The ones that got killed are the ones that did not adapt.Same goes for youtube.

    1. Kylroy says:

      It may not have *killed* the newspaper, but it pared it’s audience down massively. In another generation, when more people who grew up with getting their news from newspapers have died, I don’t think the pre- vs. post-Internet newspapers will look much different than pre- vs. post-car horse care.

  4. Atle says:

    On a related note I just rediscovered Dr Dobbs, only to find it had “sunset” last year. Despite having 10 million page views last year, it wasn’t making enough revenue through commercials.

    And that seems to be the problem. It’s difficult for publications to charge money while competing with the free alternatives. And it’s difficult to pay for journalists with income only from commercials.

  5. Grenaid says:

    The article just reminds me of the circle of life. It’s not as though people aren’t caring about games, or learning about games, or consuming content ABOUT games, or talking about games.

    This comments section is a really great example of those small communities you were talking about, Seamus.

    Contrast that with the way more and more newspapers are deliberately closing their communities, drowning the babies because of dirty bathwater:



    1. Alan says:

      If my infant produced several tons of shit a day and I had to dedicate my life as well as pay several other people full time to keep my house from looking like the world’s first above-ground cess pit, yeah, kid’s going out with the bathwater.

      1. Shamus says:

        I agree that an unregulated comments section is useless. Far worse than none. It’s just a breeding ground for hate as performance art.

        But I don’t think it’s that hard to maintain something reasonable. It really is a case where 1% of the people make 99% of the mess. You just have to be willing to cull that 1%. On a large site, this means making people create accounts. (As opposed to the open commenting I do here.) The problem is solvable, and I think it pays off in reader loyalty.

        1. Tizzy says:

          Many places aren’t willing to allocate this kind of resources on something that has so little provable return on investment.

          It is clear that the comments on Twenty Sided are an enormous part of the draw, so it’s worth going through the trouble of moderating them.

          OTOH, I find it very difficult to read comments on news articles: too many comments, too many commenters who want to write only and are not interested in dialogue. Given how tough the news business is these days, I am not surprised that they would give up on policing comments. So between leaving the threads to the trolls, or closing them, I would go with closure.

          1. Felblood says:

            There are a lot of cheap ways to mitigate that though.

            For example, the sub-threaded comments here help push real conversation up, and drive by ranting down. It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.

        2. WILL says:

          There should always be an outlet for unmoderated discussion for any subject, it is not useless – if you ban talking about something, you separate groups who would have otherwise interacted together and maybe learned something, found a common ground, etc… In the end it creates echo chambers.

          That said, not every discussion board needs to be unregulated. There should always be at least one.

          1. Felblood says:

            The trouble is that unregulated message boards have the potential to become monkey-shit-flinging competitions, which are so repugnant to sane people that they become echo chambers for he confrontational and insane by default.

            There’s room for that on the internet, along with every other point on the continuum. However I would draw the line at the idea that there is somehow a shortage of these kinds of places.

            1. WILL says:

              I agree, it’s not a question of quantity, simply that they exist.

            2. Zak McKracken says:

              I don’t think they have to.
              One of my regular places is the forum of German publisher Heise (heise.de). They do require an account (but have tons of users…). What I like about their moderating approach is that contributions can be “up- or downvoted, and if enough readers flag something as a troll post, it won’t be deleted but moved to the troll lands, where trolls are among themselves and can have fun without derailing the serious parts of the discussion. Doesn’t always work but usually does (and they have some serious conspiracy theorists there…).

              In fact, I think just simply ordering comments by user rating will encourage people to find better ways of voicing their opinions — because everyone wants to be noticed. It’d make moderating easier too, because you only need to look at the bottom few percent of posts.

              None of this is guaranteed to work for a given community, though, so I sort of understand managers who have tried a few things and don’t want to bear the cost and risk of trying one more approach.
              … it is a sad thing, nonetheless.

              (So thanks, Shamus, for letting us post without account. I love that!)

              1. Felblood says:

                –but that is exactly my point.

                It’s fine that the Troll Lands exist, but I would never waste my time and energy looking at them, and there are plenty of them.

                The fact that this moderation is done more democratically is cool, but doesn’t really change anything about what I said.

                1. Zak McKracken says:

                  … actually, reading my post now, I’m not certain whether it was your post or another one I wanted to reply to … ´teaches me about posting when in a hurry

        3. Angie says:

          I agree about the 1%/99%, but you have to be willing to stomp on it right from the start, or by the time management realizes it’s enough of a problem to be worth throwing some resources at, you’ve got a whole swamp to drain and most people who aren’t cottonmouths or alligators themselves have already left.

          John Scalzi has a large, popular site where he often discusses contentious issues of social politics, and his comments are, as here, a large part of the reason his site is worth visiting. He moderates it himself (and manages to be entertaining about it, unless you’re one of the jerkwads) and it doesn’t consume all his time. This kind of moderation is very doable, and if news sites were willing to jump on it from the start, when all they needed was a shovel instead of a fleet of backhoes, they could’ve handled it. Still could, if they were willing to press through the initial cleaning out.

          But ya gotta wanna, and they don’t wanna.

          Angie, who’s glad you do

          1. M. says:

            Ehh, not the best example. Scalzi’s moderation generally consists of abusing people who disagree with him until they leave. This will result in an uncontentious comment section eventually, in the sense that everyone who’s left holds the same opinions, but it does lack a certain diversity.

            While you do have to come down hard on trolls and random jerks to keep a comments section decent, the problem avoiding the obvious exploit… define disagreement as trolling (“no decent human being would ever put MAYONNAISE on their French fries! This guy has to be a troll!”) and bam, conformity in a box.

        4. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

          I’ve been calling you a complete prat (and a total kneebiter) for years without consequence. Your argument is invalid. Your life’s work is flawed. I hope you feel shame and failure.

          Also: you are not a journalist. For exactly the same reasons that playing GTAV does not make you a sociopath.

      2. MrGuy says:

        So, I’ll be honest. If it weren’t for the comments, I probably would have stopped reading this site long ago.

        Not because the content isn’t interesting (it almost always is), but because I find reading all the various regulars’ takes on the content to be at least as interesting (if not more interesting) than the content itself. I recognize a lot of names (and I’m sure more than a few of you recognize mine). The discussion is as much a part of the site as the content.

        For me, this site is alike a little clubhouse of people I share an interest with, where I can show up and have an interesting conversation about interesting topics. There are rarely (at best) flame wars or trolling (the closest we tend to come is the occasional pub thread).

        I’m not sure why it works, but when it works, comments are great for building community and engagement. For some reason, JGGIFT doesn’t ALWAYS apply.

        I’m sure at least a little of this is the wordpress filters taking out some of the spam, and probably flagging at least a few anonymous trolls. But I’m guessing (admittedly without proof) that while the former is a problem, the latter isn’t a huge plague on this site (at a minimum, I almost never see “leakage” of trolling posts.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “There are rarely (at best) flame wars or trolling (the closest we tend to come is the occasional pub thread)”

          Except when Josh is around.Then theres trolling aplenty.Also an incinerator or two.

        2. krellen says:

          I don’t think the GIFT is actually true. I think the total fuckwads are total fuckwads in real life too, even without anonymity.

          1. Julian says:

            They are, but without anonymity, they tend to moderate themselves somewhat.

            On the Internet, we get them unfiltered.

            Lucky us.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I think its more that with internet they can spew their idiocy to more people.

          2. Trix2000 says:

            I suspect the theory holds, but is not unilateral – not everyone put in the situation becomes a jerk, but I bet there’s some not-insignificant part of the population that does.

            Part of it too may come down to fear of reprisal, which the internet generally lacks.

            1. INH5 says:

              Also, I think another important aspect of it is not just how being anonymous protects you from retribution, but how the distance of the internet medium makes it a lot easier to dehumanize other people. Even if the person you’re talking to isn’t anonymous, you probably can’t see their face or hear their voice and all you have is some text. With that, it can be very easy to forget that there’s a living, breathing human who wrote that text. Restricting the communication even further, such as the 140 character limit on Twitter, only makes this problem even worse.

  6. Poobles says:

    I feel like modern journalism has such a broad scope that calling oneself a journalist is almost meaningless because you would have to immediately qualify that statement with exactly what it is you do within that spectrum. That said, I figure you could simply organize “Game Journalists” into one of three categories: Advisers, Reporters and Analysts.

  7. Aaron says:

    why should a talk on games journalism be more up to date than other articles you write? you just recently got to the last of us, your game que has how many games that have been waiting how long? If you just throw in a current events article it will destroy the flow of the website

  8. Andy_Panthro says:

    It seems that everything is moving towards opinion-based journalism. Many newspapers are filled with it, and the fact-based news reporting gets reduced every time. If anything, it suggests that people do want a person, a “personality” of some sort to give them an opinion on the news of the day rather than just bare facts.

    1. Except game reviews are largely opinion and shouldn’t be expected to be otherwise.

      Three reviewers look at “Starbound.”

      Reviewer 1: “Loved it. Terraria in space, it’s awesome”
      Reviewer 2: “Hated it. Unfinished. Terraria clone. It sucks.”
      Reviewer 3: “It’s okay, but one dev is a cat owner, and that means by definition the game will make your computer explode.”

      None of those reviews are “corrupt,” “biased,” or just about every other adjective I hear thrown around about this kind of thing nowadays. They’re reviews. You can agree or disagree, and better yet, you can see what method reviewers apply to their work and take that into account. Even if a review is from someone whose opinions can be bought and sold by whoever sends them a t-shirt can be “read” because it soon becomes obvious where they get their written opinions from.*

      * This makes the assumption that you’re not going off of the words of a single reviewer when making purchases, because that would be laughable.

      I mean, if all you did was take Yahtzee at face value, you’d probably never purchase a game he reviewed at all. However, if you grok that his job is to take the piss out of a game whether it’s fun or not, you can figure out which games he truly thinks are awful and which ones are worth a purchase.

      I don’t mean to pick on you, but you set this pet peeve of mine up pretty well. People keep conflating games editorial (reviews, opinions, analysis) with journalism (reporting facts, restating relevant facts from the past, quoting primary sources, etc.) and often seem to go off when a game they liked gets a review they don’t think is fair with the same ire that would be reserved for seeing a headline linking their political party of choice with the cancellation of Firefly.

      1. Ivan says:

        The whole thing is kind of weird isn’t it? I mean reviews are for the “informed consumer” aren’t they? Or they are at least how the consumer becomes informed. Either way this is the type of person who cares how they spend their money. They are not the impulse buyers, and as you said, they’re presumably going to look over a number of sources before they make a decision.

        With this context I don’t understand why there is so much fuss about weather or not an individual reviewer is “corrupt”. I mean you’re a savvy customer, if you know this guy has been bought by the game he’s reviewing, well then avoid his reviews. This sort of system should be self correcting, the reviewers are providing a service, and if they ever stop providing useful feedback on the games they review then people should stop reading their reviews.

        Even in a worst case scenario where all reviewers are corrupt there are still trailers (which will be useful so long as it’s not cinematic and shows actual game-play) and there will be no shortage of “let’s play’s” on youtube.

        1. boz says:

          You’ll eventually hit the psychopass/metacritic problem. When you have enough corrupt seeds in review space, self correcting will skew towards the corrupt. i.e. “ME3 is good, complainers are entitled brats”

          1. Veylon says:

            What they could have is user accounts in Metacritic where you upvote or downvote reviewers based on whether you think they give good reviews or not and then the system can base the score of the game for you based on your valuing of the reviewers who have so far reviewed it.

            So if there are a dozen bad seeds and you’ve flagged them as bad, their cheerleading or bellyaching can be discounted.

            And, of course, you ought to be able to share your matrix of reviewer reviews with other users.

            If this all sounds more than a little Meta, well, the word is in the site’s name.

          2. Trix2000 says:

            It’s still possible to get a sort-of relative read, though, even if everything happened to be corrupt. It’s all about figuring out how useful the reviews are and acting accordingly.

            And if nothing else, word of mouth (and subsequently forums/comments) can still be useful to compare/contrast with established outlets.

        2. Daimbert says:

          Um, your self-correction requires that people do more than simply decide that a reviewer is corrupt and stop reading their reviews, but that they point out as publicly as they can that the reviewer is corrupt so that others can stop reading them as well, and so that reviewers don’t want people to think that they are corrupt. This definitely means that we should consider a reviewer being corrupt to be a big deal, or else your system simply will not work.

          1. Felblood says:

            Actually, I would argue that this is a waste of time and energy.

            If you are intelligent and self-aware enough to glean useful data about what you will and won’t like from the opinions of others, you are generally qualified to screen your own sources.

            There really isn’t much market for reviews of reviewers.

            1. Daimbert says:

              When we talk about corrupt reviewers, we’d be talking, presumably, about reviewers who are deliberately dishonest in some way. You can’t really glean that just from reading the reviews; you’d have to play the games to catch them out on it. And only then can you stop reading them, which is supposed to be the catch-all that encourages them to not be dishonest. It has a bigger impact when people publicly point out dishonest practices, and it also becomes obvious why they are losing readers.

              So if a reviewer is discovered to be corrupt, to have this sort of system work we want people to think it a big deal and tell all their friends. That’s not a review of reviewers, but exposing dishonesty.

              1. Ivan says:

                I still don’t see it. Are you saying that someone could read a corrupt review, buy a game they didn’t like and still trust the reviewer afterwards? Depending on how blatant the reviewer is it might take more or less time before any given person gives up and moves on, but they will eventually move on. Sure, you get tricked into buying a few games you never really wanted, but eventually the reviewer will be abandoned and only the trusted ones will remain.

                In any case if corrupt reviewers are still receiving those page views then they must be producing something of value to someone. I don’t see a great need to call them out on their dishonesty because no one really wants to be lied to, and your when your lies can be tested against the products you’re reviewing they simply won’t stand for long.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  That few games might be a significant amount of your gaming time and resources. It also might get you abandoning a genre because if this is what that reviewer thinks is the pinnacle of that genre and you hate it you might not jump to “They’re dishonest” and instead to “I don’t like that genre”. Also, they have an interest in being subtle in their dishonesty, and in using dishonest tactics to drive up their hit counts and search engine results so that new people always start with them, giving them enough of a hit to matter.

                  Having people publicly point out that these reviewers are dishonest can only make things better, so much so that I think that the whole “people will choose to avoid corrupt reviewers” argument only works inside a system where people feel free to publicize the reviewers that they find corrupt so that people know about them before having to figure it out. I consider dishonesty to be different from a matter of “We just don’t share the same views” because in the former case they are going to try a lot harder to convince you that they do, making it harder to tell who is at fault, delaying your recognition of the fact that they are simply dishonest, which would be the reason to avoid them. Calling out dishonesty helps the market figure that out faster and eliminate them.

              2. What really makes me shake my head at the catchphrase, “It’s about ethics in gaming journalism” is this out-of-proportion response. Assuming that actually is the raison d’etre of the GG movement, the thing I see most is cries of “reviewer X knows dev Y” (though it’s often more salacious and rumor-filled than that).

                Yet we have pretty much always been aware of game studio influence over major media outlets, and we even have confirmation of pressure put on large gaming sites to give favorable reviews to the point a reviewer was fired over not giving a thumbs up to Kane & Lynch.

                This is actual big-money payola, but the focus keeps drifting back to rumors about personal favors for “personal favors.” There seems to be more worry that the upcoming “Hatred” game will somehow be banned instead of AAA studios making reviews of their games at launch meaningless. It’s like a group wanting someone’s house destroyed because they might have once tossed garbage into the neighbor’s yard while huge chemical plants are dumping straight into the city water supply.

                1. kunedog says:

                  OK, try this. Go discuss review embargos and payola and other AAA corruption on a bunch of game news websites’ forums or article comments and see how many censor the discussion, much less ban your account.

                  Now go back to the same sites and try to discuss Nathan Grayson or Patricia Hernandez and see how much censorship and ban hammerage and pure venom you encounter, by contrast.

                  Also notice that Gerstmann’s Kane&Lynch firing was somehow not subject to a week-long, industry-wide news blackout in hopes it would go away. And that the people reporting on it weren’t called harassers or mysogynists or terrorists in an attempt to intimidate them and distract from the criticism.

                  It is the behavior of the press that is the difference. The months-long popularity of Gamergate is the response to the gaming press’s months-long cover up of journalistic corruption and smear campaign against gamers. “It’s about misogyny and harassment!” is the real cliche.

                  P.S. Similar AAA review “agreements” (for youtubers, etc.) were majorly publicized by Totalbiscuit (a major pro-Gamergate guy) long before the journalists. No, Gamergate has no particular aversion to exposing indie nor AAA corruption.

                  1. guy says:

                    What precisely is the initial accusation made by GamerGate that was blacked out and deserved a hearing?

                    1. kunedog says:

                      Patricia Hernandez gave positive coverage to at least three people she appears to be friends with (one of which was her roommate), without disclosing any of the relationships in the coverage.

                      Nathan Grayson wrote an article that gave positive coverage to Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, without disclosing that he was thanked in the credits and clearly knew Quinn. DQ was only one of 50 games covered in the two paragraph article, yet was somehow singled out in three ways:
                      a) The article’s title “Admission Quest” was a play on DQ’s title.
                      b) The only screenshot featured from any of the games was from DQ.
                      c) DQ was the first game (of only four) mentioned in the very short prose, praised as a “powerful Twine darling.”

                      Grayson wrote another article about Quinn’s role in a failed game jam TV show, painting her in a positive light. Despite the fact that the two were good enough friends to have planned an upcoming trip to Vegas together, this article also failed to disclose their relationship.

                    2. guy says:

                      Grayson wrote another article about Quinn's role in a failed game jam TV show, painting her in a positive light. Despite the fact that the two were good enough friends to have planned an upcoming trip to Vegas together, this article also failed to disclose their relationship.

                      Okay, that does have the appearance of impropriety and deserves a response. I was not actually previously aware of that accusation, as none of the pro-GamerGate people I have previously talked to mentioned it, instead saying it was about Zoe Quinn sleeping with people for good reviews. Which was not borne out by the timeline presented, so I haven’t been paying the movement much attention since.

                      Here’s some advice for the future: actually put that front and center when you start talking. Because everything flows from that; without a solid initial accusation there’s no reason why it should be covered. Since you are arguing that people’s normal channels for learning about gaming news are falsely representing your position, you should not assume that everyone has a complete and fully correct image of what it is.

                    3. Strictly speaking, these accusations against Grayson and Hernandez predate #GamerGate as such, and were addressed before the hashtag was even a gleam in Adam Baldwin’s eye.

                      The first accusation, of course, was that Quinn traded sexual favors for a positive review of her game by Grayson. Those claims were publically addressed, and correctly debunked, by Kotaku on 20 August 2014. Six days later, Kotaku had responded to the apparent conflict-of-interest involving Patricia Hernandez, added retroactive disclosures to all four of the articles in question, and also revised their official policy towards Patreon support by staff writers. Polygon posted their own revised Patreon guidelines in response to concerns about Ben Kuchera’s backing of Quinn on the same day.

                      The concerns raised were valid, and the response was significant. Those waving the banner of ethics in game journalism were, frankly, “winning.”

                      Until the next day, when Adam Baldwin, an actor and political pundit with no particular interest in games other than the occasional voice acting role, coined the #GamerGate hashtag by linking to videos by Internet Aristocrat that referenced the already-debunked “Quinnspiracy Theory” that kicked the whole thing off, rather than the more nuanced and defensible criticisms of Grayson and Hernandez’s actual ethical lapses.

                      Regardless of their initial motivations, proto-#GamerGate activists actually had raised genuine ethics concerns. But the crucial first few days after the hashtag, fueled by backlash over the so-called “gamers are dead” articles, saw the movement driven almost entirely by outrage, not ethical concerns, and aiming that outrage almost exclusively at female targets. Hence “#GamerGate has always been about harassing women.” Once that narrative took hold (not with reason, in my opinion), any chance of significant further concessions by Polygon, Kotaku, etc. was lost.

      2. Daimbert says:

        Three reviewers look at “Starbound.”

        Reviewer 1: “Loved it. Terraria in space, it's awesome”
        Reviewer 2: “Hated it. Unfinished. Terraria clone. It sucks.”
        Reviewer 3: “It's okay, but one dev is a cat owner, and that means by definition the game will make your computer explode.”

        I classify all of these reviews, if they are to be taken as reviews, with one simple adjective: bad. Look, the main difference between a review and a strict opinion piece is based around purpose, and generally the purpose for which someone would read them. People read reviews — of any product — to decide if they want to purchase that thing. People read opinion pieces to experience new perspectives and thoughts and in order to have thoughts provoked. These reviews pretty much only express a perspective, and focus on that. But if I’m looking to buy a product, telling me that you really like it is generally not all that relevant. Sure, if we have the same tastes, then if you like it then I’ll probably like it, too, but if we do differ in our tastes then I don’t care whether you like it or not. At most, I care WHY you like it or dislike it. But that in and of itself requires something like an objective measure; if you say you don’t like it because it bored you, that tells me nothing about whether or not it will bore me.

        So, for those reviews, what I want is something like objective facts, even if those objective facts are about subjective impressions (yes, you can have objective facts about subjective impressions. It is a fact that I am not in pain at the moment, even though pain is a subjective impression). In this case, the best objective fact is that the game is similar to Terraria. What I’d want to see in a review is to highlight that, compare it to the game by showing what is similar and what is different, and commenting on how that worked, or what the differences meant, or if there are any. For example, a review of a Starcraft clone could perfectly objectively point out the sides, and the units, and point out that unlike Starcraft the three sides don’t actually play that differently, and that the difference in tactics and units is mostly skin deep. Whether someone LIKES that or not is up to them.

        There have been a number of reviews I’ve read — mostly on Gamefaqs, but elsewhere as well — where I’ve BOUGHT a game because of the things the reviewer said they hated … because I liked them. As such, I tend to read both the top reviews and the bottom reviews, to get as much information as I can on what is good and what is bad about the game. But what’s interesting is not that they liked or disliked the game, but what things made them give the score they did. Anything that’s just personal preference gets ignored.

        To that end, I don’t think that Shamus’ articles are reviews or satisfy the reasons I’d read a review. It’s very difficult to decide if I want to play a game or not based on Shamus’ comments, even though it can happen (Saint’s Row the Third is the prime example, even though I haven’t played it yet). To do that, I have to sift out all of the real information on how the game plays from all of the discussion of Shamus’ impression, which is hard to do. So I don’t read Shamus’ works when I want a review. Instead, I read reviews. If all reviews are like Shamus’ opinion pieces, then I don’t even have that. And that would be very annoying.

        I mean, if all you did was take Yahtzee at face value, you'd probably never purchase a game he reviewed at all. However, if you grok that his job is to take the piss out of a game whether it's fun or not, you can figure out which games he truly thinks are awful and which ones are worth a purchase.

        But why would I want to, if all I wanted to know was if I should buy/play the game? Presumably, I’d watch or read or whatever Yahtzee to see him take the piss out of games because I find that entertaining. As part of that, I might find some games that I’d like to play, but that’s not why I’m there. So if you accept that figuring out if I want to play a game takes more effort if I try to do it through Yahtzee, doesn’t that imply that it would be beneficial to have reviews by people who are literally just reviewing the game, and not taking the piss out of them, so as to make that easier?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I think “fair” fits better than “objective” in what you are talking about.Lets look at Yahtzee,since he is brought up:Yes he does make fun of games.BUT,whether he likes the game or not,he will always say if something is original,or if something looks pretty,or if something feels good,etc.Even if he doesnt like it,he points out the good he sees in it,and even when he does like it,he points out the bad he sees in it.

          To be a good reviewer,you dont really have to notice every single detail of a game,but if you do notice,you should point it out.A good reviewer will see a bug in a game and say something like “This game has this bug,but I didnt mind it,even though some of you might”.A bad reviewer will see that bug and deliberately not mention it.Thats why I like the reviews of AngryJoe,even though I mostly disagree with him and his scores.Or Yahtzees videos,even though I mostly watch him for yucks.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Well, no, because I think that reviews have to be fair AND objective. But in thinking about this, what I mean more by objective is that it isn’t written or doesn’t take any particular perspective, even the author’s. Sure, it’s hard for an author to not include their own perspective or consider things in some way from that perspective, but in a review you should be striving to consider as many perspectives as possible, or at least as many relevant ones as possible. Taking my example of Conception II, for example, my comments on it didn’t consider the dating sim aspect from only only my perspective — not attached to the PG Persona style but not clamoring for something “adult” either — but also took into account the perspective of the person who wants the PG end and someone who wants the “adult” end either. That’s at least more objective and more what we want.

            Sure, different people will have different perspectives and so might miss things or see things that others won’t. That’s why you read more than one review, and that’s why I always read very negative and very positive reviews when looking for a game. But the attempt of a formal review should always be to encompass as many relevant perspectives as possible. If you’re reviewing an FPS, think about it from the perspective of someone who likes FPSs … even if you aren’t someone who likes FPSs.

            This is the reason why I’ve never tried to really review in any way fighting games. I play them for the story (yes, seriously) and so don’t care enough about the fighting mechanisms to properly evaluate them, and that’s what’s important to people who actually like fighting games. I’m just not qualified to evaluate it from the right perspective. Thus, anything I say on fighting games really is generally an opinion piece, and not a review, because I can’t give anything other than my subjective opinion in a way that would actually matter.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              But there arent many objective things you can say.You can comment on the framerate,options screen and thats about it.Everything else is subjective(even the “it feels like this other game”).

              But,you can subjectively not like fps,and yet still comment on how the elements of this particular fps would feel to someone who does like them.Thats what I meant by fair.

              For example,check out TotalBiscuits video on the presequel:he says from the start that he doesnt like it,and is not into the series,yet goes on talking about how the gameplay and story work compared to borderlands 2.Nothing he says there is objective(again,aside from his talk about fps,options,and such),but it still is fair.

              1. Daimbert says:

                We’re going on different definitions of objective here, as I pretty much outlined in all of my comments. I don’t limit objective to frame rate and the like, and comparisons between the versions and discussions of how the elements fit together are objective in my view, not subjective … or, rather, they’re objective facts about subjective experiences.

                To put it better, the review you cite is trying to talk about it from the perspective of someone who might like FPSs, and trying to evaluate it in that way, and not just expressing their own subjective viewpoint. Whether we call that objective, subjective, or pizza, that’s what a review should be striving for, and what I think the new guard are arguing against, insisting that a reviewer always brings their own subjective views to the table and so must always or at least is right to write totally from that perspective in a review. I say that that sort of thing is good in opinion pieces, but is useless for a review.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Thats why I said fair fits better as a term than objective.Because even if you put yourself in the mind of someone who likes fps,you still arent talking objective stuff.

                  For example,I like rpgs,especially the ones that are with an isometric view,even more the ones that offer you actual nonlinear narrative and choices with actual impact.Yet I dont like witcher.Can I then be used as an objective gauge in order to say witcher is a bad game,because it does all the things I like in an rpg,yet I still dont like it?Of course not.And using your definition of objective,I could list just the stuff I dont like about witcher,and still deceive you about the game.

                  But,I can still be fair about the game and point out what I think is good about it,and what I think is bad,and let you decide for yourself if youd have a similar opinion.Theres nothing objective in that fairness though.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    You DO recall that I said that reviews have to be BOTH fair and objective, right? Your comment here seems to be saying that if I call for them to be objective then I don’t call for them to be fair, while relying on your view that things that I think objective aren’t at all objective and so wouldn’t count. We’re never going to get anywhere doing that [grin].

                    Again, call it objective, subjective or pizza, a review should strive to represent a more general view and not just express in detail the personal view of the reviewer, to my mind. If you agree with that, then we’re set. If not, then that’s what we need to discuss.

                    1. Ivan says:

                      That does seem like a bit of a problem though. How can I tell you how you will feel about a game? That just seems fundamentally flawed. I don’t see why we should expect anything other than the reviewer’s personal opinion of the game. You might argue that their opinion isn’t useful to you but I would say that if you follow the reviewer long enough to start to understand what they like and dislike in a game then you can use that context to interpret their review in a way that is useful to you.

                      Like a reviewer says that WoW is ugly, well I’ve always just shrugged my shoulders whenever anyone has said this to me, I don’t think it’s ugly. Then the reviewer reviews something else and says it’s just about as ugly as WoW. Well that information is still useful to me even though it doesn’t reflect my opinion. I now know the general art style of the game and that i’ll find it pretty inoffensive.

                      I would much rather know that a reviewer is writing based on their own opinions because it just seems pointless to try to guess how the masses will respond to a game, and what they’ll like or dislike.

                    2. Daimbert says:

                      So let me try to state it a bit more clearly and less controversially: a review, to count as a good review, has to state as clearly and directly as possible all of the information that I need to determine how I’m likely to feel about that game. If you don’t agree with this, then we have a more fundamental issue, likely around what the purpose of a review is.

                      Given the above, I argue that simply presenting your own subjective experience and perspective doesn’t do that. The best it can do is provide a list of your experiences and perspective that I can then use to glean out what my perspective will be once I come to know what your perspective is and how it relates to mine. This is a lot of work, and doesn’t clearly and directly give me the information I need to decide how I’ll feel about the game.

                      Let’s take your WoW example. In my mind, the problem is with the reviewer describing the graphics as “ugly”. Even if you know that the reviewer found the graphics in WoW ugly when you didn’t, you don’t know that in the second case that you won’t find the graphics ugly, because with that statement you don’t know if they found the graphics ugly because they were similar to WoW’s or because they were in a different style completely and were done incompetently. The information that you are gleaning from the review is that they are similar to WoW’s, which might not be the case. So what I think we’d want the reviewer to do is say “The graphics are in a similar style to WoW’s”. At most, the reviewer could add “which is a style that I don’t care for”. Given that, you’d know that the graphics are similar to WoW’s, which is what you ACTUALLY wanted to know. To be a great review, the review would go into the differences between the two games in terms of graphics so that you can decide — if you know yourself well-enough — if that might matter to you. Even in terms of effectiveness, you can give more details on what’s actually there beyond just what your impression of it is. While I don’t agree with Shamus on it and he does put in a lot of subjective impressions, I think his discussions of the graphics in TOR vs GW2 are a good example, because he talked a lot about what the graphics did in general as a springboard/justification for why he didn’t care for TOR’s. I LIKE TOR’s graphics, in general, but reading what he said I know a lot more than that he found them boring. I also know WHY he found them boring.

                      Which means, to my mind, that reviews need to spend more time talking about the properties and less time talking about how those properties made them feel personally. Let me give you an example, using Conception II’s combat system:

                      The combat system in Conception II is a turn-based scheme similar to that of the Personas. You trigger a battle by running into them, and if you manage to catch them unaware you can ambush them, but unlike in the Personas where you get a free first shot which then devolves to the normal system — meaning that if you had enough speed you could get two shots in before they could even move — in Conception II you just get a guaranteed first shot, and then the enemies get to attack. (Skip a bit here that I would put in a review because I’m not doing one).

                      The tactical combat isn’t as detailed as the Personas is, even though adding position does add something you don’t find there. There are also a lot more enemies than there typically were in the Personas. This contributes to Conception II being more grindy than the Personas, because not only do you face more monsters per room or floor, but because Classmating depends on level and your companions don’t gain experience unless they are in your party, if you want the best Star Children you’ll want to level up all seven companions, which can take a while. And you’ll want to level up your Star Children for big bosses as well, and the city system encourages you to make them independent when they won’t gain any more levels, because they will benefit you less in your party and benefit your city a lot by not being there. All of this means that you’ll likely want to run and re-run dungeons a lot just to level yourself and everyone else up, which means doing roughly the same things over and over again.

                      I’ll end it there. I consider this useful and giving information that the person reading it needs to know. It is informed by my perspective, but not simply expressing it. You don’t really know — although you can guess — that I find the grinding onerous and that I wish for the greater tactical depth of the Personas. If I was writing a real review, I’d probably mention that but not as a main point, but as an aside to let you know that it was too much for me but that if you are more tolerant of grinding than I am you might be okay, on top of describing why it’s grindy. I don’t say that it is onerous as a point of fact, and if I ever did I’d say why. Even the lack of tactical depth point is something that I’d support with evidence and facts from the game. To me, this is doing what a review should do. If we agree on that, then it doesn’t matter whether we call it objective, subjective or pizza. If we don’t, then it seems like we disagree on what a review should do or be for.

      3. Andy_Panthro says:

        I didn’t actually mention games journalism at all, I was talking about factual reporting and opinion, as you see with major newspapers and so on.

        Games are entirely different, and should be viewed in the same was a film reporting/criticism or the equivalent for literature.

        And yes, reviews are always going to be opinion-based. Just the facts would be rather dull and unhelpful.

        1. Daimbert says:

          I think people have too limited a notion of “fact”. What do you think a fact-based review would contain or couldn’t contain? What opinions are critical to making a good or useful review?

          As an example, take Conception II. Stating that the game takes the normal dating sim type thing like the Personas and ups the sexual content, often in ways that are juvenile, is to me, a fact, and a fact that’s worth expressing. Saying that it’s too “PG” for people who want a full-on adult-type dating sim but too risque for people want the level that you find in the Personas is also a fact, and a fact that’s worth expressing. Saying that it bothered the reviewer is expressing an opinion … and isn’t all that helpful.

          I don’t think that reviewers ought not say express opinions like the last one in a review, but I don’t think those provide much beyond stylistic considerations to a review.

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Those are not facts. For one, whether something is risque or not is subjective. Whether something is juvenile is subjective (some people never grow up). Even applying the label ‘dating sim’ can be subjective (for instance, I’d argue Persona isn’t one, though parallels exist).

            The fact of the matter (I’m aware of the irony there) is that people experience things in different ways, so if you’re trying to describe an experience (and not just basic stuff like “it runs at 60 fps!” or “it has guns and sex in it!”) it’s going to be subjective (heck, even describing the guns and sex can be subjective when referring to how much there is… whether it’s a lot or not kinda depends on perspective).

            And really, most of the actual objective facts aren’t going to say much useful about the experience itself. At least in a judging-a-book-by-its-cover sense.

            1. Abnaxis says:

              Reading through this thread, it seems like a lot of people are approaching the problem as if the only way to create an objective measure that can independently verified, is to give one with a quantifiable number attached to it (so at least Scale or Interval level in the parlance of quantitative social research)

              This is not the case. You can, in fact, come to objective conclusions without assigning an absolute value to whatever it is you are describing. Even though an ordinal measurement (e.g. strongly disagree/strongly agree scales, or frumpy/risque) is entirely subjective by itself, it is valid and objective to use and ordinal measurement to compare two things

              Take Daimbert’s example–he didn’t say that Conception II is risque, he said it is more risque than Conception I. That comparison makes a difference, because while nobody might agree on what is too risque, they can much more readily agree that a shorter skirt is more tantalizing than a longer one; or that a vivid description of a sexual act is more risque than a implied fade-to-black, and an explicit animation portraying the act is more risque than both. Through comparison, much of the subjectivity has been factored out.

              Now, all this is not to say that making the comparison is a perfectly accurate indicator, or that everyone would rank all works in the same order. Perception of sexuality is a personal thing and perspective will introduce error even in comparative measurements like these. However, his example is at least as objective as reporting FPS numbers*, because he is making a valid, theoretically-statistically-testable statement with the information he is giving.

              *:Remember, FPS number come from specific machines with specific hardware and specific software configurations, which may or may not be reflective of those generally in use, so FPS numbers aren’t 100% objective either.

            2. Daimbert says:

              Well, I think one main issue here is that you are focusing on the labels as if I was using that as a precise label as opposed to using it as a short-hand for a set of common properties that can be used as a starting point. I don’t call the Personas dating-sims and didn’t do that in the example, but do think it fair to say that the S-links are dating-sim-like elements. Thus, that portion can be compared to Conception II’s dating-sim-like component and to adult dating sims in at least that component, and if I say that then you have some idea of what properties I mean without having to list them all out every time, and as a major gameplay component I’m going to talk about the specific details of that if I’m doing a proper review. For things like risque and juvenile, again I’m going to use those as general placeholders to common knowledge, but also in a review talk about what I mean by that by giving precise examples from the game.

              The point, as I think Abnaxis expressed well, is not to say that something is “too risque” for a specific person. The goal is to avoid making that sort of judgement, but instead to talk about what it has, how it does that, and how that works with everything else. As I said above to Ivan, the point of a review is that at the end of it all you should have all the information you’ll need to decide how you’re likely to feel about the game, as clearly and directly as possible. That means limiting things that are really just your own views and only bringing them in to let the reader clearly see how your perspective might bias the work.

      4. poiumty says:

        Personal opinion can be found in a review, but that doesn’t mean a review cannot be anything but personal opinion.

        There are objective things to be stated in a review. What kind of genre is it. Describe its content, its gameplay. Did it work well, or did it crash/have framerate issues/missing textures? How do the graphics compare to other games of its time? Is there a robust options menu? Compare it to other similar games. State the differences.

        A 100% subjective review would sound like:

        “A few years ago my puppy dog died. I felt so many feelings back then. This game makes me feel so many feelings just like when my puppy dog died.”

        Such writing! But it doesn’t really tell you anything about the game, does it.

        Reviews start becoming corrupt when you’re roommates with the developer and you never disclose this fact in your glowing review of awesome. Reviews start becoming biased when you take your personal moral and/or emotional issues and make a big deal out of them, as if your own stupid problems were everyone’s stupid problems.

        1. There are objective things to be stated in a review.

          Not too many if you want an actual review. Title, retail price, and publisher are usually about where objectivity ends in evaluating media, but let’s continue…

          What kind of genre is it.

          Heck, we can’t agree on what constitutes a video game most days. Is it sci-fi or sci-fantasy? What designates one from the other, objectively, in a way that’s been agreed upon by all? How many sub-genres must be listed to be objective? Is it objective to call Fallout New Vegas a shooter or is it an inventory-management simulator with RPG elements?

          Personal, moral, and emotional issues have no places in reviews of media consumed by human beings? Really? That’s news to me. I guess any review that says a given production goes against the reviewer’s beliefs is out of bounds? What if a game came out where your demographic (pick any category you choose) was vilified as being the target for the protagonist to destroy? Would mentioning you found that offensive or in any way detracting from the experience be verboten? Is a combat veteran saying that a war-oriented game/movie/story is awful because it glorifies experiences they found traumatic wrong?

          Further, what’s the difference in your review criteria between someone who finds the narrative or setting of a game to be inherently negative versus someone who finds the gameplay itself to be negative? Maybe they really don’t like turn-based combat, and they give a JRPG a bad review. Is that as incorrect as calling out the game because the reviewer doesn’t care for a game where the characters are oversexed or stereotypical?

          It’s as if one expects a game to get the nearly the same results from every reviewer, if they could all just be “objective” about it. The fact that a reviewer got lambasted for giving GTA IV a score that was a smidge below perfect shows that this sort of expectation isn’t interested in reviews, it’s interested in agreement with their own outlook combined with a wiki page.

          1. Daimbert says:

            What if a game came out where your demographic (pick any category you choose) was vilified as being the target for the protagonist to destroy? Would mentioning you found that offensive or in any way detracting from the experience be verboten?

            I don’t think anyone is saying that a reviewer can’t say those things, and sometimes that can be important to a) personalize the writing/review and b) to reveal your biases so that people can know how to interpret what you’re saying objectively. But if that is all you are saying, or if that is your justification for saying that the game is bad, then you’re writing an opinion piece, not a review. Admit it and make it the best opinion piece you can.

            Is a combat veteran saying that a war-oriented game/movie/story is awful because it glorifies experiences they found traumatic wrong?

            Yes, because what they are saying is that the game was problematic for them, or awful for them, not that it is an awful game. It is quite possible for a number of people to not want to play great games for some reasons or want to play bad games for some reasons. To give a non-gaming example, I can’t stand to watch the Firefly episode “War Stories” because it is too brutal for me. I concede that it is a well-crafted episode, with a lot of good humour and good character building scenes. But I still don’t ever want to watch it again. It would be wrong for me to call it an awful or bad episode because of that, and yet totally fair for me to say, even in a review, that it was too much FOR ME.

            Maybe they really don't like turn-based combat, and they give a JRPG a bad review. Is that as incorrect as calling out the game because the reviewer doesn't care for a game where the characters are oversexed or stereotypical?

            In my view, yes. You can’t bash a game because it does things that you personally don’t like. So you should mention that the game is turn-based, or that the characters are oversexed or stereotypical, and then go on to describe how it actually does these things to see if overall that means good, bad or indifferent. Stereotypical characters, for example, might work really well for the story they’re trying to tell, so saying that the characters are stereotypical doesn’t say anything about whether or not the characters are good or work in their story. To use another non-gaming example, the lead singer of the band AC/DC absolutely cannot sing, but his voice fits the songs they do, unlike some other, similar bands. A review is trying to fit the pieces together, not toss out things that annoyed or pleased the reviewer.

          2. poiumty says:

            “Heck, we can't agree on what constitutes a video game most days.” (someone teach me how to quote)

            Doesn’t matter. The more you describe it, the more accurate a picture is painted into the mind of who reads it. And if you can’t, then you probably shouldn’t be writing video game reviews. A genre doesn’t begin and end at “RPG”.

            “Personal, moral, and emotional issues have no places in reviews of media consumed by human beings? Really?”

            I said the opposite in the very first sentence. All in all, my arguments aren’t extreme. I like reading an author’s opinion on a game, but “it offended me” isn’t much relevant to whether I’d like the game or not. Let me offer an example:

            “What if a game came out where your demographic (pick any category you choose) was vilified as being the target for the protagonist to destroy?”

            What if it actually doesn’t, and you just thought that because you were overly sensitive? Who takes the blame then? What if you can’t be convinced otherwise, despite rational voices telling you so? What if you’re part of a clique of people with the same opinion, and they keep telling you you’re right and you keep listening to them?

            Problems like these could be avoided by keeping your feelings as far apart from your review as possible. You’re here to tell people whether THEY would like the game, not whether YOU liked the game. And just because human subjectivity will always exist in a review, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be *as objective as bloody possible*.
            If you want to share your opinion on the game’s percieved moral issues, go ahead. But do NOT weigh it against the game, and do not use language that indicates you are.

            “Maybe they really don't like turn-based combat”

            Then what are they doing reviewing a turn-based game!? I can’t imagine a person who really doesn’t like turn-based combat having much experience with the genre. Even so, a disclaimer in the opening paragraph could clear things up easily. As for the story, if you don’t like it then it’s important to inform the consumer exactly why, using language that is as descriptive and unambiguous as possible. In fact that goes for the entire piece.

            “The fact that a reviewer got lambasted for giving GTA IV a score that was a smidge below perfect”

            I’m gonna stop you there. There’s an inherent assumption in this accusation, and it’s that “people were so entitled that they wanted a perfect score for GTA 4”. Which I really don’t agree with and I think it’s been a misunderstanding from day one.
            Reading the criticisms of that article, it’s fairly clear what people were upset with: not the score. They were upset that the only criticism they could find in the article, and thus the only written reason why the game couldn’t have gotten a perfect score, is in regards to the writer’s sensibilities. Basically, if the writer didn’t mind the state of GTA’s protagonists, which was exaggerated deliberately to make a point, the game would’ve been as good as it gets. So no, people weren’t upset because they wanted a perfect score – they were upset because they saw unfair criticism.

            There’s a christian website out there that separates its video game review scores between a “morality score”, which tries to gauge how much the game aligns with a christian’s religious beliefs and values, and an objective score that takes the game’s strengths and faults into account as objectively as possible, without lumping in personal feelings. It’s been touted as an example for a website that’s doing it right. If you’re still confused as to what kind of reviews I’m arguing for, then you can look it up.

            1. Daimbert says:

              Use the blockquote tag. When you do a reply, find the strike tag, copy the line, and replace strike with blockquote. Put the text quoted in the place of the Darth Vader line, and you should be good to go.

            2. Shamus says:

              “You're here to tell people whether THEY would like the game, not whether YOU liked the game.”

              That review has just as much a right to exist as GTA itself. This is more important to me than most critics. I ding games for insane (by the standards of the industry) things that lots of people just don’t care about. What do these bandits eat? Why can’t this franchise pick a tone and stick with it? Why is the cinematography so awful? Why is this cutscene so long? Why isn’t this plot element better justified?

              If you don’t care about lore, or tone? Then you’re not going to like my reviews. But I’m certainly not going to change my style to make my reviews more useful to people I don’t understand. If someone wants to fault a game over their personal politics, that’s their business. I can’t judge, because my stuff is just as “irrelevant” to lots of other people.

              If a reviewer is faulting a game for things you think are irrelevant, then don’t read them. If enough people stop reading them, then they can either settle for being a niche voice (like me) or change their tone for more mainstream appeal. When people get outraged and send hateful abuse, then people become entrenched. People will see “talking about gender” as a way to stand against abuse.

              When I read the comment thread responding to that review, I wanted to write some gender-bait myself. Not because I had an opinion on the game, but as a way of giving the finger to the kind of idiot man-child that would become ENRAGED over something so trivial. (I didn’t, of course. It’s actually a terrible and counter-productive thing to do, and only makes the problem worse.)

              This is the cycle that feeds the controversy. Person A says something that irritates B. So B responds with personal abuse. A doesn’t want to change to please the people who abused them, so they now have a perceived moral imperative to engage in more irritating behavior.

              Fans respond with, “If you don’t like it, don’t play it.” But this goes both ways. If you don’t like her reviews, don’t read them. Maybe she’ll end up just reviewing for people in her thought-group. And that’s totally fine.

              How we treat people is more important than how we treat videogames.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Shamus, why do you call what you do a review, instead of an analysis or a recap (like Agony Booth) or something that makes it an opinion piece rather than a review? Why are you attached to saying that what you do is write reviews instead of an opinion piece? I don’t consider much of what you write reviews, for exactly the reasons you mention here: you nitpick on things that matter to you without concern of how most other people will feel about it. But there’s nothing wrong with that, and what you do is valuable and enjoyable, and definitely should exist. It just, to my mind, doesn’t have to exist as a REVIEW.

                As I’ve said, I read a review to decide if I’m going to want to play the game or not. For efficiency, that means that better reviews will appeal to the perspectives of more people in order to best achieve that, which can be done in multiple ways. So, yeah, to my mind if you digress too much into things that you know only apply to you, you are filling a review with unnecessary information that may or may not be interesting. But if you don’t want to try to fit in more perspectives, then that doesn’t mean that you should stop writing. It just means that you shouldn’t write reviews, but analyses, or opinion pieces, or whatever it is that we want to call these things. And that’s just fine, and an important part of the gaming writing landscape.

                So don’t think that if we think that reviews need to be objective that the stuff you do will have no place. To my mind, it will have an important place, and still be of great value. Just, uh, not so much when I’m trying to decide if I want to buy a game or not [grin].

                EDIT: Just thought of the right term for it. Shamus, you do commentary. You don’t do reviews, really, in my opinion. But commentary is valid and valuable, too.

              2. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

                Your last sentence should be made into tshirts and given out to every child between 5-15 for the next decade.

              3. poiumty says:

                (Thanks Daimbert for teaching me how to quote)

                That review has just as much a right to exist as GTA itself.

                I wasn’t necessarily talking about *that* review (actually had Bayonetta 2 in mind). It does have the right to exist, and I’ll defend its right to exist. It doesn’t, however, have the right to not be criticized. More on this later.

                If you don't care about lore, or tone? Then you're not going to like my reviews.

                But what you write is critique, not review. One is an in-depth analysis of the intricacies of a story, the other is a buyer’s guide and consumer information tool. The mentality with which each of these is approached is different: one seeks to identify what exactly was good or bad in a game, why it was so, and go to beyond the surface to find out if the story stands up to scrutiny. The other seeks to identify genres and subgenres in order to figure out which niche of consumer the game would work best with, to inform the people reading it how state-of-the-art it is, and to provide a concise summary of what it’s about.

                I think reviews shouldn’t be critique. Not only are they usually put out hastily in order to inform people as quickly as possible, they also don’t need to go in-depth on “what do they eat”. Because I doubt you’ve ever refused to buy an otherwise good game because you couldn’t figure out what the characters ate. These kinds of criticisms are all suggestions for improvement and criteria for which to judge a game as an art form.

                If a reviewer is faulting a game for things you think are irrelevant, then don't read them.

                See this is the problem with websites that have grown to have mass appeal: people will look at them as an authority. To some extent, your views are expected to mirror the everyman, and if you hire someone who starts going on and on about how artsy-fartsy a certain game isn’t when he’s supposed to be reviewing it, you can and will lose readers. And this will undoubtedly come with an outpour of annoyance and frustration from people who didn’t expect that. If I were to make a comparison, it’s like DA2 shifting focus to become more suited to the action gamer and leaving the thinking man behind. The outcry was noticeable. And I know and understand that there shouldn’t have been an outcry, just like there shouldn’t have been an outcry over the GTA review. But the world doesn’t work with such idealized notions, and it’s folly to treat it as if it does.

                And doubtlessly they have lost readers, just like you said. However, individual mentality is different from group psychology. An individual can be held responsible for their actions to a greater extent, and the average joe will moderate himself to a greater extent. But when it comes to groups, it’s important we identify and expect the backlash ahead of time so that we can mitigate it before it even begins. And no amount of “behave yourself!!!” said after the fact will help in this regard.

                People have strong opinions online. Going in, saying something controversial and expecting people to not retaliate is just as foolish as throwing yourself into the jaws of the wolf with nothing to defend you but loud proclamations that you did nothing wrong. This is why you keep your personal feelings separate from your professional opinion, and people will be willing to show you the same courtesy in return.

                1. Shamus says:

                  Your comment made me aware of a completely beautiful* circle in this whole business:

                  “Hey! Your game is popular, therefore you have an obligation to meet such-and-such moral standards!”

                  “Hey! Your website is popular, therefore your reviews have an obligation to meet such-and-such standards of objectivity.”

                  I think where we differ here is that I don’t see a hard line between “critique” and “review”. There’s a difference, but it’s more gradient-ish. It’s certainly not the sort of point I would go to war over, as it were. But then again, maybe this is because I don’t read reviews.

                  “People have strong opinions online. Going in, saying something controversial and expecting people to not retaliate is just as foolish as throwing yourself into the jaws of the wolf with nothing to defend you but loud proclamations that you did nothing wrong. ”

                  I agree. Although in the case of the social justice stuff, I’m convinced most of them have NO IDEA how their stuff sounds to the audience. This is an EXTREMELY fiddly subject, because social justice talk is one of those optical illusions where it’s either a woman or a skull. https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/0/6660643/il_fullxfull.298449672.jpg

                  Conversations like this take extreme care, and obviously you can’t have that conversation in the typical comment-thread venue. So the reviewer says something they think is perfectly reasonable. The audience hears something outrageous. They respond with abuse. The reviewer concludes these people all hate women, and both sides become entrenched without ever properly explaining their position.

                  I don’t have a solution for this. The best I can do is avoid the topic and hope it all cools down. (Although I appreciate the way everyone is keeping it cool here. This exchange is miraculous by the standards of GG.)

                  * Beautiful in the way Bishop thought the Alien xenomorph was beautiful.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    But the xenomorph is beautiful.So sleek,and majestic,and graceful,and black,and shiny.

                  2. poiumty says:

                    To be fair, I’m not necessarily saying it’s critique in reviews that is the problem. Sometimes they mingle, and sometimes that’s ok. But like you said, it’s social justice that is a matter of opinion, and it’s not just the people doing the commenting that have strong opinions, it’s the article writers too.

                    And when two strong opinions collide, we have ourselves a controversy.

                    Personally I don’t think anything good can come of this moral posturing, which is why I dislike people who take strong social justice stances. All they do is create divides where there aren’t any, whereas we were once all gamers now we have to be “people on one side” and “people on the other side” because we disagreed with eachother on a thing that isn’t playing video games.

                    1. Classic says:

                      Yeah. I agree. “They” always do stuff I disagree with and “they” are monolithic and bad, so I ignore everything that sounds like something “they” say. I’m glad “we” don’t make divisions where there are none like “they” do.

                      Are you following me on this one?

                      At best (and I don’t give the conversation that much credit) this is a conversation where two (or more) parties are talking past each other. Some of it comes down to the use of language that’s not commonly understood. “Latency” means something specific in computer engineering, for example. If there’s no agreement on what terms mean you can’t really argue (here, meaning to discuss), you just argue (here, meaning to fight with words).

                      If we’re being compassionate to all arguers, this state of “not really arguing” exists because of this mismatch of terminology OR (here, an inclusive or, not the English exclusive or (XOR)) because of a failure to recognize what opposed participants are trying to argue about as important.

                  3. Classic says:

                    I’m tipping my hand on this one, but I think of it more as those “auditory illusions” where once you know what you’re “supposed” to hear, you can’t “unhear” it (there are also a few optical illusions that work this way, but they usually have to deal with sex and weren’t as profound for me). Same deal with when you learn a new language that has phonemes foreign to those you already know, you struggle to differentiate them. Or how “clicking” (Khoisan?) languages’ signature clicking consonants sound like they don’t come from a human speaker the first couple of times you hear them.

                    I’m certain that there’s no want for hard-to-justify arguments. I don’t think “participants” in social justice discussions are (or can) be winnowed based on education or cognitive abilities. Especially with people being willing to enter discussions proudly affirming their lack of understanding and the armies of strawmen that spring up in any internet thread.

                    There is an awful lot of “us” and “we” and “they” and “them” among the posts here. I think we should try and do better.

                  4. Trevel says:

                    It really doesn’t help anyone with anything that when sociologist-types use “sexist” or “racist” they mean something entirely different from the general use, and I’m pretty sure that most have no idea that that’s the case.

              4. deda says:

                Once again you are forgetting the key difference between normal criticisms and political ones, you have never claimed that someone is evil for not caring about what some npcs eat, but if someone doesn’t care about social justice issues they will be a privileged misogynistic scum at best.

                And “standing against abuse” is a REALLY bad reason to take the side of the social justice warriors when abusive hate campaigns for minor offenses has always been their MO (a behaviour that is often encouraged by those poor abused game journalists themselves), I’m really sick of hearing people complain when they get a taste of their own medicine.

                1. Shamus says:

                  “Once again you are forgetting the key difference between normal criticisms and political ones, ”

                  That’s a pretty blurry line. Sure, YOU see social justice as controversial and politically charged. But their entire perception of the issue is fundamentally different. You say, “Keep your politics out of my games” and they hear “I hate women”, because in their view only someone who hates women could possibly oppose their (to them) harmless, perfectly reasonable viewpoint.

                  From their point of view, why should they change their review to suit the preferences of people who hate them?

                  And to explain that you DON’T hate women requires a deep excavation of fundamental assumptions. Like I said above, this is a touchy subject.

                  Granted: They shouldn’t bring up controversial assumptions without expecting a backlash.

                  Corollary: They aren’t going to change their worldview on the whims of an angry crowd, and a change of worldview is required from them to even begin to see why their comments are political in the first place.

                  “And “standing against abuse” is a REALLY bad reason to take the side of the social justice warriors when abusive hate campaigns for minor offenses has always been their MO ”

                  Just as its unfair to blame all of GG for the actions of the doxxing, swatting, threatening assholes, it is also unfair to blame everyone on the social justice for the MO of their extremists.

                  And if someone argues, “They are ALL extremists”, then I’ll point you to my comment elsewhere in this thread where I talk about how social media distorts our view of our opposition.

                  I’m not trying to convince you to change sides. I’m trying to explain why with is an intractable problem and the people on the other side aren’t villains.

  9. boz says:

    I’ve been a gamer for more than 20 years. I began with Game&Watchs when I was 7, I played my first computer game (Vanguard) on a Commodore64 when I was 8 years old. Games were my hobby of choice. I’ve been ridiculed and belittled for that hobby when I was a kid and teen. I remember 90s where gamers were declared Nazis, Murderers and such thanks to the politicians and the media. I never cared, because thats the kind of person I am. But my friends were affected by that, their families were affected by that.

    Last year a lot of so called “Video Game Journalists” and “Video Game Journalism” sites sounded like people from my formative years. I expect that from mass media, I expect that from politicians. It feels like Video Game sites are shitting on their target audience to get short term audience. I know it’s petty but I’m ok with them closing down or losing money over it.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      I’m trying to understand the mindset that thinks of ‘gamers’ as a meaningful group. I’ve played games all my life, like pretty much everyone I know, but I don’t think of myself as a ‘gamer’ any more than I think of myself as a ‘TV watcher’. So what is a ‘gamer’? Are the video game journalists (who spend most of their timing playing games and talking about and writing about games) also gamers?

      1. Spammy says:

        As I see it, people use their hobbies as a way to define themselves. What you like to do in your spare time distinguishes you and says something about you. And you can do something without being a hobbyist for it. I drive, but I don’t know anything about engines or car models. I listen to music but I don’t make music or study music theory or go searching for the newest bands. I watch movies but I’m not a cinephile, there’s a ton of classics I haven’t seen and people in the film industry that I don’t know.

        So if we have people who watch things like Extra Credits, Errant Signal, and/or Mr. Btongue and keep up with gaming news and try to keep abreast of what’s happening in the industry and involve themselves in gaming communities, and all sorts of other things that you do when playing games is a hobby you love and want to be involved in, why not call them gamers?

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Why not? Because there are people who don’t watch things like Extra Credits, Errant Signal, and/or Mr. Btongue who I might not want to associate with who also call themselves that.

          1. poiumty says:

            Anders Breivik is a gamer. You know what else Anders Breivik is? A human being.

            Do you refuse to call yourself a human being so as to not associate with Anders Breivik?

            1. Otters34 says:

              Well that’s silly. Of course we do.That’s why we phased that term out, so humans wouldn’t be tarred with the same unfair brush splattering the crimes of humans everywhere.

        2. Ranneko says:

          What I have learnt from moving and thus having to form a new social circle is that gamer tells me almost nothing about a person. It really isn’t a meaningful distinction, because all it says is that someone plays games a lot.

          It does not tell me what kind of a games they play or the intersection between the games I like to play and they like to play.

          So for example I have met a few of people here who really like to play PC games, they even like to play multiplayer PC games, but they don’t actually play the games I like to play multiplayer.

          One of them really likes strategy games (especially Civ) and I really just do not like the waiting those game involves in multiplayer.

          Another one really loves multiplayer survival games like Day Z and free to play games like World of Tanks. They are the only games he talks about, but those are games I really don’t have any interest in.

          For multiplayer I like more defined, shorter experiences, like you find in say Team Fortress 2, or even just a single level of Trine.

          That is what those articles were talking about by the way, that the term Gamer is not actually very useful when defining an audience, you don’t have to aim at this stereotype when designing a game, because the stereotype just isn’t useful any more.

      2. boz says:

        “Gamer” is a term like avid reader, cinephile, audiophiles, wargamer, LARPer, modeler, otaku, stamp collector. People who enjoy playing games are gamers.

        It’s pretty much the dictionary definition of the word:

        Can you clarify the part you are trying to understand?

        1. Primogenitor says:

          I think its the combining of all genres of the same media together – the romance trash novel reader, with the with the Ian M Banks hard sci-fi reader, with the Shakespearean sonnet reader, with the non-fiction reader, with the choose-your-own-adventure reader, with the comic reader. How much do they all have in common?

          1. boz says:

            “Avid reader” means more or less “One that reads, enthusiastically”. They don’t need anything else in common other than reading.

          2. Chamomile says:

            Sub-cultures can be divided down to the level of individuals, with overlap between groups that cross divisions and levels all the way down. That doesn’t mean that avid readers aren’t a distinct group from cinephiles. An avid reader of Tom Clancy novels might have more in common with the kind of cinephile who loved American Sniper politically, but the cinephile doesn’t care about the turbulent transition from dead tree to silicon and the avid reader does, and in that respect the Tom Clancy reader has more in common with a YA enthusiast or someone who reads New Age self-help than he does with the American Sniper guy.

      3. Phill says:

        Actually I think that is one of the points Leigh Alexander (in the infamous “Gamers are Dead” article) was trying to make (with varying degrees of success). Gamers *ought* to be a term that covers everyone that plays games.

        But (so the argument goes), the perception of what gamers are is largely dominated by the Call of Duty / Halo community, and the perception of them is dominated by the online multiplayer community (even for CoD style games the percentage of people who ever play online is less than 50%, last I heard), and the perception of *them* is dominated by the toxic assholes. She wasn’t arguing that gamers are toxic assholes, so much as that the minority of toxic assholes have essentially become identified with the term ‘gamer’ so much that the term has become corrupted, and that the marketing of (and making of) games for ‘gamers’ has been skewed in favour of this toxic minority.

        You can argue whether that argument holds up. I don’t think that the perception of gamers is as toxic as she thinks. It seems to be one of those things that we all assume *everyone else* is thinking (presumably the same *everyone else* that drives badly, believes tabloid newspapers etc.). The great majority of people, gamers or not, actually seem to be part of the ‘minority’ that aren’t taken in by this. (And as an aside, I don’t think the marketing is aimed at this minority that much either, unless you deliberately limit your gaze to look at the kinds of stuff that is in fact marketed to them…)

        So when media talk about ‘gamers’ as a monolithic entity, I suspect they are pandering to what ‘everyone believes’ that it turns out that very few people believe.

        1. Trevel says:

          Her article was in response to the Quinnspiracy attacks. While Leigh may have overstated her case a bit, it’s understandable why the image of “gamer” as “toxic asshole” was at the forefront of her mind — people she knew were being actively harassed.

          And yeah, I got the same from her article — that we’ve ceded the term “gamer” to mean “toxic asshole”, which is not what “gamer” means, at least to me.

          The entire POINT of the article is that gamers aren’t toxic assholes. Just a loud subset of them, that maybe we should stop paying that much attention to.

          It’s not surprising that toxic assholes took offense to that; it’s a little surprising that others did, although the horrifically bad choice for a title probably explains most of that. The Internet and Reading Comprehension are not the best of friends.

          1. Chamomile says:

            “it's a little surprising that others did, although the horrifically bad choice for a title probably explains most of that.”

            It’s not at all surprising if you actually talk to them and ask what they were angry about. Gamergate supporters have a subreddit, an 8chan board, and are swarming all over the Escapist forums, it is not hard to talk to them, and I’d recommend you do so before claiming to know what’s going on in this controversy.

            What caused this whole mess to explode from a weekend scandal to a six month civil war is, according to the general consensus so far as I was able to observe it both in September (when I first became aware of the issue) and a week or two ago (the last time I checked in with the gamergate side of the story) is the mass censorship campaign that saw discussion kicked from Reddit and 4chan and saw a video on the subject issued a false DMCA (that last one in particular is an extremely shady and underhanded tactic). The idea that someone could shut down conversations across such a vast swath of the internet was frightening and that fear was at the heart of the movement in its infancy. Then a series of a dozen articles come out across multiple websites simultaneously trying to paint a group of people who are opposed to censorship as a harassment campaign.

            For purposes of this conversation it doesn’t matter whether you think gamergate is right or wrong, and it doesn’t matter what you think Leigh Alexander’s intentions were. What matters is that there is no reason to be surprised when a group of people already scared and angry about someone demonstrating the ability to have conversations she disapproves of shut down across most of the internet are then misrepresented as a hate mob in a media blitz that doesn’t even mention their stated grievances subsequently goes to a war footing. Early on this entire mess could have been averted with a few apologies and clarifications of intent, but the news sites were either too proud, too out of touch, or too malicious to do that.

            Gamergate’s opinion on the kinds of gamers Leigh was talking about (according to you, at least, though I’m uncomfortable letting people speak to the intentions of others) ranges from “not really part of our culture” (on /r/KotakuInAction) to outright scorn as filthy casuals (on 8chan). If gamergate actually did start with people like that (and I wasn’t around early enough nor are there reliable records enough for me to know) then it’s not the toxic people who hijacked reasonable grievances, it’s the other way around.

            1. kunedog says:

              Yes, the censorship campaign that compromised vast swarths of the internet, including former free-speech strongholds, is the most revealing (and damning) part of efforts to stomp Gamergate out of existence.

              For anyone who witnessed it, “Nobody is going to take your games away” makes for a rather trite and feeble reassurance.

    2. James Bennett says:

      I feel like there’s a pretty major difference between the criticism that gaming faced in the nineties from politicians and mass media, and the criticism that games face today from games journalists. Politicians in the nineties saw video games as being “just for kids” and thought that regulation and censorship was necessary to protect the children. The latter group believes that video games are an art form capable of communicating powerful ideas, both good and bad. The point of contemporary critics isn’t that we should ban certain games, but that we should be more thoughtful about what sorts of games we consume.

      Even if you really believe that these modern critics want to take your games away, they don’t have the power to do so. The world has changed since the nineties. Video games have become way more popular (and mainstream) and the industry has gotten a lot bigger. The fact that games aren’t likely to be censored anytime soon makes it easier for gaming sites to talk about parts of the hobby that they don’t like. They thought (perhaps mistakenly) that they could offer critiques of gaming without people interpreting those critiques as calls for censorship.

      If we want to see video games to continue to mature and change and evolve, we need to be able to have an adult conversation about them. We need to be able to talk about how video games relate to the rest of society (sometimes in good ways, other times in bad ways) without being lumped in with Jack Thompson and Tipper Gore. Otherwise the medium is doomed to stagnate.

      1. M. says:

        “Even if you really believe that these modern critics want to take your games away, they don't have the power to do so.”

        Unless you live in Australia, of course.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Neither of the recent Australia-related things was caused by critics though.

          1. M. says:

            They were caused by the ideological groups that the critics have wholeheartedly thrown their lot in with, using the same arguments that the critics use and continue to use, and any objections from the critics have been notably subdued.

      2. boz says:

        You are mostly right (I don’t believe that they are going to take my games away). Unfortunately you completely missed my point. I was talking about their views of people who play video games as a hobby then and now, not those games themselves.

        1. James Bennett says:

          Okay, I see what you’re saying. This might be because of where I’m living and the people I hang out with, but I don’t think we’re going to return to the days where “gamers” are seen as sociopaths who plot school shootings from their parent’s basement. Too many people play games now, and a lot of the people who grew up playing games are in their thirties and forties now.

          I dunno, maybe there are places where the “gamers as antisocial lunatics” stereotype is making a comeback, but I don’t see it happening.

          1. Scampi says:

            Funny: when I played online for a few years, it shaped my opinion about online gamers as “antisocial lunatics”. Nevertheless, I’d say they appear to be mostly harmless, just abrasive and really annoying. The same can be said about any number of social groups, though. I quit online gaming, they can have their fun. It’s just not my thing.

      3. kunedog says:

        “Even if you really believe that these modern critics want to take your games away, they don't have the power to do so. The world has changed since the nineties.”

        It really hasn’t, because they weren’t able to get them banned back in the 90s either. And they failed again in the 00s with Jack Thompson leading the charge. Maybe the current moral guardians recognize this, and just aren’t dumb enough to try. Shaming people by calling them unthoughtful (or toxic, problematic, sexist, etc.) for enjoying and buying games the critics disapprove of could be the next best thing though.

        1. Maybe you read more bile-filled polemics about games and whatever “moral guardians” are than I do, but from what I read, the argument isn’t “let’s ban every bro-shooter and digital boob-fest and replace them with drum circle games.”

          The argument seems more to be, “why can’t we have more variety than the repetitive stuff we’ve been getting that’s all oriented around combat physics and more realistic bodies that react to them?”

          1. kunedog says:

            “Maybe you read more bile-filled polemics about games and whatever “moral guardians” are than I do”

            Probably true. I’ve seen a pair of prominent social critics publicly encourage game reviewers to trash Bayonetta 2 just because men might enjoy its sexuality too much. That goes further than merely calling for variety, and I contend that if they could ban “boob-fests,” they would.

            1. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

              If we ban Boob-fests then I demand that all video game men be portrayed less like carved-from-granite greek gods, with wash-board 8-pack abs (because 6-packs are for pussies!) and more like their target audience.

              You know…less Brad Pitt from Fight club and more Seth Rogen from the 40 year old virgin.

              1. Trevel says:

                Can we ban Generic Muscled Male Protagonist anyway? Because I’m quite frankly sick of him.

              2. Trix2000 says:

                Honestly, I think that sort of portrayal of men is in the same boat as that of women, so I wouldn’t be opposed to better variety in both.

        2. James Bennett says:

          In the nineties, people who wanted to ban violent video games convened Senate hearings to discuss the issue. In 2015 people who want to ban sexist video games make youtube videos and post on tumblr. I’d say the world has changed a lot.

          People on the internet saying that games are horrible is very different from people on the Senate floor saying that video games are horrible.

      4. Volfram says:

        What is more dangerous, an art form which can express ideas, both good and bad, and paint them up on a wall so that they can be looked at, or an industry which publishes articles designed to alienate a beloved personality from her own fans and friends?

        Nekopara, for example, presents a world in which human trafficking, slavery, racism, and pedophilia exist as cultural norms, and not only does it condone these things, but it caters to people interested in such a world. But if that was all there was to it, the Starship Troopers movies would never have been made.

        But it was neither video games themselves, nor the actions of gamers, that made Miss Day fear gamers. It was the actions of “journalists” telling her to be afraid of gamers, and it was a complete unknown who, if history is an indicator, didn’t have a stake in either side and just wanted to cause some personal anguish for a celebrity, and it wasn’t until a particularly traumatic event caused by her own self-imposed isolation that she realized the truth.

        “Don't let other people drive you away from gaming.”

        1. kunedog says:

          “It was the actions of “journalists” telling her to be afraid of gamers”

          I’ve seen many a clickbait article calling gamers horrible “toxic” misogynists and harassers, and none appear to care about the consequences should some of their audience actually believe what they’ve written. I suppose that’s true of clickbait in general.

          1. Shamus says:

            I see we’ve strayed into GamerGate ANYWAY. Sigh.

            Look, I don’t care what side of the issue you are on, but I would really love it if you would be willing to take my word on this: The “toxic” stuff isn’t clickbait. It’s not hyperbole. It’s not hysterical people pushing their own agenda. It’s a real thing that’s happening to real human beings.

            I have a friend who’s in game journalism, and she’s been sharing some of this shit in private. It’s completely nuts. She’s never pushed any particular agenda. She’s never done anything nasty or said stupid stuff about men. She’s tamer than I am when it comes to reviewing games. She plays her games and writes her words and does a darn fine job of it.

            And she gets all kinds of stupid crap from people. For no reason. Apparently there are some guys with nothing better to do than to work their way through the complete list of female game writers and send them hate mail. She had some kind of thing where someone was trying (or threatening) to SWAT her. She’s gotten more abuse and threats in the last 6 months than I have since I got on the internet 20 years ago.

            Now, you can say those assholes are nothing to do with GG. Fine. Whatever. But their abuse started at the same time as GG. Imagine what that’s like, to get hate mail every couple of days. From people you’ve never wronged. From people who are batshit INSANE angry and lashing out at you for no reason and promising to hurt you.

            So the journalists get hate in private. They react to the hate in public. (Although my friend never has.) Then everyone claims they’re making it all up, and they get another round of abuse for their trouble.

            We don’t see this stuff because it’s not aimed at us. But it’s real. It might only be a few dozen guys who do this full time. Or it might be thousands of guys it each do it occasionally. Nobody knows. But when it’s aimed at you, it feels like the whole world hates you.

            To be fair, I understand why people doubt. I never would have believed it was this bad if I didn’t hear about it from people I trusted. But the toxic behavior is real.

            1. boz says:

              There is a difference between saying there are assholes along gamers and calling all gamers assholes. Only an idiot would doubt former but latter is clickbait and hyperbole. I believe kunedog was referring to latter.

              1. Zukhramm says:

                All gamers are assholes though.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  The word is have.All gamers have assholes.Its a simple mistake to make.

                  1. Zukhramm says:

                    I don’t, which is why I’m not a gamer.

                    1. Scampi says:

                      Just out of interest: How do you define “gamer”, then? I know there are lots of assholes among them from first hand experience, but declaring them all assholes is going a step too far, I think.

                    2. Zukhramm says:

                      I define gamer as: “Person who can stand playing Skyrim sober”

                    3. Scampi says:

                      Hm…can’t argue that point, since I’ve not played it for reasons totally unrelated to its contents. I guess I’d have enjoyed reading your opinion on the matter but I feel it doesn’t really belong here. Thanks for answering anyways.

                      Btw: If noone ever told you: I think you got a typo in your site’s headline.

            2. poiumty says:

              Shamus I’m sorry but I can’t take what you’re saying for granted. I have found no evidence so far to believe people are just looking at the list of women in games journalism and sending each of them e-mails full of mean-spirited negativity with no reason other than misogyny. I have found, for every single woman that has received ire, at least one connection, one accusation, and/or one example of pushing an agenda.

              If your friend is getting targeted, then I’m sure she did something to attract that attention. And I’m going to keep believing that until I can verify that it’s false.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                You really dont have to do anything other than be involved with video game journalism in order to get tons of bile.You dont even have to be a woman.AngryJoe got tons of pretty hateful comments on his site(and I assume in other places of communication as well),from both sides,simply because he didnt want to say anything about gg at all.

                1. poiumty says:

                  General bile, yes. There will always be that, and you can’t blame any one community for it. People exist on the internet that have mental issues, or are frustrated, or are tired, venting, or in who knows what state of mind. But I was talking specifically about misogyny.

                  Angry Joe got flak for trying to stomp out discussion of GG on his forums afaik. People misrepresented his stance, it was an error in communication.

              2. swenson says:

                If you aren’t seeing how women associated with gaming and games journalism are being insulted, targeted, “called out”, etc., then you’re not paying attention.

                1. poiumty says:

                  No, I can totally see how women who have displayed inflammatory opinions and have gone out of their way to draw the ire and contempt of people everywhere are being targeted. And you’ll excuse me if I don’t act overly surprised over it.

                  What I’m not seeing is women who are being attacked just because they’re women and for no other reason. Like the poster below me, who expressed the same opinion.

                  1. Trix2000 says:

                    What constitutes ‘going out of their way to draw ire’ though? Are they not allowed to express opinions, controversial or no? It doesn’t justify the abuse anyways. Nothing does.

                    Also, just because it’s not visible to the public doesn’t mean it’s not there.

            3. kunedog says:

              “Look, I don't care what side of the issue you are on, but I would really love it if you would be willing to take my word on this”

              This puts me in a difficult position. One of the most frustrating things about the endless claims of harassment is the lack of evidence presented.

              “Now, you can say those assholes are nothing to do with GG. Fine. Whatever. But their abuse started at the same time as GG.”

              And this is pretty much the best evidence anyone ever presents that any harassment is tied to Gamergate. The articles don’t even explicitly make the claim, they just mention the two together and assume a connection.

              Can you see how this looks, objectively? You have a second-hand account of harassment from an anonymous victim friend, and secret evidence.

              But subjectively yeah, I’ll violate “trust but verify” and take your word for it, based solely on your integrity (I’ve read a lot of your writing and watched all 285 hours of Spoiler Warning and every Diecast, which is arguably enough to get a good sense of a person. But that’s special and you can’t expect most other people to believe you, nor expect me to believe other journalists).

              The people who dick with your friend are fucking asshole, criminal gamers. Did she report them to the police at least? It really must be just a few people doing this, because I don’t think thousands of people making threats would be this good at covering their tracks. Or does no one ever report them (which is strange, if your friend is representative and the phenomenon is widespread)?

              I still say it is clickbait for the gaming press to use those assholes to slander Gamergate and to distract from the journalism scandal. Like boz said, if they just reported on the asshole, harassing gamers for what they are, that would be fine. But they always distort it to serve an agenda and smear a whole group. The sick thing is the anti-GG press isn’t even anti-harassment, they’re just anti-GG.

              For example, here is a fucking asshole Sarkeesian supporter:

              There is actual video evidence of a threat of violence, and it’s an anti-GG guy threatening violence against a pro-GG guy. But you’ve probably never heard of it until now. If there were a video of a guy promoting Gamergate and threatening Sarkeesian, everyone knows we would never hear the end of it, ever, across dozens (maybe hundreds) of news sites.

              It is why the Gamergate Harassment Patrol exists, because GG knows they are the only ones the press is ever going to hold accountable, so (unlike much of the press) at least pro-GG is truly anti-harassment and anti-shitty-behavior, no matter which side it comes from.

              1. Shamus says:

                Actually, I have heard about a lot of the harassment *OF* GG supporters. I know it happens, and I see how unjust it is. I totally understand how frustrating it is for me to tell you harassment is going on while not being able to prove it.

                The whole anonymous abuse problem cuts both ways. A gets abuse that B can’t see, and B gets abuse that A can’t see. So the only way for either one to perceive the evil on their own side is to accept the word coming from their enemies. Who are abusing them. I could send that youtube video to my journalist friends, and get an answer like, “Oh, ONE abuser, Shamus? Call me when you have a pile that matches THIS.” (Proceeds to list all the stuff they and their friends have been through.)

                All of this is compounded by the way we use social media. The mechanics of Twitter drive us to signal-boost the virtue of our side and the evil of the other side. I very deliberately follow both GG and anti-GG on Twitter. It’s like seeing two entirely different debates. Most people just follow their own side (or hate-follow the biggest assholes of the other side) which creates this nasty feedback loop where it looks like they are blameless and the other side is irredeemable. And the longer you spend in that loop, the harder it is to break out of it.

                So we have GG supporters who refuse to believe the harassment is real, and journalists who refuse to believe GG really cares about ethics in journalism. I can try to argue with my journalist friends just like I can try to argue with you, but their particular social filtering makes it just as hard to convince them as it is to convince poiumty up there. And after weeks of harassment, people are less inclined to listen.

                1. poiumty says:

                  Add to that the evidence we’ve found that some of the reported “harassment” was fabricated, and the evidence of various people who were “harassed” being pathological liars, and the amount of dishonesty that was found and swept under the rug by the media (both games and mainstream) and you have a situation in which it’s pretty hard to believe anything anyone says without strict verification.

                  I don’t deny harassment exists. I’ve seen the backlash for Sarkeesian before she even made any videos, and I didn’t agree with it. I’m perfectly sure people are being harassed, on both sides, and maybe even worse on the anti-gg side. I just don’t think harassment alone is enough of a reason to drop everything and abandon standing up for the things we believe in.

                  1. ThaneofFife says:

                    Something that I continue having difficulty with is–if someone says that they are the victim of harassment, why do so many people disbelieve them?

                    I am on the anti-GG side, yet I completely believe that there have been violent threats and harassment made against GG folks. But I continually see the GG folks here and elsewhere denying either (1) that the harassment of GG critics is as bad as the victims say it is; and/or (2) that widespread harassment is occurring at all.

                    Two follow-up questions:
                    1. Why is it necessary to try to “debunk” someone who says that they were the victim of misogynist or other harassment? Just because there are minor inconsistencies or omitted details in someone’s story, that does NOT make them a “pathological liar.”


                    2. What evidence would these victims have to produce in order for you to believe them? It seems like a constantly-moving target. And, if they do produce anything compelling, they get blamed for having “inflamatory opinions” or otherwise inciting their own harassment.

                    The insistence that harassment must be reported to police is also a red herring. There are several reasons for this: (a) a large part of the harassment is not criminal in nature; (b) local police often lack the resources to investigate these incidents; and (c) victims of abuse can often be re-traumatized by police investigations of their cases.

                    It comes to this: many people who are skeptical of the harassment that women in games journalism have experienced simply don’t wish to believe that the harassment was real. It’s easier for them to believe that the incidents are isolated and that many women are exaggerating or lying than it is to face the truth.

                    In closing, we must recognize that online harassment and bullying are both real, and harmful to their victims. Then we must do everything we can to stop the harassment.

                    1. Disc says:

                      “why do so many people disbelieve them?”

                      I don’t know how much is “many”, but I’ve seen both people who outright deny that harassment ever happened and people who are more generally just various levels of skeptic about it.

                      First group’s reasons are anyone’s guess, I’m not really sure I care for them much. But for the latter group:

                      As far as I can tell, it’s because they think the victims are not (or at least not entirely) trustworthy people. It’s even one of the main stated reasons (by the creators) why the Sarkeesian Effect exists. And for what I’ve followed, it’s not all about misogyny, crazy conspiracy theories or other bullshit that they get often painted as. It’s not really a question of whether it happened or not, but to what extent and is it really as bad as they claim.

                      “1. Why is it necessary to try to “debunk” someone who says that they were the victim of misogynist or other harassment? Just because there are minor inconsistencies or omitted details in someone's story, that does NOT make them a “pathological liar.” ”

                      If said person has been deemed to have a track record for lying or otherwise obfuscating the truth, and is in a position of influence over something a person cares about, then trying to debunk said mistruths is only the natural consequence. This is where I see most of the skepticism coming from. It probably doesn’t help either when the person claiming victimhood also benefits financially from all the sympathy and attention they get.

                      “2. What evidence would these victims have to produce in order for you to believe them? It seems like a constantly-moving target. And, if they do produce anything compelling, they get blamed for having “inflamatory opinions” or otherwise inciting their own harassment.”

                      This is really a phenomenon that happens on both sides. I’ve personally lost count of the amount of pro-GG women, people of colour, gays, lesbians and transgendered people that get accused on Twitter of being sock puppets for “cis heterosexual white males” to the point they’ve had to post pics to prove that they’re not.

                      All I can really say is avoid engaging extremists and try to appeal to the “moderates”. They’re the main reason why I’ve personally so far avoided engaging with this whole debacle.

                      “The insistence that harassment must be reported to police is also a red herring.”

                      For a), I agree. For b) and c): With actually illegal things I don’t think it’s really sound advice to tell people not to call police at all, especially if it’s a threat of violence and you live with other people. You can make the choice for yourself, but not force others into it.

                      “In closing, we must recognize that online harassment and bullying are both real, and harmful to their victims. Then we must do everything we can to stop the harassment.”


                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “The whole anonymous abuse problem cuts both ways. A gets abuse that B can't see, and B gets abuse that A can't see. So the only way for either one to perceive the evil on their own side is to accept the word coming from their enemies. Who are abusing them. I could send that youtube video to my journalist friends, and get an answer like, “Oh, ONE abuser, Shamus? Call me when you have a pile that matches THIS.” (Proceeds to list all the stuff they and their friends have been through.)”

                  That is kind of the problem.Thunderf00t rarely says anything about people harassing him,and usually he does it only after the matter is settled.He was doxxed multiple times before,before doxxing even had that name,and he didnt even say anything about it before police was dragged in and solved the matter.Yet here we have people willing to publicize their harassment for profit,which not only paints them as horrible people,but it also makes the harassers harder to punish,draws in more people hungry for spotlight to do the same,and ruins the credibility of practically everyone even remotely connected to the issue.

                  We definitely need better tools to deal with bullies online,no question about it.But going around saying “This really wasnt a problem before XYZ emerged” is extremely counterproductive.

                3. Wide And Nerdy says:

                  All I know is my powers of internet access can never do anything to sort that out. I don’t run a site. I just browse. All I can be is decent. There’s no amount of anything I can do to stop anybody from harassing anybody else and this issue is so muddled that I can’t know who is lying about what, as was discussed above (except for in the aforementioned example of video evidence).

                  What I do know is that all that harassment, however wrong it is, whoever is doing it to whoever, changes nothing about the debate over women in games. They’re two different things. The harassment is happening because of the debate but its no proof of anything with regards to the debate itself.

                  All I can do is evaluate the merits of the arguments. All I know is that I’m for games being made and for there being a variety of games for different tastes. I don’t want to see games homogenized so that every game avoids offending every group to the point of having a watered down limited censored possibility space that all games or even most games must inhabit.

                  I’m only mentioning the following because I just know that somebody will reply with the old saw “nobody is trying to take away your games.” If you have any decency you will not make me get into that. If it were true, nobody would be trying to link games to rape and domestic abuse.

                  I want games for women that they can feel comfortable playing but I also want games with women with big bouncy tits and chainmail bikinis. Can we not have both?

                  1. Shamus says:

                    “I want games for women that they can feel comfortable playing but I also want games with women with big bouncy tits and chainmail bikinis. Can we not have both?”

                    Agree strongly. I don’t condemn anyone for wanting some bouncing tits in their games. (Or dongs, whatever.) I also don’t condemn anyone who looks at that and says “Gross!”

                    On the other hand, we can have reviews that say, “The tits in this game made me uncomfortable.” as well as “These are the best tits!”. It’s all good in my mind. I actually wouldn’t read either of those reviews, but they’re both honest expressions of personal taste and therefore valuable to someone out there.

                    You’ve pretty much drilled down to the core of the argument. One side is fighting against sneering, condescending man-shaming. The other side is fighting against abuse. I see both of these as good causes. I hate man-shaming and I hate abuse. These two causes don’t HAVE to be opposed, but (and this is my theory) the dynamics of social media and the asymmetrical nature of the debate makes any sort of progress impossible. Both sides end up fighting the extremists on the other side.

                    Journalists have massive reach, while the audience has anonymity and numbers. It’s like an argument between one guy on an elevated platform with a megaphone and an angry crowd. Both sides feel like they’re at a disadvantage. Both act like they’re the underdog. (And people usually feel more justified in taking extreme actions when they’re the underdog.)

                    It makes me sad, because I think this conversation would be really interesting if we could have it without the abuse.

                    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      If it helps, some of you all have shifted my positions with your arguments. For example, what you mention about the reviews. You all have convinced me to be in favor of reviews like that controversial one for Dragons Crown.

                      I don’t feel like its necessary for someone to make me feel filthy or immature for liking that sort thing but if someone wants to say, as she did, that they find the portrayals and art style to be gross, I agree that’s useful information. I realized that if I’m going to say “don’t like it don’t play it” then I need to support reviews like this that give the people who don’t like it a chance to avoid playing it (though Dragon’s Crown may not be the best example as any of the promo or cover art should make it abundantly clear you’re in for cheesecake and fan service but still, you know what I mean). Those reviews are going to be a key part of us having variety for everybody.

                      I think we can work to a position that works for most of us. The problem is all the shots that have been fired in the meantime. We now have people with grievances over how they’ve been treated and we can’t ask them to let that go nor can we really force the other side to make amends. At this point, thats, I think, whats making this thing intractable (basically, what you said). Its the personal stuff that’s making this thing live on.

                  2. Zukhramm says:

                    I have a reply to this where I explain that they really are not coming to take your “big bouncy tits and chainmail bikinis” away, but I don’t have time to write it.

                    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Australia,gtav,hotline miami 2,proves you wrong through real life events.

                    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      If it helps, I believe that for the most part, the people who say that mean it personally. I just don’t think they know the minds of the people they’re defending as well as they think they do.

                      I sincerely think that even if we make the adjustments that most of us would agree are reasonable, adding things for demographics but not taking things away, that people like Sarkeesian will still be complaining. I think that even if she herself thinks she’s not really here to destroy this aspect of the medium, that she’s too invested in believing that its harmful to ever let up on it.

                      But I’ve also come to realize that Shamus’ metaphor (person with megaphone on platform) is pretty apt for someone like her. She’s been in national press, on the Colbert Report and on Ted Talks so I think you have to cut people some slack for thinking she was going to have an outsized influence. But its clear to me now that she doesn’t.

                      Its like the GTA V thing. They did want it taken down everywhere. That’s in the petition. But they knew they could get it pulled from that particular regional chain because the owners were vocal in their support of a certain feminist organization (I forget which) and that they would have to listen to the petition or else they’d look bad. The petition went after the softest target and succeeded in taking down one game of a few shelves after most of its sales had already been made.

                      This shows the gulf between their intent and their influence. As long as it remains that way, I can rest easy. If it changes for the worst though, I will stop resting easy.

                    3. Zukhramm says:

                      I was thinking of something like Bayonetta which I’ve heard quite a lot of differing opinions on, even from people on the same “side”.

                    4. ThaneofFife says:

                      @Daemian Lucifer: “Australia, GTA V, hotline miami 2, proves you wrong through real life events.”

                      Australia didn’t ban these games because feminists criticized them, though. Australia has a wrong-headed and long-standing policy of improperly banning video games.

                      I have never seen Anita Sarkeesian or others advocating for a system like that in the U.S. or elsewhere. They just want to explain why certain depictions of women (and men) in video games are problematic, not ban or censor those depictions.

                  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    “There's no amount of anything I can do to stop anybody from harassing anybody else”

                    Actually,thats not quite true.The saying “dont feed the trolls” is only partially correct.You need to ignore the trolls,yes,but you also should report them.Ill tell it best trough a story:

                    A while back I was posting a bit on imdb,and I managed to get a troll latch on me.Once Ive realized what an obnoxious idiot they are,I stopped replying to them,and reported them.Their account got deleted.But,because imdb is so lax,they created another account,impersonating me,and stalking me around imdb spewing crap.It got deleted.And their next account.And next.And next.For about a month all I did was not respond to this idiot,but report them.Until finally they disappeared(probably got their ip banned).

                    Now,with better anti harassment tools,this troll would disappear much faster,because they were really blatant and obnoxious in their stalking.However,no matter how good those tools,if I simply ignored them without reporting,they would continue their shtick,and probably even latch onto someone else.Furthermore,in order to get someone banned on imdb,they need to be reported by multiple users.Meaning that if I alone was reporting this person,I wouldve achieved nothing.I was helped by other anonymous people,just how I used to help others whenever I saw someone being obnoxious.

                    So yes,even if you are just an occasional commenter,you still can do something to stop the idiots from bothering both you and others.You need to be given adequate tools in order to do this,true,but no matter how good the tools are,you still have to use them in order for the trolls to go away.And even if the tools arent the best,you can still use them to fight the trolls,without the need to either go into hiding,or to cry about it at the top of your lungs.

                    EDIT:Let me just ask you(and everyone else)do you ever say something like “youtube is just a collection of the worst bile spewers on the internet”.If you ever said anything like that,have you ever reported spam or innapropriate behavior you saw on youtube.Thats it,thats all it takes for the comments on youtube to change:When you see something not appropriate,downvote it or report it.If everyone did it,the comments there would be much cleaner.But no,most people would rather just whine about it and call for those making videos to close the comments or moderate them themselves.Which does not help fix the problem,at all.

                    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Fair enough.

                      As for the youtube part. I guess I just get lucky because most of the time, the comments on the videos I watch are not that bad. Then there was the Superman vs Goku Death Battle comment thread . . . I’ve seen war . . .

                    2. Trix2000 says:

                      It helps that you can filter comments by rating now, so a lot of the bile gets shoved off.

                      Though even before that, I often found a lot to like in the comments… even if I had to sift through a lot of not-so-nice stuff to get it.

                  4. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

                    At the risk of being some rape-culture enhancing neaderthal:

                    Video games portray everyone unrealistically. That’s kinda the point. IMO, women becoming offended by the size or shape of a female characters features is more of an issue of those women, and how they few themselves, than how the developer is trying to portray what all women should look like.

                    I mean, you don’t see thousands of dudes getting all bent out of shape over Duke Nukem’s ripped quads or bulging crotch. There are lots of critiques of video games, but never once have I heard some dude complain they felt emasculated by Batman’s 8-pack(?) abs, that are so prolific Kevlar body armor cannot contain them.

                    I don’t expect my women to look like the girls of DOAII:Hardcore any more than I expect to solve all of my differences in life by having a best 2-out-of-3 slugfest inside an arena surrounded by exploding walls.

                    This is also the same phenomenon that governs the selection of wild haired British teenagers like Harry Styles to be in the most recent version of The Drifters/The Jackson 5/Menudo/New Kids on the Block/N’Sync/Backstreet Boys rather than someone that looks like Steve Buscemi.

                    In games that usually feature extreme violence, zombies, laser weapons, spaceships, talking animals, mutants, super heroes or wizards I find it incredibly American that we fixate and complain about the size/accuracy of women’s boobs.

                    1. ThaneofFife says:

                      The criticism of the style that you describe isn’t about accuracy of anatomy, though, or even that the anatomy depicted isn’t representative of society.

                      It’s that both the women AND the men are drawn in a way that appeals to the (heterosexual) male gaze. For the scantily-clad women, this is fairly obvious–their primary purpose is to be looked at, rather than to have their own agency. Batman, on the other hand, is drawn as a muscular titan to appeal to male power fantasies–that is, to enhance his agency–rather than because there are a massive number of female gamers who find it sexy (though some certainly do).

                      The criticism of this approach to character design is threefold:
                      1. In objectifying both its male and female subjects to appeal primarily to heterosexual men, these games often alienate other potential players (esp. women);

                      2. These portrayals convey (especially through repeated exposure) that it is acceptable to view men and women through this distorted lens–helping perpetuate already-present sexism and false (& potentially-harmful) gender distinctions; and

                      3. These portrayals simply lack creativity and vision.

                      It’s not about whether the size of her boobs is accurate; it’s about why they spent more time working on her boobs than writing her character.

                    2. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

                      But that’s the point! Women in Michael Bay movies look and act like Megan Fox.

                      And in Nicholas Sparks movies the men …well…. they pretty much look the same but they act like women in a Michael Bay movies. That’s the narrative. That’s the audience.

                      It’s like teenage boys wringing their hands about how their weren’t enough wooden stakes or bloody disembowelment in the “Twilight” series. It was written for teenage girls, and hence the vampires write poetry, listen to whale songs and sparkle in the effin sunlight. Rodriguez and Tarantino’s depiction of vampires was very, VERY different because it wasn’t written with teenage girls in mind.

                      If you want to have the discussion as to why there aren’t more games directed towards female consumers, well, to me that’s a different discussion. And really, I have no idea why there aren’t more games appealing directly to teenage girls. My inner-capitalist thinks that if there was a demographic the publishers felt they could cultivate and make money on, they would have already. The lines have been drawn in this industry and they are fairly stable. I believe that companies would dive after any new market they could find, IF they thought they could make a nickel doing so. Maybe that is forthcoming.

                      But I do know that demanding that all current games be made ‘female friendly’ (whatever that even means, really. I have a few female cousins of the teenage variety. One likes One Direction and Taylor Swift, the other one..well, the other one just doesn’t)is the same as demanding all future Tarantino movies contain as many kittens as it does beheadings.

                      Baskin Robbins is allowed to make ice cream flavors you don’t like, and Activision is allowed to do the same.

                    3. neolith says:

                      “It's that both the women AND the men are drawn in a way that appeals to the (heterosexual) male gaze.”

                      If that’s true, it raises some questions.

                      Are women and men in these scenarios drawn in a way that appeals to males only?

                      If that is the case, then what appeals to women when they want something sexy to look at? What do they want to see if they want to experience power fantasies?

                    4. Shamus says:

                      My guess would be: Edward Cullen. Justin Beiber. Fabio.

                      Sure, not all women dig those guys. But they’re about as valid as “Angelina Jolie” as an answer for what men like: Broad enough appeal to work for the masses.

                      The interesting thing is that most guys HATE these dudes. If there was a game where I could play as some smiling boyish flirt, I would… not. (I wonder if Tidus qualifies?) I can imagine a world where the majority of games are all about women, fighting FOR women, against OTHER women, and where all of the plot-movers are women. And then a dude finally shows up and it’s he’s all Justin Biebish and gently flirting with my protagonist. (Or just being SUPER encouraging.) I mean, I could tolerate a game like that now and again. But if it was like that year in and year out? Yeah, I’d start to get pissed off when it happened.

                      That’s no excuse for saying awful things about the intended audience, of course. But I can understand the frustration.

                    5. guy says:

                      My mom seems to like this lady for her power fantasies.

                    6. ThaneofFife says:

                      @Neolith: “Are women and men in these scenarios drawn in a way that appeals to males only?

                      If that is the case, then what appeals to women when they want something sexy to look at? What do they want to see if they want to experience power fantasies?”

                      Here are two (intentionally-humorous) examples of comic book characters redrawn to appeal to the female gaze:

                      Both @Shamus and @Guy had great (more serious) examples in their comments, as well.

                      To be clear: I am completely fine with some games, comics, etc. appealing primarily to a (heterosexual) male audience. The keyword there is “some,” however.

                      What we need right now are lots more games that appeal to different groups: women, minorities, people of different faiths, atheists, LGBT people, and more. This would (1) expand the player base; (2) reduce the re-use of tropes involving both misogyny and toxic masculinity; and (3) give us games the likes of which we’ve never seen.

                      And I say this as a white, male gamer, too. I want to see things from other people’s perspectives. Right now, though, practically every AAA title is about a 20-50something male badass (with personal demons). Enough of that already…

                    7. Wide And Nerdy says:

                      Which tropes involve misogyny and toxic masculinity? That’s going to greatly impact my view of your view.

                      This is a difficult thing to untangle. Sometimes I feel like we’re arguing about fairly splitting up the pie. Other times it feels like they’re asking for a 50/50 split of my slice of the pie after they’ve finished theirs.

                      That gets back into the thing about game genres. Most of that 50 percent is happy with the games they have because they’re not interested in shooters and the kinds of AAA games we tend to focus on. No amount of “balance” would ever tear my mom or my sister in law away from Words with Friends to come play Assassin’s Creed. And those who already do play don’t necessarily want the formulas of their games changed to “appeal to the female demographic” I was discussing with a woman at work about the Final Fantasy series. She loved 10, I mentioned 10-2 and she got a scowl on her face because she hated how they wrecked the formula of the first game to girl it up with the dress spheres. She plays Final Fantasy to have a standard Final Fantasy experience.

                      Now I do know she wouldn’t mind seeing less sexualization of women in her games and I support that on the basis of taste. But I take issue if that’s what you’re labeling as “misogyny” or “toxic male culture.”

                4. evileeyore says:

                  “So we have GG supporters who refuse to believe the harassment is real, and journalists who refuse to believe GG really cares about ethics in journalism.”

                  Actually you have an awful lot of #GGers who believe the harassment is real and try to root out and remove the harassers.

                  Of course, no one in the media gives a shit.

                  And then, since we aren’t the ones actually doing this harassment, we keep saying “Yes, you’re being harassed. What does that have to do with us?”

                  1. evileeyore says:

                    In case none of the anti-#GamerGate crowd understand…

                    This is the #GG Harassment Patrol, this is what we do:
                    #GG Mobilize and Report

                    1. Zukhramm says:

                      this is what we do

                      The first I see is a bunch of Roguestar retweets and support for Fart, so what you do is claim to be against harassment to make the movement look better while actually supporting it in action?

                    2. evileeyore says:

                      You clicked on the link I put up?

                      No. Since that link starts a thread in which neither of those people show up nor are mentioned and there are no retweets.

                      Lie some more.

                      Is RogueStar a troll? Yes. Same with Fart. They enjoy rolling in poo and slinging it around.

                    3. Zukhramm says:

                      You know your link has other links in turn, right? You linked a tweet, I checked the person’s timeline and profile. It’s not hard.

                      Oh and thanks for making me see the picture. Warning for the next person: Don’t click the link in the tweet.

                    4. evileeyore says:

                      Damn, sorry. Yeah, don’t click on the link the first tweet. It’s pretty horrible.

                      “You know your link has other links in turn, right?”
                      You mean tags? Yeah. And a few pics of “Reported”.

                      And so what if WTF Magazine’s timeline has a few retweets from RogueStar or Fart (though I didn’t see Fart)?

                      Occasionally those two trolls say something funny (they also spread Op info and news).

                      Just like I still listen to Campster for his insightful game reviews even if I disagree very strongly with his personal politics. I’d even follow him on twitter if he didn’t use that terrible blacklist autoblocker.

                    5. Otters34 says:

                      AW YEAH BLACKLIST. I was waiting for that to come up, was getting anxious.

                      Seriously though, it’s more like a spam filter. People who are het up often say really dumb things, and Twitter is easily the worst place to deal with pointless circular arguments between people who totally know they’re RIGHT, man. Real blacklists are used professionally, imposed from above, not private social media formatted to easily get cluttered and messy.

                    6. evileeyore says:

                      I call it as Randi Harper called it in the code. I call it what it functions as.

                      When indie devs can’t talk to other indie devs or media over twitter people because they follow a few people, they are being blacklisted for an association (Hello Mr. Groucho Marx, are you a communist?).

                      When scientists can’t talk to each other over twitter because of it, it’s a blacklist.

                      When the media outlet refers to it as a blacklist, it’s a blacklist.

                      When the IGDA, the group that initially endorsed it, stopped endorsing it because one of their own was blacklisted on it (and they called it a blacklist too)… it’s a frikkin blacklist.

                      And again, I’m blocked by Camptser not because I ever tweeted with him, or ever even had a twitter discussion with him, but because he uses and endorses a blacklist.

                  2. Otters34 says:

                    And the terrible step you and they have to take to escape this horrible, Blairian nightmare assault on your free expression is…unfollow a few people on Twitter. Whom you can still check up on manually, and are unlikely to be removed from the site unless they do something stupidly against the Terms of Service.

              2. Zukhramm says:

                Well, if you don’t want to moderate this, Shamus, go ahead and ban me right now because my next post will be a reply to this.

                1. Zukhramm says:

                  Or am I even going to do that? What would I even say now, six months in? I really just want my self and others to be able to say whatever they want to on Twitter without the fear of a swarm of people jumping in to, at best pointlessly disagree (and I am not saying disagreeing is pointless or shouldn’t be allowed), at worst insult and threaten.

                  You might think it’s all fabricated, because I’m not going to produce any evidence for you, I have have seen this every single day the past half year except maybe on Christmas when I didn’t bother going online at all, and you can choose whether to trust me or not. Yeah, “trust”. “Trust but verify” they keep saying, yet they never seem to do either. Instead of asking me for evidence, how about you trust me? Instead of asking me for evidence, how about you verify it on you own? Despite clamoring for “evidence” nothing presented is ever good enough to satisfy GamerGate, there’s always some excuse. That’s not really harassment. The person said inflammatory things. Those people don’t represent all of GamerGate.

                  Of course, it’s never “really GamerGate”, somehow this behavior has nothing to do with GamerGate. It might have shown up at the same time, target the same people and using the same rhetoric and the same hashtags, but those are just coincidences and they don’t really represent GamerGate. And that’s the greatest strength and biggest weakness of being a group connected by as little as a Twitter hashtag, anyone can be or not be part of the group as it suits the situation. Various groups staged from 4chan have had that same property.

                  I really would be more receptive to the “that’s not the whole of GamerGate” if I ever saw anything. I have tried to keep listening to people I disagree with, and I even check out some of the GamerGate forums (excluding 8chan because I’m just not going to go there) just to keep up and if there’s one subject GamerGate is awfully quite about it’s ethics in games journalism. Sure they say the words, but on the actual subject? Not much. And really, if you’re looking to do something about the problems games journalism why go after people who make youtube videos or text games? Why go after Patreons instead of publishers? Why attack people who are barely involved in the industry instead of the giant sites? Seriously, if you want to find some common ground between GamerGate and people against GamerGate you’ll find it in the dislike of Polygon.

                  So, wrong people attacked for the wrong reason, and I’m really tired of it. If you’re reading this I wasn’t banned and I hope this is coherent because I did some quick rearranging and rewriting to make it less comment thread war post-y. I hope that worked too.

                  1. ThaneofFife says:

                    *Hugs* if you want them. I believe you.

                  2. Trevel says:

                    One gater I questioned explained to me that the most important ethical problem in game journalism today is that gamergate is looked down on by the media.

                    So, there’s an issue.

                  3. kunedog says:

                    Despite clamoring for “evidence” nothing presented is ever good enough to satisfy GamerGate, there's always some excuse. That's not really harassment. The person said inflammatory things. Those people don't represent all of GamerGate.

                    Above, I linked direct video evidence of a die-hard Sarkeesian fan threatening physical violence against a GG guy (took less than a minute to do). You got anything one tenth as “good” from the other side? Because if so, I’ve never seen it anywhere, and like I also said above, the press would NOT not pass up a chance to make Gamergate look bad.

                    But even so, if you tell me that Sarkeesian isn’t responsible for what that jerk said, and he doesn’t represent her, I would 100% agree with you.

                    I really would be more receptive to the “that's not the whole of GamerGate” if I ever saw anything. I have tried to keep listening to people I disagree with, and I even check out some of the GamerGate forums (excluding 8chan because I'm just not going to go there) just to keep up and if there's one subject GamerGate is awfully quite about it's ethics in games journalism. Sure they say the words, but on the actual subject? Not much.

                    You’re really not trying hard enough.

                    PC Gamer is the latest games journalism site to update its ethics policy in the wake of Gamergate, joining IGN, the Escapist, and of course Kotaku/Gawker (though in Gawker’s case, they put up more of a fight and the Gamergate pressure to be ethical had to be routed through the FTC). And there are probably more I’m forgetting.

                    Gamergate also got Brad Wardell (CEO of Stardock) some long-overdue apologies for hit pieces run against him:

                    Of course none of this has been reported in the corrupt media, and it had no chance in Hell of appearing in the Wikipedia article nor the Nightline hit piece. But you should know about it if you follow something like KotakuInAction (the GG subreddit).

                    And really, if you're looking to do something about the problems games journalism why go after people who make youtube videos or text games? Why go after Patreons instead of publishers? Why attack people who are barely involved in the industry instead of the giant sites?

                    From my reply to ps238principal above:

                    February 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm

                    OK, try this. Go discuss review embargos and payola and other AAA corruption on a bunch of game news websites' forums or article comments and see how many censor the discussion, much less ban your account.

                    Now go back to the same sites and try to discuss Nathan Grayson or Patricia Hernandez and see how much censorship and ban hammerage and pure venom you encounter, by contrast.

                    One fine point to remember is that gamers weren’t truly angry and forming a widespread movement immediately after the initial journalistic corruption was exposed. There was still some good faith that the news sites involved had the shred of integrity needed to take responsibility and clean up their own houses.

                    Gamergate only exploded after the cover-up, week-long universal blackout, and finally the launch of the (still ongoing) coordinated smear campaign on August 28 (a.k.a. “Gamers Are Dead” day). None of that appalling gaming press behavior has happened with other corruption stories, so there’s nothing for Gamergate to do about them. They have a chance at getting proper coverage anyway.

                    In the unlikely event that almost every gaming site censors discussion of (for example) AAA review embargos, enacts a news media blackout (a bit late for that), and then begins slandering anyone who even mentions the embargos as misogynists, harassers, and terrorists, then (and only then) maybe a Gamergate-type customer revolt will be needed.

                    This also bears repeating:

                    February 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm

                    P.S. Similar AAA review “agreements” (for youtubers, etc.) were majorly publicized by Totalbiscuit (a major pro-Gamergate guy) long before the journalists. No, Gamergate has no particular aversion to exposing indie nor AAA corruption.

            4. The issue is that some people look for excuses to act “bad”, I use bad in quotes as what is considered bad is purely subjective.

              But I digress. Ever see a riot happen on the news maybe due to a protest over something, and then suddenly people are breaking windows and taking stuff, those people have nothing to do with the protest or causes.

              Same with this, those causing all the damage (on both sides) are probably not really doing it “for the cause”, they do it because in their minds they now have an excuse to behave this way.

              If people can have an excuse to wash their sins away then they’ll happily commit murder if they think they can get away with it.

              Bottom line, humans are not very nice beings really.

              1. INH5 says:

                In addition, there are definitely dedicated third-party trolls involved who have harassed both sides purely for their own amusement.

                I say “definitely” because there are chat logs out there of members of the GNAA troll group talking about how they’re “trolling both sides of this internet war.”

                Also, one time in November a member of the Billy Wagner Crew troll group came on one of the GamerGate livestreams and said that the BWC had previously doxxed a bunch of prominent GGers one after the other, and was currently doxxing games journalists, one publication at a time. We know the guy was who he said he was, because he said the BWC was preparing to dox everyone working at Polygon, and the next day everyone at Polygon was doxxed on Twitter. The stated motivation for all of this was “to create drama.”

                Given that we know these people exist, it’s likely that there are many more that we don’t know about. So that just muddles the issue even further.

                In this case, it isn’t so much that these people have “an excuse to wash their sins away” so much as that the context provided by the Biggest Flamewar Ever gives them at opportunity to impact far more people than they ever could normally, since each doxxing, threat, or whatever will spark a wave of accusations, defenses, counter-accusations, and maybe even some news articles. Because all these people really want to do is watch the world burn.

                Like you said, humans are not very nice beings really.

        2. Phill says:

          What is more dangerous, an art form which can express ideas, both good and bad, and paint them up on a wall so that they can be looked at, or an industry which publishes articles designed to alienate a beloved personality from her own fans and friends?

          You seem to have read a different article to the one you linked. I don’t see Felicia Day saying she is afraid because of the articles she read. I see he saying she is afraid because of e.g. the torrent of abuse she got from GG supporters the one time she did say anything on the subject of gamergate, and because of the threats she got.

      5. poiumty says:

        “The point of contemporary critics isn't that we should ban certain games, but that we should be more thoughtful about what sorts of games we consume.”

        Except that’s not what’s actually happening. What’s happening is some people are trying to establish arbitrary notions of morality within video games, and using them as a standard for what and what not to do (see: the mind-bogglingly stupid “sexy = sexism” rationale).

        When I heard about publishers pushing and pressuring developers to make games safer for their target audience by limiting their artistic liberty (example: Remember Me and its female protagonist debacle), I was outraged because I want the medium to be free. What’s happening right now is the same thing, but in reverse. People are pressuring and pushing developers to make things that fit into THEIR IDEA of “good behavior (from developers)”, lest they catch the ire of a thousand waggly fingers doing no-no motions at them. And of course I’m outraged again, because I’m not a hypocrite: I want the medium to be free.

        Nothing should be sacred when it comes to video games, they should be able to tackle any subject to the best of their ability, and then they should be criticized for the execution of that subject, if necessary. Yet what we have now is a bunch of people trying really hard to set the moral standard for what is and is not an acceptable subject to tackle. It’s wrong, and it has to stop. It happened in the 80-90s with metal music and their so-called “satanist” lyrics. It happened in 2006 with Jack Thompson. It’s happening again. Have we learned nothing from history?

        I share a lot of opinions with Shamus’s group. I don’t like the same scruffy white men in all my AAA videogames. I enjoy diversity in videogames. I like a well-written character that isn’t like the people I most often see every day. But I don’t like forced diversity for the sake of diversity, and I don’t cherish the idea of an industry where taboos are formed so we can protect people’s feelings from a luxury product they don’t need to experience.

        1. ThaneofFife says:

          I feel like you’re conflating criticism of a thing with attempting to ban a thing. I’ve read/watched Anita Sarkeesian and other female games journalists’ work pretty extensively, and I just haven’t seen them call for banning certain games or tropes.

          They rightly point out that certain tropes and games are sexist, or promote misogyny, but they’re not trying to ban these games or create “taboos” that developers won’t breach–they’re simply trying to educate people about how these ideas can be harmful.

          If a developer is told that one of their previous games promoted a harmful idea that they don’t want to be associated with, then it’s not unreasonable for that developer to decide on their own terms to drop that idea from a future game.

          Similarly, if you explained that something I said was unintentionally racist and promoted ideas that I abhor, then why wouldn’t I do everything I could to avoid saying that thing again, assuming that I agreed with your explanation?

          1. M. says:

            “Similarly, if you explained that something I said was unintentionally racist and promoted ideas that I abhor, then why wouldn't I do everything I could to avoid saying that thing again, assuming that I agreed with your explanation?”

            Let’s suppose you didn’t agree with my explanation: that is, you didn’t agree with me that what you said was abhorrent and needed to be changed. What happens next?

          2. poiumty says:

            Trying to ban and creating taboos are two different things with different approaches.

            No one’s trying to ban… yet. No one has outright gone and stated it. Except maybe the ones who made the petition for GTA V in Australia. And maybe the whole heap of journalists who condemned Hatred before it even started to exist. But not a single utterance of “ban this sick filth”, so I guess we’re safe on that front.

            What these people are trying to do is change the moral zeitgeist. And I don’t use that term lightly – they’re literally trying to change culture to make it more concerned, more sensitive, and as a result, more constrained. There is nothing more effective than having an entire culture look down upon you for what you’ve created. Your publisher will make amends, your team will feel like shit, and unless you set out to stick it to the man, you’ll try your hardest to please everybody in the future. You’ll alter your characters, you’ll alter your story, you’ll remove every bit of risky content from your game, you’ll dumb it down because it might be offensive to X and to Y and how is that any different from publishers forcing artists into what’s trendy. Realize that in a Social Justice Future, a game like Doom would not exist.

            If you tell me that I’m being unintentionally racist, I might think less of you for judging by my words instead of my intent. And then I might humor you and try not to step on your toes, because what I am creating is communication. It is not art.
            But if I, say, paint something I am proud of, and you tell me it’s unintentionally racist and it offends you and it promotes ideas that I abhor, then you can take your complaints and stuff them because you aren’t my friend anymore.

            1. Scratch says:

              I had this experience with a female friend the other day. She said she was “mesmerized” by the appearance of a transexual person on youtube (a male to female) who she said was indistinguishable from a woman.

              I disagreed. I felt it was obvious based on his facial characteristics that he was a man. My friend got upset at me for using the masculine gender pronoun “he” to refer to this person.

              But why should I refer to someone who is biologically a man as a woman? A feminist might argue that gender and sex are different, but to be honest, the linguistic distinction between gender and sex is one that feminists themselves made up. Historically that distinction does not exist. And if you actually ask what scientific basis there is for classifying one thing as a socially-constructed difference and another thing as a sex difference, you get a blank stare. We simply don’t know enough to make these kinds of determinations.

              The idea that we should refer to people as what they want to be rather than what they are is silly. If a white person says that he is a transracial black person, must we refer to him as black? At least in my opinion, no, because language is useless if we cannot communicate qualities of objectively perceivable shared reality. Which again goes back to the point about gender: What I refer to when I use the pronouns “he” or “she” is not the idea of “socially constructed attitudes relating to masculinity and femininity,” they are used to refer to sex on an individual. This is in fact the historically valid way of using these terms and the tortured locution that my friend was trying to assert upon me is one that has only come into use by a small segment of the population over the past 50 years (or less).

              The real point though is that language control, control over a person’s speech, is often literally thought control. Because she adheres to a politicized perspective of how these words should be utilized she was unable to see how I could use them in a different way.

              1. CaptainBooshi says:

                The most common reply to this question: “But why should I refer to someone who is biologically a man as a woman?” is that it’s simply the polite thing to do. These people have tough enough lives already, is it really necessary to psychologically hurt them just to prove a point? This is really what it boils down to, in my opinion, anyways.

                Even without that, your other points are not as strong as you think they are. What would you call someone who has had boobs and a vagina all their life, but has an XY chromosome and testes instead of ovaries (also known as someone with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome)? I can’t imagine you’d want to call someone who has grown up female all their life and looks exactly like any other woman a man, but then why not someone who has fully transitioned and can completely pass as the opposite gender? There’s no real difference in their current state, just what they were like in the past. What about someone who has fully transitioned, but can’t fully pass? I hope you can see where I’m going here; when you have something like this, it’s a spectrum, and not just a binary choice.

                You’re also not really right that: “This is in fact the historically valid way of using these terms.” This has generally been true in Western Europe, but have you ever heard of the ‘sworn virgins’ of the Balkans? As long as a woman swears an oath in front of 12 elders to remain celibate all her life, she’s considered a man, and treated in every was as a man, from that point on. According to Wikipedia (which I just visited to confirm my memory of this), several Native American tribes practiced basically the same thing. Then there are the cultures that have a third gender, like the Hindu Hijras or the Samoan Fa’afafine (I hadn’t heard of the Fa’afafine before, but found out about them when I had to look up the term ‘Hijras’). Even better, the Bugis people in Indonesia apparently have five different official genders. FIVE! So, while the most common historical way of referring to gender is dividing everyone into man or woman based on what genitalia they are born with, you can see it’s the only way it’s ever been, it’s simply been our choice. There’s no reason we can’t decide to choose differently going forward.

                1. Scratch says:

                  And you just missed the entire point of the post. Congratulations on being a great example of how this mentality surreptitiously tries to redefine a usage that is clear and relatively unambiguous (insofar as natural language is unambiguous).

                  You know how I’m using the word, it’s how the sexed pronouns are used in the vast majority of circumstances both in the present day and historically. Who are you to tell me that I *must* adopt your usage? What authority determines your way of using this word is better?

                  The hilarity to me is how it’s considered offensive to use clear and common sense language, but it’s supposedly not offensive for people to tell me how to speak, what to believe, and whose rules I should follow (even when they themselves don’t follow those very same rules).

                  1. Ranneko says:

                    From what I could see is that the entire point of your post was that you were entitled to be hurtful because you feel that how you choose to use language is more important than another person’s identity or agency.

                    You seem to believe that gender and sex are one and the same, despite them being distinct terms and actually binary in nature (as CaptainBoshi mentioned) and so you have decided it is totally fine to be insensitive.

                    Sure, you are allowed to do this, but in doing so you are also choosing to be insulting and you will have people react and comment upon that.

                    In summary, to use the wrong pronoun for a person is generally considered rude, you were being rude and your friend was totally reasonable in calling you out for that.

                    1. Scampi says:

                      Even without that, your other points are not as strong as you think they are. What would you call someone who has had boobs and a vagina all their life, but has an XY chromosome and testes instead of ovaries (also known as someone with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome)?

                      If I do not err here: is that not known as “intersexuality”? That’s something completely different from transsexuality (which I personally don’t see as a gender, anyways). Yes, it can be friggin’ hard to define how to talk about them, as they can’t be properly labeled by binary male/female standards, sadly. Still I think there is no reason why they ought to have the right to be angry at anyone adressing them as what they might reasonably be perceived to be.
                      For transsexuals I think the same is true. I wore skirts at a point in time, but I wouldn’t have thought anyone would take me for a girl just because of my changed wardrobe (Spoilers: people DID-no, it’s not insulting. Even when I was again accidentally taken for a girl at the age of 16). That’s not the same as transsexuality, but the point I want to make is: people won’t necessarily sort out your actual gender before adressing you or talking about you. Personally I think it’s less about people deciding to insult someone and more about the decision to feel insulted. Yes, I think being insulted IS a decision.
                      Brevity and simplicity cause me to, at least at first, call people by any pronoun I assume they are properly called by. If they decide to be insulted by my use of established and recognized pronouns as I see fit, that’s not my problem.

                      In summary, to use the wrong pronoun for a person is generally considered rude, you were being rude and your friend was totally reasonable in calling you out for that.

                      Also: isn’t it rude to use the wrong pronoun because it is/was historically supposed to be easily recognizable which pronoun was the correct one and calling, say, a young girl a boy or the other way around implied they didn’t fulfil the expectations society had in them? Seen in this light: isn’t confusing other people about your gender/sex (w/e) rude as it causes awkward situations where people don’t know how to behave?
                      To be clear: I don’t think transsexuality or intersexuality was rude (especially intersexuality, as it’s a genetic disorder. How could it even begin to be rude?). But neither is calling someone of ambiguous gender by the wrong pronoun rude. I just think it’s highly questionable whether calling someone who might by a certain standard reasonably be considered a male/female by an undesired pronoun is “rude” by any sensible definition.

            2. Otters34 says:

              That’s doomsday conspiracy theory chatter. People are not trying to take our precious luxury goods away to replace them with sanitized, non-confrontational pablum. People have been saying that for years with regards to movies, and what do you know, it isn’t true there either.

              If you must insist that this is somehow notable, yes video games are changing, and have changed. But the addition of and attention to mindsets and experiences other than what have dominated the market for decades has hardly led to less variety and loss of personality and bite. There are Marlow Briggs and Long Live the Queens, neither dminishes the other by existing.

          3. INH5 says:

            Regardless of intention, I highly doubt this sort of rhetoric had nothing to do with GTA getting removed from Target Australia because it “depicted violence against women.” And for the record, when that happened, Jon McIntosh, Anita’s cowriter, was pretty happy about it on Twitter. Mr. McIntosh also got mad at Valve when they reinstated Hatred on Greenlight after it was temporarily taken down.

            So I think there are legitimate reasons that some people are suspicious of the motivations behind this sort of rhetoric. But at the same time, I think many of the expressed fears are overblown, because regardless of the motivations, I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of anyone succeeding through media pressure where Jack Thompson failed through legal action. AAA games sell way too many copies for the publishers to care about this, and while there’s a bit more concern for Indie games, if even Hatred is safe, it’s hard to imagine any game being extreme enough to get “soft banned.”

            Plus there’s the timeless truth that often the best way to turn a media product into a bestseller is to raise a bunch of controversy about it. I’m sure that the Hatred developers were banking on that the whole time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing Hatred ads saying “the game that was almost too hot for Steam!”

            To sum up, my position on this is that this is another debate where both sides are taking things far more seriously than they have to be.

  10. Abnaxis says:

    When you say Publishers don’t appreciate a thing you do, how do you know?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Umm,he gets less review copies.Its the part of the same (

    2. Shamus says:

      Yeah, what Daemian Lucifer said. I don’t mean to imply they sent me snarky notes. They just stopped calling, so to speak.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Sorry, the proper interpretation of my comment was completely clear in my head…

        I was more referring to your pinpoint diagnosis that the fallout must be due to the delay between when you receive review copies and when you write about them. I envision you getting a software box with a note in it that says “Good for 1 free game 1 year from today, so you get it just in time. ;^( “

  11. JackTheStripper says:

    Ok, nobody else is going to, so I’m gonna have to start the #GamerGate talk:

    I hate that every single perceived scandal gets tagged with the “gate” suffix. We get it, Watergate happened, it made sense to call it that since that’s what the office complex where it happened was called, but that’s not the case for all the others scandals since. Quit comparing everything to it. It’s just as overdone as comparing people to Hitler.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      People like patters.Therefore,people like identifying similar things by labeling them in similar ways.

      Just how you mention that you would start the #gamergate talk by discussing an issue that shares only a single thing(and a meaningless one at that)with actual #gamergate talks.

      And you know who else did deceptive stuff like that?Thats right,a german infamous all around the world,going by the simple name of mà¼nchhausen.

      1. JackTheStripper says:

        “Just how you mention that you would start the #gamergate talk by discussing an issue that shares only a single thing(and a meaningless one at that)with actual #gamergate talks.”


    2. Shamus says:

      I never took it as comparing to Hitler. Really “gate” has become this suffix meaning “affair”, “scandal”, “controversy”. And I can see the need for it. “Deflation Controversy” is much longer and more cumbersome than “DeflateGate”.

      It really is a curious language mutation. Half of the name of a hotel became a suffix modifier to turn a noun into the proper name for a scandal.

      1. Ivan says:

        I don’t know, I always felt that putting “gate” on the end of something was equating it to watergate. Like not just comparing it to the scandle, but saying that this scandal is of a similar magnitude. So I’ve always had trouble not rolling my eyes whenever I hear someone refer to something as “”whatever” gate”.

        1. Lee says:

          How old are you, Ivan? Were you around for the original Watergate?

          I ask because my feeling is that anyone young enough to have no real connection to Watergate except as a history lesson wouldn’t have that kind of reaction. I certainly don’t, and I was born in ’73.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            I was born in ’84, and I still roll my eyes whenever someone comes up with a new Noungate. I’m sorry, no matter how much money and power we give to our recreational sports organization, a ball with a few less PSIs in it than normal (I guess?) is nowhere on the same scale as a sitting president abusing his powers of office to surveil his political opponents. Nor is slow traffic on a bridge. Nor is a bare nipple in a half-time show.

            It always strikes me as click-generating hyperbole, like top ten lists or “you won’t believe!”

            1. Felblood says:

              So much this.

              I was born in ’85. Nixon, the Red Scare and WWII were all introduced to me in the same unit of 4th Grade History.

              That doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of spotting blatant sensationalism when it’s waved in my face under a strobe light and a blaring siren.

              Adding -gate to the end of something I see as trivial does not make me take it more seriously. Rather, it is a great way to help me write you off as another rabid, poo-flinging monkey, whose opinion of anything can be safely discounted.

              1. Fists says:

                I was born in ’91, in Australia, and I find comparing things like cheating in foozeball to the watergate scandal offensive. It seems like a great disrespect for modern echochamber journalism to give us meaningless stories while reminding us of that one time a journalist made a great stand for democracy.

            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Media using hyperbole for the stuff they say?Thats a world shattering revelation!

          2. Mortuorum says:

            I was born in 1965 and vaguely remember the Watergate scandal. Strangely, I can’t remember an example of “-gate” being used generically until decades later. Wikipedia tells me it happened, but (for example) I don’t remember anyone ever referring at the time to Iran/Contra as “Irangate”. The earliest instance I can remember is “Travelgate”, which was in 1993.

            FWIW, I stayed at the Watergate hotel about 10 years ago, which I remember as being very nice. It’s closed since then, though.

          3. Ivan says:

            I was born in 89 so yeah I didn’t live through it, but then didn’t the whole thing start in 72? Even you were so young that could you really say you had a direct connection to it? I’m asking honestly because I’m not very familiar with with the details, or what exactly it all meant.

            I will say though that 69 indictments resulting in 48 convictions and the resignation of a president who would have otherwise been impeached sounds like a pretty big deal. Or at least it sounds like a much bigger deal than a couple of guys closing down a bridge for an afternoon.

      2. ehlijen says:

        Now I’m chuckling at the thought that ‘stargate’ was some sort of Hollywood actor civil war.

        1. RCN says:

          And it was a damn destructive one at that.

          Many were appeased when Kurt Russel was overtaken by Richard Dean Anderson, but it took at couple of years before Michael Shanks finally convinced his troops he was up to the task of filling the shoes of James Spader.

          David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan had a hard time keeping the Atlantis front, but once Jason Momoa reinforced them, they held on for a valiant extent.

          But once the Ori got involved it became a mess that sci-fi never recovered from. They tried flinging a bunch of actors half-way across the Universe, but all they managed was to canibalize everything that was left from the initial spark of the war into something almost unrecognizable.

      3. JackTheStripper says:

        That’s what has become of the “-gate” suffix, I agree with that. But my point is that it’s overused, unoriginal and therefore lazy (akin to the “worse than Hitler” comparison in that regard).

        How about instead of “Deflate Gate” we call it “Ball Deflators”? Or “Raisin Balls”? Where’s the wit in scandal headlines these days?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Saying how stuff are overused and unoriginal is overused and unoriginal.

          1. JackTheStripper says:

            I never said I wasn’t guilty of it too.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Wasnt really accusing you.What I meant to say is that originality is highly overrated.Theres no need to invent hot water when stuff thats already in use is simple and effective.

              1. JackTheStripper says:

                I’m not offended or anything, I was just trying to answer playfully, but I have a very dry way of writing that comes of as completely sincere sometimes.

          2. Felblood says:

            There’s a line between trying to be witty and coming off flat, and simply calling a spade a spade.

            Wit has it’s place and frankness has it’s place, but bad writing is bad everywhere.

      4. silver Harloe says:

        we just need a scandal involving created scandals.

        after GateGate, the suffix will fall into disfavor.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          …until they find out the scandal was engineered by us by to make -gate fall into disfavor. GateGateGate!

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            We need to start this scandal. You’re absolutely right. It will kill the gate suffix once and for all.

        2. MichaelGC says:

          Or a major scandal involving water!

      5. What I really dislike is that a lot of people can’t even manage to understand what Watergate entailed. There’s a photo of Nixon that’s often paired with someone the poster disagrees with (mostly Obama, but I’ve seen other things, too). Not-Nixon has a list of crimes they’ve “gotten away with” that are supposedly worse than the crimes Nixon committed.

        What crime is that, according to this semi-popular graphic?

        “Wiretapped a hotel room.”

        There are neither faces nor palms big enough for whoever made it and all those who passed it around, thinking it was correct.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Eh, the “-gate” suffix has found its way here in the early 2000s, we are a non-English speaking country with probably a minimal grasp of 20th century US politics outside of involvement in WW2. There maaaay be a little bit of Cold War awareness but it would only be about the USA-USSR relations, not internal US politics, and even that would be mostly among the older generation. I think it was more due to widespread use of the suffix in American media at the time rather than the original scandal.

          Interestingly enough we eventually went full circle and got something that would translate as “wiretapgate”…

    3. Nixorbo says:

      Deadspin used Benghazi for the deflated balls scandal, calling it Ballghazi, which is miles better than DeflateGate.

      BenGhamer? Gamerghazi?

      1. Abnaxis says:

        See, that works because depending on who you ask (trying not to be too political) Benghazi is just a lot of hot air being moved, a completely politically-motivated, invented “scandal.”

        And again depending on who you ask, you can say the same thing about DG or GG.

      2. Muspel says:

        The Daily Show suggested calling it “the Ballocaust”.

      3. poiumty says:

        Gamerghazi’s already taken, actually. It’s the counter-group formed to laugh and sneer at anything gamergate does.

        1. Ranneko says:

          And it was specifically chosen to compare the supposed scandal behind gamergate with the supposed scandal behind benghazi and the increasingly strange conspiracy theories created to justify the continued investigation of each.

    4. Joe Informatico says:

      One thing you notice if you peruse Wikipedia’s list of -gate suffix scandals is that “-gate” was rarely used for non-political scandals before the social media era (i.e., the early 2000s). Prior to that, journalists and traditional media were gatekeepers of information, or at least they tended to have a predominant role in shaping the public conversation over major events. After that, and especially in the last 5 years or so, traditional media usually end up just following discussions that had already begun on social media, or are themselves a product of the current zeitgeist that says “-gate” means “scandal”.

      Watergate was a major political scandal involving a sitting US President, Richard Nixon. According to that Wiki article, William Safire, an influential New York Times columnist who used to be Nixon’s speechwriter, was responsible for most of the early applications of “-gate”. He attached it to almost any political controversy, and he himself later admitted he might have been trying to diminish his former boss’s crime by associating any political dirty dealings with it.

      But really, it was never really widespread before the 1990s, except as a joke. When news media became more consolidated into a handful of large corporations, and 24/7 cable news networks began to dominate the conversation, “-gate” became more prominent with political scandals, as a kind of proto-Twitter hashtag for mainstream media. It didn’t really migrate to any scandal until the 2000s.

  12. Muspel says:

    I’m not really sure if the term “games journalism” even makes sense. I mean, I can’t really think of any other entertainment industry that refers to the people who review/cover it as journalists. I’ve never heard of a film journalist or an TV journalist, for instance.

    You have critics for those things, and some other people that do interviews and coverage of upcoming shows/movies, but that’s not really journalism at all. And the same is true of games.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      What about art journalism and sports journalism?Video games fit quite nicely in both of those categories.

      1. Muspel says:

        Sports journalism involves a lot of reporting of actual facts, though– things like scores and statistics. There’s a difference between sports commentary and sports journalism.

        I’m not at all familiar with art journalism, probably because I pay no attention to art, so I can’t and won’t comment on that.

      1. Muspel says:

        However, it’s not a widely used term, or at least not that I’ve seen. Again, I’d argue that this is because it’s not particularly accurate. Journalism, at least to me, tends to refer to reporting on things in an objective manner, and entertainment tends to be more about personal responses to the media in question rather than dispassionate facts.

      2. Except I think film journalism isn’t about saying if a movie is good, bad, or whatever.

        Film journalism is reporting on studio accounting practices, who is signed with what studio, release schedules, scandals in the boardrooms, mergers, the business side of moviemaking, new techniques, etc.

        Reviewing movies is opinion, which is editorial, not journalism.

  13. Henson says:

    I feel like George Weidman is the closest thing we have to a games journalist. Which is rather appropriate, given his degree.

    Most games media focus on reviews and opinion pieces, and rarely do I see anything where someone both asks questions and goes out in search of answers. The games media aren’t just reporting on the business of gaming – they are part of the business. It’s probably easier to embrace that side of the job, as it takes much less effort; even a badly written review nets traffic. Why risk doing something different?

  14. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Well, I can’t say that there aren’t good reasons for game journalism to be collapsing right now.

    Marketing-as-journalism is too rampant, and it’s too easy to companies to market to people who are actively looking for that sort of thing directly now.

    Lack of professionalism is too rampant, and when your publication is barely a step above the content in the forums you’re hosting you can’t expect to charge a premium for it.

    There’s just too little of actual value being produced right now. And it does really need to be said, even if left unelaborated on- the GG mess was incredibly alienating, and many sites’ decision to dive in with the worst of it has doubtlessly driven people away.

    1. Felblood says:

      I think a lot of sites overestimated how many people were interested in reading about GG, and they ended up producing a lot of content for an audience that wasn’t really there to support it.

      A trending twitter hashtag isn’t actually a guarantee that a lot of people are interested in discussing a topic. There’s also the very real possibility that a smaller subset of people simply will not shut up about it.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        Does it matter what people are interested in though? Is not the point of reporting news is to report things that have happened? Games sites really started reporting on this only after non-games media had already done it. If “games journalism” is worse at covering games than non-games journalism, what is the point?

        “Games journalism” is completely unsatisfactory as criticism to me, but it’s also completely unsatisfactory as product reviews and has nothing interesting to provide as actual news or journalism. So what’s it for? Press-releases and previews?

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          “Games sites really started reporting on this only after non-games media had already done it.”

          What non-games media was reporting on GG before games media was?

          And why is that actually important, anyway? Why should good media outlets feel the need to report things that aren’t actually newsworthy because trashy media outlets are stirring up shit?

  15. Disc says:

    “games journalism”

    It’s been ranking pretty high on my mental list of increasingly meaningless words and terminology from last year.

    Not that things will change much for me. I already get the majority of my fix of gaming media from Youtube. The rest comes almost exclusively from Finnish gaming media, for which I still have respect.

  16. silver Harloe says:

    “Krugman doesn’t read the news”?

    I dunno if you can edit your Escapist articles like you can edit your blog posts, but something about the sentence seems … wrong. He doesn’t write the news? He doesn’t read the news aloud to people on tv as an anchor?

    One thing I’m sure of: he reads more news than I do.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes, I meant it to sound like, “He doesn’t read the news TO US”. Now people will think this is a dig at Krugman.


      Probably can’t have a fix before tomorrow.

      1. Tizzy says:

        By the way, this segregation of news and opinion strikes me as a very North American phenomenon. My only point of comparison is a few countries in Europe, but basically over there, the op-ed serves as a summary of the overall editorial stance of the newspaper, which is then illustrated in a more concrete way throughout the rest of the paper.

        That’s because in those countries, everyone can buy several national newspapers, along with a few regional ones (though those appear to be dwindling in numbers).

        As opposed to, say, the US, where there is usually one local paper left anywhere, which therefore has to try to be everything to everyone and does not want to alienate readers.

        1. Cuthalion says:

          I hear a big push here in the US to embrace subjectivity in journalism, too. Maybe I’m just old and crusty (I’m only mid-20s, I swear!), but that kind of makes me sad. I like the idea of just being told what is known about what happened, maybe a couple quotes from people opining about it, and not have to roll my eyes as I filter out the opinion or snark. I realize that what you choose to cover is itself meaningful, and you can’t root out bias entirely. But I still can’t help but feel like people are just giving up when they talk about embracing the subjectivity of it.

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            Agreed. “Embracing subjectivity” means that the reader/viewer is given little choice but to embrace the opinion of their chosen news-outlet.

            1. ThaneofFife says:

              I disagree. One major criticism of American journalism now is that I reflects many unstated biases of its writers. This is similar to how “objectivity,” as it used to be practiced by print journalists, was partially to blame for how the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunt developed.

              A more recent example: Who decided in 2009-2013 that it was the objective truth that long-term deficit spending in the U.S. mattered more than short-term efforts to stimulate the economy? This was a partisan position that a large majority of mainstream outlets simply reported as “fact.”

              If journalism outlets had to declare their biases at the outset, consumers might gain a better understanding of the news that they reported.

              1. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

                Such partisanship exists within “journalist ethics” and never violates them. Printing ‘fact’ can be accomplished while still swaying an agenda in a particular agenda. The writer simply omits fact that is inconsistent with their position. They aren’t lying or even changing the narrative. At worst, they are inferring they are reporting all relevant data when they are only giving you a portion.

                Basically, its the reader/viewers fault for believing that they are being given all relevant information, not the media outlets duty to give them every shred of data available and let them form their own opinion. And lets face it, when it comes to international, Sovereign state level Macro-economics, most Americans wouldn’t understand it even if they did.

                Is it their fault for lies of omission or or fault for believing them?

              2. Zak McKracken says:

                Oh, of course the fact-listing can never be completely objective, either! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an honest effort, though.

                E.g.: The thing about the deficit you mentioned: The media should not have reported the debt-repaiing bit as objective truth, they should have reported it as “politician X said that spending has to be cut in order to get out of the mess.” … and if any reasonably credible person has a different proposal, mention that, too.

                Even better: Ask some proper scientists about it. They won#t give you definitive answers (because there objectively aren’t any!) but they will help you shoot down the silly bits, so you can report on the serious ones. That’s how the main news channels in Germany (try to*) handle it. They got a LOT of criticism when they were too quick to take sides in an issue recently. — which never prevented them from still having commantary, sometimes two in a row with opposite opinions.

                * that’s not to say they were very good at it. But at least they make an effort, and it’s showing.

                1. ThaneofFife says:

                  Good points, all! We all should be more aware of the information that we consume, and the unstated biases that it may reflect.

                  Then again, many U.S. journalists seem to have trouble distinguishing between subject-matter experts (many of whom have partisan agendas) and hacks whose primary purpose is to advocate for a partisan agenda.

                  Whether someone is a genuine expert or a hack can usually be determined by whether what they say is actually supported by empirical data (and logic). For example, for the U.S. deficit stories I mentioned above, former senators Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles were quoted (mostly) uncritically saying things about how the U.S. needed to cut entitlements now in order to avoid cutting entitlements later. They also suggested that the U.S. economy could turn into Greece unless the U.S. cut discretionary spending and lowered taxes. These were both partisan positions that were largely reported as fact.

                  It’s too bad that more journalists don’t spend time checking their sources’ source material…

                  1. Patrick the many named bridge dweller says:

                    I have a wife that was a combat journalist for the US Navy and a best friend that graduated from Point Park University with his masters in Journalism and communications. I have discussed your issue above (lack of fact checking) with both of them when Dan Rather staked his accomplished and significant reputation on a questionable story about former President Bush. The short answer is: Shamus happened.

                    Well, not Shamus specifically, but bloggers and social media in general. Professional media no longer has the luxury of time to fact check everything lest they lose the story to someone on twitter. A beat writer from The Times losing a story to his counterpart at The Post is regrettable. Losing that same story to some no-name with a twitter account is Abhorrent and unforgivable. To the professional writer this would be akin to Lebrun James losing a game of “Horse” to a guy that brags about scoring 18 in a YMCA pickup game.

                    1. Zak McKracken says:

                      Question: Wouldn’t strict (well, as strict as you can make it) separation of facts from interpretation help there?

                      You put out the obvious facts first, while you’re still checking the not-so-obvious ones, and by the time that is done, you can publish them together with how you checked them (because you can bet someone else already released a half made-up version of it, and this will make you look smarter), and an analysis of what this means, because in the course of doing the fact-checking you also learned a bunch of background information.

                      Otherwise this seems like it’s becoming a race to the bottom: Everyone tries to get the stuff out first, disregarding accuracy. Which means in the end that either you have to eat your words later when it turns out that it was all wrong, or you need to keep sticking to some version of events that you know wasn’t accurate. Then all journalism becomes useless (possibly even dangerous) to the public.

                      That’s somewhat like a small photography shop I knew which hired people who have no idea about photography and offered almost no service, because they thought that this was what made all those internet shops so successful — but expertise and service is precisely what I want when I walk into a small shop! Same goes for journalism: If I want the opinion of Some Guy On The Internet, I read their blog (but must be prepared to learn that they got it all wrong). If I want to be well-informed about the news, I read the products of professional journalists.

        2. Zak McKracken says:

          I learned in school (Germany) that reporting and comment should always be separate.
          There are some TV stations who don’t care about it, and some newspapers who don’t either … I recommend avoiding those.

          The simple reason for the separation is that it’s necessary to having anything in the direction of objectivity. If the person listing the facts frames them with his opinion, and somebody else gets the same facts in a different frame, the two of you will never even be able to agree on the facts, let alone have a useful discussion.

          First you list the cold hard facts, then you say what you think about them, everything else is manipulating public opinion.

          … actually opinion pieces influence public opinion, too, but after having given the facts in a neutral manner, a reader should be better able to understand diverging viewpoints of different commenters.

          1. Tizzy says:

            But then again, there are several schools of thought that would challenge the very existence of these objective facts. That would say that the very act of reporting something is political, that there is no objective reality, only subjective reports.

            I am not necessarily agreeing with that, but all this to say: Good luck establishing a common ground with those people! And many journalists have been fed these ideas, too…

            1. Zak McKracken says:

              Well, if a bomb explodes and 5 people die, someone could of course argue that there is no objective truth and in your version of the universe the people were still alive and well, but in that case I’d argue that that person was nuts.

              Of course there will always be:
              1: things that have objectively happened or not but cannot be independently verified (is the hostage still alive? Does the CIA really have a perfectly good reason for their actions that they just cannot talk about, or did they just make it all up?)
              2: Questions where there is no objectively true answer (will law xy actually help the economy? Should we save more or invest more?)

              …those things should be mentioned as what they are: Things we are not sure about. If there’s good reason to lean one way or another on these things, that reason should be given (“hmm… there’re these documents which say they made it up…”). In the case of policy questions, it reaaally helps to ask someone who knows most of what is known (e.g. a proper scientist doing independent research). If you still can’t properly prove it, it should not be reported as a fact but rather “expert XY thinks this scenario is plausible, expert YZ has different opinion”.

              … and after that exercise, go and write your opinion, but not before.

              This will still allow news outlets to either overlook or knowingly ignore bits of information, but in an atmoshpere where the above is expected, it’s going to make them look really bad if they do that too often.

      2. silver Harloe says:


        if it helps, your twenty-sided readers are probably more picky and watchful than your Escapist readers.

      3. Daimbert says:

        I wouldn’t worry too much about it, as phrasing it that way in that context is pretty common. I got what you meant pretty much immediately. It’d only be people who might be unfamiliar with the “reads the news” description of a newscaster that might not get it.

      4. Zeta Kai says:

        If it helps, I understood what you were saying, & didn’t think twice about a possible alternate interpretation. Although that may be because I’m not familiar with this Krugman fellow, & have no synaptic associations to disentangle regarding him or his activities.

      5. ThaneofFife says:

        If you’re willing to discuss it, what IS your opinion of Krugman? I’m really curious now…

  17. evileeyore says:

    “In old media, there is a really clear line between news and opinion.”

    And it could easily go back to that. Reviewers review, op-eds write opinion pieces, and journalists do journalism – news reporting.

    It isn’t rocket surgery.

    However then you need to hold people to standards and not just run clickbait articles to drive revenue. The e-zines would have to actually run like news organizations, not sensationalism houses.

    “You can’t very well review a game without giving your opinion. This makes gaming journalism inherently weird.”

    No it makes game reviewing inherently opinion pieces, not news.

    1. Felblood says:

      There were some attempts to keep reviews and opinion pieces separate, back when we were hewing gaming magazines from dead trees, like barbarians.

      The trouble is, trying to draw that line is actually even more disingenuous. The people who get first access to meaningful new information, are game reviewers. Naturally, they are expected to use their position as established mouthpieces to disseminate this information.

      Tragically, this leaves an editor with Sophie’s choice. He can enforce a strict divide between reviews (opinion articles) and previews (factual reports), but that leaves the news reports either overly dry, or goofily winking (I got to play the alpha build of Halo 2, but I can’t tell you if it’s any good until next month, when everyone is already buying it! ;)). –Or he can let the opinion writers voice their opinions even when writing for the “news” section, which turns his supposed news article into cloudy opinion pieces, even before he runs into the biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you issue of what to do when a writer hates something that was shown in an exclusive preview. (See also, the Gerstman Scandal, which is both an education piece of gaming media history, and an expample of a scandal with a name that is punch, descriptive and subdued.)

      It’s a strange game and the winning move is not to play.

      There is no reason for gaming journalism to be bound by the same jargon and rules as political journalism, any more than political journalism has need of the same traditions and rules as scientific or medical journalism. To argue otherwise strikes me as coming out of a somewhat myopic view of how words acquire meanings, or why we allow them to do so.

      To allow a dictionary definition of a word to restrict it’s utility for clear communication undermines the very purpose of both words and dictionaries.

    2. The other problem is revenue.

      I’d say the value of someone writing well-researched and easily-comprehended articles that pass on critical information about [INSERT ANY TOPIC OR EVENT] is quite high.

      How you get the people providing that value some compensation for it other than the satisfaction of a job well done is still a bit of a mystery. Clickbait, however, has a business model that (sadly) seems to work, or at least, it works better than actual news.

      This has been a story from time immemorial, though. Back in the day, TV and radio news was pretty good quality because the networks lived in fear of having their licenses revoked for airing what a lot of people called “trash”: Sitcoms (many now considered classics), game shows, etc. The idea was that if “I Love Lucy” ever offended enough people to say its parent company didn’t belong on the public airwaves, they could point to a crack news team that reported from around the globe and provided a service. Nowadays, of course, they’d have to air a pretty atrocious block of TV to get a license revoked, and that would probably have to involve the murder of some high ups at the FCC.

      I had a friend that worked in the news department of a major market TV channel (he did sports, because free tickets to NFL games), and he laid it out for us: Each segment is sponsored. Ad dollars go to weather, sports, and “fluff.” Things of interest or little possible offense. The news gets the lowest ad revenue, because who wants to sponsor what’s going on out there? War? Death? Crime? Brought to you by Folgers? Not likely, or at least, not for top dollar.

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      Well, if we try to look at it in terms of old media, games journalism is mostly like movie criticism.

      That said: There is room, I think, for a few pieces simply serving the facts: Developer X announced game Y, publisher Z’s DRM servers went down, n games programmers have been laid of and survived for 3 years on a diet of discarded computer chips … that sort of thing.

      I think it should also be possible to divide a game review into facts and opinions: on one side: This game requires this hardware, uses these techniques, has these and those game mechanics in this variation, takes about this amount of time to complete … only stuff that can be stated objectively. And then the opinion piece, which mostly goes the way of movie criticism: I liked the story, except the ending was weird, the art looks wonderful, the gameplay did not seem to go well with the atmosphere.

      The first part, anyone would be able to form their own opinions on before being confronted with the author’s, which allows them to much better decide whether they agree with the author or think that they actually like this sort of gameplay despite what the article says.

      There’s a thing in psychological research where for research that doesn’t have any proper experiments (which would provide objective numbers but just can’t be done for some things), the author needs to state their own experience with the phenomenon in question, so the reader can have their own opinion on whether they think the author may overstate some aspects or overlook others.
      … Actually, Shamus does that rather often, which helps a lot to calibrate oneself before reading his opinions.

      1. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

        What you’re talking about is by orders of magnitude more difficult than everyone simply learning what a journalist actually does and adjusts their expectations accordingly.

        Namely: Who would create this list “I think it should also be possible to divide a game review into facts and opinions”. There is a moderately functioning body that governs (real) journalists in the Associated Press. But if they functioned at the level most Americans would like ABC and Fox News would look radically different. In traditional news organizations there is the AP, but there is no such animal in the gaming world. What governing body creates the rules of what is fact and opinion? Who draws lines between what the factual half is allowed to say? Who enforces those rules? It’s just not that simple.

        The more simplified solution is everyone involved adjust their expectations to meet reality:THERE ARE NO GAMING JOURNALISTS.

        For all the reasons you mentioned. A “journalist” would write about the FPS, Engine used, names of senior development team, maybe some info where they came from beforehand, maybe a few details about problems they had during production….you know, bland boring details almost nobody would care about. That would be journalism, that would be ‘news’.

        Anything beyond that is an article or column and is written by a columnist, pundit, ombudsman or any other title other than journalist.

        As much as it will get me damned by the masses for saying, so the single most prominent and blatant problem that is at the very core of this whole (ridiculous and juvenile) GG problem is a complete lack of understanding what a journalist actually does.

        It is literally the same as trying to apply the same code of conduct and expectations to a Mall guard as you would an FBI agent. Simply the phrase “gaming journalism” sounds silly to me. You might as well say cartoon journalist. How much hard-hitting, factual, down-to-the-marrow stories are being written about the Sponge Bob Movie?

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          You’re right: Actually writing a review like someone would write a psychology paper isn’t worth the effort.

          But then we’re talking about games here, not scientific research, so the whole thing could well be relaxed a bit.

          And actually, Shamus is doing the very thing frequently: Simply stating what part of the game he’s interested in, and what the things are that he prefers. The reader then has the ability to mentally adjust their perception. Something that is extremely hard to do if the perspective the article is written from isn’t given and if you know that it only quotes those bits of information it needs to make its arguments but will completely ignore everything that speaks against them.

          Same goes about the separation of facts from interpretation: No need to give those to separate people but maybe structure an article accordingly. That, by the way, makes it much more difficult for the author to delude themselves about something or hide some internal contradiction.

          Then again: These things couldn’t be applied rigorously siince, as mentioned before, games journalism isn’t really proper journalism because it is mostly review or criticism. Or sometimes just hyping…

    4. evileeyore says:

      “The other problem is revenue.”

      Actually, that’s all of the problem. E-zines are in the business to drive revenue. If you can’t get your story in, in time to beat everyone else, you get cut for the writer who did.

      So less and less actual research is done, and more and more “this sounds like what I think it is” is written (or worse “This pushes my political agenda, the facts be damned!”).

      Secondly: Reviewers should review. That’s an opinion piece mixed with facts. It ain’t brain science people. However they can be ethical about it. Did your girlfriend work on the game or is your wife the Communications Manager for the Triple A dev house? Then you disclose that, or you pass on reviewing.

      Ethics are hard. I get that. But it’s not impossible.

      As for journalism, while skimpy this is what news looks like:

  18. Joe Informatico says:

    It’s been said by many people over the years, but it boils down to this. Gaming news & review sites, once they get bigger than the blog/YouTube channel they started as to the size where they have to start paying for real-world things with real-world money, are dependent on a good relationship with the big publishers for two things: advertising buys, and access.

    In the old traditional media model, news outlets were mostly paid for by advertising dollars. And those dollars came from a variety of advertisers. So if News Network 1 ran a shocking exposé on Big Auto Company, even if Big Auto Company threatened to pull their advertising from NN1, NN1 had enough advertisers to not care, and Big Auto Co. would just look petty and impotent. Not that the system was perfect, but it was more robust. That model’s been crumbling for the last 20 years thanks to the internet, but it still persists for now.

    In contrast, a games news site lives off of reviews and news about upcoming games, and advertising, and both are mostly coming from an increasing shrinking pool of AAA publishers.

    I have this hope that a more traditional news media outlet, not being hindered by a reliance on AAA publisher ad dollars, could do better games journalism, the same way they do film criticism, and business news, and sports reporting. They could go and seek out harder news stories, or at least dig into gaming news deeper than whatever official press releases are issued that day. But I don’t see it happening. Old media is torn between The Good Old Ways and the scary, uncertain digital future, and if they recognize games journalism at all, it’s usually in the mould of “hire some intern to write games reviews and try and pull in new younger readers” or out of a desire to still seem hip and “with it”.

    But even if that happens, is there a market for it? Do gamers want to read stories about how AAA dev studios are digital sweatshops? About how many industry employees burnout within 5 or 7 or however many years? About incompetent management and wasted money? Even more positive stories about how such-and-such project came together, but an honest appraisal of the process, not PR spin? Like the way film critics can visit film sets, and whole books are written on the making of a movie. I don’t think the shareholders of AAA publishers care about any of this, at least not enough to pay for it, or we’d see that kind of journalism already. Do enough gamers care, or do the majority only want reviews and news on upcoming titles?

    1. Tobias says:

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment – but it doesn’t have to be a more “traditional” outlet, just one that’s not bound by AAA advertising dollars so much. Like, say, a more lifestyle-oriented magazine, or just with a general “stuff younger people care bout” focus. In a way, it’s what Vice has been doing for the last few months in their videogame reporting. Here, have a look: Seems pretty close to the stuff we might be looking for.

      Sure enough, it’s still not heavy-hitting investigative reporting by any stretch of the imagination. But he proper ingredients are there: Pre-release, hypecrushing analysis of an upcoming AAA title? Check (in this case, “Evolve”, by the very esteemed Richard Cobbett, no less), coverage of topics that outlets “within” the industry don’t like to talk about (yes, videogame addiction is a thing, and we should have a conversation about it). It’s far from what I’d want to see in videogames journalism, but it’s a good start at the right place.

  19. BitFever says:

    I’ve been following your site for a few years now and have never even given any thought to what I’d define your work as.

    You just do what you want it would seem. You right opinion pieces. You do letsplays. You rant about games, movies, computer code and hardware. You write your own novels and make your own games. None of that meshes together into one neat little box that we can use to describe you, and honestly I think that’s ok.
    There’s no reason people need to be organized into a small well known box that describes everything they can and will do. Humans are a lot more than that and the lack of an official description/title for your job allows more creativity and freedom I think. (not to imply that all job titles should be removed in society)

    You aren’t a youtuber or a journalist or a blogger you are Shamus Young. :)

  20. RCN says:

    Damn, the very first Facebook comment on the article already alluded to Gamersgate.

    And now I may be summoning the Gamersgate brigade just by mentioning them!

    I’m sorry.

    1. silver Harloe says:

      don’t worry, if they’re summoned by a google search, Shamus already did it twice in the write up about the article.

    2. Otters34 says:

      There’s one ‘s’ too many there! That game distribution site has nothing to do with an internet flame war.

  21. Bubble181 says:

    As some others have noted…Almost 90% of what is classified as “games journalism” isn’t news. It’s editorial. Yes, any review, preview, or other piece about the content of a piece of media is editorial. This is true for anything not involving dry facts.
    A movie review isn’t “movie journalism” – it’s a review. “Movie journalism” is about what studio has hired which director to make their next movie, where we know that guy from, and which actors are going to play what piece. Whether or not that movei will be any good isn’t a topic in that article. That’s for the previewer or reviewer, who may have seen an early pre-premier press release to write a piece saying “this new Spielberg movie is fantastic! Go see it!” (or not). The line is very clear.

    The difference is that, with the coming of the internet, everyone and their dog could (p)review games. And they did – often much better, more in-depth, more objectively, more competently, and with their ear much closer to the tune of what people want to read about, than the “game” departments of larger, broader media (say, the “media” part of a newspaper, where you can go read reviews of 2 or 3 of the newest movies, a couple of CD reviews, and a few game reviews). Sicne these sort of reviews were better and more interesting than the “official” media’s treatment of this new type of art/media/whatever, gamers migrated and started to clot together. This lead to some sites becoming bigger and professionalising. Gamespot, 1Up, the Escapist later on.

    Actual game journalism is all the reporting being done about games – Ubisoft is releasing a new Assassin’s Creed, in the Gamebryo Engine, and the story’s being writen by Stephen King this time around, we’ll see what happens; EA bought Westwood and added its biological and technological distinctiveness to their own; the new TripleFrozRXGamer Graphics Card by nVidia will bring even more pixels to your screen.
    Except, you know, most gamers aren’t all that interested. We want reviews and previews because there’s too many games to plat them all. Which is no problem – there’s specialized movie review magazines, and specialized music enthousiast magazines, and whatever. Heck, I have a subscription to a beer enthousiast magazine, which gives all kinds of actual news about beer (I’m Belgian – there’re new beers appearing all the time), besides giving tastings and reviews of beers (old and new) all the time. There’s still a clear line: one is an opinion, the other’s news. Only in gaming do people claim these two “can’t be separated”, but that’s nonsense.

  22. Ravens Cry says:

    I hope written journalism ,online or otherwise, does not fade away. Frankly, I find it a lot easier to read someone’s words than be bombarded with a video or even most pod casts. If something confuses me or I just want to pause to go to another tab, I can go back and read bits again, while backing up on a video or podcast tends to be pretty fiddly.

  23. Mephane says:

    That would sound crazy in a newspaper, but in gaming it’s more or less expected. Newspaper never directly engaged in discussion with their readers, except to print a few letters without comment. In gaming, there’s always a thread attached to an article and authors frequently show up to discuss things after the article runs.

    Not only that, but for gaming news I consider this a requirement. If I read an article about some game’s new DRM scheme or preorder exclusive shenanigans, only factually listing what is going on and explaining what the story of the is about for anyone who doesn’t know about it yet – I would feel like being lied to without the author not dedicating at least a paragraph either lambasting the publisher’s bad decisions or explaining why they are cool with what they’re doing.

    This is why the only actual gaming news I frequently read is Rock, Paper, Shotgun*, this very blog here, plus the opinion section of Polygon.

    (*They also have the significant advantage of only covering PC games, so I don’t have to check each and every new game announcement whether it is even coming to PC.)

  24. Tuck says:

    I’m surprised by the hostile nature of the comments on the escapist. I’ve never really paid any attention to them before — are they always like that?

    1. JeffJeff says:

      Wow, the facebook comments are a barrel of toxic hipster on this weeks column. I don’t recall that section ever containing much hostility towards Shamus, then again it’s never very active.

      The forum thread on the escapist attached to the column is alright though. I guess having to create an escapist account is a enough of a barrier for idiots and creating a facebook account isn’t, which I guess I knew…

    2. Trix2000 says:

      Sometimes, but I think for this one they were particularly bad. At least, it’s the first time I’ve wanted to go in and make my own replies.

      Thankfully I do not use Facebook, so I was able to easily avoid doing so.

  25. Phill says:

    The real difference (in my mind) between games journalism and ‘real’ journalism is that games journalism is inherently part of the marketing for games – and always has been. Unless you are going to limit your journalism to dry lists of upcoming releases in alphabetical order, and business news for games companies (financial results, significant personnel moves), then it is inevitable.

    Yeah, a lot of games consumers don’t like this, which gives rise to alternative channels of information (currently youtube reviews, lets plays etc.). And as sure as taxes, companies trying to control the presentation of their products immediately start trying to find ways to influence the new channels as soon as they become popular enough to be worth bothering with.

    You do see the same thing with real news of course – not in terms of media advertising, but in terms of governments and other groups trying to control the presentation of the news. If that is through state-run media (analogous to conventional games reviews ;) ) or staging events, misinformation, sowing doubt when they don’t have direct control (e.g. Russia’s approach to handling western media), there is still a battle waged to try and shape the way the story is reported to their own benefit.

    To imagine that you are ever going to get games coverage that is largely unaffected by the PR spin of publishers is probably delusional. Even if you avoid pair promo pieces, they are still trying to control, or at least influence, the message in just about every medium. Look at the crap pulled with Shadows or Mordor, with preview copies only being available to people who signed a contract stipulating (amongst other things) that they were only allowed to say positive things about the game. (I can’t believe how much of a collective shrug this seems have gathered from the gaming community, largely it seems on the basis that the game was actually decent enough).

    1. Patrick the Multi-named bridge dweller. says:

      THIS. This is the problem.

      To say ‘gaming journalism’ is allowed to be different that actual journalism is mutilating the definition as a means to lend credibility. It’s like giving a Mall guard a badge to make him look more official. Calling some police Academy reject a “Retail management enforcement officer” doesn’t inherently grant him any more power or authority than anyone else in the mall not riding a Segway or wielding a whistle.

      Mall Guards are meant to look more important, and game critics and reviewers call themselves journalists for exactly the same reason.

      Stop calling them journalists. Stop lowering the bar to lend credibility to a industry that has none. If you are going to lower the bar, then we all have to lower our expectations as well. Pretending Shamus or any of his ilk be held to the same standards as Woodward and Bernstein is so preposterously stupid I cannot believe that it even needs discussed.

      (I am not angry at YOU Phill, persay. If this reply seems to be directed specifically at you, please do not take it that way. Your comment simply gave me the most logical springboard.)

      1. Phill says:

        Well since I think we are broadly in agreement, I won’t take it as a personal attack ;) Basically, games journalism isn’t journalism, it is a mix of thinly veiled marketing and a bunch of subjective opinions on games.

        (If you want actual games journalism, read http://www.gamesindustry.biz which actually carries factual news on the games industry, combined with opinion pieces that are clearly differentiated as reporting someones opinion rather than mere facts. Oddly enough, this isn’t a site with a huge readership amongst gamers, for some reason…).

  26. Akuma says:

    To borrow from fighting game lingo, there’s an awful lot of salt coming from commenters around this subject, for the very reason you wanted to avoid.

    On the issue of comments and their policing, it’s a very tricky thing to deal with in general. As has been mentioned before do you assign your core team to it, and effectively waste their time, hire someone to police the comments or find some other method of dealing with it.

    One fascinating example I saw was on the website roll20. For those who have not heard of it it’s an online table top tool, for D&D and other systems. Back when they started up they had a forum for just discussing anything, because when you have a forum it makes sense to have that stage to allow your community to engage with one another.

    For the longest time however topics would get bogged down by arguments of play styles, systems, pirating pdf’s etc. In the end roll20 decided to simply close that part of the forum down. It seems counterproductive to shut down all discussions rather then just leaving them and ignoring them, but then you realize the amount of stress that is simply evaporated by just cutting out the problem entirely.

    It’s a hardline approach I’ve come to agree with more over time, simply because if you don’t want to deal with a loud vile minority you shouldn’t have to.

  27. Otters34 says:

    My personal takeaway from the whole flame war is that people on the internet don’t know what radical feminism is. If they really think that people complaining how they don’t like how a video game was made is “radfem scum”, then I sincerely hope they never meet an actual radical feminist. Especially not one of those from the 70’s, that’d just make them die from the psychic backlash.

    Anyway, games journalism is damned sad. Bunch of people who mostly got into something they loved and now have to endure the luckless status of middlemen. On the one hand are the folks making the games, who seem to look at any writer or ‘name’ in that field as either a sucker to be exploited or a potentially savvier accomplice to (WAIT FOR THE BUZZWORD) shill their products with a faint veneer of credibility among the consumer base. On the other hand there’s a pile of ignorant morons who have arrived at the baffling conclusion that not only should the world be as they wish, but any part of it not being according to their divine will is an affront against them, and them personally. And somehow the “journalists” need to figure out how to keep from being relentlessly targeted for having wrong opinions and also keep some kind of tie with the industry they got into writing about because they liked something about it, and need to keep abreast of its happenings to keep their readership from just reading some other place’s ‘relevant’ material. And now whatever they liked looks very far away.

    Hard for me to blame them wanting to write about more than just how well things work and if the stuff on the box was an accurate description of the content.

    And then there’s the other groups who don’t fit the false dichotomy, but I won’t get into those because who cares. There’s only around a billion people in those other groups anyway, not like they’re important.

  28. LassLisa says:

    So, in the body of the post it says, “No desire to moderate a discussion of people talking about GamerGate (hint hint)”.

    Then the description of comments says, “214 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?”

    And I’m all, “… I have a guess.” >.>
    Pleasantly surprised, really, skimming through the comments. There’s some meta-conversation but it could be worse. Just was an amusing juxtaposition.

    1. Otters34 says:

      People who want to talk about it or have anything to do with it often have a baffling monomania with the subject. It’s like real politics, but even worse.

      And isn’t that alsways the damned way? You even breath a whisper about a controversial subject, and instantly the comments explode. Meanwhile the discussions on posts about FFX and Jade Empire took weeks to crack the triple digits. And both of those are way more interesting.

  29. Otters34 says:

    Damn, I’m sorry Mr. Young. Actually read the other comments befkre posting, which made me forget what I was originally going to post.

    “Like playing pool on a crooked table” is one of the best metaphors I have read in a long time. Not the mot ingenious or artful, but vivid and instantly effective. Certainly not something I’d ever come up with.

  30. Shamus says:

    Hey everypeople:

    This is probably the most civil GG conversation ever conducted. You should be proud. I’m going to close this thread soon. This has been pretty civil, but it’s also getting long and time-consuming to moderate, and I’m worried things will go south if it gets linked and a bunch of strangers show up.

    I’m going to give the thread another 12 hours or so, and then lock it.

    Thanks for being so cool.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yay,we manage to do it on our third go.Huzzah for us!

      1. Otters34 says:

        Despite our best efforts we have yet to reach the “heights” of the Codex incident*. We’re slipping as knucklehead netizens, here, this is downright restrained and almost levelheaded discourse.

        *Folks from another site showed up in a discussion of that site and things got real creepy.

    2. Disc says:

      If there’s anything to learn, it’s that this whole fucking shebang could use a lot more arbiters who can step in at the right time and steer the conversation back in the right direction. Some of the above conversations could have easily gone worse if you hadn’t stepped in and effectively act as a sort of ad-hoc mediator. Even if you didn’t mean it as such, it’s a thing I’ve learned from past experiences with touchy issues that just having an authority figure willing and able to acknowledge issues from both sides of the argument and willing to talk about them rationally always carries some weight to it. And frankly, judging by the last couple attempts at forumside, I think it’s more than likely playing a part here. In this specific case it also helps, when it’s a voice the community by and large respects a lot. I don’t mean to say you should take up the mantle or anything and start doing more for the discussions than you already do; you’ve got your hands enough full as it is, but still, credit where it’s due.

      And thank you.

  31. Chris says:

    I’m rather sad to admit most of GG passed me by. I read the article written by Sarkeesian, and was unimpressed and unmoved. Thought she took a long time to get to a “labels only separate us” point.
    I still believe the anti-woman issues that cropped up are more a product of society (and the dark-side of internet culture) than with video games. As a straight chick who enjoyed playing the original Leisure Suit Larry games (because they were hilarious) and absolutely love Bayonetta, I don’t see games as any more sexist than any other aspect of our society.
    ..Actually games have been getting better about having women as more than decoration than television has. – Video games have Laura Croft, television has Vanna White and the chicks on The Price is Right. Both have been around a while, but only Laura has had a character arc.

    Video games, and video game culture, could be more inclusive. Removing the T&A isn’t where that happens. Whats needed is for people making games to continue to improve on their recognizing female characters capacity to be more than sexy stereotypes. And for people who are offended by T&A to understand that if they don’t like what they see they should encourage other games to be made instead of blocking the kind they don’t care for.

    That said, this entire plot thread did cause me to realize one crucial fact. I hadn’t realized that Jim Sterling left the Escapist.
    Wow am I out of the loop. I’ve got alot to catch up on..

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