lol game journalism

Angry PonySometimes the internet says something so mind-bogglingly dumb you just can’t help but laugh. Usually it’s Reddit. Recently there was a thread so full of stupid I just had to share. The subject? Games journalism, the gaming community and bias.

Or alternatively full-frontal, foaming at the mouth madness.

Question: With all the negativity surrounding gaming journalism, is there anything still worth reading out there?

On the surface, a fair question. On many review sites the review scores are hardly worth the bytes they’re written on. When 70% is the new awful, rumours fly of sites only being allowed to publish a review before release date if it is “favourable” and sites jumping on hype bandwagons for the easy traffic (see for example, anything relating to GTA V), shameless corporate sponsorship and product placement, it’s easy to feel a little disillusioned by the gaming press. Someone casting around for suggestions for “not rubbish” games journalism is pretty understandable.

But read on…

Social Justice Rabbits

…some smaller sites like RPS have gone down the the SJW rabbit hole…

Really? That’s a complaint? (Incidentally, they’re referring to Rock, Paper Shotgun’s decision not to cover PAX, something with which I respectfully agree). RPS have always been very open about being a bunch of people who care about things, rather than a faceless gaming site. It’s natural that they’d have an opinion on this sort of thing, and they invariably take flak for it. Does that make them social justice warriors, however you want to interpret the term? Possibly. I’m sure the RPS team would describe it more as “not putting up with arseholes” or “actually giving a shit about things”. Regardless, is that reason to abandon the site wholesale, even if you disagree with their stance on social issues (i.e. their “no arseholes” policy)? That’s a bit of a stretch.

Community Uber Alles?

It’s in the comments of the Reddit thread the magic dumb happens:

We need generally less information from classic journalism since the community is providing us with (importantly) less biased content/infos/insight.

There we have it. We don’t need (classic) games journalism because the “community” is less biased. Ignoring the fact that the majority of games journalists are genuine fans and are – by definition – part of the community, this statement is, to be frank, utter bollocks. The community is less biased? Please.

Just read the comments of pretty much anything written by a woman. Oh yes, most of the comment swill be sane and reasoned, but there’s usually a core of stupid, drooling bigotry. Take RPS for example, driven to write an awesome rebuttal to those readers.

Or how about Carolyn Petit’s review of Grand Theft Auto V on GameSpot? She rated it 9/10 and generally loved it. But since she dared to raise politics and gender issues she received a colossal amount of abuse in the comments. Someone reading those comments might be forgiven for thinking she’d utterly panned the game.

Or going back a bit further, what about the BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler who recieved death threats after she had the gall to say she didn’t like combat in games? Or when fans threatened to murder the family of Black Ops II’s design director after a minor patch tweaked some weapons?

The list goes on and on and on and on.

This is the community that purports to be less biased than games journalists. Are these people representative of the community? Not in any broad sense, though there’s no denying that gamers as a whole simply don’t like being told things with which they disagree. Likewise, are games journalists all paragons of impartiality and virtue, dedicated wholly to bringing clear truth to the masses? Not a hope in hell. But we don’t live in a world of absolutes. To say that we don’t need games journalists is as ludicrous as saying we don’t need a gaming community. Neither are perfect and the two need each other.

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