The Evolution of Games Journalism

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wAriot:

By that definition every game ever (or, for that matter, almost every thing ever) causes harm.
There are degrees for the damage it can cause, and being upset/offended by it is in the lower tiers.

No argument their.

I think you misunderstand my position. I'm not saying I think games are overly harmful, nor that racist and other ist games are any more so.

What I'm questioning is the logic behind those that do think that but continue to play the game anyway.

If they believe games can be harmful and said game contains elements that are harmful how can there be any justification to support it?

This is the most respected video game journalist in the world.
image
This is the future you chose.

wulf3n:
I think you misunderstood what I was saying. It wasn't that if a game has a single bad element it should be disregarded, but rather if a game has any racist or other ist element and that is something said person passes them self off as being against, how can they, in good conscience continue playing the game.

When talking about standard criticisms such as bad voice acting, poorly mapped controls etc, you're right it's a crazy position, but those are different to instances of racism etc. The difference being bad voice acting and issues of that ilk don't hurt anything but the game where as instances bigoted mechanics or narrative elements have the potential to cause real harm.

So I can only assume it boils down to:

a) The instances of racism etc are so minor/forced that it's arguably not even there.

or

b) Said person isn't really as progressive as they make themselves out to be.

NOTE: Said person is not you. This is just a common opinion I've seen here on the Escapist that I've always found odd.

It is a very similar circumstance though. Racism or discrimination comes in all sorts of varieties, and not everything is on the scale of Holocaust denial to be shunned at all costs.

As Jim Sterling laid out in his video, every issue will call for a different level of response depending on the views of the individual. I don't think you can boil this down to such a simple dichotomy.

If you simply rejected everything that was the least bit problematic you'd also exclude yourself from making any meaningful contributions to the topic. Besides, not everyone is going to be aware of issues with things BEFORE they purchase it.

Jumwa:

It is a very similar circumstance though. Racism or discrimination comes in all sorts of varieties, and not everything is on the scale of Holocaust denial to be shunned at all costs.

Exactly, if you're still willing to play the game regardless of its perceived ism then it was obviously so slight that it means nothing to the point where why even bring it up? It's rarely to explore what it means to be "ist". It's generally brought up for the sake of bringing it up.

Jumwa:

As Jim Sterling laid out in his video, every issue will call for a different level of response depending on the views of the individual. I don't think you can boil this down to such a simple dichotomy.

Yes, and if the individual believes the ism is bad then how can they in good conscience support a game that has/is said ism?

Jumwa:

If you simply rejected everything that was the least bit problematic you'd also exclude yourself from making any meaningful contributions to the topic.

Meaningful contributions aren't being made in the first place, wether or not said person excludes them self or doesn't.

Jumwa:

Besides, not everyone is going to be aware of issues with things BEFORE they purchase it.

Isn't that what reviews are for :P

Imp Emissary:

rbstewart7263:

Imp Emissary:

also apologies for the rambling I gotta hit the road soon. ta ta.

Bah! Don't worry about it. It's what the comments are for.

Also, I agree that the review got off track a few times.

Plus, you caught onto what Alexandria Neonakis brought up in the rebuttal. That Chris talked a lot about Joel, but commented little about the good things that Ellie did.

May the road be good to you, and may you have a great new year. =w= b (<- Thumbs up face)

ah thank you sir the ride was super cold and I damn near hit hypothermia a few times but I survived also thanks for being nice and reasonable and all that. also look here people! two people in a gaming forum had a decent congenial discussion about gender. tips hat.

Zachary Amaranth:
[quote="Deadcyde" post="6.838120.20567413"]

If I'm remembering right, Kotaku's the home of that woman who got hate and animosity from the internet for an article comparing online video games to rape. An article, I'd add, she didn't write, but got hate for anyway. Because fact checking? What's that?

I'd never seen things about Kotaku being "social justice warriors" before that point, but afterward, they were the feminist/black/gay agenda site.

Maybe there's truth to it, but I'm skeptical because of that.

And went from praising Japan to being **** Japan, you creeper of a country.

I notice a few people making the racism/sexism thing out to be a single issue deal when the people who get lambasted for bringing it up rarely do so. It seems like if you so much as tangentially mention skin colour or sex, you'll be portrayed as hating a game as racist or sexist. Whether your other arguments are solid and supported, you are now against the game for SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR reasons, even if you give the game a good score.

ShakerSilver:
This is the most respected video game journalist in the world.
image
This is the future you chose.

Screw that! I voted for Fresca and corn chips guy over him.

wulf3n:

Exactly, if you're still willing to play the game regardless of its perceived ism then it was obviously so slight that it means nothing to the point where why even bring it up? It's rarely to explore what it means to be "ist". It's generally brought up for the sake of bringing it up.

Why bring up your belief that they shouldn't be talking about it?

Complaining about other peoples issues with the game, saying they're too minor to matter, seems to me to be an even more petty non-issue than the original one could possibly be.

Jumwa:

Why bring up your belief that they shouldn't be talking about it?

It is not my belief that they shouldn't be talking about it. I simply question that the "belief" a game is [insert]ist is genuine if it bothers someone so little that it won't prevent them from playing the game, yet they still feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up.

Jumwa:

Complaining about other peoples issues with the game, saying they're too minor to matter, seems to me to be an even more petty non-issue than the original one could possibly be.

It is. Good thing that's not what I'm saying isn't it.

Zachary Amaranth:
I notice a few people making the racism/sexism thing out to be a single issue deal when the people who get lambasted for bringing it up rarely do so. It seems like if you so much as tangentially mention skin colour or sex, you'll be portrayed as hating a game as racist or sexist. Whether your other arguments are solid and supported, you are now against the game for SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR reasons, even if you give the game a good score.

ShakerSilver:
This is the most respected video game journalist in the world.
image
This is the future you chose.

Screw that! I voted for Fresca and corn chips guy over him.

Its not so much the bringing up said things, it's the petty and shallow reasoning behind it a lot of the time. Where it seems like writers bring it up only to come off as being more thoughtful then they actually are. I've never been in the crowd that raged at writers who bring that stuff up. I've been the type to shake my head and sigh, when I find their reasoning for doing so is fairly shallow.

Also certain writers seem to make it job to find various racial or sex based "criticisms" where ever they look.

A logical consequence of articles being less about the game - How it looks, how it sounds, how it plays, how its paced etc. - and more about the "Journalist"'s own personal and political opinions, and how much it's (mis)understood to cater to that.

Anyway, since fiction - being by definition fictitious - isn't real, it can never entail any real problem. Except perhaps for those who can't distinguish between the two, but then that's their own personal problem.

Imperator_DK:
A logical consequence of articles being less about the game - How it looks, how it sounds, how it plays, how its paced etc. - and more about the "Journalist"'s own personal and political opinions, and how much it's (mis)understood to cater to that.

So you want more non-opinion based reviews? Because "how it looks, how it sounds, how it plays, how it's paced, etc." are all opinions. Unless you just want journalists to tell you how many polygons are on the screen at a given moment and the length of a playthrough (wait no that varies based on who's playing), which I guess would be a valid non-opinion-based review.

Imperator_DK:
Anyway, since fiction - being by definition fictitious - isn't real, it can never entail any real problem. Except perhaps for those who can't distinguish between the two, but then that's their own personal problem.

I...really, really want to reply to this, but I honestly can't think of a way of doing so at the moment without sounding horribly sarcastic and/or condescending.

Please don't tell me we've got 7 more years of this ahead of us...

I mean I generally agree that gaming, as a whole, has a serious lack of diversity to the point where I think one of the greatest things that could happen would be a Twilight of video gaming to really hammer home the point that nowadays just about everyone is gaming to the publishers. Not to mention the treatment some female developers get being utterly and completely abhorrent.

But god... I'm freaking tired of all the negativity. Right now all that it's accomplishing is that I'm feeling myself care less and less about any potential issues.

At least, considering the 00s were the opposite of the 90s, I can maybe look forward to the 20s being the decade of positive examples? That'd be cool...

ClockworkUniverse:
...
So you want more non-opinion based reviews? Because "how it looks, how it sounds, how it plays, how it's paced, etc." are all opinions. Unless you just want journalists to tell you how many polygons are on the screen at a given moment and the length of a playthrough (wait no that varies based on who's playing), which I guess would be a valid non-opinion-based review.

No, I want opinions which are about the game itself.

I...really, really want to reply to this, but I honestly can't think of a way of doing so at the moment without sounding horribly sarcastic and/or condescending.

I'm sure you can find plenty of inspiration from various "violent video games are bad"-articles.

Imp Emissary:

wAriot:

Imp Emissary:

People often complain about games journalism not being "real journalism". Well, to be "real journalism" it means that they have to "be real".

People often complain about games journalism not being "real journalism", because many "game journalists" aren't actual journalists, just some guys and girls that write more or less well and, from time to time, play video games.

Isn't that, and telling us things we should know/otherwise wouldn't know all that is needed to be a games journalist?

If not, then what else is needed?

Or if you're going off the definition;
"a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium."
Then I still don't see what's missing.

Attending a University
Not being payed off
Having something intelligent to say
Knowing about what you're writing about
Knowing the history of journalism
General aptitude and knowledge of language + literature

I'd say those would be good places to start to be a good journalist. I can't say I've ever read an article by a "gamer journalist" that sounded like the writer had read a book in the past three years besides Game of Thrones.

What will the 20's be like?

wulf3n:

It is not my belief that they shouldn't be talking about it. I simply question that the "belief" a game is [insert]ist is genuine if it bothers someone so little that it won't prevent them from playing the game, yet they still feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up.

What, if a mostly enjoyable game has qualities you dislike, you shouldn't mention them or discuss them?

Let's say a game you like has a really bad escort-mission, are you not allowed to mention it in a review, for example?
Are you only allowed to love everything in a game, or hate it with a passion and never play it because it makes you physically ill?

Lieju:

wulf3n:

It is not my belief that they shouldn't be talking about it. I simply question that the "belief" a game is [insert]ist is genuine if it bothers someone so little that it won't prevent them from playing the game, yet they still feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up.

What, if a mostly enjoyable game has qualities you dislike, you shouldn't mention them or discuss them?

Let's say a game you like has a really bad escort-mission, are you not allowed to mention it in a review, for example?
Are you only allowed to love everything in a game, or hate it with a passion and never play it because it makes you physically ill?

It's not about qualities you dislike but qualities you find offensive.

wulf3n:

Lieju:

wulf3n:

It is not my belief that they shouldn't be talking about it. I simply question that the "belief" a game is [insert]ist is genuine if it bothers someone so little that it won't prevent them from playing the game, yet they still feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up.

What, if a mostly enjoyable game has qualities you dislike, you shouldn't mention them or discuss them?

Let's say a game you like has a really bad escort-mission, are you not allowed to mention it in a review, for example?
Are you only allowed to love everything in a game, or hate it with a passion and never play it because it makes you physically ill?

It's not about qualities you dislike but qualities you find offensive.

And? If something offends you, you'll probably dislike that and find that negative.

If for example a game has a very stereotypical gay-character that's there just to be the butt of gay-jokes, then I dislike that and consider it a sign of bad writing, and that the humor relies too much on stereotypes.

I might still like the game, depending on how big a part that is, and how it compares to the other characters etc.
But I can recognise it has issues.

Lieju:

And? If something offends you, you'll probably dislike that and find that negative.

If for example a game has a very stereotypical gay-character that's there just to be the butt of gay-jokes, then I dislike that and consider it a sign of bad writing, and that the humor relies too much on stereotypes.

I might still like the game, depending on how big a part that is, and how it compares to the other characters etc.
But I can recognise it has issues.

Then I would question how offended you really were. If you were to then bring it up as an issue I would question sincerity of your complaint.

Once again there's a big difference between a poorly implemented mechanic and a bigoted message. If your reaction to both is the same there's something wrong.

wulf3n:

Once again there's a big difference between a poorly implemented mechanic and a bigoted message. If your reaction to both is the same there's something wrong.

The thing is, people who end up putting something bigoted in aren't necessarily doing it out of hatred, or because they want it to have a certain kind of message.

It's often the result of thoughtlessness ('the word 'tranny' is just what they're called'), wanting to get a certain demographic ('we can't make any of the playable character female, that'll scare away the male players'), the lack of time ('let's not put any female enemies in because we don't have time to make different models'), or the lack of oversight.
Same things that are often reasons for bad mechanics.

It's usually not the result of outright desire to attack gays, for example.

Are you seriously saying that unless something offends me so much that it makes me unable to play the game, I can't complain about it?
I can't criticise some aspect of a game I generally like?

Sounds a bit silly to me.

Lieju:

Are you seriously saying that unless something offends me so much that it makes me unable to play the game, I can't complain about it?

No, just that due to the current state of game "criticism" it won't come off as sincere if your saying "I find this offensive but whatevs I'm going to play it anyway.

Lieju:

I can't criticise some aspect of a game I generally like?

This is also a funny little side effect of the current state of game "criticism". Why is any criticism of a criticism met with accusations of trying to stop criticism?

Just as all games are free to be criticised so are all criticisms and just like game criticism it is not a call for it to go away completely.

wulf3n:

Lieju:

Are you seriously saying that unless something offends me so much that it makes me unable to play the game, I can't complain about it?

No, just that due to the current state of game "criticism" it won't come off as sincere if your saying "I find this offensive but whatevs I'm going to play it anyway.

Lieju:

I can't criticise some aspect of a game I generally like?

This is also a funny little side effect of the current state of game "criticism". Why is any criticism of a criticism met with accusations of trying to stop criticism?

Just as all games are free to be criticised so are all criticisms and just like game criticism it is not a call for it to go away completely.

But aren't you saying exactly that? That unless the issue is so bad you cannot play the game at all, you shouldn't say anything. Nevermind the fact that if I enjoy a flawed game I'm much more likely to care about it's flaws, especially if it's a game series, and I have hopes they might improve on it.

I have no idea what you mean by 'current state of criticism'. What does it have to do with what I say personally and how sincere I am?

The problem I see in the 'gamer community' is that it's so volatile when it comes to issues like sexism.

Lieju:

But aren't you saying exactly that? That unless the issue is so bad you cannot play the game at all, you shouldn't say anything. Nevermind the fact that if I enjoy a flawed game I'm much more likely to care about it's flaws, especially if it's a game series, and I have hopes they might improve on it.

No I'm not, nor have I ever said that. Why do people think a criticism of a criticism is censorship?

Lieju:

I have no idea what you mean by 'current state of criticism'. What does it have to do with what I say personally and how sincere I am?

I'll try and summarise. Not too long ago people found out that you can get a modicum of fame by nothing more than being offended by something, which brought on the rise of the offended. The spin off of this was the notion that crusading on behalf of the offended gave a game critic/journalist a boost in readers tapping into this new market. This lead to every game critic requiring to follow suit whether they cared or not, to at best retain their audience at worst avoid being labelled as bigoted. These critics held a lot of influence with their respective fandoms as such this behaviour trickled down into every facet of criticsm, professional or otherwise. This diluted the sincerity of the criticism to the point where if someone is saying they have a problem with it, but are doing nothing but pointing it out, odds are they are pointing it out simply because it's the "in" thing.

Whether or not a person is sincere is unknowable to all but that person, as such the perception of sincerity falls upon that persons actions. If they treat it like a non issue then it will be perceived by others that they believe it's a non issue.

Lieju:

The problem I see in the 'gamer community' is that it's so volatile when it comes to issues like sexism.

It depends on where you look really.

wulf3n:

Lieju:

But aren't you saying exactly that? That unless the issue is so bad you cannot play the game at all, you shouldn't say anything. Nevermind the fact that if I enjoy a flawed game I'm much more likely to care about it's flaws, especially if it's a game series, and I have hopes they might improve on it.

No I'm not, nor have I ever said that. Why do people think a criticism of a criticism is censorship?

Censorship? Why are you bringing that up now? Have I accused you of it? I'm trying to find out what your opinions are here. You're seeing accusations where there are none.

wulf3n:

I'll try and summarise. Not too long ago people found out that you can get a modicum of fame by nothing more than being offended by something, which brought on the rise of the offended. The spin off of this was the notion that crusading on behalf of the offended gave a game critic/journalist a boost in readers tapping into this new market. This lead to every game critic requiring to follow suit whether they cared or not, to at best retain their audience at worst avoid being labelled as bigoted. These critics held a lot of influence with their respective fandoms as such this behaviour trickled down into every facet of criticsm, professional or otherwise. This diluted the sincerity of the criticism to the point where if someone is saying they have a problem with it, but are doing nothing but pointing it out, odds are they are pointing it out simply because it's the "in" thing.

Whether or not a person is sincere is unknowable to all but that person, as such the perception of sincerity falls upon that persons actions. If they treat it like a non issue then it will be perceived by others that they believe it's a non issue.

Controversy sells. But you might be overreacting here.
Especially if we are talking about reviewers who do this for a living.

I don't think your attitude is very constructive. All the kind of 'all or nothing' attitude does is divide people. If your options are boycotting a game and ignoring all it's issues all you have is a more toxic atmosphere.

What I'd like to see is being able to acknowledge the good things and see the problems.

Lieju:

Censorship? Why are you bringing that up now? Have I accused you of it? I'm trying to find out what your opinions are here.

You seemed to be of the opinion that I wanted people to stop talking about isms, which is untrue. Whether or not you call that censorship is up to you.

Lieju:

You're seeing accusations where there are none.

What I'm seeing are assumpptions of the positions I supposedly hold that I don't recall ever saying.

Lieju:

Controversy sells. But you might be overreacting here.
Especially if we are talking about reviewers who do this for a living.

On the contrary, people who do this for a living are more likely to fall victim, as page views are essential to their livelihood.

Lieju:

I don't think your attitude is very constructive. All the kind of 'all or nothing' attitude does is divide people. If your options are boycotting a game and ignoring all it's issues all you have is a more toxic atmosphere.

It's only an all or nothing approach if you care about how you are perceived by others. Having said that it's caring about the perception of others that lead to this issue in the first place.

Lieju:

What I'd like to see is being able to acknowledge the good things and see the problems.

Nothing is stopping you, other than potential for people to question your sincerity.

I was kind of hoping it would be the same journalist in each era, changing his outlook as he got older. =P

The 90's one cracked me up.

CrazyGirl17:
Either that was Yahtzee I just saw there, or the Nostalgia Critic started reviewing video games. C'mon, I can't be the only one who sees it...

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/vgcon/36856-earthworm-jim

Isn't it a bit disingenuous for these particular guys to be making this particular comic.

Alarien:
I think we keep forgetting that gameplay really should come first.

I'm not sure that's necessarily true, not in a world where gaming is becoming mainstream - and not just in the US and Japan, but internationally. Enjoyable game play simply doesn't excuse bigotry in games - subtle or otherwise - any more than a positive message excuses poor game design (which is probably a better term to use then game design, because as video games mature as an art form, the idea that they should always constitute 'play', that they should always be 'fun' is becoming ever more arbitrary and limiting). Like it or not, this kind of criticism is an essential part of being a legitimate artistic medium in a modern, global age.

Considering what the games say about the people that produce and purchase them, considering the influence of society on games and games on society, that's what respect for video games as more than "just" games looks like. It's what we've been asking for for decades, and now that the genie's out of the bottle, it's not going back. We will never return to a time where the games we choose to produce and consume don't say anything about who we are as people, about what our values and morals are, about how we see ourselves and others, because that time never existed in the first place.

The societal character of video games was there all along, we just didn't see it before. And as they say on the internet, "once you've seen it, you can't unsee it".

wulf3n:

Jumwa:

Why bring up your belief that they shouldn't be talking about it?

It is not my belief that they shouldn't be talking about it. I simply question that the "belief" a game is [insert]ist is genuine if it bothers someone so little that it won't prevent them from playing the game, yet they still feel the need to bring it up just for the sake of bringing it up.

I think a fair number of those problematic social bits are things that get included in games (or TV, movies, books, whatever) unconsciously, so it's not as though the creators were racist/sexist/whatever in an explicit or intentional way. In those cases, I think being aware of it and bringing it up are the best way to deal with it. So (in general) they're not supporting a work that is racist or a writer who is sexist, they're just supporting a product that reflects some of the unfortunate social norms of whatever culture it's coming from.

In a broader social sense, there's so much of it that's just part of the social fabric that if you never played/watched/read anything problematic you'd never play/watch/read anything at all.

Shadow-Phoenix:
man do I miss the 90's back when playing on whatever you wanted didn't require you to be mentally burned at the stake.

I miss whenever I heard news of anything gaming related that it was mostly positive and not lick bait while siding with one platform.

Oh and being allowed to have opinions.

I'm with you there, not when everyone was an arm-chair activist or loud-mouth crybaby. The "gaming community" (I hate that term) was a lot smaller and while the majority of society saw video games as children toys (a lot still do), we were generally a lot more well behaved and usually thought twice before attacking one another. Yes the console wars existed but for the most part it wasn't as bad as it is now, and at the end of the day you probably got along better with a "console enemy" than anyone else.

I personally miss arcades, forgive the terrible analogy but they were like bars for kids. Random people all gathered to partake in something they love; you made friends, enemies, and everything in between. Fights did happen, usually often depending on what game (Marvel vs. Capcom 2 caused a lot of them), but as long as the manager didn't ban them, they'd show up usually a bit more humble than they were before. Anymore the internet gives everyone a voice and unless someone breaks a big TOS term, they're still allowed to be a poisonous little shit that the locals (for a better term) can't always bounce out of their game.

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