Games Journalism: That Prick

The Journalism family photo. L-R: Barbara, Games, Michael
The Journalism family photo. L-R: Barbara Journalism, Games Journalism, Michael Journalism

Today I’m going to tell you about a person who gets a lot of abuse and criticism on the internet: Games Journalism.

Games Hayden Journalism was born in Portland, Oregon in 1979. Its parents, Barbara and Michael Journalism, could tell that at a very young age Games was destined for big things.

Games played its first video game at an early age, and was so blown away by what it witnessed that it decided to dedicate its life to preaching the good word of gaming to others.

At the time, the best way to reach these audiences was through print. So, a young Games Journalism released numerous magazines, charging gamers a small fee to find out about the latest games.

Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s publishers brought games to Games Journalism and Games told its readers about them in these magazines. Sometimes it liked the games it played, sometimes it didn’t: and it was never afraid to say so, in order to ensure its readers only played what it felt was the best of what the hobby had to offer. But it was always passionate about the hobby in general.

One of Games Journalism's first magazines, CVG
One of Games Journalism’s first magazines, CVG

At the turn of the millennium things started to change for Games Journalism. The steady growth of the internet had convinced Games that this was the way forward if it wanted to spread its passion for gaming to the widest audience possible.

With a bigger audience, however, came bigger problems. When Games was selling magazines to people there was an unspoken agreement there: it was offering news on games and the readers were paying to access it.

By and large, the odd unsatisfied customer aside, things went smoothly: if a reader didn’t like one of Games Journalism’s magazines, they wouldn’t pay for the next one. Both parties would go on with their lives.

But as the 21st century went on, the internet exposed Games Journalism’s work to an ever-increasing audience, most of whom were no longer privy to this ‘if you like it buy it, if not see you later’ deal.

For the most part Games Journalism was happy with this. Although the larger audiences meant its publications no longer enjoyed quite the same intimacy with their readerships, its words were still reaching a larger number of people, spreading the good word of games further.

When new games like Virtua Fighter RPG (which eventually became Shenmue) surfaced, Games Journalism was the first online with the news
When new games like Virtua Fighter RPG (which eventually became Shenmue) surfaced, Games Journalism was the first online with the news

The income Games Journalism got from people buying its magazines was instead being covered by advertisers putting adverts on the websites: only small, subtle ones at first (but I’ll discuss that in more depth in a future article). All was well.

But then, as the years progressed, things changed. The internet also made it easier for gaming enthusiasts to find out other information about not only the games they played, but the studios who made them.

Suddenly Games Journalism found that not all of its readers were merely interested in screenshots or videos of the next Mario or Tekken game: they wanted to know Capcom’s financial information, or how many people Konami were letting go, or whether Activision’s CEO was a wanker.

Wanker? Games Journalism helped YOU DECIDE
Wanker? Games Journalism helped YOU DECIDE

The immediacy of the internet also led to a greater need to report on this sort of gaming news. Magazines tended to focus on game previews and reviews because by they knew by the time they were printed and published any news in them would be out of date. But on the internet Games Journalism could now deliver news quickly.

Games Journalism changed its remit: no longer was it just telling people about the new games coming out, it was also covering daily gaming news, including these new specialist topics like games industry news.

Because these more niche topics attracted far smaller audiences (and therefore less ad revenue), Games Journalism started changing the way it reported on other elements of gaming in order to make up the revenue elsewhere. After all, if the money wasn’t coming into one of its publications, Games would have to shut it down.

Because happy people are generally quiet people, this meant the majority of voices making themselves heard in Games Journalism’s comments sections and forums were actually those from the negative minority.

Listening to them, Games started writing negative news stories, thinking it would generate more traffic. It was right. As is the case in general news reporting, scandal sells: a story about a game running better on Xbox 360 than on  PS3 got many times more traffic than one simply showing screenshots of a new game. People on the internet like arguing, and Games Journalism gave people a place to do it.

The view outside my window as I write this
The first Kotaku reader meet-up, circa 2004

These days, these arguments are no longer confined to squabbles among Games Journalism’s readership. In recent times Games Journalism itself has come under criticism, mainly from certain groups of angry people. For example, last year Games wrote an article explaining that ‘gamers’ are dead which enraged a small number of people more than willing to be offended. Yet just this week, it wrote another, this time called ‘We’re All Gamers’.

Gamers are dead, yet we’re all gamers? Eh? Accused of hypocrisy by a small yet vocal number of gaming ‘enthusiasts’, Games Journalism phoned its mum and dad for advice. “Keep it up, Games,” Barbara told it. “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”


Okay, you get it. The joke about Games Journalism being an actual person… it’s wearing a bit thin now, isn’t it? Then think how ridiculous it is that some people genuinely seem to believe it.

The ‘Gamers Are Dead’ article – as it’s usually referred to – that I mentioned above was actually one entitled ‘Gamers don’t have to be your audience: Gamers are over’. It was written by Leigh Alexander for Gamasutra eleven months ago (and, incidentally, doesn’t mention the word ‘dead’ at any point, but why let facts get in the way of hyperbole).

The ‘We’re All Gamers’ article was written by me, for Vice, on Monday. Different writer, different publication, different year entirely. Yet the number of people who have tweeted me accusing Games Journalism of backtracking has been silly. Like this lovely chap:

Read from the bottom up, it'll make 17% more sense that way
Read from the bottom up, it’ll make 7% more sense that way

For starters, these accusations are inaccurate. My article and Leigh’s actually make similar points, that a small sub-culture of divisive angry teenage males do not define what makes a ‘gamer’, no matter how much they’ll try to tell you otherwise. Her article does it by criticising the group directly, mine does it by celebrating those who aren’t part of the group. But our message is the same.

But never mind the fact there’s actually no ‘backtracking’. Even if my article had said exactly the opposite of Leigh’s, my point would still remain: Games Journalism is not a person.

I am not responsible for the opinion pieces Leigh Alexander writes (most of which, incidentally, I love). Or for the fantastic articles Christian Donlan writes for Eurogamer. Or for the Miller Report videos on Videogamer. Or for Jim Sterling’s YouTube channel.

Similarly, when I was at CVG I was also not responsible for Rob Crossley’s opinion pieces on CVG, or Andy Robinson’s pieces on CVG, or Tamoor Hussain’s pieces on CVG.

Some of the accusations directed at me on Twitter these past few days have come about because in the past Vice has published some articles openly criticising a proportion of GamerGate members. Believe it or not, save for the odd aside comment on one or two Tired Old Hack articles, I have never written an opinion piece on GamerGate for any publication.

Mind you, given that some of them are so distrustful that they’ll actually link to an archived version of this very article instead of the article itself so I don’t get any traffic from it (a practice that is legally dubious at best… at least it would be were it not for the fact that I don’t actually make any ad revenue for this site so they’re looking at a poorly formatted pirate copy of my article for no good reason), it would appear I’m somehow no friend of theirs.

Regardless, despite having never actually been properly involved in making my specific and detailed thoughts known on that sort of thing, I have lost count how many times I’ve been accused of corruption, hypocrisy and lies because of what “Games Journalism” has said in the past.

My response to these people is always the same. My name is not Games Journalism. My name is not Vice. My name is Chris Scullion.

Contrary to some belief, I don't look like this
Contrary to some belief, I don’t look like this

If you want to accuse me of hypocrisy, find articles I have written and use them as evidence when confronting me. This should be the standard rule when speaking to any games journalist, or any journalist in general. Angrily thrust a photo of Geoff Keighley surrounded by Mountain Dew bottles in my face and I may reply with a random photo of a bear kissing a tiger: I was as responsible for both of them.

Let me be clear: I am in no way saying every single games journalist is squeaky clean. I may never have experienced any corruption or dodgy dealings in my decade in this industry, but I have absolutely no idea what other individuals get up to, be that in America or elsewhere. Simply put, I just don’t know.

Maybe there are one or two bad eggs: I can honestly say, hand on heart, I’ve never met any, but it would be naive of me to think that games journalism is somehow different to every other industry in the world in that it’s immune from individual cases of skulduggery.

But if anyone is ever exposed of corruption – and I mean proper corruption, not fellow professionals discussing the industry in a private forum – in no way does that give you the green light to go “AHA! PROOF that Games Journalism is corrupt.” If one person is ever proven to be corrupt, that one person is corrupt. The rest of us are not responsible for their actions. If a footballer bites another player, they’re banned. Not their team, not their league, certainly not their entire sport.

"OOOFT! Right, everyone off the pitch. I'll phone UEFA and tell them to abandon every other match too"
“OOOFT! Right, everyone off the pitch. I’ll phone UEFA and tell them to abandon every other match too”

On a less sinister tone, the same goes for reviews. Hypothetical situation: my friend, GamesRadar writer Joe Skrebels, loves the Dynasty Warriors games. I do not. If Joe reviews a Dynasty Warrior game one year and gives it an 8, then for some odd reason (unlikely though it may be) GamesRadar commissions me to review the next Dynasty Warriors game the following year and I give it a 6, that doesn’t mean GamesRadar thinks the new one is worse. It means I, Chris Scullion, think that particular game is worth a 6.

GameSpot didn’t give Dead Rising 3 on PC a score of 3/10, Nick Capozzoli did. IGN didn’t give Imagine: Party Babyz on Wii a 7.5, Joshua Clark did.

Look: for all you know, this is fucking stunning
Look, for all you know, this is fucking stunning

If you have problems with these review scores your beef is with the writers, not the publications (though at least have the courtesy of playing the games in question first before deciding whether a score is ‘wrong’: I seriously doubt the countless people mocking IGN’s Party Babyz review know for a fact that it’s shit).

When I worked for Official Nintendo Magazine people constantly accused me of bias any time I gave a Nintendo-developed game a high score. No problem, it comes with the territory, the name makes people jump to obvious (untrue) conclusions. My response was usually to point at the occasions in which I gave Nintendo-developed games low scores, such as WarioWare: Snapped on DSiWare.

“Ah, but you also gave Wii Play 91%”, would come the inevitable stock reply. “No I didn’t,” I’d counter. Cue their link to the ONM review in question, followed by my observation that the name on the byline didn’t say ‘Chris Scullion’.

If someone else wrote a fantastic article for Vice and I tried to claim praise for it because I’ve written for Vice too, people would rightly shoot me down and call me all the pricks under the sun for trying to muscle in and take plaudits for someone else’s hard work. It works both ways, then.

If a writer writes something you don’t like, by all means feel free to air your displeasure. Contact them and give your counter-opinion, should you really desperately feel the need. Do not be under the impression that you’ll be able to ‘enlighten’ them and change their opinion: you will not, and you’ll come across as insulting to their intelligence.

I also can’t stress this enough: if you can’t just let an article lie and need to tell the writer you’re peeved, do so respectfully. If you tweet them with an attitude, dropping snarky, passive-aggressive comments or outright dishing out insults or abuse, you won’t get a reply: if anything, you’ll be blocked. Contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t mean they’re “hiding from the truth” or that you’ve won. It means you’re a fucksmith.

Regardless of whether you do choose to (respectfully) respond, be sure of one thing: your problem is with a single writer, and their single article. Not their publication, and certainly not that mythical prick Games Journalism.

66 thoughts on “Games Journalism: That Prick

    1. I agree! He said it point blank and truthfully. Many people seem to lump all writers under the same publication and then act all confused when you point out that low score that was given was not actually written by the same writer but, wow! a different writer. I am not sure what leads to such thinking. Then again, this is the generation who hate reading. LOL

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  1. “I am not responsible for other people”

    Neither am I. Didn’t stop gaming journalism from deciding I’m a horrible person for being a gamer. Stick up for us before you stick up for our bullies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did someone mention you, neotechni, specifically in an article talking about how bad gamers are? No? Then why do you think any article written about “gamers” applies to you personally?

      I consider myself a gamer and I’m not offended by thinkpieces about “gamers”. Why should I be?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I personally believe that gaming journalists are washouts that never made it in normal journalism, so they are stuck in this industry they often hate, barely more than glorified bloggers, with less than ideal knowledge about the topics they write about and more than willing to take something extra on the side from their advertisers. But hey, I have never specified you personally, so there should be no beef, right?

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      2. Ho ho ho. No, you see, you clearly don’t get it. When you say “gaming journalists” then you include me. And as someone who took a four-year Journalism degree at university with the sole intention of becoming a games journalist, as well as someone who has never been paid by an advertiser to give positive coverage of a game, your (wilful?) ignorance has proven you to be a bit of a knob. Crap troll is crap.

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    2. I don’t see how anyone said “All gamers are bad, bad, terrible people!”. I saw “People are harassing and doxxing people, and claiming they are part of GamerGate.”, and a lot of the latter came from people who are gamers, who have played games for most of their lives, and who wrote about games for a living.

      So, not “Gamers” as a whole, but “gamers” that feel the need to harass and doxx people who disagree with them or demand that they be catered to by having “their” games be favored, and games they don’t approve of (Usually games with female leads or LGBTQA+ characters, or some other “SJW” element) to be forgotten about and tossed aside, and having anyone who disagrees be virtually crucified and tormented into silence.

      Sounds like those “gamers” are just mad that other people are allowed to like games too. And that they’re allowed to like games that they don’t “approve” of.

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      1. Except that GamerGate as a whole doesn’t support harassers/doxxers and aren’t sexist or racist. Sure, there are going to be bigots in every large group (as even aGG has its share), but it doesn’t mean those people embody the true ideals of the whole group. Stop buying into the false narrative and treat people like individuals. You’ll find we will just as easily call out and condemn ‘allies’ that act in an unbecoming manner as we do ‘enemies’.

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      2. Minor correction, there is no evidence anywhere that anyone claiming affiliation with GamerGate has ever doxxed anyone.

        Unless you meant to say that members of GamerGate are getting harassed and doxxed by people. THAT can be more easily proven.

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      3. @Red
        “You’ll find we will just as easily call out and condemn ‘allies’ that act in an unbecoming manner as we do ‘enemies’.”

        Your elected representative for Airplay, Milo, has doxxed and harassed tons of people.

        Sorry, but no-one’s going to buy “we’re against harassers” when you consistently choose a harasser as the face of your movement.

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      4. @Red: That’s the kicker isn’t it? GG says out in public that they “condone harassment”, but all it takes is looking at any one of the threads on /r/KotakuinAction, or even just following Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, or Zoe Quinn on twitter. Every single day, they’ve got people in their mentions harassing and threatening them with the hashtag GamerGate tagged on the end. People who are in GamerGate are still harassing people, still doxxing people, and still making life a living hell for people who don’t deserve it, and nothing’s being done by GamerGate.

        And you can say you aren’t “Sexist or racist”, but GG elects neo-nazi misogynists as their leaders and spokespeople. Look at Milo Yiannopoulos, the guy GG voted to be their voice at Airplay. The dude’s a pile of steaming racism and sexism. Or how about Davis Aruini, who’s making a “documentary” called “The Sarkeesian Effect” about the “other side” of the discussion, and who calls himself a “white nationalist on paper”? (And yeah, he’s as misogynistic as they come.)

        Where are their “callouts”? Why are they still being supported not only with GG’s voices, but with their money and time? GG can say they’re not really terrible people, but GG’s being judged by the company they keep, and more importantly, by the people they chose to represent them.

        @Smarzeli: Then I guess Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, and Zoe Quinn made up the fact that they’ve been chased from their homes by people claiming to be part of GamerGate. I suppose they made up the fact that they had to leave their home in fear for their lives. I suppose Anita lied about having someone threaten to bomb and shoot up one of her lectures should she be allowed to speak at a university.

        Or is it another one of those “red flags” GGers love to talk about? How they love to claim “No True Gator” when someone in their ranks does something abhorrent?

        I have yet to see anyone within GamerGate get doxxed/harassed at all, let alone on the same level as their three “Literally Whos”.

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    3. You are doing EXACTLY what the article is talking about: you are talking about “gaming journalism” as if it were a monolith with singular ideas and opinions. “Gaming journalism” does not decide things about you. Individual writers do.

      And BTW, no games publication has ever said that gamers are horrible people. There are a LOT of articles saying that angry, reactionary trolls who attack people online are horrible, but only the angry, reactionary trolls themselves imagine that this is a statement about all gamers (because they arrogantly and falsely assume that they represent all gamers).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Decent article, funny too, but then you just had to go and bring up the old “GG is just angry teenage boys” lie again.

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  3. Your point is solid. It’s beyond unreasonable to expect everyone part of a particular publication to take responsibility for everything said by everyone else, nonetheless by everyone in the entire industry of gaming journalism. With respect to review scores, I think part of it is that review aggregators only list publications and not authors.
    This standard ought to be applied universally.. GamerGate is even more faceless than the mythical being of Games Journalism, and it is also spoken of as if it’s an individual. It’s equally nonsensical no matter what side it’s being done to.

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  4. “GameSpot didn’t give Dead Rising 3 on PC a score of 3/10, Nick Capozzoli did. IGN didn’t give Imagine: Party Babyz on Wii a 7.5, Joshua Clark did. If you have problems with these review scores your beef is with the writers, not the publications”

    While we’re on the topic of journalism, what you wrote here isn’t actually true. According to IGN:

    “The IGN review is the official statement on a game’s quality. It is the opinion of the reviewer, but we entrust each editor to speak for the site as a whole.”

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  5. Gamers were upset because of the collusion
    http://www.breitbart.com/london/2014/09/21/gamejournopros-we-reveal-every-journalist-on-the-list/

    I guess Vice realized they might not get a lot of positive attention from gamers after hiring Leigh “I’m a megaphone and I’ll ruin your career” Alexander. People like her have crossed a line and gamers will not forgive them for it.

    You hire a woman who spearheaded the Gamers are dead articles, member of GameJournoPros(and lied about it), writes about her friends without disclosure, and admits on several occasions to being extremely bias and having a agenda in gaming journalism yet wonder why people don’t like Vice.
    http://www.deepfreeze.it/journo.php?j=leigh_alexander

    As long as you disclose any conflicts of interest in the articles you write YOU shouldn’t have a problem. Your not responsible for what other people write but Vice will be effected by their reputation. Don’t follow in her footsteps.

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    1. With the greatest of respect, I’ll write for whoever I want to write for. And a discussion group consisting of games journalists does not equate to ‘collusion’ – the only incident constantly referred to was challenged by other members in the group. You could count on one hand the number of people who come out of it looking bad, yet it’s constantly somehow used as “evidence” that the entire industry is corrupt.

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    2. It’s funny how GG keeps referring to “GameJournoPros” as if just the word is a condemnation but has yet to say a single thing wrong with a mailing list.

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  6. “If one person is ever proven to be corrupt, that one person is corrupt. The rest of us are not responsible for their actions. If a footballer bites another player, they’re banned. Not their team, not their league, certainly not their entire sport.”

    “The rest of us are not responsible for their actions”
    Just recently Rolling Stone wrote a article that abandoned every ethical standard in the book. The writer was caught. She would be the football player. Her entire team (Rolling Stone) is being sued for her journalistic corruption. Is everyone one who works at the Rolling Stone corrupt? No. That doesn’t matter they will be held accountable and the team suffers as a whole.

    There are also places like Gawker who are corrupt as hell and will do and say anything for a click even if it results in a lawsuit. Also Gawker was caught trying to frame GG on twitter.

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    1. If a writer breaks the law their publication can be subject to legal action because they published it. That doesn’t mean separate individual Rolling Stone writers are subject to the same action.

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  7. Having been watching and participating in the field during my studies of journalism as university, and lacking the drive to continue doing so just before I graduated, I can only agree that there are very few, if any, problems with writers I have that are endemic to the state of games journalism. Though I’m doing video reviews of games, away from that circle, it’s merely because I find it more enjoyable and it fits my style more. In general, I follow a lot of writers, they mostly do a great job, and if they don’t, it’s because they suck individually.

    One point of umbrage I do take, however, is with your stance of separating individual publications from the writers it houses. While it is very, exceedingly, important to exercise some perspective in this (I’ve seen way too many reactionary firespitters write off entire publications for little to no reason), I could never find it in me to completely separate the two fields. In terms of individual opinion, especially on rather trivial matters, I believe that differences in such are inevitable and completely acceptable, and accountable to no one but the people who hold those opinions. But in terms of etiquette and accountability, if one of your writers is performing an action that is unjust or could damage your reputation as a whole, it is your duty to decide how you want to approach that and, in some cases, take action. And this is just me speaking as an ex-writer. As a reader, I don’t know why it’s unreasonable to say that some actions performed by some writers are so grand in scale and so unanswered in reparation that I can view their housing publication in a worse light.

    For example, it’s unfair that Polygon has become known for things like their Mario Kart graph. But not so much that Breitbart got a reputation for being completely illegitimate and untrustworthy when they seem perfectly fine with having Milo Yiannopoulos accidentally leak email addresses of people supposedly belonging to a journalism cabal, when there is no public interest or gain from doing so. I might think it’s unfair that Gameranx has the label of “SJW website” because of some individual articles their writers wrote espousing theories commonly associated with that label, but I do not think it’s unfair they have a reputation of reckless irresponsibility when their editor-in-chief Holly Green got to spout unfounded claims of harassment to herself at Destructoid, and at other people at Minecon, and when she was called out, she completely relented without explanation in the former case, and refused to completely own up to spreading false and incomplete information in the latter. The latter is especially damning, as it involved the information and reputation of more people than herself, and when you’re dealing with that in a position where you can re-frame that information, you have to be very fucking careful. She wasn’t, it was obvious she wasn’t, she posed a great risk and caused duress to Notch as a result, and yet Gameranx continues to have her as EIC. Should management turn a blind eye to that? Should we, the readers?

    This is why I said perspective is badly needed when analysing this. Single articles may call out “gamers” as a group, development teams, or even singular dev-heads like Randy Pitchford, but for the most part, the effects and reach of such are self-contained. But the more meta these writings get, the higher the consequences are for having these articles and ideas badly-handled, both for the writer and for the writing subject, which is why my instincts as a graduate can only scream out to criticise the really bad failings as much as possible, especially considering, contrary to popular belief, it is sometimes very hard to get those concerns voiced, and while no writer has a responsibility to individual criticism, it has always been critical for publications to be open to that criticism even if nothing is done with it. I remember trying to bring Leigh Alexander to task for leaking some rando’s email address, simply for catharsis’ sake, was like pulling teeth, and considering her Twitter follower base, where this incident occurred, is huge by games writer standards, it’s not far-fetched to say greater accountability needs to be exercised in this area. If not by the individuals, where the cause and reason for these actions usually lies, then by the management, which is where it matters most.

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  8. That’s a quite nice write up, but i do think you’re not understanding the perspective of GamerGate at all.

    While it is true that gaming journalists shouldn’t be generalized, the same can equally be said for Gamergate.
    But imo it’s mainly about control, gamergate at least tries to reign it’s “members” in. We even had a harassment patrol (til they got harassed….). On the journalist part you have what? only Erik Kain that dared to disagree along with 3 people from much smaller publications? And neither Kain nor Forbes are solely dedicated to gaming.

    And yet this about how gaming journalists behave as a group, because it’s not just about the articles themselves, but also about the sheer number of these articles (15) and the lack of other opinions regarding this subject.

    And that is largely why you are getting flak, because you weren’t there when the gaming community was under fire. Your previous article
    Nor did gaming journalists write about gamergate supporters getting doxxed/harassed (including women & trans):
    https://jennofhardwire.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/gamers-discussing-gamergate-scandal-are-being-harassed-wheres-the-coverage-this-article-will-be-regularly-updated-with-documented-harassment-of-gamers/

    Granted some journalists did at least report on the bomb threat towards gg in D.C.
    And i also find it unlikely that it was out of malice, but more so that the obnoxious ones are the most obvious parts of the community and that in general journalists are to out of touch within said community.

    Some might not be interested into labeling themselves as gamer, and i understand why. We do have a fair amount of shitlords. Though i’ve only met 2 blatant sexists in mmorpg’s.
    But personally gaming has never been something I’ve been ashamed off. I’ve met hundreds of amazing people from all over the world of majority of races, genders,sexual orientations and religions. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, nor would i want to scare people away from it.

    So yeah i never minded calling myself a gamer, and loved to explain to others what it’s about. Even invite them if they’re interested to show them the ropes. And i have always tried to improve the groups i was a part of. As did thousands of others.

    And yeah i do find blaming all of us for these behaviors we are not responsible for and often are trying to prevent as a big slap in the face. Nor would these articles achieve your desired result anyway, they simply add more fuel for trolls and chase away those unfamiliar with gaming.

    And i’d recommend http://www.deepfreeze.it/ in terms of corruption.

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      1. “For example, last year Games wrote an article explaining that ‘gamers’ are dead which enraged a small number of people more than willing to be offended.”

        “that a small sub-culture of divisive angry teenage males do not define what makes a ‘gamer’, no matter how much they’ll try to tell you otherwise.”

        Now sure, neither call it gamergate by name. But both are hasty generalizations aimed at said group.
        Did they all wanted to be offended? Did they all wanted to define what makes a ‘gamer’? A sub culture of only teenage males? ….

        And agreed, 15 articles do not speak for the whole of gaming journalism. But even you said “Because happy people are generally quiet people, this meant the majority of voices making themselves heard in Games Journalism’s comments sections and forums were actually those from the negative minority.”
        Wouldn’t the same apply to gaming journalists?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Also, has a single person in GG actually read the articles? Because this right here:

        “Did they all wanted to be offended? Did they all wanted to define what makes a ‘gamer’? A sub culture of only teenage males? ….”

        is just word salad with no relation to what Leigh Alexander actually wrote.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. “often are trying to prevent”

      Sure. Please link to the attempts by GG to prevent Milo or Rogue from harassing people.

      You’re trying to prevent people from *discussing* the harassment. Not preventing the harassment itself.

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  9. I kinda wish you wouldn’t write things like this, Chris. I love your work, but I can’t help but feel that this sort of thing is a bad idea.

    Granted, you’re a human being running a blog who gets to write about what he wants to write about, based on his own feelings. But I can’t help feeling that the clever people who follow you (I like to think that I’m among them) are aware of this already. And, because such people are generally nicer (as you mention above, “happy people are generally quiet people”), this sort of article gives the stupid angry voices and outlet for their comments – something nobody wants.

    I don’t think the stupid angry voices will be convinced by this, because they’re that convinced of their own ideas and an article on the Internet won’t sway them. So the only purpose this sort of thing serves (apart from, it must be said, entertaining me with humorous picture captions) is to preach to the converted and to draw angry comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. While I like the article, I think some of the confusion is self-inflicted. A lot of publications downplay the importance of individual writers and the by-line a lot. If I look at IGN’s front page, I get to see various articles, including images, titles, time posted and short descriptions, but no by-line. It’s not until after I click on an article that, thankfully, a name appears before the first sentence, with the description at the bottom. So until I click the article and read it, IGN just wants you to know it’s an article on IGN. Compare that to Youtube, where it’s almost impossible to not know who made a video before opening the video.

    With so many publications – not just in games journalism, mind, but in various industries – downplaying the by-line it doesn’t surprise me that some people seriously think each writer for a publisher is supposed to be representative of the publisher, or that people think of articles as being “by IGN” rather than “by [Writer]”.

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  11. Hey, great article.

    I think you touched upon an interesting point in how the Internet altered the gaming press, broadening its reach and opening it to tidal waves of “feedback”, both helpful and not. No longer a letter seen only by the editor, this feedback is viewable to all, aligning those that would otherwise be disenfranchised and entrenching their ideas, regardless of how unsound or absurd the are.

    This leads me to think that the change in games journalism’s editorial direction caused by the Internet is incomparably small compared to the change in perceived entitlement of those who consume it.

    As the great Trisha Goddard used to say, “When you point the finger of blame, there’s always three fingers pointing back at you.”

    I can understand why the majority of the gaming press won’t say it, but there’s a slim proportion of gamers that need to take a good long look at their priorities.

    Once again, great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “This leads me to think that the change in games journalism’s editorial direction caused by the Internet is incomparably small compared to the change in perceived entitlement of those who consume it.”

      I respectfully disagree. The tidal wave of feedback leads to articles whereby a journalist ties the twitter storm against someone who shoots a lion to Gamergate. There is no real link there, but the tidal wave of feedback serves a purpose and it has most definitely changed editorial decisions.

      All the sixes, clickety click.

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  12. I’m a sucker for extended metaphors, and you’ve crafted one that is highly rhetorically effective. I enjoyed this article very much. It has always seemed self-evident to me that having more gamers means that we get more games, but this is clearly a concept that is outside of the reach of some individuals.

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  13. I cannot comprehend the mindset of a person who reads that Leigh Alexander article as some kind of personal attack. It seems so contrived.

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    1. I agree mostly, although the ‘lonely basement kids’ thing does skirt closely to the old cliche of people who play video games dwelling in their mother’s basement. And the gross generalisation of gamers queuing up who “don’t know how to dress or behave”- I get that it’s a possibly an article written out of some level anger but it did come across as little sneery and superior in places. And I can see how, if someone felt that they were part of that- the plush mushroom hat wearers of the world- they might take it personally.

      Personally I didn’t like the article. It read like an attempt to wind up a section of the audience as much as it was an (admirable) rallying call to celebrate diversification.

      Which is fine- I’m not going to like everything I read as an adult I can deal with that- and it definitely doesn’t really excuse the deliberate misunderstanding of “gamers are over” to mean “gamers are dead” rather than the obvious meaning of a demographic shift. And I genuinely do think it’s deliberate for a lot of people- there’s a certain trend to misread articles in order to fuel and justify a feeling of persecution and anger. You can see it earlier on in these comments.

      Although I think there’s probably a connection between this shift in demographics and the group of people who see some kind of war going on where their perceived culture is under attack.

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  14. I really enjoyed the first part of your article Chris but I didn’t enjoy the last part called comments. I wonder if that part could be improved? It all sounded like a lot of nonsense and talk about things that aren’t really important in the overall grand scheme of things. Will any of these things affect the key things in life like what new cereal will Kellogg’s release, is a mars bar really getting smaller or does milk taste better from a glass bottle or a plastic carton? These issues are much more pressing.

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    1. What is showing itself, too, is that people in GamerGate want ethics in video game journalism when they hate most video game journalists and say that journalism, the written form, with letters, words, and sentences, is useless in the wake of YouTube. some incorrectly label journalism as just the written form when some youtube peeps are just as unethical.

      Me, personally, journalism will never die. Never. It will change, but never die

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  15. “The income Games Journalism got from people buying its magazines was instead being covered by advertisers putting adverts on the websites”

    Ads were always the most important revenue stream for gaming magazines. To say Games Journalism got its money from people buying magazines is plain and simple wrong. The money a publication gets from its readers covers only a small fraction of the production costs.

    “As is the case in general news reporting, scandal sells: a story about a game running better on Xbox 360 than on PS3 got many times more traffic than one simply showing screenshots of a new game. ”

    Not surprising, for a story about a game running better on Xbox 360 than on the PS3 at least a small editorial effort is needed. Simply showing screenshots of a new game is nothing more than putting unedited press material on a site, readers quickly realised, that they can get the press releases directly from the publisher (e.g. the official site of the game) and that there is no need to rely on press outlets to get PR material.

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  16. So true story – I was given the opportunity to write the season review for BoJack Horseman last week. The person who reviewed the first season last year was pretty harsh, but I was the exact opposite. In my review, I mention that I loved the first season and season two largely expanded on what S1 did well. So of course there was a commenter who said IGN was backtracking and was ignoring the review it had given last year and “What the hell??” Luckily someone that didn’t have to be me responded and pointed out “not everyone who writes for the same site is going to have the same opinions on a thing.” It’s weird that some people don’t get this.

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  17. Object-oriented opinion seems to be the in thing on the internet. re-usable code, easy to deploy never mind that the top level classes are far top narrow, squeeze people into them anyway, there are no other suitable classes and other methods are too time consuming.

    I used to read Computer & Video Games when I was a lad, but my magazine of choice ended up being Crash for the ZX Spectrum. Crash can be found online and it’s interesting to see that ethics in gaming journalism was raised then, with rival magazines accusing each other of not disclosing ties.

    Another interesting issue raised is sexism in gaming, this gets discussed in articles, a game with a scantily clad page three model on the cover (although not as scantily clad as she would have been on page three) was taken off the shelves in Boots the chemist as they felt it was sexist.

    The big difference from back then and now is that opinion was between friends or a handful of letters to the editor. We did not have the Twitter pile on. People suspected some games got good reviews because the magazine wanted to keep advertising revenue and sneak previews. Whether that was true or not, I do not know, but people spoke about it, this is nothing new.

    The gaming world has progressed in the last thirty odd years, not as much as I would have liked, but it has progressed.

    I was not a fan of Leigh Alexander’s article, I felt she went at it with a ten ton hammer and either missed the target or hit targets outside of her range. However she made some decent points, that were unfortunately buried, one of which was : “When you decline to create or to curate a culture in your spaces, you’re responsible for what spawns in the vacuum”.

    I felt that your article about us all being gamers was far better, Leigh’s article bordered on making “Gamer” a dirty word.

    However, both articles should merely have sparked a discussion, the vitriol is absurd, it pushes people into entrenched positions, it makes people afraid to debate and worst of all, it sidelines progress.

    Healthy disagreement is wonderful, it helps shape our futures, vitriolic diatribe gets us nowhere.

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  18. “If a writer writes something you don’t like, by all means feel free to air your displeasure.”

    Sweet vitamin fortified horse milk! I used to live in a world where Party Babyz did not exist. You’ve destroyed that world and left me to wander the questionable-box-art-strewn wastes. You monster.

    Like

  19. Why don’t people just find a site or writers they like and feel is in line with their view and type of games and then use as a reference?

    It works for me, I’ve not bought a bad game in years. Sometimes you also have to give things a chance, as the reviewer my not like the game you do. I liked Heavy Rain and Brutal Legend, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Someone writing a review is thier opinion of it , nothing more.

    There are idiots in all walks of life, some have a lot to say. In the 80’s Britain , not everyone that went to a football match was a hooligan, but the media perception wasn’t far off that. The minority spoilt it for the many though.

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  20. Great article Chris.

    I’m not a fan of reviewers getting attacked for their opinions on games, and more so to your point, when a whole website will be criticised because because the opinion of one reviewer wasn’t in line with what the public expected, be it a higher or lower score than everybody thought a game should get.

    I remember when Ryan McCaffrey gave Alien Isolation a 5.9 on IGN and the forums went mad. How about play the game first? How about respect his own personal views on the game? How about less of the “Oh IGN must not have been paid enough to give it a high score”. Play the game yourself and use the review as a guideline of what to expect but remember it’s an opinion from an individual!

    Like

  21. Okay, I only saw a couple articles on here, so I apologize in advance if I’m missing any details, but let me just say that it’s perfectly fine if you don’t support GamerGate. GamerGate supporters have no problem with neutrals. What we don’t appreciate is being slandered, and you giving into the myth that we’re all a bunch of woman-haters is just that. Keep in mind, one of the main reasons that GG got started in the first place is because we were fucking sick and tired of all the social justice bullshit plaguing journalism, with several sites hyping up Anita Sarkeesian’s works as gospel, and never even giving the general public a chance to voice some fair criticism lest we be branded a bunch of hateful, misogynistic, racist monsters. We appreciate women in gaming, we don’t mind having female protagonists, we have women on our side (see GamerGate’s sister tag, NotYourShield). We don’t, however, like games being unfairly criticized because they fail to meet some bullshit diversity quota, we don’t like this narrative that we’re all hateful just because we happen to play a lot of games with a white male protagonist, we don’t like the idea that we’re hating on Sarkeesian, Wu, Quinn and others just for being women with opinions and NOT because they’re just generally horrible PEOPLE with equally horrible viewpoints, we don’t like being told off by people who are proven to be actual bigots (some of the more outspoken anti-GamerGate people have said outright that they believe racism against whites and sexism against males is impossible, and that’s on top of doing or saying demeaning things to women or people of color), and we don’t like these fucking hipsters ignoring actual examples of female protagonists from the last 40 years of gaming in some vain attempt to prove their point all while acting as if they’re experts in the hobby. Of course, it doesn’t help whenever evidence arises that journalists were colluding with social justice hipsters this entire time (hell, the Quinnspiracy was all one very, very bad attempt at hiding this).

    Also, you say that GamerGaters generalize all journalism as being bad. Well, I’m sorry if we said a few things about this industry you’ve been involved in for so long, but rest assured, we really don’t see gaming journalism as a lost cause. Hell, your average GG supporter has nothing but praise for sites such as NicheGamer and Techraptor, and even The Escapist got viewed in a favorable light after they changed their policies earlier this year. The people on those sites talk about games fairly and don’t talk down to their audience while doing so, and that’s all we really ask for. Sites like Kotaku and Polygon, they continually fail even after an entire year since GamerGate started, so naturally, they’re still going to be on the receiving end of our scorn. But as I said, you don’t have to totally agree with us or support us, just please stop giving into the negative stereotypes about us. We’re numerous, we’re diverse, we’re fairly reasonable people for the most part. We are not woman-haters, we are not racists, we are not all white, basement-dwelling male nerds (and even if some of us are, why should that be a bad thing?), we are not a lot of the crap that the mainstream media tries to paint us as, so I ask that you try not to believe all of that at face value. If you’re really the type of moral journalist that you claim to be, and I’d say that you are from what I’ve seen of your writing, then surely you can put in a few seconds worth of research needed to disprove such ridiculous myths.

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    1. With the greatest of respect, I got as far as me being accused of saying you’re “all a bunch of woman-haters” and stopped there. At no point have I ever generalised to the extent that I’ve suggested every GG supporter hates women. I stand by my claim that a number of them do, but I’m not hypocritical enough to suggest it’s 100% of them. That said, I still believe it’s enough of them to be worth mentioning.

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      1. So what, you didn’t even look at that second paragraph? Anyway, you apparently say there’s a significant number of GamerGaters who actually are misogynistic, significant enough that you’d be willing to write off the movement completely, but where have you been seeing them? Most of the GG people I’ve been seeing don’t exactly have any nice words to say about the likes of Quinn and Sarkeesian, but they aren’t actively attacking such people and making death threats. Also, are the people that YOU say you’ve seen really woman-haters, or were they only hating on those particular aforementioned women? Considering how much they try to smear our hobby, do you really expect enthusiasts in said hobby to say anything pleasant about such people, whether they be male or female? For that matter, several men like John McIntosh, Ben Kuchera, and MovieBob receive a great deal of hate from GamerGate as well.

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  22. I happened across this article by sheer chance. It was an interesting read and revealed just how little I know these days about gaming, the gaming community and all the rest of it. I used to play a lot, but it’s completely predictable how adult life steals away my hours now.

    However, the comments on ONM made me nostalgic for a time when I haunted forums and followed the gaming world. I remember a lot of forum anger on that site about a non-review of a potentially poor Nintendo release by the name of Pokemon Battle Revolution, exacerbated by the fact the publisher was also selling a non-critical promo mag separately.

    It’s nearly a decade since the whole storm in a teacup over the non-review, which should be enough distance for objectivity. Was there really nothing untoward? No ‘corruption or dodgy dealings’? Bearing in mind at the time the ONM team made a point of saying how they sometimes bought games to review out of their own cash to review if review code was running late, the non-review of a big-but-bad Pokemon game was surely cowardice or corruption on a minor scale. If Ninty didn’t send an order, it was smart editorially to not review; it avoided the need to bite the hand that feeds, without crossing the moral rubicon of selling dung as diamonds.

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  23. When they posted a review of a big game and gave it a bad score, they would almost always follow it with a alternate opinion piece where another reviewer would provide a far more positive spin on that same game.

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  24. The way I see it, if a publication asks somebody to write a review of something, and that review is the only one the publication unearths (if that’s the right word), then that review ‘is’ the view of the publication as a whole. That isn’t to say that everybody working on the publication will share that view, though.

    Like

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