Before continuing this “mini-series,” if you will, I want to throw out a few disclaimers.
1.) These articles are NOT “bashing” articles. Rather, they are my views and opinions regarding the discussed groups, in which at the end of the series I hope to bring focus to positivity. These are not meant for negativity, though they may contain some topics that are.
2.) There will be multiple articles, I have three planned, in total. I would love to discuss the topic(s) at hand with anyone willing to discuss, but please read all the articles to get a full understanding of what I am trying to say.
3.) Did I mention these are just my views and opinions on the gaming world in general? I did? Ok, cool, then let’s remember not to take anything too seriously or personally. That being said, I hope that perhaps one or more of my ramblings will strike a chord with you. So, let’s get started!
In my last article, I spoke to the gamers who happened to be reading. If you missed it, you can read it here. This time around, I want to share my thoughts on the gaming journalists of the world. Before I even get started, I want to share a well known quote with you, and because I’m such a comic nerd, I figured it fit pretty well into what I want to say:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
I suppose I would consider myself a gaming journalist, just without a huge following, any kind of influence, and little access to anything behind the scenes. Ok, I guess I’m not really a journalist, but I can do what many of them do, so I can build my legion, right? I mean, I can twist words into what I want them to be, correct?
I write this article with a little bit of frustration being held at bay behind my teeth. Recent articles have infuriated me, and I had to make sure to finish writing this article after cooling down a bit, as I like to try my absolute best to convey my thoughts in a sober manner. Once again, though I’m a bit frustrated, and a lot of what I will write about will be negative in nature, I write these things to try and spur on fellow game journalists, both those who may have fallen into what I am going to speak about and to those who may not.
I see an incredible amount of ridiculous “game journalism” on a daily basis. There are two majors issues I want to bring up that I’m sure you, the reader/gamer/journalist, are all too familiar with:
1) Biased negativity of the closet fanboy
2) Trendy journalism
Now, I’m sure as soon as you saw that word “biased” you already had a preconceived notion of what I meant. Let me explain, as I phrased that very carefully. We are all biased, even game journalists. When someone states they are completely unbiased and objective, that is most likely untrue. I will be up front with you right now: I am currently biased towards Nintendo and away from Microsoft (and I have an Xbox 360), while PC gaming and the PS4 are in my “neutral” area. This does not mean that everything Nintendo does is right and everything Microsoft does is wrong. This does not mean I become what so many have labeled as “fanboy.” I have a bias, but it is also my job to know that bias and still address things accordingly. The problem with so many game journalism is that first step: recognizing the bias.
When we recognize our bias, we then acknowledge what we prefer, what we find appealing, and – most importantly – what we need to be cautious of. I see too many articles completely bashing Nintendo, most of which are unwarranted and have no foundation other than the latest trend (I’ll get into that later). I’m not going to name people, nor publications, but I’m sure you have some in your mind as you read these words. Having a bias is actually just fine, and can be used in good ways if utilized correctly, but the problem is denial.
For example, Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U, has sparked a lot of controversy in the gaming world. Many despise it, while others love it. The ones who don’t feel either way are in the minority, it seems. Now, Nintendo had a terrible 9 months or so after launch, and that was on them; there’s no denying that. But, what did Nintendo do? Since November 2013 they’ve been picking themselves back up: more software releases (in 2015 they will be at full steam), more marketing (just look at Mariokart 8 marketing), more deals (again, Mariokart 8 promotion, DDP, Club Nintendo, and cheaper hardware than competition), and claiming to finally have refocused on the “core gamers.” Logically, they should be applauded for listening to the complaints from the gaming community and taking steps in the right direction, correct? Is that what is happening, though? Even though there was an enormous effort at E3 that will most likely set the bar for next year and a great line up of exclusive games starting this month, the negativity has already begun again. This would be a moot point if not for the fact that the other companies aren’t called out nearly as much. Why hasn’t there been as much complaining regarding Microsoft dropping the Kinect after they claimed it was an integral part of the hardware and was, in fact, a part of the overall system? How about the fact that many “next gen games” in 2014 on PS4 and Xbox One are remakes, some of which are only a year old? What about developers complaining about bad sales on specific consoles when they themselves created a gimped port that lacked content the other consoles had? My point is this: have a bias, but have integrity also.
It would be ridiculous to think someone could completely get rid of their own opinion in order to write objective articles; but, it is very realistic to expect the writer to clearly understand his or her bias and write accordingly to present something unique to the reader. Journalists: write passionately, write with integrity, and write biased.
I have a higher tolerance for those who write in denial about their biases, but there is one thing that easily pushes my buttons. Trendy journalists are a toxicity that can plague the gaming community with ease. It truly is astonishing to see journalists avoid handling trendy topics straight on and end up feeding into the trend themselves. Before I tackle one of these “trendy” topics, keep in mind that these journalists can easily take something that is of a noble and honorable cause and turn them into a sort of gaming fashion statement. I fully believe in the meaning behind the original purpose and cause of what many have labeled SJWs (Social Justice Warriors), and strongly support a lot of various causes within this group. That being said…
It makes me absolutely sick to see so many journalists jumping onto the popularity wagon, and using cowards who hide behind keyboards and claim they are gamers as the fuel. Do you want to combat these internet trolls? Don’t simply disregard them, as that won’t solve anything; but don’t bring a large amount of attention to them, as that is most likely what they crave. They want the spotlight because they aren’t really in the spotlight: they get the thrill of being known (even in a bad context) without the consequences, since they are masked by social media. I have faith that if someone stood and handled the issue appropriately like this, many would begin following by example. And you know what? Some of them do handle it the right way, and I do consider them the real SJWs in the gaming community.
So, how do we know who is sincere, and who seems to be on the “trendy train?” Well, let me give an example; in fact, it is the article that infuriated me to write this article just a little more quickly than I anticipated. Said article claimed that “gamers are dead,” essentially grouping all gamers together into one large group of idiot bigots who are dysfunctional adult-kids unable to actually live their lives. The article itself was written very well, and could’ve been used in a genuine way, but the statements made regarding gamers were examples of jumping onto the trendy journalism surrounding the actual reality behind the cause.
I am 29 years old, father to a wonderful son, husband to the most beautifully strong woman I’ve ever known, with a career, bills, friends, family…in other words, I function and have a life. Oh, and I’m a gamer. I have been since I was first introduced to the NES by my mother. The article in question completely ignored two very important facts, which was masked by the SJW “controversy” that is happening on all types of social media: generalization of gamers is incorrect to do, and though gaming can involve many different social aspects found in numerous cultures, they are still just games.
There are many gamers – both those who actually are and those who simply claim to be – who can be huge jerks. In fact, I’m sure I’ve come off that way before; you might even be thinking that about me right now as you read. But here is the thing: every single day I am in contact with some of the coolest, most enjoyable, caring, entertaining people I’ve ever met – and I haven’t even met most of them in person! Oh, did I mention they’re gamers? Gamers come in all different forms, have various interests and appeals in games, and may or may not be involved in social issues surrounding gaming and the gaming community. They aren’t the “dude-bros” that this article claims they are, and I find it demeaning for this article to tell me that I am dysfunctional because I am a gamer.
These trends easily spread both inside and outside of the gaming community, and can alter how people view gaming. Heck, just take a look (again) at the perspective on the Wii U – though excellent games (and quite a few) are out and on the way, people still “hate” the Wii U for some reason. I’m not saying everyone needs to love the Wii U, but don’t let a trend determine how people feel about it. Or what about the “gamers are dead” article – how many non-gamers read that article and now have a skewed view on the true gamers that have been lumped in with the ones who claim to be?
I’m also not saying that we should all just shut our mouths and deal with social issues that may surround video games; there are many valid points to be made regarding games. For instance, why can’t the player make a female character in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity, when you can completely customize your character in every other way? Or, is there a line to cross with mature-rated games? Is there bullying within the gaming industry between developers and manufacturers? Important issues can, and should, be addressed, but not for the sake of trend propelled by biased writers using their talents in a shameful way. They should be addressed as the social issues they are, that happen to take their form around video gaming.
I said at the beginning of this post I am not aiming to simply tear people down, and that still stands. If you’ve not gotten anything that I’ve written, or perhaps disagree with all my points, that’s perfectly fine, but please keep this in mind (especially you, journalists): biases are ok, just use them correctly, and stop jumping into trendy journalism and just be a journalist. Opinion pieces are great, news articles are just fine, and writing thought-provoking articles involving games and gaming culture are perfect. I have faith that the gaming community will flock to true journalists who write great pieces about gaming.
Journalists: keep striving to better yourselves and not fall into trends, fads, and unfair biases. Use your passion to fuel interesting ideas and articles, stay knowledgeable on recent gaming controversies and debates, and issue gaming news to those who seek it out. I still believe there are many good journalists out there writing excellent pieces regarding gaming; however, much like the true gamers at the heart of the gaming community, they are drowned out by the loud rantings and exaggeration pieces of trendy journalists flaunting their bias incorrectly. You have influence over many gamers, both those who read your pieces and those who simply hear about them – remember that quote at the beginning of the article? And finally: gamers, look for these true artists of their craft utilizing their mediums correctly and give credit where credit is due. Once again, let’s just get back to being gamers who talk amongst each other about their passion: video games.