This is a series of reviews for the Amazon Kindle Magic, Myth & Fantasy collection that will be posted one book at a time over the next few months. I won’t be analyzing the novels as deeply as I have in some of my other articles. These will be quick and dirty reviews of a few simple paragraphs or less.
THE WHITE TREE (The Cycle of Arawn) by Edward W. Robertson
Another gem in this collection.
A little slow to get into and at times a wee bit bogged down in back-story and world history, but nothing so overwhelmingly boring it would cause you to put the book down. Once you get the gist of what the author is trying to accomplish, the ultimate anti-hero—a necromancer more concerned with the betterment and well being of the society around him than his own lascivious and necrotic desires—it’s smooth sailing. Alas, you will slog through the first few chapters. Stick with it, it gets better.
I really enjoyed the blossoming friendship of the two main characters, Dante and Blays, and their often witty exchanges. It’s a good bro story. The plot was pretty solid and the bad guys did their job; albeit mostly in the shadows and background of the narrative. The secondary characters played well off of the two main characters. The story had a beginning, a middle and an end and left room for the saga to continue, and honestly that’s your biggest concern when reading the first book of a saga as inexperienced authors tend to waste the first novel setting up the rest without much story.
It’s free on Kindle if you want to give the series a spin. Well worth it.
Joss Whedon practically redefined the space faring captain and crew Sci Fi genre (or is that trope?) Not only raising the bar for all future Sci Fi to come, Mr. Whedon broke societal boundaries in ways that made Gene Roddenberry smile giddily from the grave.
The lowly prostitute becomes the highly esteemed courtesan replete with enough power and respect to take even the richest man down should he cross her. The ship’s engineer is upstaged by a young women in an origins episode and Kaylee Frye goes on to be the most valuable member of the crew. And then there’s Zoe and Hoban Washburne, a marriage in which traditional roles were so drastically reversed I think I even remember Wash actually stopping and asking for directions once.
I’ve probably watched every episode of Firefly more than Star Trek ToS, and almost as much as Blade Runner (which is a ridiculous amount of times). The admiration, respect and gratitude I have for Mr. Whedon and his work is vast and if I ever have the privilege of meeting him I’d probably break down and cry in overwhelming awe. I do not do this to disrespect him or this beloved show. Though I am a little dismayed at his blind support for this unscrupulous businesswoman, I am doing this only to prove a point about Ms. Sarkeesian’s methods… And for shiggles.
If Ms. Sarkeesian examined Firefly the same way she examined gaming:
Much like I have here, Ms. Sarkeesian approached the topic of sexism and misogyny in gaming with the intention of finding material that supports her preexisting conclusions, while not only ignoring any evidence that suggests otherwise, but systematically choking off any avenue of healthy discussion regarding her material, mostly on the grounds that some people on the internet might troll her.
Is there misogyny out there? Yes. But not in the places Ms. Sarkeesian is looking and not to the degrees Ms. Sarkeesian wants you all to believe. It’s not 1950 anymore, ladies, we’ve come a long way as a society in this regard. Women are empowered. Women aren’t a man’s reward or trophy. Women are a man’s strength. And honestly, they always have been.
Feminists have blown this whole thing up so much that right-wing/libertarian think tanks have jumped into the fray as though they’ve been in support of gamers since forever. We’ll just ignore that whole Jack Thompson thing, eh? Ladies, you know you’re doing something wrong when your true enemy reverses their long standing hate of something and jumps to the aid of your current supposed enemy.
So there’s a few trolls out there and Ms. Sarkeesian (intentionally) drew their ire. Welcome to the club, Anita. Try making a rational comment on a liberal YouTube channel without some poorly educated bagger screaming “BENGASZEEEE” out of context and calling you a ‘libtard’ every two seconds.
The one thing the internet irrefudiatedly proved is the ratio of village idiots to actual villages is far greater than anyone could ever have imagined. We all get trolled, and sometimes rational people in moments of frustration do the trolling. These trolls and moments of irrationality are few and far between and rational people often feel regret and will apologize after the reality sets in.
Gamer’s deeply resent being told a few miscreants on the internet represent them all, and I think gamers are owed an apology.
This is a series of reviews for the Amazon Kindle Magic, Myth & Fantasy collection that will be posted one book at a time over the next few months. I won’t be analyzing the novels as deeply as I have in some of my other articles. These will be quick and dirty reviews of a few simple paragraphs or less.
A LEGACY OF LIGHT (The Dragon War) by Daniel Arenson
This is one of the better reads of this collection, if you don’t want to shell out the .99 cents for the collection you can get this one for free and I highly recommend you do so.
Well written and plotted with thoroughly fleshed out characters; you can’t miss here. The tedious endeavor of world building so necessary for an author to tackle efficiently in the first novel in order to effectively set up the series is handled skillfully and unobtrusively. The history of Requiem masterfully blends naturally with the storytelling and you never once feel like you’re sitting in some boring professor’s history lecture.
The lycanthropic dragon was a welcome change from the run-of-the-mill werewolf themed fantasy that permeates fantasy literature. The bad guys are not just deliciously evil, they are vividly evil, but never over the top; painting a picture that makes the threats the protagonists face much more credible and enjoyable. The good guys have a sufficient balance of weakness and potential to make them tenable for the long run. The tensions between characters are well drawn out and this book lays a great foundation for the author to build the rest of the series on. This series is one I will look into further when I’m done with my current reading list.
Welcome to part four.
Ms. Sarkeesian is simply another unscrupulous businessperson in a world that places unscrupulous business people on pedestals.
In part one of this article I employed a tactic of Ms. Sarkeesian when I suggested that a significant portion of MPFPS gamers are misogynistic douchebags, and when you read it you probably agreed with me. Truth is, even in the competitive world of multiplier first-person shooters the player base is much more diverse and the social dynamics far more complex than Ms. Sarkeesian (or even myself at times) would allow you to believe.
It’s a dance older than the Waltz that is beautiful in its simplicity and horrific in its complexities.
Should a female gamer enter a lobby of male gamers she’s more likely to be met with the clumsy advances and awkward wit of teens (and socially inept adults) than their contempt as they all display their Peacock feathers and begin competing for the girl’s affections. Should another female join she is just as likely to view the first female as competition as she is to view her as a friendly sister-in-arms. This nature of ours is not exclusively a male of female thing. It’s a human thing. It’s a dance older than the Waltz that is beautiful in its simplicity and horrific in its complexities.
People need to stop reading more into things to justify their shitty views about the world they think they live in and the people they have petty issues with. This is something we all do, myself included. So I know this is hard to understand sometimes. Not every women you date will cheat on you. Not every potential male partner in life wants to control you. Not everyone is an asshole and that man didn’t hold the door open for you because he felt you incapable of doing it yourself. He was simply being polite.
WE ARE ALL OUT OF HER LEAGUE
Ms. Sarkeesian is not a feminist. Nor is she a leftist. Ms. Sarkeesian is simply another unscrupulous businessperson in a world that places them on pedestals. A seller of snake oil. A guru of marketing. A master manipulator of human behavior. And she is playing everyone like a finely tuned fiddle.
For that she has my utmost respect, but not my admiration. Her target audience is as narrow-minded as your average Fox News viewer. They need to believe in her to justify their jaded and shitty world views. Ms. Sarkeesian cares about one thing and one thing only. The survival of Ms. Sarkeesian. Find out what puts food on a person’s table and you’ll find out what ultimately motivates them.
I could be wrong about Ms. Sarkeesian. It could be a simple matter of her youth and inexperience in life having too much influence over her opinions. As I’ve said, we were all young once. Sadly, recent events have me leaning strongly towards the whole unscrupulous businessperson thing. Honestly, I want to be wrong about her. Being jaded 24/7 because the world fails to show me something positive and untainted I can believe in gets ever so tiring as I grow older.
As for all you frustrated gamers out there who have chosen to beat the war drums against this women, I hate to be the one to tell you this, you are all engulfed in a battle of wits for which you are ill-equipped. I feel your frustration, I really do. But most of your actions have only served to feed her accusations. The best thing most of you can do is ignore her and in time she’ll be as relevant to gaming as Jack “games are mental masturbation” Thompson.
NOW LET’S END THIS ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Because sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.
Welcome to part three.
The truth is far less sinister.
THE STORY COMES FIRST
Ms. Sarkeesian would have you believe the male species has an inherent need to control and objectify women. Which may be true if you’re one of the few sadistic serial killers that occasional pervade our society or just a Wall $t. douchenozzle. Is it even possible male human beings are purposely instilling this attitude stealthily into video games, literature, and movies in some mass concerted conspiracy to keep women down? Only if you completely ignore all the video games, literature, and movies that don’t do this, I suppose.
The truth is far less sinister. The protagonist (or any non-fictitious male for that matter) has a simple desire to be the hero and earnestly win the affections of the girl. She’s not his prize or his object. She is his strength. His raison de vivre, his living, breathing love. And what’s more beautiful than finding love and a reason to live in a world filled with so much cynicism and pain?
The girl is under no contract to return those affections beyond the parameters of the game’s programming and the story the writer wants to tell. The writer is under no obligation to tell the story you want to hear and yet the writer does to some extent. Would Star Wars be the epic timeless trilogy it is if the Dark Side won? If Luke didn’t save Anakin’s soul? If Han and Leia didn’t find love? The Dark Side didn’t win and Luke saved Anakin’s soul because people generally and genuinely want the good side to win. Han and Leia hook up because finding love gives us all, male and female alike, warm fuzzy feelings inside. Writing it any other way would be severely anticlimactic for a lot of people.
Writers simply want to tell the best, most engrossing story they possible can. I’m not saying we don’t try and slip a message in their somewhere, some of us do. Sometimes it’s a good, decent, innocuous message that does not detract from the story. Other times it’s the ranting of a mad man (or women) and causes you to subconsciously face palm. But there is one caveat all good writers must live by; if you have a message, call Western Union. The story always comes first.
The writing team who brought us Watch Dogs didn’t write the sex slave trade mission to promote the sex slave trade as Ms. Sarkeesian would have you believe. The protagonist, Aiden Pearce, is meant to destroy the organization. The scene is arranged in a manner that befits the scope of the antagonist(s) within the story’s place and setting. Those are the only factors in play here. The only intent of the writer(s) was to engross the player into the story.
We should also mention the message wasn’t all women should be in chains, it was this shit is wrong and needs to stop. The sex slave trade in America is all too real. I understand it’s hard for a middle class well educated young women like Ms. Sarkeesian to understand a world she’s never been a part of. To dismiss it as fiction. But I’ve walked those seedy, grimy segments of society. I’ve known the girls, boys, women and men involved. If Ms. Sarkeesian truly wanted to do something about it she should probably start with the reality and not the fiction.
Ultimately the story of Watch Dogs is simply about a hacker who gets a little too close to The Powers That Be and their global machinations, places his family in danger, and goes on a revenge campaign. Every scene is designed to move that plot forward while illustrating the world involved for effect.
I wonder if Ms. Sarkeesian and her fellow feminists, by selecting this particular scene in Watch Dogs, are somehow subconsciously comparing their time in college and all the unworldly, narcissistic boys who mistreated them with the plight of European teenagers who are kidnapped, stuffed into shipping containers and shipped out to various corners of the world and forced to sell their bodies for barely a few square meals a day and some lice infested mattress in the dank and dark corner of some shitty room to sleep on. I don’t know, but one thing is for sure, I’m going to leave my comments section open for debate. Not saying I won’t delete all the douchebag comments, but if you have something intelligent to add…
The way Ms. Sarkeesian tackles the controversial shit-storm she stirred up makes me wonder if feminists want to find solutions to the ills they perceive in the world around them or are they simply content to gripe about them? Because finding solutions often requires you find yourself first.
The real world has its fair share of monsters, both male and female. And that age old question of what came first? Sorry, but Art imitates life. Shakespeare didn’t pull his plots out of thin air, he simply observed the world and human behavior around him. Pointing to fiction and screaming guilty is the easy way out.
You’d think that by now we’d have figured out there is little correlation between violence in video games and the real world we live in. It seems like we have the same boring conversation every ten years or so. It’s bad enough we have have to sit through Fox News grasping at those straws in between political commercials stamped with the NRA’s seal of approval every time there’s a mass shooting in America. Now we’ve got academics on both sides of the great political divide desperately trying to make the connection.
I got news for you all. Censoring videos games isn’t going to change bugger all in the really-real world.
Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part 4 when we will wrap this up.
Welcome to part two.
Of the two—gaming journos and Ms. Sarkeesian—Ms. Sarkeesian is by far the most dangerous. Gaming journos are simply flailing around like fish out of water in vain attempts to remain relevant in an industry that is starting to see them as less than such.
Ms. Sarkeesian is attacking gamers from an academic and seemingly well-thought out position of presumed expertise. She is the modern equivalent of Jack “games are mental masturbation” Thompson before he got disbarred and with slightly more credibility.
DOCTOR OF BULL
What are Ms. Sarkeesian’s qualifications? To be honest, pretty freaking impressive at first glance. Ms. Sarkeesian has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in social and political thought. But if you think about it for a minute you’ll quickly realize she’s basically a Doctor of Bullshit and her affect on #GamerGate, gaming, and society is caustic.
Ms. Sarkeesian’s videos have had an adverse rippling effect on the gaming community. Her cut-throat approach of disabling and avoiding all avenues of debate on the subject have further inflamed a large portion of the community causing many to act recklessly out, on the defensive and ultimately play into her hand by becoming the very gamers she suggests they are.
I’m not suggesting there wouldn’t have been a douchebag or two who would’ve attacked Ms. Sarkeesian on a personal level had she played her hand a little differently. You know what they say? Everywhere you go there’s always an asshole.
What I am suggesting is had Ms. Sarkeesian left the comments section on her rather accusatory videos open thereby allowing a healthy discussion regarding the subject matter and a place for people to vent their issues with the material the hubbub would never have escalated to the raucous cacophony it is now. Alas, I suspect Ms. Sarkeesian knew exactly what she was doing.
In order to elucidate her theory that gaming has it in for women Ms. Sarkeesian cherry-picks missions and moments from games and gaming culture and illustrates them completely out of the realm of context the scenes were written in while also completely ignoring the game mechanics that allow for winning or losing.
In her analysis of a specific mission in the game Hitman: Absolution, Ms. Sarkeesian states:
“Players are meant to derive a perverse pleasure from desecrating the bodies of unsuspecting virtual female characters. It’s a rush streaming from a carefully concocted mix of sexual arousal connected to the act of controlling and punishing representations of female sexuality.” ~ Excerpt from Ms. Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series
First, doubleplusgood speak there, Anita.
Ms. Sarkeesian says this while playing through a segment of the game in a way that makes her linguistic gymnastics sound almost rational if you haven’t played the game. Let’s bullet the important details Ms. Sarkeesian leaves out for the sake of clarity.
- Hitman: Absolution is a stealth game not a first person shooter. Wits and intellect are required to safely navigate its levels, not bullets and wanton violence.
- Hitman: Absolution goes out of its way to not encourage reckless killing and mayhem. The game penalizes the player for killing anyone other than the intended target, this includes armed NPCs whose only fault in life is they’ve been programmed to protect your intended target by killing you the moment they become aware of you. Players are punished even further for killing unarmed innocent civilians.
- Only a small portion of this mission occurs in the strip club.
- There are two paths one can navigate to accomplish this particular mission. The easier one completely avoids the room the following girls Ms. Sarkeesian goes out of her way to abuse as an example are in.
- The more difficult route brings the player into the room with the conversing women Ms. Sarkeesian uses as the epitome of a gamer’s desire to objectify, control and punish women by consciously choosing to kill them and drag their bodies pointlessly around the room when she could have just sneaked past them. Have we mentioned Hitman: Absolution is a stealth game?
There are more examples of Ms. Sarkeesian’s leaps of logic in her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series that have been analyzed, dissected and rebutted by healthier minds than mine and for the sake of not reinventing the wheel, succinctness and clarity I will simply link to them at the end of today’s article.
NOT THE INTENT
Furthermore, much like my Writer’s Digest teacher, Ms. Sarkeesian purposely mischaracterizes time-tested plot devices and other socially innocuous writing tricks-of-the-trade wordsmiths use to motivate their characters and maligns them as tropes against women. She accuses protagonists and the gamers guiding them of misogyny for wanting to save the damsel in distress by suggesting the protagonist’s sole reasoning for doing so is out of some demented view that all women are weak and unable to fend for themselves.
It’s a rush of carefully concocted diuretic bullshit, is what it is.
For more detailed examinations of Ms. Sarkeesian’s pablum please consider viewing the following YouTube videos:
- Anita Sarkeesian- BUSTED! by Thunderf00t
- Damsel in Distress Part 1 & Part 2 by MrRepzion
- What is THE SARKEESIAN EFFECT? (Interview with Jordan Owen) by MundaneMatt
- Female Game Developer’s response to Tropes vs Women by Doll Divine Dress Up Games
- Feminist Frequency Debunked Series by dangerousanalysis
- More than a Damsel in a Dress: A Response by KiteTales
- Feminist Frequency and 21st Century Feminism by ThatCynicalCynicism
My immediate concern with the project was that she approached this topic with the intention of finding material that would support her preexisting conclusions rather than first examining the evidence and then making her case. ~ KiteTales (a female gamer on YouTube)
Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part 3 in which I will discuss the very human factors that are really in play here.
This article is longer than I would have liked. I’ve spent two days editing and I can’t whittle it down any further without eroding the point I’m trying to make. Thus I’ve broken it down into four parts to be published over the next four days. I would have spent longer editing it, but the suspension of Thunderf00t‘s Twitter account has betrayed a sense of urgency for me. Thunderf00t has been the most outspoken critic in all of this, along with fellow gamers like, MrRepzion, MundaneMatt, and many others, most of whom have put forward succinct and concise rebuttals to Ms. Sarkeesian’s flawed assertions.
We can’t treat this nuanced and complex issue in the world of gaming as simplistic and singular as Ms. Sarkeesian and her loyal fans are treating it. Ms. Sarkeesian can’t raise the accusation all gamers and developers are misogynistic card carrying members of the He-Man Women Haters Club and systematically cut off any possible avenues of debate.
Before I begin, for the record, I not only believe men and women to be absolute equals, I hold the opinion that in a majority of cases women are the stronger of the two sexes. In intellect, will, perseverance, empathy and love; it is the women in our lives that hold us together. I would never have made it this far without my loving wife who’s fortitude and grit has carried me on the many occasions my own conscience betrayed and failed me. Nor would I have come this far without the endearing support of my mother, for that matter.
Welcome to part one.
BEAR WITH ME, THIS IS RELATIVE
I participated in a Writer’s Digest course in my 20s. I was given a female teacher and for the most part she was pretty cool. Then there was this assignment to write a short story. While I can no longer remember all the details of the story I came up with, I do remember it dealt with a women involved in the sex trade. I clearly remember my teacher lambasting me somewhat on the premise that no one wanted to see a women portrayed as being weak. I was a little perplexed as I’d only sent the first few pages of the story and it was hardly finished.
When I chose the plot for my story I’d just read an article on the sex slave trade and was disgusted by it all. The younger me was more idealistic and carried a soapbox everywhere. I wanted to write about a women who fought back and kicked ass. As a student of writing and plot development I instinctively knew a character who starts off strong and ends strong is boring. Characters have to grow. The character had to start off in a position of weakness and maybe that’s what offended my teacher. However, my intent was never to portray all women as being weak. It was simply a writing mechanic I was using. It wasn’t like I was going to have a male character come in and save the day. My protagonist was going to accomplish this all on her oddyknocky, she had to, it’s a short story and there’s not much room for a whole lot of characters.
I became disparaged and never finished that course and even found myself questioning my own morals and worldview.
These days I realize that my WD instructor was more academic feminist activist than educator of written communication and storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I often let my feelings of contempt and disgust for the conservative right wing in this country jade and distort my objectivity. We all have beliefs we feel strongly about. So what does this have to do with GamerGate?
Unworldliness is simply not a crime.
Gamers come in all shapes and sizes. Adults, teenagers, kids. Then there’s males and females. Fat, skinny and athletic. Cool, clammy and douchey. Awkward and confident. I could go on, but I believe I’ve made my point.
Gaming for the most part brings out the best in people. I’ve never met a single person into RPGs who is a total asshole (I’m also wise enough to accept there is a little douche in everyone at times; males, females and myself included). Multiplayer games on the other hand are a whole new ball game. You’ll run across your fair share of douchebags of all shapes, sizes and yes, even sexes, in the multiplayer first person shooter scene. Competition has a horrible degenerative effect on people’s empathy and interpersonal skills. Even more so since corporations have infected society with their dog-eat-dog-world and win-at-any-cost mentality.
Some of those douchebags are professionals; trolls and griefers who are sadly mostly adult males. Others are simply kids and young adults with not enough years under their belts to know better and will often say and do very stupid things. Male or female, we were all young and dumb at one point in our lives. Unworldliness is simply not a crime. But that hasn’t stopped the gaming journos involved in #GamerGate and feminists like Anita Sarkeesian from using this very minute subset of gamers as the poster-children for all of us.
Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part 2 in which I will discuss the erroneous and unscrupulous methods Ms. Sarkeesian employs.
Gaming Journalism ~ One huge marketing nepotistic orgy for game developers.
GamerGate in a nutshell
- Eron Gjoni (a programmer) finds out the girl of his dreams, Zoe Quinn (a game developer), has been sleeping around on him.
- The jilted Mr. Gjoni writes a WordPress blog highlighting his ex-girlfriend’s exploits in excruciating detail.
- Upon further examination we find out the men Ms. Quinn has been courting are affluent insiders of the gaming industry and gaming “journalists.” Some were contributors to Ms. Quinn’s Patreon.
- Journalism in gaming can more accurately be described as marketing, hence the quotations.
- Gamers caught wind of this and rightfully voiced their objections to this obvious conflict of interest.
- Keep in mind the lack of objectivity in gaming “journalism” is something gamers have been aware of and complaining about for quite some time now.
- Some nefarious gamers wrongfully began attacking Ms. Quinn on a personal level.
- The unscrupulous gaming journos took this misstep by a few people in the gaming community and tried ramming the point home harder than Fox News running with debunked Obamacare horror stories. Using the words and actions of a few cretinous individuals on the notorious troll haven we call 4Chan as some sort of prime example of the mental state and “vile” behavior of all gamers to distract from the real issue of a serious lack of objectivity between the movers and shakers in the gaming industry and those that have chosen to report on them only served to make gamers that much angrier.
For that alone Ms. Quinn ranks high on my list of people who’ve actually contributed something of worth to society.
GamerGate is not about infidelity
Zoe Quinn created a contemplative text based game called Depression Quest, a game that examines the daily struggles people with depression suffer through in a well rounded and cerebral way in a probable vain attempt to convey that understanding to those among us who are fortunate enough to be born with stronger and far less anxiety ridden personalities. For that alone Ms. Quinn ranks high on my list of people who’ve actually contributed something of worth to society. And I could not stress more how much I simply do not care about how much sex Ms. Quinn has or even for what reasons. I of all people know that success is more about who you know than what you know and I sincerely do not fault Ms. Quinn in the least for doing what needs to be done to get a leg up in this world… Pun intended, but the sentiment is sincere.
GamerGate is about the death of gaming journalism
This is not about Ms. Quinn’s sex life. This is about the unscrupulous behavior and lack of integrity major gaming journalistic platforms out there practice as modus vivendi. The fact gaming journalism described the people to whom their journalistic efforts are purportedly targeted as being over and even dead says quite a bit about how this clique operates, who really pulls their strings, and who they are truly writing for.
It was just a matter of time before this contempt for their customers bled garishly into the marketing arm of the industry.
This award is meaningful because it comes from my fellow dealers in celluloid
Let’s look at the current state of marketing in the industry. The game Destiny was recently released. However, there were commercials stating the game had either won or been nominated for over 100 awards months before the game hit the shelves. Consider that for a moment; a game no one in Milton Friedman’s faux free market has played in its entirety is up for a bunch of awards and even won a couple of them. How is that possible? Who gave out the awards?
I’ve been saying this about the gaming industry for a long time now. It’s a sham. It’s all pomp and circumstance, marketing and shenanigans. It’s a bunch of people in the industry patting the backs of other people in the industry mostly for being mediocre facsimiles of each other. The whole industry from the top down is just silly.
Adding insult to injury, no other industry gets away with bashing, degrading and demoralizing its consumer base more than the gaming industry. The gaming industry is like that very small group of “cool” kids in school we all avoided. The ones who started a rumor about your sister being a whore after she turned down their prized quarterback’s sexual advances. It’s a clique and you’re gonna have to play their reindeer games if you want in. Given this decrepit attitude it was just a matter of time before this contempt for their customers bled garishly into the marketing arm of the industry.
How else can they make a buck?
Not that I necessarily find the fault resting solely on gaming journos. Hobby rags used to make at least some of their money off printed subscriptions, but now people can get all that news for free off the internet. These days all their revenue comes from corporate advertising and these days corporations are notorious fascists with serious control issues. At the same time, the established gaming journalists have done little to step up their game. So little, in fact, many blogs and YouTube gaming enthusiasts have more credibility and professionalism than anyone I’ve seen on IGN since the late 90s. To put it bluntly, much of their content is hardly worth paying for. Still, as a seasoned adult who has grown wiser over the years, I can see their side as well. Gaming journalists are as frustrated as the gamers they want to write for.
It’s up to the industry itself to enact the change.
Everything is relevant
How do we change this? We can’t. It’s embedded in the corporate culture of our society. It’s not just gaming. When libertarians suggest the free market will sort itself out, they are implying the consumer will make the ultimate decision of whether a company succeeds or fails and taken at face value it almost makes sense. Almost. Thanks to Wall $t the consumer no longer influences corporate decisions (I’m not so sure the consumer ever did anymore). The stockholder does. The gaming industry is a prime example of this.
Sure, small companies need to worry about their fan base; word of mouth is the most efficient point of sale for them. But larger companies like Electronic Arts are not as affected by the ebbs and flows of consumer discontent. They are large enough to weather the storm and wait out the internet “whine and bitch” fest releasing a broken game like Battlefield 4 creates. The thing about the free market is it only truly works when the consumer has choice and all of you out there would be hard pressed to come up with a list of developers the big wigs like EA don’t have a hand in.
Money for nothing
Could gaming journalists be acting more responsibly and ethically? Yes. Will they? No. Unscrupulous money is too easy to make and I fear it’s the only money they are being offered lately. It’s up to the industry itself to enact the change. It’s up to the big guys like Electronic Arts, a company I once had a vast amount of respect for, to realize that a little less profit for their investors and a little more love for their customers is best for the long game. And the reason gamers (consumers) become disgruntled is because of the corporation’s actions not because of some misguided sense of entitlement on the gamers part. The game companies themselves must act with restraint and not exact unethical and undue force to influence the reviews of their products by gaming journalists. The gaming journalists must also endeavor to be completely transparent.
Electronic Arts and DICE showed this desire to be more transparent and forthcoming somewhat when they lamely admitted the release of BF4 was less than spectacular. However, the sequence of events leading to this admission only solidifies my point regarding the free market. EA only did this after stockholders threatened to sue unless they addressed the uproar. The key word here being addressed. Stockholders weren’t necessarily worried about the game being fixed (a majority of them don’t play games, how could they possibly know if one is actually broken), their concern was all the negative press the game was garnering and the adverse effect it could have on the future of the franchise and their dividends. Dividends being the key word here. The press—for its part—was simply jumping on the bandwagon of gamer discontent to garner traffic to their respective sites (up until then they had been praising the game for its innovations). All the whinging and bitching from consumers who had received a severely broken product in exchange for heaping amounts of cash were largely ignored and in many cases demonized. And while I admire and respect the steps EA & DICE have taken of late to fix BF4 and be more forthright with the player base, nothing within the industry has truly changed. By their own ToS, these corporate behemoths are not required to fix anything after it’s been sold, and gaming journalists will only report on things they are allowed to.
An independent double edged sword
I suppose if you want honest reviews of games you could turn to independent YouTubers out there. And folks, if you find one you like, subscribing to him or her is a double edged sword because it’s just a matter of time before that subscriber count gets large enough for the gaming big wigs out there to take notice and start courting the channel. So no, gaming enthusiasts and their YouTube channels will not be our saviors.
None of this will change until a corporation’s (and people’s) id evolves into something more than the sole pursuit of profit. That may only happen when the gullible masses stop buying their bullshit.