When did it stop being about the games?

5 min read
34

Just stop

There have been a lot of controversies this week. We have avoided touching upon them too much – they really have little to nothing to do with gaming. However, it has all come to a head and it’s about time we addressed what’s going on.

As a giant caveat, I’d like to say that we don’t personally know any of the people in question in this scenario. As a result, it’s hard to gauge what’s actually going on amid all the shouting on social media and in a variety of articles. So, as far as I can understand, here’s what happened in a nutshell:

  1. The Zoe Quinn scandal broke, making a woman’s private life become a public debate about ethics and full disclosure in gaming journalism
  2. Anita Sarkeesian released her latest installment of Tropes vs Women, prompting ridiculous backlash and eventually such violent threats that she and her family had to be relocated for safety reasons
  3. Both of these issues were exacerbated by the Social Justice Warrior (SJW) and Male Rights Activists (MRA) of the internet.

There are so many things wrong with this whole situation, but I’m only interested in raising one thing – it’s supposed to be about the games.

Yes, ethical issues are tricky and important. Journalistic practices are being questioned, not just in gaming but in all facets of reporting – just look at what’s happening in Ferguson. It’s important for journalists to be open and transparent, something that we at lazygamer.net strive for as well. However, sometimes we are still accused of being moneyhats simply because we accept review copies of games or have advertising for certain titles. Just to be clear, lazygamer.net only hires people with integrity (and also, Darryn) – people who have opinions and beliefs that they adhere to, who will not sell themselves in a bid to ingratiate themselves with a publisher or brand. We have no problem telling you that something is excellent or rubbish depending on our views, regardless of who is paying the bills.

While we would hope that this would be fairly common sense, according to many, gaming sites appear to be “on the take” and there is a view that games journalism is completely corrupt. Just check out this awesome flow chart we’ve been laughing at this week:

Corrupt games journo

In reality, yes – we do get free games. However, this is like saying that miners get free explosives or programmers get free computers – the games are necessary for us to do our jobs as reviewers. If we had to buy every game we reviewed with our own money, you’d only get reviews weeks after launch, and only for games that we as individuals were excited for. It’s not a “perk” to get a review game, as I can certainly attest considering how bad my current game for review is.

We do this job because we love games. Each and every one of us loves to play games – we’ve all played for years, and will continue to play for the rest of our lives. We still get excited for new releases and bummed out when games we wanted turn out to be crap. We are very lucky to do something we love as a job, but it’s still both those things – we love games and we do a job.

While I think it’s important to have these discussions about ethics and even feminism in games, I also think it’s equally important to remember that the only reason people care so much about all this is because they enjoy gaming. Every industry is struggling to reconcile with ethical concerns, or depictions of women – the internet is an excellent way for people to voice their views and spread ideas, whether for good or bad. I keep reading articles about women in the workplace, or changes to feminism in the past 10 years, or how the media should/shouldn’t show women/men being good or bad at life. It’s great that people are aware of these things, and will hopefully prevent us from being sloppy – in the same way that I avoid using clichés or expressions when I write because they are sloppy short hand for things that would better said more explicitly, developers should avoid using sexist clichés to make characters or environments seem gritty or evil. Through awareness, we should see an improvement in the level of games produced – not thanks to bowing to internet rage, but thanks to going deeper into their creativity.

In the end, I want to be excited about games. I want to be a proud gamer. And I want to continue to have fun in this industry. However, I don’t want to be lumped together with raving lunatics on the web, or whiners, or people who are so worried about their own agendas that they forget about the rest. Games are art – they will entertain, enthrall and maybe offend us. They should make us lose ourselves, and maybe come out the other side with a new perspective or at least an interesting story to tell. And if all we want is to lose ourselves in a game about killing all the things for a few hours, we shouldn’t be made to feel bad about that.

As much as I like the new term “joystick jockey”, I still want to call myself a gamer. I’m proud to be a gamer. Proud to be a woman. Proud to have opinions that some of you might love or hate. Can we go back to playing games now and stop threatening and abusing each other?

Last Updated: August 29, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • L337J1MB0B

    I didn’t realize that miners/programmers had to objectively critique their explosives/computers as their job description.. analogy makes no sense.

    • Super Smash Umar

      The analogy is used to highlight that those professions receives those things as tools to actually do their job

      • Jonah Cash

        Stop being logical…. You make no sense 🙂

    • A sports commentator does not pay to see the game. He/she however has to comment on it. There you go.

      • L337J1MB0B

        Better analogy.

    • Well we don’t get free computers, dictaphones or cameras to do our job so should we start whining about that online as well..

      • Hammersteyn

        The only thing you do get for free is abuse and court summons 😛

  • Jonah Cash

    Well put!! Everyone should just enjoy gaming, and if you don’t then stop and leave it to us who still do!!

    • Hammersteyn

      Every year I seem to enjoy it less and less though

      • Guild

        I would say it’s an age thing but no. You just need some Destiny 😛

        • Hammersteyn

          It’s me not conforming to the industry.

          • Jonah Cash

            I hear you, but the industry will change again!! Also I don’t care about all this DLC and extra fluff, as long as the game I bought has a start, middle and end with a good story and decent gameplay the I am happy… Take The Last of Us, I don’t need the Ellie part where she is alone. The game ended well enough for me!!

  • L337J1MB0B

    I’m actually totally fine with journalists getting free review copies of games. I wouldn’t assume it means they are biased. The part of games journalism which I don’t like is the big events, like E3 where journos go and get wowed and everything is AMAZING. Always feels like an exaggerated opinion vs a carefully assessed one.

    • That’s because E3 and Gamescom are AMAZING, it’s a spectacle of wonderful games and geeky-ness.. and should be appreciated for what it is. But don’t think for one second that it has an effect on the integrity of most of the SA press we send, many have come back with lackluster response on games that are showcased no matter how many fireworks were at the end of the show.

      Perception is everything, and I’ll say this for most of our press, they’re able to see beyond the curtain and ask the right questions to get you the important answers.

      • L337J1MB0B

        Fair point, and I understand that it is a natural reaction as a gamer to be impressed by these big events. Also not specifically talking about local press.. it is just a general feeling I get from all journalists from these events. Just wish they could all reign in the excitement a bit so that we don’t get over hyped and then ultimately disappointed.

  • Sir Rants A Lot: On Pandora

    Woah woah woah wait what???? She had to be relocated????? That’s it. I ALT+F4. Ragequit.

    If being labeled as a gamer is to be the kind that causes this kind of crap then I am out.

    *This crap is what really gets my blood boiling. A verbal few make everyone look bad

    • Sk3tz0

      Ctrl + Alt + Del.. the More prominent Ragequit Button.. 😛

  • Sk3tz0

    Fuck it.. i’m out. Between this kak and the shit people post on a youtube comments. I’m rooting for Ebola to become top of the food chain soon enough.

  • Ross Woofels Mason

    I honestly stopped calling myself a gamer a long time ago. “Gamer” culture what ever you want to call it went south a long time ago.

    These days I am just some guy that likes playing video games. Give no craps about pc master race and console wars, what the reviewers say or how much money guys make on youtube. End of the day I just want to play some damn video games.

    As for the reviewers getting free games, well duh? How the hell are they supposed to reviews of games if they don’t have them? All we would be getting then is reviews of games people actually like.

    Someone wants a journalist to review a car, they give them a car for a week they do not expect that person to buy the car.

  • Fabiano Morais

    I like games and I like even more to decide for myself what’s sexist and what’s not and if I should care. All the rest is background noise from people with way too much free time on their hands.

    • Fabiano Morais

      Having said that, now that I’ve googled the Zoe Quinn scandal, I’m more convinced that it has nothing to do with games and is from begining to end a misogynistic public shaming by pathetic and insecure men. I frankly barely see the relation to games, as she could be anything and unfortunately still be subject to this kind of prejudice. She just happened to be a gaming journalist. Sometimes I wonder if the younger generation is one of the more narrow-minded and conservative ever, in fact.

      • J_Joestar

        i thought she was a developer, not a journalist?

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Gamer till I die – all the superfluous nonsense featuring overbearing social justice warriors, undersexed beta-male white knights, Call of duty fans, xboned xbots, feminazi male gamer hating mysandrists, Sony-hating racists and insipid Male Rights groups matters very little.

    I do take offence to the fact that for some reason, whatever ill is occurring in the world, all of that is suddenly thrust onto gamers. It’s almost as if the only racist, sexist, homophobe is the “gamer”. That’s BS, and I take offence to that.

    Lumping a diverse group of enthusiasts, fans, professionals and causals and then smearing them all as “the greatest evil to have ever happened to the free world” just makes my balls hurt.

    • HvR – 2 days

      It isn’t just gamers, every second bored teet and his mother has decided to become activists and activists needs an enemy (usually the people that is different to me):
      I’ll bet that en-mass gamers, firearm owners, atheists, religious people, smokers, meat eaters, hunters, homosexual, conservative, porn, liberals has sometime this week the blame for all social ills in society.

      What I really can not understand is the need for people’s to dictate what goes on in other people’s personal lives.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        That’s what pisses me off about all of this. The more I read about it, the less this seems to be about equality (be it between genders, sexes or even between various races), but rather an obscene soapbox opera – gone horribly wrong. This isn’t about achieving equality but rather to generate as much buzz and traffic. Earlier today, I was reading Leigh Alexander’s opinion piece and I just sat back and thought, “where is this going?”. How exactly has “gamer” become a slur? More importantly, why the fuck would it even be a slur?

        From the Zoe Quinn saga, to Phil Fish White Knight doxing saga, to Kotaku and Polygon ACTUALLY revisiting their ethics clauses (A HUGE PIECE OF NEWS), and now Anita getting obscene threats, you can’t help but wonder what does this have to do with gaming – or even being a gamer?

  • Ryanza

    You have to look at the effect media has on an audience. I’m not going to go into it because we all should know it by now. Lazygamer says that Call of Duty is the best experience ever and people go buy the game and find out it’s nothing more than all the shit Call of Duty games you played before.

    Then you have to understand the PC gaming market. There is no second hand market. You can’t sell your games. Once you bought the game, it’s over, they won. So now PC gamers can’t just buy games to test them out to see if they might like it. PC gamers relay on gaming media to see if the game is worth your money. So if media is getting paid to highlight certain games and speak about how great they are, just to get you to buy the games.

    But you can’t blame Lazygamer for that stupid GTA article. They just reporting what’s out there. And if only trailers and press releases are out there. They better make sure that the reviews are done properly and fair. For the most part Lazygamer’s reviews are fair, it’s just those big Call of Duty AAA type of games where the review score raises an eye.

    CD Projekt RED’s games are DRM free, whereby allowing gamers to test out the games. CD Projekt RED called a press conference and announced the pre-orders for the game. CD Projekt RED showed off 40 minutes of gameplay. They handled the media quite well. They got people excited for the game and they got people wanting to buy the game.
    The Witcher 3 might not be the reinvention of the sandbox wheel but if Lazygamer gives The Witcher 3, for example, 8 out of 10, where Call of Duty Ghosts stands with a 8.3 and a 9 for gameplay, then you might find that something is up with gaming media.
    BTW no less than 9.5 for The Witcher 3.

    I don’t want to go into the Zoe Quinn issue cause that’s the real issue concerning the gaming media. Lazygamer wants to play it off as free review copies are the issue when it’s not. IDK I like Lazygamer, don’t really bother with the other gaming news sites. But some articles do come across as a sales pitch but that doesn’t have an effect on me.

    And lets not start on how bad the comment sections are with it’s, Don’t Support DRM and ect.

    • Guest

      I don’t agree with you on much of what you post, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from on this

    • Brady miaau

      Ok, very droll, the last bit, great. Thanks, Ryanza

  • Sk3tz0

    As Holden Mcneil said: “The Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another.” I say Some stupid people take it too far.. Internet Mentality is like friend who gets pissed and hurts himself at a party. he is your best mate but by the time he Pukes on the cat and tries to molest the Dog. U feel Ashamed to know him.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Anyway, just want to say, good article Zoe!

  • Sageville

    Nice article.

    I suppose gaming journalism isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be… now I’m sad.

    BTW, I’m still waiting for my free computer…lol

  • Brady miaau

    Does there have to be a winner and a loser for everything?

    I do not agree with some of Anita’s comments. Ok, I do not agree with her basic assumptions. But she still makes some points I listen to. And I would defend her right to have ALL her viewpoints, even the ones I do not agree with. But I have learnt that this attitude is simply not shared by most people. If you do not agree with me, it must be my mission to correct you and show you the right way, which, by happy co-incidence, is my way. Because I am the font of all that is right and proper. Bull.

    How many times have all of us (well, those of us that look inward from time to time) looked back at something we were so sure about, with new eyes, new viewpoints and changed our minds? Perhaps if we took the long view in the heat of the moment. Naive, I know.

    and Ms Hawkins, great article, good read. I especially liked the “flowchart”. no little diamonds or anything, just process into process, inevitably leading toward “corruption”

    • HvR – 2 days

      +1000000000 yes

      People say they want live in a democratic and free society but every time somebody with a differing moral or belief system pops they are the devil that needs to be destroyed. If you do feel strongly about something engage that person in debate, but most people even most journalists and especially in the US just revert to name calling and comparing the other guy with Nazi/Hitler.

  • HvR – 2 days

    Lazygamer should consider ditching the point system.

    To the guys complaining game A always getting 7+ or 8+. A review isn’t a point out of 10 it is an article describing a game on graphics, sound, visual creativity, story/character creativity and single and multiplayer player experience.

    Lazygamer does this very well, I can read the article and immediately know if this game is for me or or more importantly if this game will fit in with my current game playing schedule. CoD and BF (except 4) will always get 8+ because they always perform excellent 8 out of 10 categories, if you bother to read the article there will be criticisms (SP is terrible and only 30 min, dog is overrated, levelution is a stupid name and gets bland after 5 occurrences).

    And except in rare occasion do not take the comment section seriously. It is light hearted FUN banter, that is half the reason I keep coming back to Lazygamer. Imagine how bland this site would be if Pieter Kruger didn’t come up for the Xbox One or if the Admiral played PS games. OMG we would be talking about Rince’s new shade of red or eyeliner tips from JJ. And I miss Foxhound.

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