Gaming legitimacy – The battle of Us vs Us

6 min read
138

Credibility. Respect. Legitimacy. Call it whatever you’d like, but it seems gaming is constantly defending the label. Can you consider gaming an art form? Do violent games create violent kids? Is gaming just for anti-social people? Is eSports really a viable career?

This constant barrage has often been from those outside of this industry, looking in. A strong defence can surely be made that gaming has withstood external scrutiny, in many regards, with flying colours.

The glare from within

For many reasons that won’t be discussed now, gaming culture has often had a “Them vs. Us” mentality when it comes to interacting with the rest of the world. A major factor in that is due, right or wrong, to perceived attacks from mainstream media outlets and their audiences.

An ill-informed mainstream journalist writes a hit piece on some aspect of gaming, exposing their little to no understanding of the context around issues in gaming and it leads to mainstream audiences reaffirming already biased, ignorant views on the gaming world. We’ve all see in before.

Nobody likes to be attacked, least of all gamers, yet that’s been at the center of the latest drama to envelope the gaming world. The latest installment of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, has recently come out with the arrival of Nintendo’s Switch and the overwhelming majority have been singing its praises to anyone that would listen.

Glowing reviews have been heaped on its throne and all was well in the Nintendo universe. Until Jim Sterling decided to give the game a 7/10. The backlash was swift and merciless and completely over the top. Some went as far as to DDoS his website. (Source)

With Mass Effect: Andromeda having just come out and with so many holding high expectations for the game, views are already polarised following less than pleasant character animations and dialogue. Although it must be said, arguments around the game have not reached anywhere near the level of Jim Sterling’s Zelda review.

In response to the Sterling/Zelda drama, the following tweet resurfaced:

My initial response to the tweet was dismissive. Typically empty rhetoric. Gaming didn’t need to fight for legitimacy as an art form and if people were too slow to realise that it was, well then so be it. However, Danny raised an interesting point as we debated the validity of the aforementioned tweet:

The debate around gaming’s claim to legitimacy in whatever form has always been with the notion that it was about convincing those outside the gaming world of its credibility. But what if the scrutiny we need to face up to isn’t from outside but rather within. What if the debate isn’t a “Them vs. Us” but rather an “Us vs. Us” debate?

Aggression with a side of critique

If you’ve ever written an unpopular piece on gaming, be it a review or opinion piece, you’ve most likely experienced what Sterling has. Perhaps not to those extremes, but you’ve at least experienced severe backlash in some way, shape or form.

This kind of aggression is not exclusive to gaming culture, it is a phenomenon that occurs in all industries due to the accessibility and platforms that the internet provides. From music to film to art, many are lambasted by online mobs for perceived injustices. However, none of these industries have undergone the growing pains that gaming has in recent years.

Whilst gaming has been around since before I was born, it is only in recent years that it has stopped being perceived by the mainstream public as just a time waster but a powerful medium for storytelling; That gaming can be more than just a button mashing, action packed hobby. Looking at eSports, the rise to legitimacy has been even more exponential as milestones are being achieved every year in a variety of competitive titles.

So yes, to the outside world gaming has begun to back up its claim to legitimacy with concrete numbers and titles that have shown the potential of gaming. But how much has gaming changed when you look at it within? As more and more companies rush in to get a piece of this digital pie, how welcoming and nurturing has the industry been for the creators of everything that we love?

To this day, game reviewers are still attacked with such unnecessary vitriol. A reviewer will critique one aspect of a game and those that disagree will take it as a personal affront, resulting in completely over the top aggression and little to no actual critique for the reviewer to grow from.

You often hear of gaming journalists leaving the scene entirely to pursue other prospects and many cite the mental fortitude required to be involved in the gaming scene as a reason for leaving. The same line of thinking comes up when pro players explain reasons for leaving the scene or mitigating the amount of time they spend interacting with the community.

Diving into the world of being a game dev is something even more arduous. You pour days, months, years of your life into a project, only to find people sending you death threats and absolutely awful comments over a game. Disliking a game is perfectly fine, but it never justifies attacking someone personally over it.

Us v Us?

Gaming has come such a long way and is still growing so quickly. But massive growth and incredible milestones shouldn’t detract from the fact that none of it would be possible without the creators of content. That spans from the YouTubers to the journalists to the game developers themselves.

Of course, content creators wouldn’t be anywhere without the community either. It’s a mutual relationship that helps to propel gaming to dizzying heights. So why do something that harms that wonderful symbiosis?

This is not to say that content creators should be excluded from criticism. Everyone needs criticism as it allows for in-depth discussions and helps people to grown and learn from one another. However, all out aggression and insults are not criticism. Criticism can be given without resorting to personal attacks or accompanied with death threats

The battle of legitimacy in the eyes of mainstream audiences may be shifting in our favour, but I think a lot of work needs to be done in creating legitimacy in our own scene. Last night I met a 19 year old who wants to get into game design and I shudder to think of what she’ll have to endure if nothing changes now. Credibility. Respect. Legitimacy. Call it whatever you’d like, but it seems the term is a precarious one when it comes to Us vs. Us.

Like esports?
Check out our esports portal powered by ASUS

Last Updated: March 20, 2017

Want more stuff like this?

Get the best stories straight into your inbox daily!

Don’t worry we don’t spam

Glenn Kisela

I've always loved video games as well as writing, so mixing the two together was inevitable. When I'm not doing that, I do photography and design.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Repeat after me: It’s okay if someone doesn’t like a game as much as you do, or doesn’t even like it at all.

    • Unless it is Mass Effect then you are stupid and I shall Ddos you and then swat you and then come to your house and beat you up!

      When I get around to doing so because I am too lazy to do it. 😛

  • konfab

    We are seeing special snowflakes on all three sides of the argument (the creator, the critique and the community). This is because society is raising kids in a place where everyone gets a participation award as they don’t want the kid who does nothing in school to feel bad about their non-achievement.

    There are a few very simple things that all three parties can adopt:
    1) Take responsibility for your work. If people call out errors/bias/bugs in the stuff you write, own up to it instead of descending to ad-hominem and denying reality,
    2) Realise that the industry is a free market and you are free not to cater to a certain group/ play a certain game/read a person’s critique. That goes for other people as well. They are free to like things you don’t like.
    3) Look for the humor and realise that real life has enough serious problems in it already to get angry about virtual ones.

    As for your future game designer, there are two words that the gaming community cares about: git gud.

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      <3 Truth has been spoken!

    • BakedBagel

      “Look for the humor and realise that real life has enough serious problems in it already to get angry about virtual ones.”

      Jesus more people need to read that single point.

      • Captain JJ

        You think this is a mthfkn joke? 😛

        • BakedBagel

          EVERYTHING YOU CONSUME IS POLITICAL

          INCLUDING THIS COMMENT
          EVEN THE COFFEE YOU DRANK THIS MORNING

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Konfab is bringing tears to my eyes… when did he become so wise?

    • Captain JJ
  • Jim can take it. He is Jim f*cking Sterling son!

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      Death to Jim Sterling! Long Live Banana Jim!

      • xD

        • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

          Ask yourself… what would Brian Boitano do?

          • Lu

            He’d make a plan and he’d follow through. That’s what Brian Boitano’d do.

  • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

    Without war there would be no progress. War made us what we are today. Let the battle lines be drawn: Blood for the Blood God, Bones for the Bone Throne!

    http://www.justgamesrochester.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Warhammer-pic.jpg

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      The glorious Emperor shows no mercy towards Chaos filth.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        We will fight on the glorious battlefield called the internet. Children will sing of the legends of the battle of the Great Banana and the Great Alien! Wenches will weep! And men will wish they were us! Men like Rincey!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          That mutant would do well to learn from his betters!

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Ugh! he is an abomination. We should set him on fire!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            A worthy peace offering that’ll forge a long-lasting friendship!

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            You can have my skull axe! Together, we will rid this world of the ginger-haired menace.

          • Member Berry Bob

            Heresy! The mutant won’t have a chance to learn anything other than the experience of being cleansed with the Emperor’s holy flame.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            A tool serves its purpose, and is then discarded.

          • Member Berry Bob

            But… flamers can be reloaded.

          • Captain JJ

            We’ve all been through tough brakeups Trevor.

          • Lu

            A burn more severe than the flames of the Warp!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            No we haven’t. #foreverSP 😀

      • Captain JJ

        FOR CHAOS!

    • Member Berry Bob

      There have been many days (especially the ones in gridlocked traffic) where I wish that the Emperor’s Angels of Death would descend to cleanse the world of stupidity.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        A pox on thee… Khorne guides my arrows! Muahahahahaha!

        • Member Berry Bob

          Khorne can guide all the arrows he wants. The Emperor blesses my bolter 🙂

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Daaayyyeeemmmmm!!!!!

  • Let’s not forget for a moment that games cost money, and no matter how respectable or credible or even artful gaming becomes, it will always be a product that is sold to us. Indie devs may be doing it for the art, but ultimately they put a pricetag on that art and so there is an expectation of quality, and repercussions if inferred quality is not satisfied in the eyes of the consumer.

    People do take it too far, sometimes. The likes of the Zelda 7/10 outrage and that poor ex-BioWare employee are good examples of this, but it’s also nice to see how people of different political standpoints come together to condemn these actions – my Twitter (containing all creeds) has come together to condemn both of the examples mentioned.

    I think there’s a small silver lining in that just like the expanded society we live in, there will always be people who threaten the way of life (criminals, etc) and in the absence of gaming police we gamers will join hands and set aside our differences to universally condemn these actions, and that is fucking awesome in my book.

    That said, as far as people with chips on their shoulder you picked a mighty chipped person to debate with. 😛

    • That is a big point people are missing. This is pricey stuff that we are addicted to. If you go to a fish restaurant and order the fish of the day and they bring you a plate of fish fingers and oven bake chips for R100. You are not going to say “it was for the outing”, you are going to go make a fire, and a big one at that.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Aye. and for R1000, I expect my games to have decent animation, not some crummy crap scrapped out of someone’s ass crack! (woah, I apologise for the imagery…. :O)

        • Captain JJ

          For R1000 it should be a collector’s edition.

          • Oh it’s going to go down in history alright xD

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            For R1000 it should come with a Femme Shep statue, and a comfortable padded boob mouse pad.

        • miaau

          comments do have and edit function, you know

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            But then, you’d never get to read my awesome comments… raw and unedited!!!

      • Member Berry Bob

        You have the right to complain and to get a refund if you aren’t satisfied with a product. You certainly don’t have the right to threaten, attack or harass the designer, developer or establishment.

        • I agree with you. Singling out an individual and attacking him/her is way out of line. The whole group (aka the company) needs to take the criticism.

          On a little side note. If you bought For Honor through uPlay and tried to refund it you get a nice email declining the refund and stating that Ubisoft can not refund copies of games sold even under 2 hours of gameplay.

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            That’s messed up! :/

          • Here is a little copy pasta of said email.

            “Unfortunately, Ubisoft does not offer refunds on any products downloaded through the Uplay PC client. This includes PC Digital Downloads and any downloadable merchandise currently available. Ubisoft reserves the right, however, to offer refunds under exceptional circumstances at its sole discretion. Saying this, all sales on PC digital content are final. Video games, computer games, and merchandise may NOT be returned if opened, unsealed, washed, worn, or non-defective. Your game has been activated and accessed, meaning there are play logs, therefore it got already merged with your account, meaning that its activation key has been fused into your account.”

          • BakedBagel

            “FUSED”

            ITS BEEN FUSED. NO TURNING BACK NOW FRIEND.

          • Captain JJ

            Do not pass go, do not collect R200

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Unbelievable…. and utterly unacceptable! This is exactly the sort of thing the gaming media should be reporting on – instead they’re too busy virtue signalling and protecting their corporate overmasters.

          • Member Berry Bob

            That’s why Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k are way better worlds to live in. Even if it’s briefly.

          • Captain JJ

            I don’t know. I’ve got mixed feelings about the whole refunds thing. Of course you should be able to get a refund….BUT….These days you should also know that new releases from “AAA” publishers are bound to be shit, but people still pre-order. Don’t hate me Otto 😛

          • That’s not an email directed at one of my purchases. You know full well I don’t touch filth that comes from Ubisoft xD

          • Captain JJ

            Hehe. I know, just didn’t want to make it sound like I was singling you out. I mean, I do sometimes, but that’s different. 😀

          • I don’t trigger easily. Only when it comes to Ubisoft and Whiskey will I go balls to the wall xD

          • Captain JJ

            “whiskey”

          • It’s very important so I have to capitalize the “W”

          • Captain JJ

            XD

          • Member Berry Bob

            Some would say it’s more important to have your whisky without the “e”. 😀

          • Incoming Scott and Irish war!

          • Captain JJ

            Some say it needs to be made with corn instead…

          • I don’t care. As long as people know SOCO is the best whiskey/whisky

          • Captain JJ

            Oh my glob, it’s a liqueur! XD

          • *cracks knuckles*

            It’s on…

          • miaau

            On the dustbin, outside, where it belongs? Sure I will buy that.

          • Then I will drink outside. Where the good stuff is 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Well they can’t drink their wine outside, fresh air will destroy the flavour.

          • Captain JJ
          • Calling Sabrina right now to neuter you…

          • Captain JJ
          • miaau

            Yes, yes it is.

            Just like Jack Daniels…..

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            What do you know? You’re an uncouth wine drinker.

          • Captain JJ

            Wine is too sophisticated for your brandy ass! 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I’m a simple man with simple tastes. I too wish my tipple of choice came in a box or plastic bag.

          • Captain JJ
          • Member Berry Bob

            And what, may I ask, is wrong with wine?

          • Captain JJ

            ALLIES!

          • Member Berry Bob

            Partly. I drink may forms of alcohol. Wine, beer, rum and gin. Why only pick one form of this great stuff? 🙂

          • I do as well… whatever is left in the cupboard when visiting my parents xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            It’s glorified vinegar that people have fooled themselves into drinking under the mistaken belief that it has a pleasant taste.

          • miaau

            Like beer. When I get told “It is an acquired taste”, I tend to look elsewhere, right?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I tried to acquire the taste of both, and after a concerted effort gave up.

          • Member Berry Bob

            Wine is like the ending of ME3 – It comes in 3 different colours and gets better with age.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I can’t figure out if you’re agreeing with me or not. Your words say no but your example says yes.

          • It’s his facial expressions. You can’t read them.

          • Member Berry Bob

            Seeing as you’re a brandy man you’ll appreciate this one too. You can add coke to red wine and make it better – just like your brandy. 😛

          • Captain JJ

            Well, this just went completely downhill.

          • Member Berry Bob

            It’s all fun and games until someone brings out the tequila. Then it goes downhill.

          • Captain JJ

            Yea. I don’t drink that anymore XD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Haha – I told a disturbing tale of katembas the other day. My brother & his friend made them using 2001 KWV Pinotage.

          • Member Berry Bob

            NOOOOOOO! Why!? That’s like mixing 20 year old brandy with coke. Use the cheap stuff dammit.

          • Hori shiiiit… this guy is dangerous

            http://i.imgur.com/9WAMtFq.gif

          • Captain JJ

            You heathen!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            With a hint of citrus and vanilla.

          • Captain JJ

            XD

          • Member Berry Bob

            Nah, I’m just messing with you. I’m not a whisky/whiskey drinker.

          • Captain JJ

            I agree. Two whisky’s on hand at all times 😛

          • Same xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Let them fight, while we sip our glorious American Whiskey.

          • miaau

            Yeah, but no.

            That is not the same class of drink

          • Captain JJ

            Bourbon is the Burger King of whiskeys…..and that’s no necessarily a bad thing XD

          • miaau

            Bourbon is not whiskey…

            Scotch is.

          • Captain JJ

            Technically it is. But I must agree with you that they’re not comparable. 🙂

          • miaau

            bourbon is made from corn, Scotch Whiskey from Barley.

            Now, which came first?

            Also, Bourbon is sweet, being distilled through sugar

          • Captain JJ

            Yes, still classified as whiskey though, for some odd reason.

          • miaau

            Whisky. And it is a marketing term, in my opinon, not a classification.

          • Captain JJ

            The Americans spell it Whiskey though, not whisky. http://www.jackdaniels.com/en-us/our-story

          • Captain JJ

            Hehe

          • miaau

            No, no they should not.

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Caveat emptor? Perhaps, but not allowing buyers the option of a refund is pretty shady if you ask me. Fortunately, I don’t buy through Uplay or Origin, and probably never will.

            And there lies the solution: Both Steam and GOG allow for refunds, so just don’t use Uplay or Origin.

          • Captain JJ

            Origin does too, but Origin is EA, so yea, stay the hell away.

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            So they’re finally offering refunds? Good! As I said, I don’t use Origin and never will, but such is the power of the consumer. If Ubisoft wants to be a dick, just starve them of sales.

          • Captain JJ

            Until I can buy a Ubi game on Steam without needing to use BOTH clients, Ubi can suck it.

          • Steam is love, Steam is life

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Amen brother! Steam for the Steam god! Money to the Gaben!

          • Member Berry Bob

            Good job Uplay. Luckily For Honor wasn’t big on my list.

            I’m fine with people complaining/whining etc. The only thing I have an issue with is the manner in which people do it these days. It’s as if somehow your opinion matters more than everyone else’s. As if the world owes you something. I hate that mentality.

  • Captain JJ

    As a gamer, I see games (some of them) as art. Whether the outside world agrees or not doesn’t matter to me. Just like I think Rugby and Soccer is boring and stupid, and so people who are fans of the sport will think otherwise. Why should you fight for others to appreciate what you do?

  • Magoo

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e316e74d005984355192518d7cef617a6d36964084f65e9e188e89962b6d318d.jpg

    The people of the internet are like people in a reality show. They never admit to their over-reactant bias. But they never dismiss it. Coupled with the ages/immaturity of the majority of community contributors, the anonymity or freedom from consequence, the circulation of big money, the shady and influential conglomerates like G2A and EA.

    Not to mention the extreme backlash that anything gets if it isn’t 100% fair and equally in-offensive towards everyone(‘s opinion).

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      That’s why I love the internet! It’s the wild west! I hope it remains free and dangerous!

    • Captain JJ
  • Deceased

    Now this was a masterpiece Glenn 🙂

    I find myself wondering though – why the hell do gamers ( or consumers of software in general ) feel so entitled?
    When you pay for the software – you’re actually ONLY PAYING FOR THE LICENSE TO USE IT – you don’t own jack shit O.o

    Though, I have to say Glenn, you articulated perfectly well that we ( humans in general ) are rather simple-minded animals that still have a very long way to go 😐

  • There is one MAJOR point here.

    Anonymity. People go absolutely ballistic behind a screen name or twitter handle that they can just dump and move on if the hate gets a bit too much. That’s why keyboard warriors and trolls do what they do because there is no actual backlash other than someone trying to fight them with words. Words can be brushed off. New accounts can be made. And so the vitriol keeps churning.

    If there was any sort of accountability and laws regarding online interactions are implemented properly (a dream I know, but it suits my point), there would be a lot less issues then as these trolls, hate-spewers and the like would be accountable for their actions and statements in terms of breaking laws. That lady from Bioware could open cases of verbal assault. This argument could then be that the words were not actually said by word of mouth, but the counter would be that it takes a hell of a lot longer to type something out than say it, so whether typed out or spoken the intent and message behind the words is the same, if not more so implied in a typed message as you would need to be doubly committed to typing it all out.

    I know it’s a perfect world scenario, but as long as people online are protected by their anonymity, nothing is going to change. Real change only happens when there is a gain to be made or a severe penalty is earned if no change is made.

Check Also

Far Cry 5’s antagonist Joseph is all about freedom, faith and firearms

Far Cry 3 really got the ball rolling with the introduction of antagonists such as Vaas an…