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Mainstream media and pushing false narratives in gaming

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City Press recently published an article discussing Overwatch and its esports scene. With the context that the intended audience would know very little about gaming, it started well enough. The author highlighted the praise Blizzard’s crown jewel has received regarding its diverse cast as well as its rapidly growing esports scene.

Things quickly unravelled as the lack of basic research and selective information began to pile up in the article, stating that Doomfist was the first black character in the game despite Lucio being in the game when it launched  This was followed by ignorance surrounding Symmetra and her spoken Hindu roots.

To top it all off, the discussion in the article surrounding Overwatch esports highlighted the various scandals but failed to mention how these issues were dealt with by both the teams and Blizzard itself. The result was an article that lacked credibility and served merely to paint gaming in a negative light to a non-gaming audience.

Mainstream media and a pattern of bad faith

The City Press article is just another in a litter of insufficiently researched and biased articles written by mainstream media looking for easy clicks by bashing gaming. Even when they attempt to tackle issues that are absolutely worth talking about in the gaming scene, it is done with inadequate research and a lack of nuance which illustrates how little they understand of the industry or the complex issues it faces.

The City Press author was guilty of these offences and instead of what was seemingly trying to be a thoughtful piece that explored important issues in gaming; it merely served to unjustly vilify the industry and attack a game that is arguably one of the most progressive titles we currently have. City Press is hardly the only mainstream publication to produce abhorrent articles on gaming – BBC, Forbes, ESPN, the list is extensive and global. They all seem to follow a similar method: Next to no research, selective with information and pushing a narrative without a clear understanding of the scene.

The constant stream of inaccuracies ultimately lends itself to one conclusion. Mainstream media write articles on gaming in bad faith and to push a false narrative that provides them with cheap clicks and outraged retweets. It’s a tactic that has become prevalent in recent years – people have learnt that outrage sells. Companies are often accused of deliberately causing outrage to gain publicity.

Heineken was accused of it with a recent advert that had Grammy-winning American rapper Chance The Rapper incensed. Sony was found equally wanting when they had their advert implying “white” was better than “dark” with their consoles. The fake stories that go viral on Twitter, the public shaming posts on Facebook that are shared by so many – they all so perfectly illustrate that outrage makes the world go round.

More than anything, we need to stop seeking approval from mainstream media. The gaming community still celebrates gaming and esports being given coverage from mainstream media. Why is a heavyweight industry trying to impress external media? There are a ton of brands, and with them money, coming into a scene that is constantly growing, particularly esports. The gaming industry already outperforms heavyweight entertainment industries like Hollywood. We have the financial credibility and there is no reason we need to jump through hoops to establish social legitimacy.

The false narratives pushed within the industry itself

As easy as it is to dismiss mainstream media and badly written articles, it would be remiss to ignore the false narratives that are maintained within the scene itself. Mainstream media isn’t wrong in bringing up the fact that racism, sexism and a host of other social issues plague the gaming industry and gaming culture.

There were sections in the City Press article that brought up issues that had already been discussed and covered by gaming media long before the author wrote the article. No matter how badly mainstream media butchers the coverage, these issues do exist. These subpar articles serve to undermine the progress made in tackling these issues as well as harm the voices within the scene that are fighting to eradicate problematic behaviour in the scene.

All too often, gamers use anecdotal evidence to justify denying that issues exist in gaming. Other times, gamers attempt to gatekeep the industry by saying they were here first and this is how things have always been. More often than not, however, there is just pure ignorance that leads people to believe there is nothing wrong in gaming and media are simply overstating things. Badly written articles by mainstream media gives these people ammunition to continue to believe in their own false narratives.

The gaming industry has obviously come a long way and there has been so much progress made, but we can’t simply rest on our laurels. Just recently, Valve decided to announce that they would stop trying to police what games are published on their store aside from games that are illegal or trolling. This approach to a complex issue is disappointing to see, especially from the largest digital distributor of games.

Companies should be held accountable and made to take a stance against racism, sexism and any other inexcusable issues or behaviour. And just like we take mainstream media to task for pushing false narratives, we should also hold the community at large responsible for the same offence.

Gaming doesn’t need mainstream media. The industry has progressed long past the need to have the BBCs or City Presses provide poor coverage. The industry owes it to itself to take care of its house without external influence.

There are serious issues in gaming and gaming culture that need to be addressed. So much progress has been made over the years and that is something worth celebrating, but that doesn’t mean more can’t be done. Don’t give mainstream media the openings to get cheap clicks at the expense of one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world.

[This post has been updated to reflect that while published on Channel24, the original article stemmed from City Press]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: June 8, 2018

28 Comments

  1. MonsterCheddar

    June 8, 2018 at 14:45

  2. FAQyoumate

    June 8, 2018 at 14:12

    Industry is going downhill because of the PC

    Reply

    • Kromas

      June 8, 2018 at 16:36

      Wait do you mean personal computers or political correctness? Because I don’t how the Personal Computer has anything to do with it.

      Reply

      • Skittle

        June 8, 2018 at 16:57

        He obviously means casuals who use personal computers to game on rather than work on

        Reply

        • Kromas

          June 8, 2018 at 16:58

          Those filthy casuals who play in true 4k not the upscaled 30fps kind 😛

          Reply

      • HvR

        June 8, 2018 at 16:37

        IT IS A TRAP!!!

        Reply

      • Original Heretic

        June 8, 2018 at 16:49

        The personal computer has EVERYTHING to do with it!!!
        That bastard knows what he did…..

        Reply

      • FAQyoumate

        June 9, 2018 at 15:28

        political correctness. Pff, obviously

        Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    June 8, 2018 at 14:25

    This, sadly, is a trend that one sees in all mainstream media, and not just about gaming. They get writers to pump out an article on a subject that they know very little about. And it has to be done YESTERDAY, so there’s no time to do the necessary research.
    Let’s also not forget that MSM often has their own agenda to push. It’s very easy to paint an unflattering picture of something just by using words.

    Reply

  4. HvR

    June 8, 2018 at 14:34

    Wait you are surprised that MSM (especially network 24) did fuckall research into a subject they did an article on and presented an article full of half truths and only presented opinionated points aligning with their beliefs.

    Like 99% of the other articles on their “network”.

    Fuck, like half the “news” articles on CH these days, … okay to be fair you guys at least try to get the facts straight.

    And I love Valve’s approach. I’m an adult and I will decide what games I and my kid will play. I do not need government or a corporate enforcing their version of moral values on me. The only reason why you think you would like it is because the corporate who do it (ie Apple) falls in line with your beliefs. The fact is that can change and you will one of the first yelling from you soapbox about censorship.

    Reply

    • Kromas

      June 8, 2018 at 14:38

      I don’t particularly care how valve does their stuff. I only browse the store during a sale. The rest of my game purchases come from other sources first. I did not learn about the new Jurassic park game from the steam store I learned it from a youtube video showing a trailer. Sure I may miss out on some indie games but if they truly shine they get mentioned somewhere.

      Reply

      • HvR

        June 8, 2018 at 14:45

        Well you actually do care.

        Because you know that after you see the YT trailer you can go to Steam and purchase it and not worry that it will not be available do some moral algorithm, political stance etc.

        Reply

        • Kromas

          June 8, 2018 at 14:47

          Actually I don’t. If Valve does that Gog Ubisoft or (hahahahaha)EA/MS will step in with their storefronts

          Reply

          • HvR

            June 8, 2018 at 14:51

            Well if you look at the mobile market storefronts; they will all cave to very vocal minority Twitter outrage mob.

    • Original Heretic

      June 8, 2018 at 14:45

      I don’t do Valve, but I’m also rather impressed with their current move.
      As an adult, I want freedom of choice.

      Reply

  5. konfab

    June 8, 2018 at 14:39

    The largest distributor of games allowing actual creative freedom is disappointing to you?

    You would rightly be up in arms if an Evangelical Christian organisation took over valve and removed all games that promote LGBTQSWTFBBQ ideology. An ideology that you agree with. Oh then we would hear all sorts of remarks about how Valve is censoring creative freedom.

    If you are happy to have the ideology of content to determine its suitability for publication instead of its market value, then you have to be happy with such a process when it is applied when you don’t want it.

    Valve has done the rational thing and adopted a position of freedom for the consumers. The fact that you have a problem with that is all telling Glenn.

    Reply

    • Kromas

      June 8, 2018 at 14:40

      Freedom of choice. If you want to buy school shooter simulator then go ahead. I think it is in poor taste but hey I speak with my money.

      Reply

      • BakedBagel

        June 8, 2018 at 14:54

        Aye vote with your wallet.

        Reply

  6. BakedBagel

    June 8, 2018 at 14:53

    Thanks for bringing this to light Glenn.
    While I still disagree with some topics in here, being critical of the media is important, and its a nice fresh change to see on CH.

    Reply

  7. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 8, 2018 at 14:56

    All media has a massive credibility issue these days due to a deluge of shoddy work, with the traditional media players just coasting along on the hard earned reputation of prior generations while happily pissing all over it. And the hole ripped in the market created by mainstream media has given rise to alternative news providers, who’re just as bad if not worse. All nicely aided by the rise of social media which gives everyone a voice to spout anything and everything which leads to a cacophony of data, but very little information. And then people wonder why conspiracy theories and fake news get traction.

    The whole system is just a massive fuck up and it actually makes me quite despondent, especially for people who haven’t had any kind of exposure to research methodologies or critical thinking because they lack the tools required to sift through the garbage. And then we get GIGO.

    Reply

  8. Pieter Kruger

    June 8, 2018 at 15:02

    Mainstream gaming media has been biased for a very long time now. Been saying this for years. They’re constantly moving the narative to suit their own personal bias, please the “majority” and disguise themselves as “concerned neutrals”, while constantly bashing anything that’s not “their choice”. All of this to get clicks, to pay the bills. Success it seems is to get your article linked on a cesspool site like N4G! But luckily the pushback is also real, gamers starting to avoid these articles and sites and seeing them for what they truly are. The internet never forgets & more & more are these “journo’s” getting called out! Would be nice to see articles moving back again to being objective, unbiased, thoughout and informative!

    Reply

  9. Kalvin

    June 8, 2018 at 15:12

    Hi Critical Hit, I know this will be deleted but you’ll read this. This site likes to bully other writers (especially of colour) and attack other publications.

    This is a message to encourage you to stop. We’re aware of the practices you use to generate traffic and comments. If the bullying continues we will go public with the information.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      June 21, 2018 at 08:12

      Hi Kalvin, apologies your comment was automatically spammed.. probably due to the idiotic accusation in it. I’ll lead with the fact that you posted this on an article written by a person of colour so your accusation of racism is fundamentally flawed. Secondly, some of us are very passionate about this industry and have publicly shamed writers who have either written blatant PR pieces or who have broken embargoes which hurts the entire industry. The persons race, colour, sexuality or gender has nothing to do with their ability to write better article or read embargo dates.

      You are 100% welcome to post whatever evidence you feel you have but if you would rather talk about it feel free to reply here or email me gavin @ this domain name.

      Your other crappy comment insulting one of our writers was also automatically spammed by disqus, I didn’t rescue that one as I felt it had zero use. It was just funny that you accuse us of bullying while also publicly attempting to shame our writers ability.

      Reply

    • Geoffrey Tim

      June 21, 2018 at 09:11

      Hi Kalvin,

      You may not know me. I’m the co-owner and operator of Critical Hit, and I’m a person of colour myself. Any accusations you have of bullying people of colour would be some I would take incredibly seriously. If you’d like to chat about this, feel free to send me a mail: editor@criticalhit.net.

      Reply

  10. RinceThis

    June 8, 2018 at 15:22

    Excellent piece Glenn.

    Reply

  11. RinceThis

    June 8, 2018 at 15:25

    Sadly with the spread of false bullshit that doesn’t get closed down by people like Trump, we will see more of this.

    Reply

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