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. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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