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Why are Gaming Journalists Such Angry Whores?

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Blah blah entitled gamers blah blah culture of misogynistic hatred blah blah blah toxic harassment blah blah GamerGate doesn’t exist blah blah Anita Sarkeesian attacked by ninjas blah blah blah gamers need to just die blah blah just let us do Bioware press and leave us alone.

It’s not the gamers who are angry. Some gamers are angry. They’re the ones who still read blogs like Kotaku, Destructoid, RockPaperShotgun, PC Gamer (online it’s just another blog) and are a little confused about why they’re indistinguishable from Social Justice Warriors Tumblrs.

Most gamers stopped paying attention.

Why even bother? How many people still subscribe to print copies of PC Gamer? How many people care about the previews carefully leaked to friendly gaming journalists? How many people care about an introverted culture of gaming journalists who want to promote the latest pixel art indie about transgender pirate cats as the future of gaming?

Most gamers have moved on. Most non-gamers have moved on leaving behind angry gaming journalists who try to shore up their journalistic creds after all their corporate shilling by attacking gamers as misogynists, because they can’t bite the corporate hand that feeds them.

They’re whores. GamerGate and Zoe Quinn are just tiny little reminders. Mostly the whoring is virtual. Nobody went to bed with anybody to get all star reviews for Dragon Age 2.

Probably.

If you spend your nights shilling for companies and their terrible products, you have to take it out somewhere, somehow. When you can bash a game safely (because it’s not a Bioware game) you do it. And the safest targets are gamers. Dirty, filthy gamers.

There are no gaming journalists. There are employees of gaming websites funded by game publisher advertising who navigate those financial relationships and are told which games they can pan and which games they have to praise.

They’re whores and they’re unhappy whores. They’re the poor whites of the gaming Confederacy. They have to treat someone else like dirt to feel better about what whores they are.

Because worst of all, their line of work is vanishing. Gamers have figured out that the difference between a gaming journalist and an Activision employee is that the former gets paid to pretend that he isn’t the latter.

And they moved on. They get their reviews from Metacritic, Twitch and YouTube. They’ll take rips of the latest exclusive magazine preview which will be on Reddit in five minutes without reading the source.

It’s game over.

Such articles appeared concurrently in Gamasutra (“ ‘Gamers’ are over” and “A guide to ending ‘gamers’ ”), Destructoid (“There are gamers at the gate, but they may already be dead”), Kotaku (“We might be witnessing the ‘death of an identity’ ”) and Rock, Paper, Shotgun (“Gamers are over”), as well as Ars Technica (“The death of the ‘gamers’ ”), Vice (“Killing the gamer identity”) and BuzzFeed (“Gaming is leaving ‘gamers’ behind”). These articles share some traits in common besides their theses: They are unconvincing, lacking in hard evidence, and big on wishful thinking.

quick glance at financials shows that “gamers” are not going anywhere. If “gamers” really are dying, no one told the marketing departments for these publications, which continue to trumpet their “gamer” demographic to advertisers. What is going on instead is projection. As long as these journalists held a monopoly on gaming coverage, they could maintain a dismal relationship with their audience in spite of the fact that “most games coverage is almost indistinguishable from PR,” in the words of disaffected game columnist Robert Florence, who himself wrote about corruption in gaming journalism before quitting Eurogamer. But all that’s changing with the rise of long-form amateur gaming journalism and game commentating on YouTube and Twitch.tv, the latter of which was just bought by Amazon for $1 billion as the gaming press was declaring the end of gamers.

Game companies and developers are now reaching out directly to quasi-amateur enthusiasts as a better way to build their brands, both because the gamers are more influential than the gaming journalists, and because these enthusiasts have far better relationships with their audiences than gaming journalists do. (Admittedly, most anyone does.) This week, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto signaled a focus on hard-core gamers, and Nintendo has already been shutting out the video game press for years. As Gamasutra’s Keza MacDonald wrote in June, the increasingly direct relationship between gamers and game companies has “removed what used to be [game journalism’s] function: to tell people about games.” Another Gamasutra article cited game developers saying that YouTube coverage had far more impact than all website coverage combined.

I generally don’t read gaming websites because I don’t like sifting through rewritten press releases and underage toothbrush incest anime coverage to find one or two genuine pieces of content. Instead I go to affable enthusiasts on YouTube and Twitch, people like Ryan Letourneau (Northernlion), Michelle (TheRPGMinx), Nick Reinecke (RockLeeSmile), Daniel Hardcastle (NerdCubed), and the unfathomably popular Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), a 24-year-old gamer who has 30 million subscribers, the most viewed YouTube channel of all time, and makes $4 million a year off his channel by, more or less, playing video games.

It is understandable that online gaming journalists would be uncomfortable in this situation. The antagonism of the gaming press toward its audience stems partly from justified outrage at the horrible behavior of a small subset of it, but also from helpless resentment toward the entirety of the press’s shrinking audience—hence the self-defeating attempt to generalize the former into the latter. Rather than stressing that the vast majority of gamers are reasonable people who don’t harass women, hold reactionary, protectionist views, or start vitriolic online campaigns against the press, the websites trashed the entire term “gamer” and, to no one’s surprise, earned 10 times the enmity overnight.

Good luck guys, because your scam is past its sell by date.

I am a straight Asian-American male from a working class family. My family survived wars, political purges, and 3 different refugee camps just to be able to come to America. I consider myself politically a left-leaning liberal. I do support worker’s rights, women’s rights, gay rights, transgender rights, religious freedom, and oppose racism. Yeah, the whole deal. Hell, number of the writers and commentators that are vilifying me right now are people I used to enjoy reading and watching. It’s not as if I was always against everything they had to say all the time. I’ve often shared very similar views at times.

This is why the behaviour of the gaming media as of late sickens me. They use the causes and values that I sincerely believe in, and turned it into a shield they can hide behind to avoid criticism. As if claiming to fight for justice forgives corruption and general cruelty to others. They’ve weaponized these issues and values for their own cynical gain. The gaming media presents the narrative as if opposing their corruption and insanity would mean turning my back on the values and issues I care about. As insane as it sounds, this is deeply troubling to me; painful even.

Hope there’s room for more than one Anita Sarkeesian on Kickstarter or you’re all screwed. And not in a Zoe Quinn way.

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