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29 May, 2020 10:01

Gaming journalists hate gamers and don’t care about games. This agenda-driven press needs to go

Gaming journalists hate gamers and don’t care about games. This agenda-driven press needs to go

Video game journalists no longer have any interest in being a trade press. They’d rather be protesters, preaching about the evil of the people they’re supposed to cater to – the gamers.

Video game website VG 24/7 recently uploaded an article claiming popular streamer Skyrim Grandma was dialing back content “for the sake of her health after receiving onslaught of patronizing comments. Skyrim Grandma, in case the name wasn’t a dead giveaway, is an elderly lady, and seeing her verbally abused online by a horde of patronizing trolls to the point of it adversely impacting her health would be horrifying. 

The problem is, that was not really what happened. Yes, Shirley Curry, the Skyrim Grandma, talks about being stressed by patronizing comments and having her blood pressure “going insane,” but there was no “onslaught.” She tweeted at VG 24/7 to this effect, saying most of the people on her channel are “very nice” and asking the publication to delete its claims.

Numerous other publications have parroted the line, with headlines implying – if not explicitly claiming – that Curry was “cyberbullied” into physical ill health and a scaling back of content. The VG 24/7 article is still up, though it has been amended to remove the word “onslaught” and to clarify Skyrim Grandma’s position (its URL still says “skyrim-grandma-cyberbullied”).

This amendment came too late, because Grandma had already done the unthinkable: given the nod to a Twitter commenter to “mock on” the disingenuous gaming press.

And thus, in the eyes of some game journalists and their defenders, she tipped off a mob of “gamergate types” to harass and bully an innocent reporter.

There’s a narrative at play here, and it’s a simple one: “Fans are bad.” It rings back all the way to ‘Gamers are Dead’ – a narrative which began with a sudden onslaught of articles in the game press a few years back that claimed the ‘gamer’ identity has been subsumed by angry sexist bullies. This is what led to the ascent of the likes of Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, and these are the roots of cringeworthy efforts by woke culture to force itself upon those who just want to play games – things like ‘Bully Hunters’, an “elite female gamer squad” that was supposed to hunt down verbal abusers in online matches, but ended up a spectacular failure.

A press that is still bitter about the rejection of figures like Quinn and Sarkeesian by people who are supposed to be their target audience – gamers – continues to push the idea that the people who buy games and watch livestreams are somehow evil by default.

You had one job: video games

Here’s the issue: video game journalism is meant to be a trade press. The point is to cover video games and give news and information to the reader. There’s a great quote from ‘Mass Effect 2’ protagonist Commander Shepard: “You have one job: information. If I can’t trust your intel then you’re worthless to me.” This is very true of the press. Especially the trade press, because they are the line from the product to the consumer. The moment people’s access to accurate insight into the industry gets clogged by a nonsense narrative pushed by a backwards worldview, the press becomes pointless.

This attitude is bound to come back to bite publishers. Rage clicks are great for short-term funding, but there comes a point where people will begin to tune out. You want to stay on good terms with possible advertisers. You want to stay on good terms with the companies that constantly feed you news and interviews. And first and foremost, you want to stay on good terms with the people that buy games.

Clickbait protesters LARPing as journalists don’t bring in money. They don’t really care about games, and they hate your target audience. They care about narratives and pushing those above all. If you don’t share their beliefs, they couldn’t care less. So why care about them?

There’s an easy solution: fire them all. Hire people who actually like video games. Hire people who don’t think fans are the worst thing that’s happened to video games. Those who actually care about Skyrim Grandma and don’t fabricate a story about an old woman being harassed into ill health when she’s not.

There are other fabrications that have happened in the past, such as when Laura Kate Dale lied about being called “it” by a presenter at an event. Why hire this person? Why keep around someone like Luke Plunkett, who takes the half-fake VG 24/7 story and amplifies it with more ire? In the long term, these people are not worth it.

Video game journalism should be about video games. Not about nonsense. Not about insulting the audience. Not about stupid narratives. Video games. If you aren’t able to understand that, I’d advise a new career.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.