After my last post about Gamergate and their misuse of the word libel. A user on Twitter replied with a link to an article titled “A Review Of Game Journalism” I received the link again by the same user when I tweeted the hashtag #Gamergate a second time. It claims to be a white paper or dossier for Gamergate and a review of issues the group thinks is important.
I’m analyzing this document because Gamergate is full of mixed messages and a buffet of issues that any internet citizen can appropriate for their own ends. In a leaderless web movement, young kids who have never been told that online harassment is not OK, ideologues who justify harassment as a means to their twisted end, and people simply looking to cause trouble, have as much say as the silent majority.
This “dossier” is the most tangible message Gamergate has come up with to date. Users on Twitter thought it was important enough to link it every time someone mentions Gamergate critically. So, what what do I as a journalist think about what it has to say?
My training taught me that most writing will have a chestnut paragraph or “nut graf” that summarizes the thesis of an article. Here is the closest thing to a nut graf I could find
Major elements of the video game press have engaged in multiple breaches of ethics over the years and have had scandals similar to other tech-related fields. As a multibillion-dollar industry, it is expected that the video game press adhere to a higher standard of ethics and critique. However, experience has shown that they have not, and currently do not, adhere to these standards.
The first part of the document highlights the stakeholders of the game industry and game journalism. Followed by cases that the author thinks are examples of unethical journalism. Pretty boilerplate for an introduction.
2.2 Worth of a review
Journalists may also use scores as a way of punishing developers for things they do not agree with. In October 2014, Polygon ran a review of Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2. …Polygon awarded it 7.5/10. This lower score was given based off the reviewer taking issue with the “blatant over-sexualization” of the protagonist in the game
The article asserts that this Polygon reviewer’s perspective on objectionable or laudable social content influenced the review score, but it doesn’t show the correlation. A further example by the same publication shows the opposite. Never Alone, whose review merited the game’s positive portrayal of Native Alaskan culture, received 7/10, a lower score than the Bayonetta 2.
In 2013, Gamespot gave Grand Theft Auto 5 a 9/10 rating. The same positive review provided one paragraph that criticized the game’s sexist portrayal of women. That one point was enough to make some readers angry enough to petition for the reviewer’s firing. The problem for these readers is not the supposed influence of social critique on review scores. The problem is that any social critique is being included at all with game reviews. The core Gamergate seems to follow this reasoning.
Even if reviews scores influence creative output, which they don’t, that’s a problem with review aggregators, and consumers who incentivize this with their reading habits. This problem is more complicated than simply blaming journalists.