Over the past couple of months, I’ve watched the hobby that I love dragged through so much crap it’s untrue. I’ve watched as death threats have gone out to people at the same time people have been campaigning for “Ethical games journalism” under the banner of “GamerGate”. It’s not a coincidence. You know it, I know it, and the people using the hashtag on Twitter know it. Let’s just drop the façade please.
In response to this, I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on Twitter and had at least two people try to drag me into an argument. Granted, this isn’t as much as most people who speak up from “bigger” publications, but there’s been one occasion where the hostility I’ve received has completely stifled any chance for meaningful discussion. It’s taken me an awfully long time to compose this post, as each time I have, I’ve debated the value of it and whether it’s actually worth the inevitable shitstorm that comes the way of the site. But, sod it. Here we go.
First and foremost, I don’t consider myself a “journalist”. I’m a fan of video games who has been given an opportunity to write about this hobby. Recently I was asked to step up to become the reviews and features editor for the site, which has been a shock but a great chance to step up. However, the furore that’s erupted over the last month or so has been so damaging to an industry that’s spent so long demanding to be taken seriously, that in most pieces in the mainstream press, people are reverting back to the old stereotypes of gamers as “angry young men with no lives”. No matter how it’s spun, that’s damaging. When things get so far as to organise a petition to get a website blacklisted by Nintendo because it didn’t give a game the same review score as other sites? Come on.
In an ideal world, the separation between GamerGate and the harassment of women over the last couple of months would be clear. In reality, it’s not. In reality, those who are not entrenched in the campaign just see the rise in hate speak online and the rise of the #GamerGate trend on Twitter and assume the two are related. If you’re genuinely in the camp of “campaigning for ethics”, please try and realise this, without getting angry and flying off the handle at anyone who points it out. I got called out on Twitter for saying “People can be absolute twats with no provocation”, followed by twisted logic and aggressive wording. Is it wrong to call people that throw out death threats “twats”? A lot of people in this “movement” are getting so caught up in several theories that anything and everything that can be twisted to be a negative is being so. It’s hard to have a discussion when the only retort is anger and accusations. For what it’s worth, I’m not the biggest fan of Anita Sarkeesian. I think some of her arguments have been contorted in such a way that is misrepresentative of gaming and the particular games she mentions. I think that if Zoe Quinn slept with a bunch of other guys behind her boyfriend’s back, that’s a shitty thing to do. And if that then led to positive coverage of her game (which might just be because, y’know, it’s good) then that’s also shitty, but there is absolutely no WAY that they deserve the level of abuse they’ve gotten over the last few months. Do I think certain games sites need to be held up to scrutiny more than others? Probably. Is it worth this level of bile that’s been spewed? Hell no. There are much worse things in the world to worry about. At the end of the day, you can still play whatever games you want to play, and you can choose to ignore any coverage you want. That’s the beauty of the internet, there’s thousands of websites that offer something different for everyone.
Which leads me on to the crux of the post. NGB (and Kitana as a whole) is run by fans. We don’t pull salaries from it, we don’t take payments from it, and any ad money is used to help fund trips to places to provide coverage for the website and hopefully provide better content for everyone that reads it and likes our sites. WENB and FSB are two of the most popular sites for PES and FIFA each and every year. This is only possible through advertising money. However, let’s make one thing explicitly clear. We have never, and will never, take payment or any other form of “bribery” for a good review. If there’s a review on the site, it’s probably safe to assume we were given a copy for the purpose. If it helps with the transparency, though, we’ll put a disclaimer on them.
It’s impossible to be close to the games industry and not make friends along the way who are involved in it. I’ve not been with NGB for 2 years yet and I’m making connections to people directly associated with the making of games. It’s insane to me, as a fan, that this is possible. Inevitably, making friends with people close to development sometimes means we get things early and/or for free, even if we aren’t reviewing them. Does it affect my thinking when I come to talk about and cover games? I’d like to think it doesn’t. We all know that we’re probably going to piss someone off at some point. It doesn’t even factor into anything we do here. I’ve never thought “Ah man, if I give this game a bad review we might not get the next one”. Everything you get from NGB is pure, unfiltered honesty. If we like a game, we’ll say so. If we hate a game, we’ll say so. We have to send publishers our reviews when they go live, but that’s standard practice. We will never filter or water down anything to appease anyone other than ourselves, to ensure that our readers get the best out of us.Tweet this!