I wrote this in reply to a friend’s email about the ongoing games journalism conversation which is just the veneer of a campaign of hate against a woman who made a videogame. I was happy with it so here it is for everyone else. Ultimately I’m discussing the weird conundrum we’re in where we have to acknowledge that, yes, there are criticisms to be made of games journalism but these people and their abusive campaign are that problem. Sorry I’m still writing about this.
The whole thing is such a mess. Yes, there are problems with games journalism that can be summed up with the fact that games journalism is just, by and large, consumerist writing that acts as a semi-autonomous arm of gaming PR, nurturing a certain audience for certain games. What all these people who are part of the attack on women who make games don’t seem to understand is that they are exactly the status quo that is fostered and served by games journalism and its problems. The good parts of games journalism (the critiques of the industry, the coverage of non-commercial games, writing on gender and race and the such) are a sign of games journalism getting better, but, to these people, it is their privileged position being brought down a notch so all they see is conspiracies, helped along by famous youtubers who, despite being even more status-quo than mainstream games journalism, somehow get to be the ‘alternative’. Like the Tea Party getting to look like a real alternative to the Republican Party or something.There are criticisms to be made of mainstream games journalism that are synonymous with the ones these people are making, but they are about press being flown across the world and put up in fancy hotels to go to Ubisoft press events. They are not about a single indie developer maybe sleeping with a journalist who didn’t even write a review of her free game. But these people wouldn’t dare go after a triple-a game because those are exactly the games they want to play. They want the status-quo.The lack of coverage isn’t because everyone knows each other. It’s because mainstream games journalism, as loathe as it is to admit it, is primarily propped by this mainstream ‘gamer’ audience that it nurtures. Their main readership is the exact type of self-important gamer douchebag that needs to see conspiracies in games journalism. These trolls are scared of the games journalism boat being rocked, and the games journalism editors are afraid of rocking that boat. So instead of adamantly written editorials decrying the harassment, we get silence and a “oh this is sad” on twitter.I am pretty confident in saying that nepotism has nothing to do with what is currently going on. Yes, there are a lot of friends, but indies don’t get famous because they have friends who are games journalists. They have friends who are games journalists because they made really good games (or, at least, really good games within a certain, sellable-to-that-nurtured-gamer-readership slither of what can be a ‘good’ indie game). The people who are angry about Zoe Quinn are angry, primarily, because they come from such a narrow-sighed slither of ‘gamers’ that they can’t even comprehendhow Depression Quest might be a good game. They can’t figure it out. Like, it doesn’t even have graphics! Therefore there must be a conspiracy.So the problem with journalism here is the fear of rocking the boat when the whole thing needs to be capsized and the rats drowned. The thing is those decrying games journalism at the moment don’t realise they are the rats.