Gamers and Game Journalism Need To Grow the Fu** Up
Here at VGRHQ, we believe there are a great many hard-working, honorable game critics who receive no recognition whatsoever. Gamers never respect them, the job pays next to nothing, and overall, it’s a thankless job. Hence, our Mission Statement.
However, the widespread immaturity, hostility, and overarching ignorance needs to disappear if we’re going to make any strides at all. Each of VGRHQ’s members has been a part of the gaming industry (in one way or another) for at least 10 years, a few as long as 20 years. We’ve also worked in other sectors and we know full well how gaming, gamers, and game journalists are perceived by the “real” press.
Many of our colleagues still don’t consider video game journalism a “real” job. You can choose to be indignant about that all you like, but they have a point. Just look at what’s happening; perhaps it’s best summed up by Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett in this op-ed. It’s a good read but there’re more to the issue. Have you noticed this particular YouTube video that essentially denounces game journalists?
Look, here’s the bottom line: We all need to grow up. Gamers and game journalists alike are routinely embarrassing this industry. Firstly, gamers, you are hardly blameless. One of the reasons we started VGRHQ is because gamers often treat journalists like absolute sh**. We’ve all been laughed at, mocked, scorned, and even roundly hated for idiotic, adolescent reasons, like giving your favorite game a lower score, or – God forbid – expressing an opinion on the industry itself.
From the journalist side of the fence, we get one very loud, very obnoxious, very egotistical message: “You get paid for no reason, your ethics are crap, and we could all do a better job than you.” Clearly, not every last gamer alive believes this but when you’re a game journalist, you almost start to accept this as gospel. Why? Because it’s all we ever hear. It doesn’t even matter what the subject is; the only thing gamers seem to thrive on is conflict and argument. Countless articles have been written about journalists “sucking;” how many times have you seen an article or a community post that praises a journalist for doing a good job? Does it ever happen?
No, gamers, you are not blameless. You seem to think all journalists are “on the take,” which is almost never true (check out some of our feature interviews with critics), and you also seem to forget that the overwhelming majority of game journalists are gamers themselves. You think that suddenly because we got a job in the industry, we decided to become unethical slimeballs overnight? The “5 Guys Quinnspiracy” mess is indeed an example of backhanded crap that occurs. Newsflash: It happens in every form of journalism. In fact, it’s far more disgusting and overt in other sectors. Just trust us.
On the flip side, it’s clear that journalists need to step up, too. This has gone beyond questionable and now it’s time to step back and assess: This particular branch of journalism is still in its infancy. We still have a lot of so-called “veteran” reporters and critics who never spent a day in any Journalism school, who really can’t write for beans, and who only got involved because they loved video games. Their lack of polish and professionalism shines through on a daily basis. Now that most leading publications are starting to require a lot more education and professional experience, you’ll start to see this problem disappear.
In the meantime, if journalists don’t wish to be attacked and hated every second of the day, they need to firmly embrace the basic tenets of integrity on which all journalism should be founded. It’s not difficult. Be honest in your reviews, do the necessary research, abstain from emotionally-charged op-eds that are more about personal vendettas than anything else, and in short, do your jobs. The only caveat is that as websites continue to survive on traffic and ads alone, so-called “clickbait” headlines will continue to show up. Unless gamers feel like paying for their news and reviews (and that’s exceedingly unlikely), they’re just going to have to deal with it.
Now, could everyone please just act like adults? Nobody is blameless and no party is entirely at fault. One tends to feed the other, so both sides are going to have to grow the fu** up. Seriously.