Why Does the Video Game Critic Have Such a Terrible Reputation?

Video game critics have poor reputations but there has to be reasons...

Video game critics have poor reputations but there has to be reasons…

There’s no doubt about it: Video game critics have bad reputations. Compared to critics in other entertainment venues, game reviewers probably register as the most mocked, the most derided, and the most distrusted. However, as we at VGRHQ are about excellence in the field (we hope we’ll see a video game critic one day win a Pulitzer in the field of Criticism), we’d like to figure out the cause. Being comprised of veteran critics who volunteer their time to this site – seeking out reviews they find especially good and contributing to articles like these – we asked the obvious question:

What is wrong? Why do so many gamers hate us?

In discussing the matter during a mini roundtable of sorts, we ended up going back and forth between two key issues: The first revolves around the lack of top-quality journalists in this field; too many are still under-qualified and with no credentials besides being a fan of video games. For those who believe you need nothing else to be a successful critic, please don’t be so naive. That’s another subject for another time but anyway, the point is that too many “journalists” simply aren’t journalists.

The other main point is the gaming community, which seems increasingly populated with hateful, egotistical, and downright nasty individuals, many of whom love to “make examples” of critics. A favorite pastime of the online gaming culture is mocking critics, and every one of us has experienced that on one level or another. The problem is, when combined with the abysmal pay, many game critics simply opt to leave the industry, as one of our contributors explains below. But first, the former viewpoint, courtesy of an 18-year journalism veteran who will, for the sake of VGRHQ’s anonymity rule, remain nameless:

Video game critics aren't well respected and there are many pointing fingers...

Video game critics aren’t well respected and there are many pointing fingers…

I think it really has more to do with the minority dragging everything down for the majority. In my experience, most critics are honest and extremely hardworking; they spend countless hours reviewing games for the sake of the consumer, and they take great pride in doing it. However, there are some critics who shouldn’t even be in the industry. They’re either kids or loudmouthed malcontents who put their soapbox ahead of the review.

These people wouldn’t ever manage to publish anything in a legitimate print publication. The problem is that they’re still acknowledged as regular critics in the online world, and readers don’t make the distinction between a random blogger and a qualified professional. I don’t really know what to do about it but this is the key issue.

More on this particular subject can be found in an older editorial. On the other hand, another of our contributors disagrees, and places the blame at the feet of the gaming community. He has 23 years experience in journalism; he has covered just about every entertainment medium for multiple newspapers and websites. Here’s his little diatribe:

The amount of hate and vitriol game critics receive isn't really warranted...or is it?

The amount of hate and vitriol game critics receive isn’t really warranted…or is it?

For the most part, it’s not the fault of game critics. Yeah, there are a few jackasses out there and they do pollute the waters, so-to-speak. But the gaming community is just toxic right now. Given that this is a form of entertainment, you’d think people would be having fun talking about their favorite hobby, as they did when I was a kid. But it has morphed into something disgusting and embarrassing: Mostly grown individuals on massive ego trips, claiming they know everything, that all critics are all either stupid or paid off (or both), and basically just being completely unappreciative.

We get paid squat. We do it because we love it. At the very least, we’d hope to get a little nod of appreciation from the people we’re serving, day in and day out (on weekends, on holidays, etc.). But no, we just get mocked and jeered endlessly and finally, I had to get out. I felt no allegiance to a group of hopelessly hateful egoists and saw no reason to kill myself for their benefit. They all know more than me, anyway, right? So I’m done.

The previous critic is no longer a video game reviewer, although he still contributes gaming-related editorials to a major newspaper. He has moved on to a career in publishing and has no interest in immersing himself in the gaming community again. One would think this is a lone case of bitterness and discontent but trust us, it’s not. However, we will not discount the first viewpoint because it’s obviously true: There are still plenty of so-called “critics” out there who are ruining the reputation for the entire industry. It’s the overwhelming minority that’s hurting us, whether anyone wants to believe it or not, but it’s still happening.

What say you on the matter?

5 thoughts on “Why Does the Video Game Critic Have Such a Terrible Reputation?”

Heh…you should read the mess of idiocy at N4G in relation to this article.

I think critic #2 is obviously right. People really ARE that stupid and hateful. I’ve done some reviewing myself (probably not to the level of people contributing to VGRHQ, but some freelancing with multiple sites) and no publisher ever pays any reviewer or website a dime. They get free copies of a game and that’s about it.

I think certain consumers need to do some reading, like these editorials from here-

http://vgrhq.com/dont-rely-on-overworked-critics-this-holiday-season/

http://vgrhq.com/so-gamers-acting-like-idiots-is-somehow-metacritics-fault/

http://vgrhq.com/i-dont-need-critics-to-tell-me-what-i-should-like/

http://vgrhq.com/after-20-years-of-being-a-critic-im-starting-to-hate-games/

You can’t actually read any comments on N4G and hope to retain brain cells.

They have a shitty reputation because a few of them are shitty. It’s definitely true that those few are ruining things for the others.

I can’t stand amateurs pretending like they know everything just because they love video games. If you can’t write, if you don’t understand the art of Criticism, then you CAN’T DO IT. End of story.

The bad reputation is a blend of factors, as the article sort of implies. The best way to get around it is to simply demand more of our critics. Have them be qualified; make sure they have some credentials outside of being game fanatics.

I think we’re starting to see more of that, what with people actually going to journalism school for a career in games journalism.

A lot of them earned that bad reputation. Let’s not forget that.

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