It's that time of the year when we all share with the world what we learned while... doing stuff. Joshua Derocher
shared with us what he learned about moro, er, normal people while working retail, while CrackedBat
taught us what he learned about retail employees while shopping. Now it's my turn to share with you valuable knowledge, gleamed at great personal risk, that I amassed while dealing with that most insidious of creatures... the game critic!
Those Who Criticize For a Living Hate Being Criticized Themselves
The dismissive reaction to readers who dare to question a critic's behavior has been apparent for sometime, but it all came to a head thanks to then unknown Lauren Wainwright. Short version: Eurogamer wrote an article
questioning some "journalistic" practices. One of those featured in the piece was Wainwright, who took offense to it, and threatened libel. Eurogamer, being based in the UK, a place where libel laws are so insane they gave birth to a monstrosity called libel tourism
, backed down. Riots ensued, reporters everywhere took up arms and marched to the trenches, with many defending Wainwright, others ashamed of the embarrassment they were bringing upon their profession, but none were able to simply keep "sticking our heads in the sand and dismissing as drama", as Ben Kuchera put it, and all were forced to finally confront the issues at hand. In the end, once it became clear that shit hit the fan and it was going in their direction, Wainwright's employer quickly threw her under the bus
It was fascinating to watch, in no small part because gamers had been leveling much of the same criticism at the press, but only when it came from the inside did they finally pay attention. In the end, though, a healthy, if dramatic, debate took place, and we're all the better for it.
They Admit The Current Business Model Pushes Them Towards Clickbaits, But Don't You Dare Call Them Out For It
In the past year, many websites have started trying to draw our attention to the epidemic of Adblock. They support themselves solely through ads, too many of us are blocking their ads, something's gotta give eventually. Thus, websites have started writing about it, in the hopes of persuading us to disable Adblock, or even, in the case of Destructoid, launching an alternative revenue model (one I supported. I'm HUGE, baby!).
In their pleas for us to buy the subscription or disable adblock, they will often bring up how the current model all but forces them towards click-bait stuff. In his HUGE pitch, Niero writes:
With members' support we can pump the breaks on trying to load up quick-hit galleries and build more long-form interesting content about the biggest stories in gaming: the investigative, humorous, and critical work you really come here for.
Sometimes they even write entire articles about the clickbait part of the business. But when we see something we feel is obviously clickbait and call them out for it, oh no. That's ridiculous! LOL, look at the entitled gamers whining again!
They Can Be Just As Arrogant And Shady As Any EA
, when Gamespot's reviewer was fired after he gave Kane And Lynch a bad review and Eidos threatened to pull advertising? Oh, and the review was edited afterwards. You know, kinda like that laughable tinfoil conspiracy theory that could only possibly happen in the heads of crazed, entitled fanboys. Or the Annoyed Gamer outburst? No, not the part Fish cancels Fez and quits the industry. That's entirely on him. I mean the part the Annoyed Gamer tells websites that didn't get the comment they wanted from Fish and Jonathan Blow to boycott them going forward.
AAA publishers may be shady, but the press that reports on them, as an entity, is not inherently better, and can be just as bad. Neither is above throwing their weight around if they feel they can get away with it.
They Have a Hard Time Connecting With The Average Joe Gamer
There's a crucial difference between "us" and "them": we pay for our games, they do not. They even get paid to play them, would you believe it?!? This isn't a bad or evil thing, mind you, it's necessary. Games are, after all, the tools of their jobs. If police officers were required to pay for their own body armor, weapons and ammo, criminals would rule the world, because there wouldn't be any police.
However, I've always felt that this changes their relationship with gaming, and often generates a disconnect between them and the average consumer. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the discussion about games and length. While gamers who buy their own games still overwhelmingly take into account how much bang they are getting for their buck, professional critics who do not are becoming ever more dismissive of considering length when judging a game (as an IGN editor put it once, "as if games were lightbulbs"), and even hostile towards gamers who do so.
Activision Bribed Every Single One Of Them To Like Call Of Duty
Not really, but I just had to say it, amirite? I could go on a bit more, but I know you idiots judge blogs and lightbulbs by the same standards, so I'd better not make it too long. What about you, fine Dtoiders? What awesome insights have you learned while scientifically studying this most peculiar of creatures, the game critic?