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#GamerGate photo
#GamerGate

A Pokedex of game journalists that only lists negative traits?


Feelings-type vs. Ethics-type?
May 10
// Jonathan Holmes
Ethics is a major component of social justice, and in recent years, it has also become a hot button issue in the world of videogame journalism. It is with this in mind that a group of social justice warriors decided to come t...
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Where are they now?

Where are they now? Ex-Destructoid editors in the biz


Papa Niero is proud
Oct 23
// Niero Gonzalez
As some of you may have heard by now, Dale North (our editor in chief from 2010-2014) will be moving on to sunnier, though less 'toidy skies. You can read that announcement here. It's no secret that Dale and I have definitel...
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Daily Mail claims Sonic made a boy have a heart attack


'Killed by a videogame'
Jul 17
// Jim Sterling
A 16-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome and Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome had a heart attack after getting overexcited by Sonic the Hedgehog. The Daily Mail's take on the story? He was, of course, killed by a video...
John Stossel wins photo
John Stossel wins

John Stossel wins the violent videogames argument


Fox News host uses this funny thing called 'logic'
Jun 22
// Tony Ponce
It's not every day that you can say a Fox News personality makes a rational argument regarding any of today's hottest trends and hobbies, but stranger things have happened. In a recent segment of his talk show, John Stossel ...

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Game magazine scrubs Ellie from The Last of Us artwork


The Creepy Cull continues
Jun 19
// Jim Sterling
I've talked at length about the Creepy Cull of female protagonists in the game industry, where women are shunted off promotional materials and deemed unworthy to act as playable characters. It seems the scythe is wielded not ...
I-Mockery at E3 photo
I-Mockery at E3

E3 2013 in a nutshell, by I-Mockery's RoG


A man, a camera, and a thirst for the truth
Jun 18
// Tony Ponce
Last year, I-Mockery and Abobo's Big Adventure's Roger Barr broke new ground in videogame journalism with his piercing critique of E3 2012. For anyone who has ever wanted to know the real E3 behind the glitz and glamor, his ...
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E3 scandal exposed: ESA makes journos poop in the dark


One man takes a stand.
Jun 11
// Niero Gonzalez
Hey ESA, can we get some light bulbs in the press bathrooms? The international boys can't aim.
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The Daily Mail's review of The Last of Us is incredible


Britain's worst newspaper has the best review
Jun 06
// Jim Sterling
British tabloid The Daily Mail has a review for The Last of Us, a game enjoying perhaps the most unanimous critical acclaim in videogame history. The Mail, ever a bastion of wisdom and judicious thinking, feels it doesn'...
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Kotaku lied: Nintendo loves penises AND butts!


Destructoid offers a re-BUTT-al
May 09
// Jim Sterling
In a recent article on Kotaku, writer Patricia Hernandez pointed out that, while Nintendo will censor asses, it has no problem showcasing a delicious penis.  She used Animal Crossing: New Leaf as evidence, criticizing Ni...

SimCity, Colonial Marines, and The Silence

Apr 23 // Jim Sterling
The trouble with games media -- and indeed most news-based media -- is that it's predominantly reactionary. If there is action in the industry, the bloggers and journalists can react. Conversely, without action, there can be no reaction. During SimCity's launch, Electronic Arts and EA Maxis made all sorts of statements and promises -- activities we could react to, in order to keep the story going and add to the pressure being applied to the companies involved.  As soon as EA and Maxis keep their heads down, however, the story largely goes away, almost instantly. After all, most of the information comes directly from the companies, so if they stop giving out, there's nothing to take. A number of outlets can continue to ask for comments from these companies, but with launch period over and a reduced need for promotion, the chances of getting a response start shrinking at a rapid pace. Rock, Paper, Shotgun learned this -- it's attempted to get a comment repeatedly, but to no avail. Neither EA nor Maxis have to say anything anymore -- they had their SimCity launch, they got their money, now they just need to sit back and let the bad press shrivel into oblivion.  Aliens: Colonial Marines is another fine example. During launch, there was plenty to dig up about what I still maintain is one of the most fascinating screw-ups in recent videogame memory. At first, it was amazing to see how deep the rabbit hole went, to try and work out how six years of Gearbox time led to such an unfinished mess of a game, attempting to fathom how much of the project was outsourced to TimeGate, and who developed what. But during this time, Gearbox was largely maintaining a stonewall of silence, and even outspoken developer Randy Pitchford limited himself to a tiny handful of Twitter outbursts.  Nowadays, Pitchford spends his time retweeting positive comments about Colonial Marines, talking up the fanbase and boasting about how many people like it. As negative coverage dries up, these tactics begin to succeed, rewriting the narrative to shut out the criticism and portray a story where only positivity exists. People like me, who covered the debacle extensively, get referred to as harmful individuals, out to personally injure the studio for some vindictive agenda. This is the second major problem with covering these kinds of controversial games -- do it enough, and publishers start to paint you as a lunatic.  We saw this recently with Peter Moore, responding preemptively to its "victory" in The Consumerist's Worst Company of America competition. Moore, having already guessed EA would clinch the prize, wrote a blog demonizing EA's critics, suggesting that most people who dislike the company are homophobes angry about Mass Effect's same-sex romance, or irrational maniacs upset over certain athletes appearing on Madden box art. While EA maintains total silence over legitimate complaints -- such as knowingly launching a game that would be broken by design -- Moore pens self-serving fan fiction in which EA's raked over the coals exclusively by bigots and bedlamites.  The real kicker is, if you want to keep these stories alive, if you care about industry bullshit and feel it's too important to simply forget, you have no choice but to reinforce the publisher's narrative and look like a vindictive crackpot. After all, if publishers are staying quiet, if they're ignoring your requests for comments, what can you do? At that point, your options are limited, and mostly involve inventing new articles from whole cloth -- be it a no-news post that simply reminds people a certain problem still exists, or finding some contrived way to pen a "fresh" op-ed on things people already know about. At that point, you end up becoming the very fanatic publishers say you are.  Most writers don't want to do that. They don't want to become some raving demagogue, and I do find it hard to blame them. Some games writers want to just write about the software and blot out the seedy surroundings -- and I get that. Hell, many readers want that, and I understand it completely. In fact, if you cover a topic too many times, most readers will start a backlash, which is another issue that cripples one's ability to keep the pressure on.  A cat may love being petted, but if you do it to the point of over-stimulation, they start to bite the hand that's stroking, and no matter how passionate gamers are about a subject -- they will grow tired of it in time. It's a natural reaction, and one that I can't blame anybody for, especially in an age of information overload, where news moves quickly and no subject can stick around for long.  Once a reader has had his or her fill of a topic, the backlash begins. The shitstorm surrounding SOPA was exciting to most people for a while, but it required a lot of coverage to truly communicate how vile it was, and a lot of coverage -- in the Internet age of aggressive apathy -- is too much coverage. It didn't take long for comments to go from intrigued to lethargic, with calls for Destructoid to "let it go" and "move on" and "just go back to talking about videogames." Be it about online passes, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Electronic Arts or harmful legislation, I've been told to "get over it" more than I can adequately remember. I've gotten told to "get over" almost everything I continue to care about, and I dare say it's a familiar phrase to anybody who's talked about a certain controversial subject for a long enough amount of time. Sadly, that's exactly what publishers bank on. It's just what they're waiting for. All they have to do is batten down the hatches, erect the flame shield, and wait for the community to turn on itself, to split between those who have gotten over it, and those who need to get over it. Eventually, apathy wins, everybody gets over it, and the publisher can hype its next unfinished piece of shit, that the cycle may begin anew.  So what can be done? Nothing, probably. Just keep on keeping on. However, I do hope that those who do "get over" these things, and angrily demand others join them, understand that they're essentially a brick in the publisher's stonewall. Nobody is obligated to be angry and indignant -- I would not be so arrogant as to demand any reader or fellow writer take up arms for a cause they don't believe in, and more than likely don't think matters. However, I do ask for an understanding equal to mine -- an understanding that it's equally arrogant to demand others stop caring about something, just because you don't care. There are many who continue to give a shit about SimCity, Aliens, and all sorts of other nasty industry crap, and they're having a hard enough time keeping the discussion alive with publishers attempting to drown them out and snootily dismiss them as a "vocal minority." And that goes double for the "game journalists" of the industry. Those whose job it is to cover the industry and serve the readers, yet tell other writers to get over it, to stop whining, and to just talk about videogame press releases. Those journalists who call angry gamers "entitled" and dismiss their complaints. Those journalists who join publishers -- often publicly laughing with them -- and sneer at anybody with a criticism. You know who you are. I know who you are. And I know Electronic Arts is not your friend, no matter how much you cuddle up to them.  It should, really, go triple for publishers themselves. It should be said that they'd be best served not looking like decadent aristocrats, smugly dumping on the "vocal minority" and boasting about how much money they've made, as if raking in ill-gotten dubloons is an automatic invalidation of any complaint, rather than a fallacious use of argumentum ad populum. It should be said, but what's the point trying to squeeze blood from that stone? After all, these are the words of a lunatic from the fringe minority, who really should get over it. But won't.
SimCity Silence photo
Keep your head down, then rewrite the story
Recently, John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote a compelling article on SimCity, and how Electronic Arts' maintenance of radio silence has demonstrated total effectiveness in getting everybody to shut up. The basic argume...

Corgtoid photo
Corgtoid

At PAX? Say hi to Dtoid EiC Dale North at his two panels


Will discuss journalism, JRPGs, and probably corgis
Mar 22
// Allistair Pinsof
Longtime game and music journalist and -- oh yeah -- Destructoid editor-in-chief Dale North will be available for your viewing, listening, and creeping pleasure at PAX East this week with two awesome panels: Do JRPGS Really S...

PSA: Don't preorder a game based on a preview, ever

Feb 23 // Niero Gonzalez
To say that the gaming press can be misleading by a preview and not concede that, if ever fooled, the truth does not rise to the top is delicious jelly tripe, deserving of only lips due a corner office at Fox News where agenda buttocks may line up for regular laps. As someone who runs a site that religiously publishes more articles than a sane person can keep up with I completely reject this notion. If we're ever bamboozled by a doctored screenshot, captivated by a phony pre-rendered video, or charmed by the snake-oils of its satin-tongue Frenchies we will shout it from the rooftops of every beacon known to us. Which, by the way, is ineffective sometimes even if we told you so. That said, maybe there is a poor wild animal somewhere that actually places pre-orders after reading a preview of an unfinished game we can't accurately report on due to embargoes and just common decency to allow the developer push out their damned fetus before we curb-stop it in front of its parents. This cute guide is for you! Tip#1. Don't pre-order anything you've only read about in a preview Can we all agree that pre-order bonuses are fleeting and goofy, only existing to support the inevitable death of retail?  Even if it comes with a fairy that poops horse armors, your pre-order is as risky as standing at the front door of Walmart on CyberMonday. We wrote about an unfinished game, not a finished product. Wait for the review. Put. The. Wallet. Down. If you're a gambling man and love the thrill of uncertainty, have at it. If you're upset that the game didn't live up to the hopeful preview on a half-developed game, then you're an idiot. We run reviews and continue to report on games weeks after they are released. We wouldn't judge your wife's cooking while the turkey's half-frozen, either. Tip#2. Remind yourself that your backlog exists  What ever will you do during the week that the entire Internet is tweeting and playing the game that you want? I don't know, let's see ... exactly what you were doing before? For every game you're tripping over yourself to purchase on launch day there are 1,000 superiorly written, better orchestrated, honky-doory titles rotting on eBay that you've yet to discover. Use the imagination that videogames has cultivated in you to pretend that your legs have been gnawed off and you must wait a whole two weeks until they respawn to carry you to the thrift store. Instead, isn't it time to face your shortcomings as a human being? Did your uncle touching you incorrectly prevent you from enjoying a Tactical RPG?  Use this time to reflect on that. Tip#3A. Formulate your own opinion by breaking into someone's home The best way to sell you a game, according to a speaker at a recent videogames marketing conference, is to keep it as far away from you as possible. I'm not making this up. All the hype, marketing, previews, reviews, etc. are shockingly less effective in telling you how you will actually feel about a title than having the audacity to sit on a friend's sofa and borrow the controller, or download a demo. You have friends, right? [embed]246027:47160:0[/embed] You may also want to identify reviewers that you enjoy across multiple websites, and wait until they spend days reviewing a title so you can skip straight to the score and perform maths. We're all wrong anyway, so you may as well reconcile whose wrongness is the best. Tip #4. Remind yourself that modern media isn't scarce  99.9% of games don't sell out permanently, so calm down, son. Remember, what you're actually buying is permission to use data burned onto a disc that costs less than a quarter, or the data transfer cost to them. You chilluns don't have to deal with RAM shortages and volatile market prices causing cartridge production to grind to a hault, as seen in the 80's with The Adventure of Link. Your body will rot forty times over before this generation's Blu-RAY discs become rare.  The exception might actually be digital media that requires persistent servers online. Play those games while they're here, but don't preorder them without doing your homework first, babies. Bonus PSA: Diamonds are also not rare, but we'll let you explain that one to your girlfriend. She won't care and will still secretly desire the biggest one you can afford, because we are simple, simple animals. Tip #5. If you don't enjoy a videogame, think of the raccoons Look at the sprawling city around you, and spit at it. Modern civilization has made it easy to deliver previews electronically into homes, but have also made it very difficult for nearby forrest creatures to purchase the copies of Aliens: Colonial Marines that humans have left to waste. By murdering yourself and leaving your windows open perhaps a curious family of raccoons can cuddle over your first-world corpse to discover why videogames are art. Speaking of which, do you journalize art for truth and accuracy, or do you just kind of stand around stroking your chin while trying to criticize it on a very personal level? I'm scared and confused, surrounded by tense smaller animals of a different vernacular. [Photo Credit: Nigel3]
Previews ≠ Reviews photo
A consumer's guide on how not to make the press and themselves look retarded
Games journalism criticism is a young field of business. As with any emerging practice it often likes to talk about itself, not because games writers are pretentious masturbatory bastards, but because we care to do the best j...

IGN Entertainment Layoffs photo
IGN Entertainment Layoffs

IGN parent company to shutter 1UP, GameSpy, and UGO


Ziff Davis shutting down some of its recent acquisitions
Feb 21
// Kyle MacGregor
IGN laid off several members of its editorial team today. The move follows IGN's recent sale to Ziff Davis Media, which also plans to close subsidiaries 1UP, GameSpy, and UGO as a part of the restructuring.  "Our goal is...
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PS4 Megaton: Tameem Antoniades loses the DmC Dante hair


Shave his head? Never in a million years
Feb 20
// Jim Sterling
While some argue the PlayStation 4 reveal event wasn't as full of megaton announcements as it should have been, many glossed over one important and startling bit of news -- Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades has hacked off...
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EA + Tabloid = Half-naked woman in Crysis 3 bodypaint


Sleaze meets sleaze to have a sleazy little baby
Feb 20
// Jim Sterling
The Sun loves to talk about how dangerous those violent videogames are, and frequently runs stories vilifying interactive entertainment for inspiring crime and teaching the youth of Britain all sorts of terrible things. Still...
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Terraria celebrates XBLA/PSN release by sending pebbles


Junk mail of an entirely different flavor
Feb 11
// Jim Sterling
We certainly get sent all manner of weird tat and nonsense in our role as semi-professional videogame jesters, and sometimes it's just ridiculous enough to achieve the desired effect and get a post. Here's 505 Games, literall...
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David Jaffe launches glorious verbal attack on CNN anchor


Developer gives Erin Burnett a furious piece of his mind
Feb 06
// Jim Sterling
Last week, we talked about how CNN anchor Erin Burnett desperately tried to link videogames to violent crime, attempting as she did to lead a psychologist into agreeing with her, and appearing flustered when he didn't. She wa...
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Ziff Davis buys IGN


News Corp hands over gaming site as part of 'restructuring'
Feb 04
// Jim Sterling
j2 Global subsidiary Ziff Davis has acquired IGN, following months of rumors that News Corp, run by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, was looking to offload the site in a "restructuring" plan. IGN, of course, also owns AskMe...

Whoa! A gun violence talk that does NOT blame games!

Feb 01 // Tony Ponce
[embed]243782:46668:0[/embed] You ought to check out the entire thing, but if you just want to watch the videogames segment, it's this clip labeled "The mental health stigma and violence." Cheryl Olson, co-author of the games violence research book Grand Theft Childhood, was on hand to once again point out there is little evidence to support any link between violent games and real-world violence. From her studies, she learned, "[T]he typical 13-year-old boy is playing at least one mature-rated violent game on a regular basis. And when you are looking at something very rare like a school shooting, and something that's statistically normal like playing violent videogames, it's kind of hard to make that link." Cooper agrees, "I looked at the study in ten different countries between gun violence and videogame sales, and it doesn't seem like there's a link in all these different countries." The discussion then shifts towards children suffering from mental health issues, and from there the panelists begin talking about the difficulties parents face in getting even so much as a proper diagnosis and treatment for their mentally ill kids. Audience member Liza Long is invited to stand up and share the story of her 13-year-old son, who exhibits great mental instability and a proclivity towards violence. Long fears that her son has the potential to be a school shooter one day, but her efforts to seek proper treatment are hindered by doctors who would rather throw more medicine at him and authorities who would rather throw the boy in prison. As it turns out, Long's son does not play first-person shooters and its ilk, instead preferring Minecraft and Dungeons & Dragons. His issues clearly do not stem from the media he consumes, yet because current laws and medical policies are reactive rather than proactive, there's very little Long can do to prevent a potential incident down the road. Granted, videogames are but a small portion of the entire Town Hall, but when it is touched upon, it's done with serious class. This may not seem like the most mind-blowing discourse to you -- these are the kinds of conclusions game bloggers and other pro-game outlets draw on a regular basis -- but considering it's a public forum held in front of possibly millions of viewers, it's very refreshing to hear. So yeah, more of that on TV, please.
Gun violence photo
Anderson Cooper's Town Hall special discusses gun violence
It might be easy to label all major news pundits as being dangerously ignorant of videogames, especially when it concerns sexual or violent content. However, we ought to know better than to paint everyone with the same broad ...

CNN host tries and fails to link videogames to violence

Feb 01 // Jim Sterling
"You kill a prostitute, and that's a big thing, you get to win points," lied Burnett. "I find that offensive. But does that mean that those people who play that game are more likely to kill people?" Pollack's answer? No. He said there was absolutely no evidence, though admitted gamers may be less willing to break up fights and may engage in domestic violence. As questionable and alarmist as even that is, it clearly wasn't the answer the CNN reporter had hoped for.  As the interview concludes, I urge you to take a moment to observe Erin Burnett, stuttering, dejected, and visibly disappointed -- a far cry from the look of petulant smugness she begins the interview wearing. She wanted a psychologist to say violent videogames cause killers, and got one who said they don't. She wanted her assumptions to be backed up, and was told there no evidence supported her opinion. The sorrow on her face says it all.  Naturally, Erin and her sordid ilk will continue to bang on the same drum, and can find any number of alleged psychologists who will say anything they want. With that in mind, it's a small comfort, but it is nice to see a panic-mongering hack squirm after utterly failing to get the story she so pitifully and obviously tried to claw for herself.
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Erin Burnett wants psychologist to say things he doesn't believe
CNN's Erin Burnett last night tried desperately to make a psychologist blame videogames for gun violence, attempting to coerce him into agreeing with her that "violent" games make people more likely to kill.  "There's a...

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Objectify A Male Tech Writer Day [Update]


Salivate over grade-A man-meat on February 1st
Jan 28
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Leigh Alexander has decided to call off the event, following an examination of potential risks. It's been proposed that the event alienates those who do not neatly fit into the straight male and straight female dynam...
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Some guy: Xbox might be sold to Sony, Microsoft is ruined


Man on Internet says things in 'saying things' SHOCKER!
Jan 21
// Jim Sterling
Remember that guy who said Microsoft's Xbox division cannot be sustained by the company? Well, here comes another analyst with the same suggestion, going so far as to believe rival Sony could acquire the brand. Them's some da...

The biggest videogame controversies of 2012

Dec 20 // Jim Sterling
Retake Mass Effect In the eyes of some, Mass Effect is to videogames what Star Wars is to film. Such a comparison holds water when you take a look at the fanbase, especially its reaction to Mass Effect 3. This was the big finale, the culmination of a trilogy in which millions of gamers had invested their time, their interest and, yes, even their emotion. In many ways, its ending was guaranteed to piss people off, as nobody can put so much personal stock in a story and not feel disappointed by the way it concludes. However BioWare ended it, it'd never be exactly what individual fans envisioned.  Nevertheless, nobody was quite prepared for the backlash. Aside from the usual Metacritic mauling, petitions were erected to have BioWare change the ending. Business authorities were notified as fans accused BioWare and Electronic Arts of lying. Cupcakes were sent to the studio's office in protest. The biggest sticking point lay in how commercials promised fans that every choice they'd made in the series mattered, when in reality the ending all came down to one of three "choose your ending" options, like any other videogame.  The anger became focused into the "Retake Mass Effect" campaign, which eventually got big enough to where BioWare released new downloadable content in order to "contextualize" the ending. For some, this was the olive branch they wanted. For others, it fixed nothing. Even now, months after the game's release, the debate as to whether or not fans were ultimately cheated by BioWare rages on.  Are you right there, Phil Fish? There is a reason public relations is such a big sector of the game industry, and it's because game developers seem to have a habit of really putting their feet in their mouths. Phil Fish, already a controversial figure in the indie development scene, demonstrated just how badly things can go when you utter the wrong thing, after he said to a Japanese developer, "Your games just suck." Of course, he went and said this right before his project of many years, FEZ, was slated to launch on Xbox Live Arcade. Years and years of promotion and hype, undone by a single sentence. Pretty soon, whenever FEZ was mentioned, talk emerged on whether or not the creator was a racist. There were gamers who refused to buy the game, due to concerns over supporting a bigot, while others were simply angry that he'd so bluntly write off an entire sector of game development.  Chances are pretty good that Fish, for all his faults, is not a racist. His dismissal of an entire nation's games, however, was undoubtedly ignorant, and it's not hard to see why so many were offended. Nevertheless, FEZ performed quite well and enjoyed huge critical acclaim. Just a shame about that patch.  The diabolical disaster of Error 37 Diablo III was one of the most anticipated games of the year, and after making six million sales in a week, it was easily among the biggest successes. Nevertheless, the game's always-online requirements remained a sticking point, especially when the glorified DRM measure meant users couldn't get into the game on launch day.  Many gamers trying to log in were hit with "Error 37" messages, Diablo III's servers unable to handle the masses of would-be heroes frantically attempting to enjoy the game they just paid for. The whole mess illustrated the major problem with PC gaming at the moment, as paying consumers feel less like customers and more like lodgers, enjoying temporary stays in a game's world at the mercy of corporate landlords. Nobody owns the games they pay for, and handing over your $60 doesn't guarantee you the ability to play what you bought -- and that's kind of not cool. Street Fighter X Tekken X Disc-Locked Content On-disc DLC is not a new concept, but gamers are growing increasingly tired of having to buy "extra" content that was already surreptitiously sold to them. This weariness came to head with Street Fighter X Tekken, featuring as it did a full roster of playable characters hidden on the disc, waiting to be unlocked via later purchases of "downloadable" content.  Despite the usual load of excuses (separate budgets, multiplayer integration, etc.), Capcom's behavior in this instance was largely considered a case of going way too far. Full character models, along with prologue and ending movies, were all sat there like sleeper agents, and it came off as more than a little insulting.  Capcom, for its part, would go on to say that it'd be "re-evaluating" its DLC policies in the future, though admitted Dragon's Dogma would still ship with disc-locked content. It remains to be seen whether or not Capcom can continue to resist this tacky business practice, or if it'll go back to old habits once it thinks the heat is off.  Bayonetta 2 ... U MAD? Perhaps one of the more ridiculous outrages this year concerned Bayonetta 2, a game that simply would not have existed without Nintendo's support. That didn't stop "fans" being utterly disgusted that the sequel would be a Wii U exclusive, seemingly preferring to have no game at all rather than one bound to Nintendo's newest home console.  Within moments of the game's announcement, folk were flinging shit around their cages in furious protest, sending such vile messages to Hideki Kamiya as, "I better see an Xbox release in future or I'll kill you," "FU*K you and fu*k YOU Platinum Games. Not buying games from you again. No respect for loyal gamers," and "Platinum studio is dead for me. Considering to cancel my MGRising pre-order too." The term "entitled gamer" is overused and often utilized in the wrong situation, but for this particular debacle, its certainly a term that seems to fit. Bayonetta's fans painted a truly despicable picture of themselves that day.  Doritosgate An image of Geoff Keighley sat, dead-eyed, next to a bag of Doritos and a load of Mountain Dew. It started as a generally humorous image, shared on social networks and used to poke fun at game journalism's increasing proximity to advertising agencies. Things took a more serious tone, however, when Eurogamer columnist Robert "Rab" Florence penned an article severely criticizing the way in which games media seem to hop gleefully in bed with industry PR. In particular, he picked at the British Games Media Awards, a ceremony in which game marketers essentially reward their favorite writers. Even worse, this year they had those same writers Tweeting advertising hashtags to try and win a PS3.  Things took a turn when Rab focused on one particular writer, Lauren Wainwright, who defended the hashtag contest. He noted how her defense of the practice led him not to trust her opinion, as someone who justified games media's complicity with product placement. Lauren would go on to accuse Eurogamer of libel, and her employer MCV got involved. Eventually, Eurogamer edited Rab's article to remove Lauren's name, and Florence quit his post at the publication in response.  This chain of events sent shockwaves throughout the gaming community, forums such as NeoGAF began shining a spotlight on a number of dodgy practices, and the media felt the heat. Some outlets wrote up new ethics codes, others promised to cut out publisher-paid preview trips. Many writers took hard, long looks at themselves. Then again, others wrote off the entire thing as unimportant whining, and didn't take the introspective opportunity. Whatever one's opinion, this was easily among the most tumultuous issues of the year, and something I personally haven't forgotten. The War Z and the war on telling the truth about things 2012 was so packed with kerfuffles that some studios had to wait until the last few weeks of the year to get their turn. Hammerpoint sung out twelve months of controversy with impressive gusto, releasing The War Z under a banner of lies. The game hit Steam with a list of features that weren't even in the game, promising multiple maps, skills, and up to 100 players per server. None of those were available at launch. Not only that, but customers weren't told they were playing a glorified alpha build that, frankly, was a mess.  The game itself was a huge disappointment. It was less zombie-survival MMO and more all-versus-all deathmatches with snipers talking out unarmed newcomers -- newcomers who'd survive for a few seconds and then have to wait four hours to respawn (unless they made a brand new character or paid Hammerpoint extra cash for an instant revival). As customers got pissed, Hammerpoint spent its time silencing dissent on message boards and attempting to portray complaints as the work of disingenuous fanboys. Valve, however, saw things differently, and actually pulled the game from Steam before offering refunds.  At the time of writing, more information continues to appear concerning the lazy and sketchy development of The War Z. This is a story that could carry us comfortably into the new year. 2012: The Year of Sexism The videogame industry is no stranger to social pressure, beset as it is by critics and pundits who wish to blame interactive entertainment for every ill in the world. This year, however, the heaviest of the pressure came from within. 2012 was undoubtedly the year gaming got serious about gender issues, which can be a good or bad thing, and the sheer volume of events that happened is staggering.  There really are too many things that happened to name individually, but a few of the biggest include Hitman: Absolution and a trailer depicting Agent 47 bashing the crap out of fetishized nuns, the attacks on BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler, a women threatened with rape after seeking funds for a video series on videogame gender tropes, and the PR missteps of the Tomb Raider reboot.   Tomb Raider was arguably the most high-profile issue, a seemingly genuine attempt by Crystal Dynamics to craft a strong female character that managed to offend by beating the crap out of her and promising murky implications of attempted rape. While the game looks on track to be quite good, the big mouths of executives and developers dug themselves into deeper and deeper holes, as they attempted to backtrack on earlier statements and go so far as to deny the word "rape" even exists in their minds. It all got a bit David Brent, to be honest.  Of course, while some gamers enjoyed having provocative debates over the problem of sexism in the game industry, others pushed back, angry that their escapism was being dragged into such heated discussion. Whatever your opinion, though, I think we can all agree it's at least a testament to the growth and continued influence of videogames that we can even have these discussions nowadays, where once any issues would be roundly ignored.  I mean, you can just ignore any controversy that doesn't interest you, right?  Oh right ... Internet. 
Biggest controversies photo
Twelve months of outrage
Another year, another round of videogame controversies! 2012 was perhaps one of the biggest years ever for scandal and strife, filled with sexism, lies, and ... Doritos?  We've compiled the most outrageous outrages of th...

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Dynasty Warriors implicated in school shooting


Camp hack n' slash can feed your 'Darkest Thoughts'
Dec 17
// Jim Sterling
As if the circular blame game surrounding violent crime wasn't bad enough, one particular British tabloid has decided to implicate Dynasty Warriors in the Adam Lanza school shooting. Yes, we've moved on from Mass Effect and a...
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Mass Effect and more attacked over school shooting


Angry mob goes after games when media misleads them
Dec 15
// Jim Sterling
Yesterday, the mainstream media sunk to a new low in its rush to build the latest death circus. Following a horrific school shooting in a Connecticut kindergarten, news sources -- chiefly CNN -- jumped to dangerous speculatio...
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Halo 4 will NOT be issuing special XBL bans for sexism


Racism and homophobia not given a looser leash either
Nov 06
// Jim Sterling
Last week, Halo 4 was at the center of a brouhaha with word that sexist behavior in Halo 4 online play would net the user a lifetime ban. While some folks applauded the measure, others asked why homophobic and racist activity...

Check out these gaming blogs and discover happiness

Nov 05 // Daniel Starkey
Our Special Selections These are the sites that we think are particularly excellent for one reason or another. Critical Distance and Dire CriticKris Ligman contributes to both of these sites on a regular basis. The first, Critical Distance, is a blog dedicated to highlighting other independent blogs. The latter is Kris' personal site and it is fantastic all-around. Nightmare ModeThose of you disillusioned with the growing bond between many game journos and PR folks might be interested in Nightmare Mode. Run by former Dtoider Patricia Hernandez, the site is personal and honest, which is a lot more than can be said for many other sites these days. Awesome Out of 10Several former Dtoiders and their pals contribute to this blog regularly. It seeks to turn the whole notion of numbered scores for games on its head by boiling each game down to a word or phrase... out of ten. Geekdom Venus PatrolVenus Patrol focuses on the visual and aesthetic beauty produced by the games industry. Concept art, screens, and side projects all get a fantastic showcase here. Die Gute FabrikThese guys represent a game studio in Copenhagen. Their team attempts to translate the mechanics of physical games into something new with 21st-century technology. UnwinnableWow... just... wow... The scope of Unwinnable is somewhat ridiculous. There's so much content covering so many different aspects of geek culture you are guaranteed to find something you like here. DorkismsDeeply personal and heavy on the swears, Dorkisms is just as the name implies -- a dorky place with dorky things. General Gaming Brainy GamerAre you a scholarly gamer? Do you enjoy your frag fests with a piping hot cup of the finest herbal tea? Brainy gamer might be your place. They try to look past the superficial and get into the meat of games, criticism, and the culture that surrounds them. Attract ModeA "videogame collective" of artists, designers, journalists, and the like, Attract Mode is best described as a mini Gamasutra with a much more attractive website. TwinfiniteWhen I see the Twinfinite people at conferences, I think of a very young Destructoid. These folks are dedicated and they deserve your clicks. Action ButtonTim Rogers is a person. And this is his blog. Operating without a standard review format, Tim and friends post some of the more engaging pieces of legitimate criticism I've ever read. Great stuff. Rock Solid AudioRun by a former game journo, Rock Solid Audio is a fantastic blog from one Nick Suttner. Beeps and BloopsNot updated very often, Beeps and Bloops is focused on "informed criticism," something that our industry is definitely lacking. GrantlandI'm going to preface this by saying that if you haven't read Tom Bissell's Extra Lives, you should probably go take care of that. This man is a brilliant journalist who happens to be a gamer. His content is fantastic and you need it in your life. Electron DanceIf you like well-thought, intelligent discussions about videojuegos, then this another site you can add to your list of daily bits. Good Games WritingThis isn't so much a news or reviews blog in the traditional sense as it is a place to highlight the best in games journalism. It gave me a smidge of hope amidst the recent Geoff Keighly insanity. It's good to know there are people being awesome all the time, everywhere. Quarter to ThreeQtT is rather close to my heart a website that acknowledges the apparently chronic insomnia of the people who game. Among the sites listed here, this is among the most active and has a relatively high post/day count, so you'll get quite a bit to keep your eyes busy. Themed websites Indie GamesIt follows that some indie game blogs would be about indie games, right? Well this is one of the best. Give it some lovin'. Free Indie GamesThe title says it all. Tiny CartridgeAre you passionately in love with all things DS? Are you sick and tired of not getting all the DS coverage you feel you deserve? Tiny Cartridge has you covered. HookShot Inc.HookShot Inc. is all about cheap, small downloadable games that run $15 or less. If you're a gamer on a budget, or just love PSN and XBLA, this might be your jam. Dead End ThrillsDuncan Harris uses heavily modded games and a pretty solid gaming rig to squeeze all the visually beauty he can from games... then he takes pics. Seriously, if you ever want to see just how pretty some games can get, you should check this guy out. Rockman Corner & The Mega Man NetworkThese blogs are all about Mega Man. I mean EVERYTHING Mega Man. From fan art to music to modern film, these people have an obsession. Our very own Mr. Tony Ponce swears by both, and Destructoid editors are never wrong. We sincerely hope that you'll take a look at some of these sites and give them the traffic and recognition they deserve. If you don't like one, don't worry there's plenty here to keep you occupied for a long time to come.
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Earning our karma
I came across Destructoid back in 2006. At the time, it was barely a blip on the industry's radar. It was just a pack of dedicated bloggers with a rebellious streak. Now, this site has seen at least a dozen of its own graduat...

From a bag of Doritos to a bag of dirty laundry

Oct 29 // Jim Sterling
From hashtags to harshtags Florence's criticism of Wainwright stemmed from her defense of a suspicious contest being held at the GMAs, where media folks were encouraged to Tweet a marketing department's hashtag for a chance to win a PS3. Lauren's insistence that there was nothing wrong with such a practice rang alarm bells in Rab's ears. "Now, a few tweets earlier, she also tweeted this: ‘Lara header, two TR pix in the gallery and a very subtle TR background. #obsessed @tombraider pic.twitter.com/VOWDSavZ'," he wrote. "And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist’s apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she’s in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I’m sure she isn’t, but the doubt is there. After all, she sees nothing wrong with journalists promoting a game to win a PS3, right?" Wainwright took umbrage with Florence's words, and her response was to accuse him of libel. Her employer, MCV, backed her 100%, and after a day of back-and-forth between Rab's supporters and hers, Eurogamer eventually capitulated to the implied threat of legal action and amended the offending article. That is when everything went truly south.  The Internet will CUT you Various communities, most notably NeoGAF, began talking in earnest about the situation, with many of them reposting and immortalizing Rab's redacted words. Rab, meanwhile, stepped down as a writer for Eurogamer, feeling his position was untenable at an outlet that would censor him (that said, he did not bear his former employers any ill will). In no time at all, Lauren was revealed to have listed Square Enix as an employer, at the same time as she was reviewing and covering Square Enix games. She claimed she had not reviewed any of the publisher's games while working for it as a consultant, but an image of her Deus Ex: Human Revolution review for The Sun was quickly shared online. Meanwhile, she locked her Twitter account to escape a torrent of abuse, and also set about deleting references to her Square Enix connections. This all added fuel to the fire, as a public found such behavior all the more suspect.  Lauren and MCV deny any sort of legal threats being made, but even that has been called into question, with Lauren having been found to have Tweeted that her media law qualifications were finally paying off. Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell said that Lauren had made it quite clear to them that lawyers would be involved if nothing was done. Such a threat cannot be taken lightly in the UK, where libel suits are costly, risky, and can prove destructive to the losing party.  Neither Lauren nor MCV have made further comment on the matter, and are more or less attempting business as usual.  Media uncoverage The story gained traction at many outlets, with articles from Penny Arcade, Forbes, and myself via GameFront pouring in. At this time, the hardcore gamer community demanded other outlets cover the ongoing controversy, with some publications such as Kotaku brushing it off as not important. This was seen as a position of cowardice by the likes of GAF, who felt the story shone too bright a light on the dodgy dealings of the gaming press at large. Meanwhile, Stephen Totilo's argument that good games journalism was what mattered only seemed to amuse the accusatory GAF, who wasted no time in juxtaposing the statement against Kotaku's Halo 4 unboxing video.  It didn't end there. As the GAF thread goes on, everything is scrutinized from free review copies to press kits to writers and game marketers being far too friendly to provide a useful service to readers. All of it's worthy of scrutiny, all of it's worth thinking about. It is tempting to cover each subject individually, and that may indeed happen here if enough people would like a series on the subject.  Are there any writers who deserve to be called game journalists? Does calling yourself a blogger really give you the right to be lax on journalistic ethics? Should reviewers buy all their own review copies? The story throws up a plethora of questions, so many that no single article could cover them all. Most importantly, people have been asking, "Why is nobody covering this?" In a few ways, Totilo isn't incorrect. Many gamers do just want to hear about the games, and they don't really care for journalism or controversy. Maybe a site that talks about Japanese food isn't the right environment in which to say it, but it's not untrue. Then again, the size of the GAF thread alone proves there's a huge audience for these kinds of stories, so there is definitely something to gain from writing about it.  As for having something to lose from doing so ... maybe. There's no doubt that this is an uncomfortable story, and I don't think there are many writers at all who could claim to not be on friendly terms with at least somebody on the other side of the fence. Trust between a writer and a reader is crucial, and perhaps it is true that this story makes every writer just that little bit less trustworthy. I will quite happily admit that I have repartee with several members of the industry-side of things, and it's up to the readers whether or not that makes me unworthy of trust. It's not for me to say. It's not for any games media to claim it's trustworthy. That's a decision for the readers.  The ongoing discussion Many writers have decided to shrug this whole thing off as nothing but, a week later, it's still being talked about and, as Ben Kuchera says, it doesn't look like it's going away. Everybody covering games professionally is currently being viewed under a microscope, but not by publishers looking to see who they should favor -- it's by the people who ultimately matter. The readers are the ones taking a long and dirty look.  That's a good thing. Ultimately, it's the readers we are meant to serve. It's not our job to look after a developer's Metacritic bonus, or ensure that Ubisoft is happy with the way we phrase a particular thing. As a guy who got himself blacklisted at Konami in the name of entertaining and informing gamers, and who writes for a site that gained its popularity back when no publisher gave a damn about us, I can confidently say that it all begins and ends with the audience. We can live without the blessing of a game manufacturer, but we're dead without you. I'm glad the audience is judging our worth to them and I'm glad we're all getting a chance to reflect on what's going on.  I invite you to look at what Destructoid does. Read our reviews, check out the pictures of plastic tat that publishers send us, and by all means examine the games that our mascot, Mr. Destructoid, has appeared in. Take a good, long look at every site you enjoy. I can only speak for myself, but I welcome the scrutiny, and your decision as to whether or not we're worthy of your readership. If you decide we're too friendly with the games industry to do you a service, then it's a consequence I embrace. If you decide we are capable of giving you honest analysis of the game industry, then I can only be grateful for you allowing us to do that. In any case, it's given me and others a lot to think about, and those of us who did not simply close ranks on this issue will likely continue to think about what we've done and how we can improve. Maybe Destructoid is doing something wrong. Maybe I'm failing you as reviews editor somewhere. I like to think about this, because I believe we can always get better.  And if you don't care about any of this stuff, and just want to talk about videogames? That's fine too. Unless you're a professional writer, doing this for a living. I don't think we get to not care. None of us have earned that kind of privilege.
Game media controversy photo
How the games media got into a big crispy mess
Who knew that a picture of a man sat next to a bag of Doritos could snowball into anger, humiliation, and intrigue? The most startling thing about this industry is that the biggest of avalanches can erupt from the humblest of...

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Game Critics announce 'Best of E3 2012' nominees


Jun 20
// Jim Sterling
Every year, judges selected from a variety of outlets (including Destructoid) are asked to vote for their favorite games shown at E3. The nominations are in and you can probably guess who made the cut for the "best in show" t...
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E3: NINTENDO USES ELECTRICAL CORDS, CONFIRMED!


Jun 05
// Tony Ponce
Holly Green and I took a step outside the convention center today and spotted a bunch of crates for Nintendo's booth. We knew we had to share with you the contents of these crates, so we ducked security to snap some photos. A...

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