Jan 21 //
Videogame journalists are the biggest nerds in the world
This may seem like an unrelated point, but it's important to start this off by identifying who we're dealing with here. Nerds. Huge fucking nerds.
What do I mean by nerd? A lot of things, but the two key points for now are 1) nerds care about shit that is completely unimportant to everyone else, and 2) nerds want other people to see how important this unimportant shit actually is. A nerd is a guy who can't help spend hours trying to convince his loathing in-laws that The Game Grumps are way funnier than Mel Brooks. A nerd is a girl who sits you down in the middle of a hurricane and babbles about how the latest Legend of Zelda game completely sucks compared to the prior, nearly identical Legend of Zelda game. A nerd is in their own world. A nerd wants you to be in that world with them.
I'm not saying there is anything wrong or right about being a nerd. It's just a thing. Some nerds take pride in being nerds, and they tend to be the most annoying of their breed. Other nerds are ashamed of being nerds, which is also pretty fucking annoying. Videogame journalists tend to do both at the same time, which makes them doubly annoying, and triple susceptible to manipulation.
A nerd wants to be understood, to be validated, to have their peers finally "get" how fucking amazing Buffy the Vampire Slayer is. They want to be honored for their ability to immerse themselves in banal, worthless shit. They want to get paid for it too, because who wouldn't? This is the portrait of a "videogame journalist," a writer who might as well be wearing clown shoes and a t-shirt that has "deluded asshole" written on it in big rainbow lettering, should they ever talk to actual, real-life journalists about their jobs. "I just wrote a hot exposé on how how the guy who made Gears of War got tops scores in Mario growing up, where the fuck is my Pulitzer?" they cry, alone at the journalism party, wondering why every other journalist in the world can't make eye contact with them without laughing or turning away in sympathetic embarrassment.
AAA publishers are well aware of what they're dealing with here. They know that videogame "journalists" are the biggest fucking nerds in the world, and they have spent millions of dollars on turning this situation to their advantage.
Food, folks, and fun
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that videogame "journalists" are all totally fucking poor. I don't know how much the staff at Destructoid get, but I'd bet they don't make much more than your average McDonald's manager. I don't just mean the frontline writers either. I mean the bosses too. Unless you're one in the unknown guys in the way back, sitting pretty at one of the big-money parent companies that pull the strings of the game blogs you read, chances are you're poor as fuck.
So you're a multi-billion dollar company and you have a group of "journalists" in front of you who are totally financially bankrupt and aren't respected by anyone in the world except for their videogame loving "fans." Metacritic makes or breaks games these days, and some game blogs are read in the millions, so you know you need to get these fucking nerds on your side somehow. But how can you do that, other than by making actually good videogames? That's really fucking hard, right? Isn't there an easier way to win them over? Like any business transaction, you have to look at what you have that the other side wants, and vice versa. From there, you concoct a deal that will leave you richer and the other guy poorer.
Videogame "journalists" have the one thing that AAA publishers can never have, but I'm not quite sure what the word for it is. I don't want to go as far as to say "integrity," but it's something in that ballpark. Multi-billion dollar publishers will always look like car salesmen to consumers. Some are more likable car salesmen than others, but we all know that all they want is for us to "shut up and give them our money." In fact, I have it on good authority that it was a corporate shill who created that meme. Nothing like memes to create a culture where buying shit makes you feel like a funny guy that's super popular on the Internet. But back to the point.
Though they often fail at it, the game "journalist" has the potential to be seen as something more noble than a car salesmen. In theory, they are someone who tells the honest truth about videogames, despite the fact that they get paid shit and are mocked by real journalists for choosing that path. It's a path they can't help but fall into, and can't usually crawl out of either. They can't help but care about videogames and the people who play them. I'd call it "honorable" if it weren't so fucking stupid. Either way, it's an image that AAA publishers can only dream about having.
So if you are a multi-billion-dollar game publisher, these borderline "honorable" people are who you want to buy, but the irony is, buying them would ruin them for you. If you put them on the payroll then *POOF*, cherry popped, and with it any illusion of honesty and integrity. That's counterproductive. That's scrubbing your toilet with shit-scented soap. So instead of buying game "journalists" directly, you have to work them sideways. You have to win their affection, to get them to feel instead of think. To do that, you have to feed them the things that they're missing -- acceptance, a sense of importance, and often times, actual food.
Ask your average San Francisco-area game journalist how many fancy parties they were invited to by AAA game publishers last month, and they'll likely be unable to tell you off hand because there were too many to keep track of. All of these parties are well-catered with fancy food and free drinks. They are almost all held at trendy clubs, complete with stylish DJs playing cutting-edge music. Young, attractive PR people work the "press party," playing the role of "professional friends." They'll smile and joke and hang out with the "journalists" as they drunkenly play some half-finished, totally mediocre, risk-free AAA videogame. Maybe they'll get drunk and make out with the attractive PR people later on. Maybe the game being previewed at that party will get a 9/10 by that writer later in the year. Maybe that happens with every goddamn over-hyped annual AAA game release in the history of AAA game releases. Maybe it's been going on for years.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. That's not even getting into "review events" where journalists are flown to exotic locations, fed even fancier food, and basically treated like kings for the entirety of a long weekend, before returning home to their shitty studio apartments and nightly ramen-noodle dinners. That's not touching E3, a trade show disguised as a press event where AAA publishers make an economy out of swag and "insider" game screenings, parties, and press conferences, where journalists are trained to measure their worth by how close they were able to get to certain "important" games and publishers, and not by how thoughtful and unbiased their coverage is.
This lists go on and on, and nothing on the list has ever been a secret. Like that giant gas pipe with "DANGER" written in bling all over it, all this unethical bullshit is hiding in plain site since the dawn of the game industry. Capcom even used to advertise its "CAPtivate" event on its own blog, despite the fact that it was basically a giant trip to Hawaii it bought for game "journalists." There was no GamerGate-style hashtag to complain about it either. That's right, gamers weren't worried at all about collusion and conflicts of interests at all back when Capcom took all of the most-read game bloggers in the world on a fucking group vacation to Hawaii. I guess gamers in those days were too busy fretting over the fact that some blog might have given a game they liked an 8 instead of a 9, or some other such bullshit that they've been trained to think is important. Good thing those days are over, right guys?
If anything, gamers seemed to think that CAPtivate was cool. It probably gave them hope. If they became game journalist someday, they too could hangout with women who were paid to pretend to like them and get free food and basically be allowed to remain children forever. That's "living the dream" for many people. I know it was my dream for a while, until I woke the fuck up. Now I see that we've created a culture where the rich, popular kids occasionally ask the biggest nerds in the world for help with their homework, and in exchange they let the nerds sit at the "cool" table at lunch for a day. But just for a day. Then it's back to the fucking nerd hole with the lot of them. Even worse, everyone involved seems totally OK with maintaining this practice as the status quo.
That's fucked up.
So why is everyone OK with it?
Part of why everyone's OK with it is that everyone either feels like they benefit from it, or they feel powerless to stop it. AAA publishers get their coverage, game blogs get views and free vacations, and game blog readers get to read about the games that they've been convinced are "hardcore" and "important" by the other two groups. The consumer is having their wallets stolen from them as AAA publishers look them straight in the eye and say "I'm doing you a favor," and god fucking damn it, the average consumer seems to believe them. Why else would broken, bland shit like Destiny be one of the best-selling games of 2014?
As for the "journalists," they just look on at the crime and say "Well, that's just how the system works. Guess I'll just shrug my shoulders and obey this review embargo. Wouldn't want to lose my job! Wouldn't want to get my dick cut off by Activision! Gotta keep your dick around, even if the only thing you get to use it for is pissing out press releases and jerking off to the idea that you're doing something worthwhile with your life."
And in the face of all this, thousands of people think that some poor, no-name game developer fucking some poor, no-name game "journalist" are the root of the ethical issues in "game journalism"? Are you for fucking real?
Of course you're not for fucking real. You're a smokescreen, obviously.
I know that certain parties at certain AAA game publishers are fucking thrilled with GamerGate, and have actively worked to keep that shitstorm going under anonymous accounts, not unlike this one that I'm using right now. And why wouldn't they? GamerGate distracts from the real ethical issues in game journalism while bringing hits to the blogs that are basically working as unpaid PR for whatever cookie-cutter, "must-have" game of the week that they're hocking that day. It inflates the importance of game bloggers, and as a result, the importance of the games they blog about. 99% of the time, that's one of their games.
GamerGate also works to discredit the people who are scariest to AAA publishers; critics like Anita Sarkeesian who have managed to get their voices heard while remaining outside of the AAA PR ecosystem. Capcom can't fly Anita out to Hawaii and try to win her over. They can't slap a review embargo on her. She doing just fine without having to get involved with "hype-trains" or review events. She might be shitty at her job, but she's still an honest-to-God game critic, and that scares the fuck out of AAA publishers.
Equally scary are game developers who don't need AAA publishers to find their audience. Minecraft is their fucking worst nightmare, but it was too big to kill so they had to buy it. It's buy, sell, or kill with them, just like it is with all pimps. Those are the only services a pimp can provide. If they catch a girl who looks like she could live without a pimp, you can bet they'll do their best to swat her down, to make an example of her.
You wonder why no AAA publishers came to the aid of the game developers who are getting chased out of their homes by identity theft and death threats? It's because they are happy to see it happen. They are happy to see anyone who dared to work the streets without a pimp get shanked. But hopefully you're not happy with it. Hopefully you're not happy with people who are getting paid multi-million-dollar salaries to further a system where the shit trickles down from the top and lands squarely on your face. Hopefully you want to do something about it.
I've been trained do as I'm told so please tell me what to do, anonymous stranger!
If you insist.
First of all, let go of that goddamn fucking bullshit GamerGate hashtag. It makes you look like an idiot at best, a fucking stalker at worst. Start a new hashtag. Try #GameBoycott. Use it to identify games or game consoles that were presented to game "journalists" for coverage at fancy parties where they were given free stuff and other attempted buy-offs. Try that for a change, instead of spinning your wheels with dumbass witch hunts and obsessive nitpicking. Stop getting mad at the dog for farting and do something about the giant gas pipe in your kitchen.
I'll even give you a head start. I heard that Nintendo threw a big surprise party for game "journalists" last week where they were all fed free expensive food and given a "gift bag" that included a New 3DS and a bunch of games and shit. I think it's fair to call that an attempted buy-off. If you agree, boycott the New 3DS, and make some noise about it. Show Nintendo that you won't tolerate those kinds of business practices. Show them that you don't appreciate their efforts to buy the affection of nerds with really expensive gifts and fake friendship, regardless if those nerds are on the "consumer" or the "journalist" side of the equation.
Your money is the only thing they care about. If you want game "journalism" to be more ethical, you've got to go after the AAA publishers running the show. Trying to kill the blogs that write about their games won't help. If one dies, two more will just pop up in their place. Instead, reward the blogs who are up front about what AAA publishers are doing, and avoid the rest. Don't lose focus. Don't fall for smokescreens. Be consistent in your efforts to fuck with the secret AAA douchebags who are really in control, the guys smiling in the shadows as they wipe their asses with your hard-earned money. I know these guys personally, and trust me, they deserve to be fucked with.
[Disclaimer: The views and opinions of The Badger do not necessarily reflect those of Destructoid.com. They do make some interesting points, though.]
Because you apparently can't figure it out on your own [Note: The Badger could be anyone -- a game developer, a member of the gaming press, even a writer for another game blog. They could be just one person or multiple people. You'll probably never find out who they really are, w... read feature
Dec 21 //
Best Overall Game of 2014
Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Dark Souls 2
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Far Cry 4
Kentucky Route Zero 3
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
The Wolf Among Us
[NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to asses as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.]
The overall best fit [Image credit: Mike Lambert]
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Jan 12 //
Jonathan Holmes I'd be happy if violent videogames became less popular in an organic, natural way. That could be seen as an indication that American society was slowly becoming less obsessed with glorifying war and gun violence in general. To try to force that to happen by blaming and shaming violent videogames (and the people who play them) by censoring them out of existence is, at best, like putting a band-aid on a broken leg, or at worst, like amputating the wrong leg.
We live in a society where news programs compete for ratings on a daily basis by broadcasting the most violent, fear-inducing, negative news they can dig up. This competition often occurs on a 24-hour cycle.
We live in a society that continues to perpetuate the false idea that having a mental illness is something to be ashamed of, damning you to one of the lowest rungs on the cultural ladder if you happen to have an particular type of brain chemistry, and that mental health treatment often involves getting locked in a prison-like "Asylum" after getting punched in the face by a guy who dresses like a giant bat.
We live in a society where recreational abuse of addictive drugs is frequently glorified in pop music, movies, and television, while the fact that many of America's mass shooters were self-medicating with these very same mind altering drugs gets brushed under the rug.
It seems to me that our brains, and the way our brains fit into the greater culture, are the factors that most determine our behaviors. Taking a look at the brain chemistry of the those who commit murder and/or suicide, and how those brains were affected by the world around them, might be more effective in preventing future murder-suicides than banning Time Crisis.
If someone plays videogames in a way that isn't healthy for them, that's a sign that the real world might not be working for them. If we try to take their coping methods away, they'll just find something else to replace them with, something potentially much more dangerous than videogames (like those addictive drugs that our society so frequently glorifies). Better to help people get to the root of their problems before cutting off their methods for dealing with life.
Some people who have a tough time with life also enjoy videogames. Some people with migraine headaches routinely take aspirin. Lets not blame the aspirin for the headache.
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May 16 //
So let us start with the basics, who or what is Insert Coin clothing?
DL: What is Insert Coin? That's a difficult question! I guess it is just a group of people who love gaming, love tees and love bringing the geek out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Or we're a tee company making sweet gaming designs that people like wearing. One of the two, ha ha!
JR: As to who we are, well, there are about five of us now, but it started out with just me and Dan -- we worked together before. And while we're still the people who drive things forward, we've brought other people onboard to keep everything tight and focused.
DL: We've got really varied backgrounds -- design, writing, fashion, stagecraft. I used to design and build planes -- so it's a bit of a mad mix of skills and that's something unique to Insert Coin I think.What prompted you guys to even get started? There were already places out there selling gaming-based clothing, what really pushed you to think 'hey, we can do this too'?
JR: To be honest, it was because of what was out there already. I was looking for some new tees, thought I'd get something gaming-inspired and I was just really disappointed.
DL: We used to chat all the time about games and tees and so gaming tees would always come up as a topic -- and in particular the lack of decent ones. I remember the day Jon brought one in ... it wasterrible. The tee was thin and wispy, the design was badly printed -- we knew that couldn't be the bestanyone could do. We knew we could do better and give gamers tees that wouldn't fall apart and that'dlook damn cool too.
JR: It really was a wake up call. We knew we had the skills and the resources to do this andso Insert Coin was really borne out of the crushing disappointment of those first tees we bought.
As we know you have started Insert Coin as a completely new business enterprise, what was that hardest thing you had to overcome?
JR: I think that whenever you start up a business, it's hard. If anyone thinks 'ohh, they just make tees --it's easy' then that's really only the tip of the iceberg. There's so much to consider, so much to do and you have to work at it with everything you've got to make it a reality.
DL: And then work even harder to make it a success. We've put a lot of effort in because we know that this isn't the best time to start any kind of new business. But we've been overwhelmed with the response we've had.
JR: This is so true. People forget -- or don't even realise -- that we're not even a year old yet. In that time we've come a long, long way and while it's been tough at times, it's been so much fun too.
DL: The hardest thing I think is explaining what we do. At first, the idea was difficult to pitch to people -- making gaming tees that didn't have a huge picture of the main character on the front -- but now it has all fallen into place. People already know the great work that Dark Bunny and Last Exit do in the world of films, so now they know that if they want gaming tees with the same kind of subtle, stylish sensibilities, they come to Insert Coin.
Who does your designs? Do you think of them yourselves or do you look out onto the internet for some creative talent?
DL: Everything we do is in-house and, when it comes to the designs, then it comes down to Jon -- as our creative director -- to make them a reality.
JR: But the original ideas and concepts are very much a team effort -- we all pitch in and work around designs that we like and that we think other people will like too.
DL: I think if you live and breathe games you notice these little design flourishes that are lovingly put into titles and they inspire our designs and guide our creative process.
JR: We do get loads of external ideas and encouragement too though. Our fans and followers are really great and they're always giving us suggestions -- it must be at least two or three a day we receive. They help us shape what games to look at next and what sort of style designs people are interested in. And of course, we ran a competition with another gaming website forum to develop one of the ideas for our spring range -- so that's one of our fan's ideas directly inspiring a finished design!
What has the reception been like from the fans? We all know how people on the Internet can be when it comes to sharing their opinions.
JR: We've been really surprised -- they've been overwhelmingly positive!
DL: It's been lovely really, we seem to have really tapped into a great community and they're always positive and constructive with criticism and even when you do get random 'less good' feedback, it's normally good to help steer the company in the right direction.
JR: The only 'bad' things people say are things like 'why haven't you done this design yet' or 'more tees inspired by this game' ... it's just so difficult because there are so many great ideas and so many tees we want to do, we just can't do them all at once! We wish we could ... but it'd probably be impossible to search our site for what you wanted, ha ha!DL: Sometimes people question the price point of our tees and hoodies too ... which we kinda understand, but they're actually much cheaper than most other geek or gaming tees, particularly when you consider they're made from scratch and not just standard 'off the peg' items. We also offer free delivery anywhere in the world. No one else does that and so it makes our tees cheaper overall ... and take that from someone who's bought tees online from all around the world -- from Japan to Brazil!
JR: But overall, yeah, we've been really, really pleased with the response. Quite touched really ... we get some great emails sent in about how much people love what we do and that's what it's all about.
Personally, what has been your favourite design and why?
DL: It's difficult because it's always changing! I do love 'Calbers' though as it is just so beautifully oblique and obscure and Jon's done a great bit of treatment on the initial idea.
JR: I always gravitate towards the black tees ... I think 'Klobb' is getting the most chest-time at the moment!
DL: Oh yeah, Klobb on a hoodie awesome ... simple but those gamers who see it instantly get it!
Have you ever been in trouble because of your designs?
JR: We haven't really had a lot of problem with our designs to be honest. In fact, we've had a great support from inside the industry -- Naughty Dog, Sega, Xbox, EA, LucasArts, Capcom, Blizzard and more each day. We offer a very simple approach to it all though and are quite transparent that the majority of our designs are inspired by our favourite games. We're more than happy to work with any games companies! We've already got some deals in the pipeline that are very, very special indeed.
DL: The big piece of news that we CAN tell you is that we were asked by Sega to produce two celebration tees for Sonic's 20th birthday. They're still under wraps at the moment as they're with our friends in Japan, but they are scheduled to go live in about six weeks.
JR: Sonic is a huge part of all our gaming lives and so it's a huge honour to be involved with this kind of celebration ... it's going to be really cool!
Now, not that you want lots of competition to start springing up but what would you say to someone out there who wanted to started their own business or someone who wanted to start promoting their designs?
DL: Well, we're still learning all the time too, so this is only what we know so far -- ha ha! First of all, good luck! Second of all, be prepared for long hours, sleepless nights, an unbearable knowledge about cotton weights and the most fun you could ever imagine.
JR: You need to do your research. That's the key. You need to know every aspect inside out and you need to work bloody hard to make it work.
DL: And you need to keep at it -- determination goes a long way!
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