On #GamerGate and games reviewing, or Awww, Our Little Hobby Is Growing Up

(cross-posted from a comment about #GamerGate on We Hunted The Mammoth, because this encapsulates why I think a lot of GG’s outrage is mistaken or misplaced)

I just want to know where this theoretical games journalism industry habit of assigning games to people who hate those kinds of games is happening. At least in the places where I read reviews, of course you give an action game to a fan of action games and a strategy game to a fan of strategy games, because that’s how you assess a game amongst the body of work that already exists within that genre. No different to music reviews – if someone hates classical you don’t get them to review orchestral stuff, because a) they have no working knowledge of the genre and b) there’s going to be more of an appreciation for the details among someone who does indeed enjoy that kind of music. Plus if someone hasn’t played the previous God Of War games, for instance, they can’t tell you why the latest one sucks in comparison to the last two. 😉

I think where the gamebros are losing their shit is that it’s getting harder and harder to keep games in specific genres (RPG elements in action games, strategy elements in FPSs, platformers with puzzle-solving emphasis). Add to that the explosion in indie games that don’t follow a set formula and the idea that you can find a reviewer that fits every niche gets a little ridiculous. Games reviewing is being forced to broaden its assessment criteria. Plus with “adult themes” being ever more prevalent, and the average gamer being in their 30s, it makes sense that concepts like narrative themes, setting, context within current events and social influences are becoming a part of what’s considered when reviewing a game.

Add to that the pervasive defensive crouch amongst a lot of gamers in that 30-something age bracket, who have never shaken the stigma surrounding gaming 10-20 years ago which is barely a thing anymore, and you get a little insight into why their assurance that Everything About Gaming Is Awesome is shaken when they see reviews that aren’t just cheerleading Gaming Itself but picking games apart with a critical eye – which they are mistaking for attack.

It’s a nesessary phase in the maturation of the medium. I still don’t really grok the howling opposition to games becoming Srs Bsns, except that it’s a convenient hobby horse for a certain strain of hippie-punching, How Dare You Tell Me I Can’t, tolerance=oppression! redpill-esque belief that geeks are still a persecuted class who are more enlightened and underappreciated but will some day rule the world.

Obviously they didn’t get the fucking memo that geeks do rule the world now. 😉


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