Good morning folks! There’s a MoeGamer 2019 Awards post coming later today, along with Warriors Wednesday, but a few things have been on my mind of late, so I wanted to think them through “out loud” and share those thoughts with you.
What I’m going to talk about today was primarily sparked by the recent plagiarism accusations levelled towards Niche Gamer by Sal Romano of Gematsu, but it also ties in with other surrounding matters such as the horrendous attitude towards a wide variety of marginalised groups displayed by One Angry Gamer and the hostile and abusive point of view expressed by the mainstream press towards fans of particular types of entertainment.
There’s a big rift in the gaming community. Actually, there are probably several, but the main one I want to talk about today is the one between the supposedly ultra-progressive side of the professional games press and the broader community of gaming enthusiasts who just want to get on with enjoying games without being preached to.
The problem here has been brewing for many years. There have long been accusations of impropriety levelled at the professional games press, many of which were unfounded, but in the last few years in particular this has escalated into outright hostility.
Commentators typically try to represent this as a left-wing/right-wing situation, with the brave and noble left-wing commercial games press standing up for all marginalised groups who ever existed, while the vicious and evil “alt-right” gamers (i.e. everyone else) hate everyone and everything except straight cis white men, preferably those with blond hair and blue eyes. You know, because they’re Nazis.
Of course, you probably don’t need me to tell you it’s considerably more complicated than that. But… well, it’s considerably more complicated than that.
I’m not a political type at all — in fact, I find political discussions actively distasteful and uncomfortable and try to avoid them whenever possible since, as someone on the autistic spectrum, I greatly fear the arguments and conflict they inevitably degenerate into. But if pushed — and this is backed up by many “political compass” tests I’ve taken in the past out of curiosity — I’d have to position myself as left-leaning. To grossly simplify things, I believe in equal rights, equal pay, equal respect for people who don’t conform to what thousands of years of society has defined as “norms” and practical, sustainable support for those who are less fortunate in one way or another.
I also think the left-wing games press consists of a bunch of arseholes who have lost touch with their audience and the purpose of their jobs.
Every time I read an article that brands fans of an LGBT-friendly title as “paedophiles”, every time I see uninformed criticism of a game with inherently progressive attitudes because it dares to be a little bit sexy, every time I witness the demonisation or othering of male sexuality, every time I see an all-time classic of the visual novel medium mocked because of “incest” and every time I see an amazing game shunned because of some amorphous argument about “fanservice”, my heart sinks.
The professional games press can and should do better. And this doesn’t mean going too far in the other direction like the aforementioned One Angry Gamer, who in just the last week at the time of writing has been complaining about “censorship” in Final Fantasy VII Remake (actually a completely new model for Shiva), “LGBT propaganda” in indie games (actually the simple presence of lesbian characters in Sayonara Wild Hearts) and… err… someone allegedly getting beaten up for wearing a Trump hat to school (actually, umm, nothing to do with gaming).
Unfortunately, criticising the left-wing professional games press tends to get you lumped in with stuff like One Angry Gamer, even if you also happen to think he’s a homophobic racist nutcase. I’ve even been called “alt-right” on more than one occasion — which, as anyone who has spent any time reading MoeGamer will hopefully recognise as being an utterly laughable accusation — simply for standing against the current fashion for what I’m coming to think of as “intolerant tolerance” — i.e. the overbearing protection of historically marginalised groups at the specific expense of those that have been traditionally privileged, as opposed to what I’ve always believed is the more desirable outcome: integrating everyone all together and actually getting along on an equal footing with mutual respect. Y’know, treating people as people rather than their arbitrary labels and all that.
So the professional games press isn’t really doing its job, and is actively alienating significant swathes of its potential readership on a regular basis. And I’d argue that — with a few exceptions such as several Japan-centric sites’ translation of non-English press releases — the traditional “news cycle” model of online games journalism in general doesn’t really have a place any more, especially when it’s so easy to get all the news you would ever want direct from the source thanks to social media and mailing lists. Because God knows there isn’t any actual investigative journalism going on!
This is why Niche Gamer’s plagiarism is so egregious; it highlights how a significant number of professional, semi-professional and even amateur enthusiast outlets handle the news cycle: by doing the rounds of other sites, re-reporting stories that have already been broken elsewhere and regurgitating press releases. News is little more than clickbait for the most part; a transparent attempt to get information-starved people to click on your site in an attempt to find out “Everything We Know So Far About Call of Duty” or why “Pokémon Sword and Shield Doesn’t Have a National Dex, and People Are Mad”, only to discover that the truth is something they’ve already read five times that morning on other sites.
This is why I don’t do news here on MoeGamer. This is also why I pick Cover Game features and smaller one-shot articles based on what I’m interested in, rather than what is “current” — and why I try to minimise the number of opinion pieces or editorials like this one that I post.
A timeless library of information that is always relevant is — to me, anyway — much more valuable than an endless churn of news stories that cease to matter after no more than a day or two for most people. I want MoeGamer to be a site where people can go “hmm, I heard of Nights of Azure one time, I wonder what it’s like” — and find some extensive, in-depth information about it. I love being able to have conversations with people on social media where they ask me about a particular game and I can point them directly to everything I’ve ever written about it. And I revel in supporting games, developers, publishers and localisers that don’t get the attention or respect they deserve from more high-profile outlets.
I’m by no means the only person who does this, not by a long shot — see my Links page for just a few examples of other small operations out there who are trying to make a positive difference in their own unique ways, check out friend of the site and Patron The Well-Red Mage for some top-notch games criticism from a variety of contributors, and explore the weekly Around the Network posts for even more writers and sites from around the WordPress community who are expressing their individuality and celebrating their favourite creative medium and hobby as they see fit.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from all this, it’s that although things are pretty shit in the professional to semi-professional arena, we little guys are happily beavering away with continued genuine passion and enthusiasm for what we do… and we very much appreciate your support, be it through simple likes, comments and social media shares — or through something more concrete such as a Patreon pledge or one-off Ko-Fi/PayPal donation.
Those latter options particularly allow us to expand our horizons and our ambitions more by investing in new hardware, software, online infrastructure — and perhaps most crucially, time. Their importance — and our gratitude for those who put their faith in us in that way — cannot be understated.
We do what we do because we love it. And you can help us do it even better by offering your support. Be part of building something better rather than tearing down the current status quo of commercial games journalism — they’re doing a perfectly fine job of eating themselves right now.
If you believe in what I do and want to show your support for my work, you can make a Patreon pledge at https://patreon.com/petedavison.
Thanks for your time and attention, and your regularly scheduled programming will resume later today!
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Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this article. I’ve been writing about games in one form or another since the days of the old Atari computers, with work published in Page 6/New Atari User, PC Zone, the UK Official Nintendo Magazine, GamePro, IGN, USgamer, Glixel and more over the years, and I love what I do.
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