Gamer guide: GamerGate and video game ethics
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of Maryville College or the Highland Echo staff.
Over the past few weeks, the credibility of video game journalists has been severely challenged. Although it can be said that journalists have always had their work criticized, several events over the course of only a few weeks have elevated this slight scrutinizing to a widespread movement to uncover potential corruption within the video game journalism community.
The movement started when a man wrote a blog about his ex-girlfriend, whom he claimed had cheated on him with five other men. The ex-girlfriend was an independent developer by the name of Zoe Quinn, known for her game “Depression Quest.” Nathan Grayson, one of men with whom she has affiliated, was a game journalist at the website Kotaku who had also written articles praising her game. Naturally, Grayson came under suspicion for trading personal favors for publicity.
This sparked a movement among the journalism community defending Grayson. These people, known as Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), were defined by censoring criticism and simply only allowing thought when it suits their needs. Several other game journalists from other sites like IGN, Giant Bomb and Polygon were labeled as SJWs.
Since much of the controversy found a platform on Twitter, several hashtags were used to express people’s opinions, including #SocialJusticeWarrior. After a day where gamers played nice with #WeLoveGameDevs, they went back to their exposure of the supposed conspiracy with #GamerGate. With this, several gamers, game journalists and game critics have voiced their opinions about the subject.
Since I am a gamer and a game journalist, I feel I should express my opinion.
The fact that some gamers are calling for the heads of journalists is not uncommon. The gaming community can be harsh towards people who give their opinions officially on a topic or a video game. I have experienced this myself with some of the games that I have reviewed or have written stories about.
The idea that journalists are partaking in a conspiracy where they receive compensation for their work, whether it is with money or favors, is not ridiculous, but it is far-fetched. Many game journalists are also gamers themselves.
They will post pictures of games they are excited about or gush about what they want from a system. I have been guilty of this on several occasions.
I am, however, willing and able to keep my excitement for a game and my writings separate.
Several journalists will talk about a game in a positive fashion when they speak casually but will display the facts about a game when they review it. Even if they do occasionally give a gushing review, one review or news story is not the only source of critique for that game. In essence, it would be much harder for a publisher to buy many positive reviews than it would be to create a great game.
Although there may be journalists that partake in some of these activities, it is much more likely for them to become friends with journalists on the side. Several journalists and developers will casually talk but will separate this friendship from their jobs. Developers should not help developers because exposure of a game in the technological age is not work the risk of being branded for giving favors under the table.