Often we say “I’m a game culture person”, but lately it is hard to know exactly what that means. Journalism as we know it is somewhat embarrassing – it’s nothing but yellow journalism. It’s lying about things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and it’s getting mad on the internet. Journalism is nothing but young social justice proponents queuing with colored hair, privilege, and authoritarian propaganda. Queuing passionately for hours, at events around the world, to see the things that more powerful social justice proponents want them to see. To find out what they should follow. They don’t know how to dress or behave. Cameras pan across these mindless drones, and often catch the expressions of people who don’t quite know why they themselves are standing there.
Journalism is a petri dish of people who know so little about human social interaction and professional ethics that they choose to concoct online wars about social justice or sexism straight-faced without pause for thought, which causes genuine human consequences. Lately, we find ourselves wondering what we are reading and why it got to print in the first place. Journalists; all of you should be better than this. You should be deeply questioning your ethical choices if bullying and the politics of fear are the prominent public face your business presents to the the world.
What you’re doing to the games journalism industry is harmful, the articles claiming harassment only serve to create hysteria among young women who wish to enter our industry. They have nothing to worry about as gamers are one of the most diverse subcultures in the western world, in every demographic. The only people who seem to be for dividing gamers is you, games journalists. Who is being divided, except for people who are okay with an infantilized cultural desert of unethical behavior and people who aren’t? What is there to debate?
Right, let’s say it’s a vocal minority that’s not representative of most journalists. Most industry representatives from indie developers to industry leaders are mortified, furious, and disheartened at the direction industry journalism has taken in the past years. The consumers have a side that is not being represented properly, they do not have outlets publishing rational articles in their favor. We cannot blame an entire industry for a few bad apples, but we cannot allow the press to publish lies and half-truths either.
When you decline to create or to adhere to journalistic ethics in your spaces, you’re responsible for what spawns in the vacuum. That’s what’s been happening to games journalism. This is not surprising, actually. While journalism itself was discovered by strange, bright, outcast social justice proponents who thought social issues would make games more fun; the commercial arm of the industry sprung up from marketing to high-end tech consumers and early adopters to a new, safe looking sector.
Suddenly a generation of journalists had marketers whispering in their ears that they were the most important thing in the game industry of all time. Suddenly they started visiting luxurious marketing events and accepting unethical gifts. They started making articles that sold the promise of their idea of good gameplay and great story to the consumers without considering the opinions of the consumers they were supposed to protect and represent.
It makes a strange sort of sense that the journalism of that time would become the instigator for moral panic, for atrocities committed by young journalists in hypercapitalist America. But they had an anxiety in common, an amorphous cultural shape that was dark and loud on the outside, hollow on the inside. You don’t need cultural references. You don’t need anything but social justice.
In 2014, the industry has changed. We do not think journalists are the primary source for video game news and press anymore. It’s clear that most of the people who drove those revenues in the past have turned sour, either out of journalism, or into more fertile spaces, where small and diverse titles can flourish, where communities can quickly spring up around creativity, self-expression and mutual support, rather than which chosen game succeeds by a group of friends.
There are new audiences and new creators alike there. Traditional journalism is sloughing off, culturally and economically, like the carapace of a bug. This is hard for people who’ve drank the kool aid to grasp how their identity depends on the aging cultural signposts of a rapidly-evolving, increasingly broad and complex medium. It’s hard for them to hear they don’t own anything anymore, that they aren’t the world’s caretakers and publicists.
We must closely scrutinize the baffling, stubborn silence of many journalists amid these scandals, or the fact lots of stubborn, myopic internet comments happen on business and industry sites. This is hard for old-school journalists who are being made redundant, both culturally and literally, in their unwillingness to address new audiences or reference points outside of rewriting PR releases and social justice as their traditional domain falls into the sea around them.
Of course it’s hard. It’s probably intense, painful stuff for some journalists.
But it’s unstoppable. A new generation of press and journalism is finally aiming to instate a healthy cultural vocabulary, a voice for consumers that was missing in the days of traditional media and special interest groups led by a social justice approach to conversation with a single presumed demographic.
Over just the last few years writing on games has focused on personal experiences and independent creators. It is no longer catering to the demands of journalists. Supposed conversations the people are having are largely the domain of delusional journalists, when all we did was call for better journalism. Part of a consumer’s job in a creative, human medium is to support a creative community and an inclusive culture, and a lack of commitment to that just looks out-of-step. It’s a partial compromise towards the howling trolls who’ve latched onto the flag of social justice in their onslaught against evolution, growth, and change.
Developers and consumers alike want games to be about more than jumping between blocks. We are getting tragicomedies, vignette, musicals, dream worlds, family tales, ethnographies, abstract art. We will get this, because we’re creating culture now. We are refusing to let anyone feel prohibited from participating. Journalism is just a dated tool in the age of social media and instant, mass opinion. Journalists are over. That’s why they’re so mad. These obtuse scare-mongers, these wailing hyper-journalists, these click bait publishers; they are not our representatives. They don’t have to be yours. There is no side to be on, there is no debate to be had. There is what’s past and there is what’s now. There is the role you choose to play in what’s ahead.
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