“Guess what? Unskillful gaming is authentic.”
September 16, 2017 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Cuphead Reignites the “Game Journalists Should Be Good at Games” Debate by Paul Tamburro [Game Revolution] “A video uploaded by the tech website VentureBeat shows one of its employees struggling to do just that [YouTube] ['Dean's Shameful 26 Minutes Of Gameplay']. Taken from Cuphead's Gamescom 2017 demo, the video sees GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi struggling with just about everything the game throws at him: he experiences difficulty in attempting to jump onto a high platform in the opening tutorial; he routinely bumps into enemies running towards him; he falls down a hole to his death. The resulting footage is hilarious, playing out like a 26-minute slapstick comedy sketch in which poor Cuphead is forced to meet his demise over and over again. But rather than being viewed as a funny half-hour struggle experienced by one writer, the video has instead been used to undermine games journalism as a whole.”

• The DeanBeat: Our Cuphead runneth over by Dean Takahashi [Venture Beat]
“The more people looked at my poor gameplay, which I myself labeled shameful, the angrier they got. I played the tutorial so ineptly — failing to read the onscreen instructions to jump and dash simultaneously — and then went on, failing to conquer a single level. I said it was hard, and the fans saw my gameplay and decided I was a poor judge of difficulty. By a ratio of more than 12-to-1, the ratings on the YouTube video are negative. It wasn’t just the troglodytes of the internet who hated it. Most people hated it. [...] Another game journalist (and some say “shitlord”) saw my video. He clipped it to the 2.5 minutes of the most damning inept gameplay, and he posted it to his followers. He used me to condemn all game journalists, raising the smoldering issues around Gamergate and its focus on game journalism ethics. His post was political propaganda for the disenfranchised gamers, the sort who went from Gamergate to the alt-right and elected Donald Trump as president. Before he got to it, my video had maybe 10,000 views. Afterward, the Gamergaters, or hardline reactionaries — or whatever we would like to call them — believed this narrative fit into their views about game journalists just fine. They called for my head. They said I should fuck myself. I should be fired. I had brain damage. I was retarded. I should kill myself. A couple of comments were racist. I’m not trying to overplay my victimhood, but you get the picture.”
• Videogame Culture Needs to Stop Fetishizing Skill by Dante Douglas [Paste Magazine]
“Games criticism moves in cycles. This isn’t new. It’s sort of a natural occurrence since the medium is still relatively young , so when notable events occur that the entire sphere is concerned with, we end up having the same debates. It’s… frustrating, as a critic, to have to rehash the same argument about once a year, but in a way it helps keep your thoughts fresh. With that in mind, it looks like we’re talking about skill level again. To be more specific, the conversation about the role that skill has in critically analyzing and reviewing games has started up again. In a recent video by Venturebeat, journalist Dean Takahashi struggled to finish the first level of upcoming title Cuphead. While this incident is new, the debate about the position of skill and challenge in games is far from recent. It was arguably the center of the conversations surrounding Dark Souls. It still is a debate whenever someone mentions older videogames—especially those from the 8-bit or 16-bit eras that, in comparison to more modern titles, can be tough-as-nails. Games have a long and sordid history of difficulty and the balance of challenge to satisfaction.”
• Yes, Games Journalists Should Be Good at Games by Sam Aberdeen [Screen Critics]
“Dean Takahashi has had over 20 years of experience in the gaming industry, but after the Cuphead gameplay, one has to question if all of his criticisms in the past were completely valid or trustworthy sources of opinions on games. After all, if he can’t play games, why listen to his opinion on games, right? To get to the point, the answer is quite simply yes, games journalists should be good at games – it’s a requirement. In an age where games are tailored best to your preferred style of gaming, such as changing difficulty levels or having auto-assists on, it makes it difficult to judge which opinions from games journalists are trustworthy these days, including ours at Screen Critics. It’s opened up a can of worms that has caused the public to now view games journalism as a whole with furrowed brows. It makes it difficult to prove yourself as a games journalist these days when your experience doesn’t measure up to your qualifications or theoretical knowledge of gaming – which may sound like a lot, but rest assured, understanding games is quite simple if you’re passionate enough for it. But, to call a spade a spade, a games journalist who’s bad at certain games has no right to judge those games on a fair or professional level…”
• If You're Still Berating Dean Takahashi, You Don't Understand How Games Journalism Works by Auverin Morrow [Game Skinny]
“It’s easy to nod your head and proclaim that a games journalist should be good at games. It seems like common sense, right? After all, it’s their job to embed themselves in this industry -- so clearly, they can’t be trusted as reliable sources of information if they aren’t masters at every game on which they work. But before you can actually argue what does or does not qualify a games journalist to do their job, you have to first define what that job is -- because it’s a hell of a lot more than just playing games all day. Games journalists are responsible for providing accurate and entertaining content for their audiences. They’re industry insiders who must leverage their connections to answer questions and get exclusive information that fans wouldn’t have access to otherwise. They’re investigators that have to get a feel for new games or create sprawling guide content to help players through recently released games. And above all that, they’re intended to be objective liaisons between industry figures and the public -- hound dogs who peek behind the curtain and try to keep fans informed about what’s really going on with the games in which they’re interested.”
• Do We Have To ‘Get Good’? by Grace Hester [Player Attack]
“However the full context behind the video, as you can see from the title above, is that they knew it was bad. It was posted as a joke. But unfortunately, a statement from the PC Gaming Editor of VentureBeat, Jeff Grubb had to be issued to address the entire situation [Jeff Grubb's Response on Reddit]. The full statement can be found in the video description of the above gameplay demonstration. [...] So with this in mind, it raises a question that comes up every now and then within game culture and journalism. Do we need to ‘get good’? And is the notion of being good at video games a toxic one within not only the games journalism industry, but in various online communities and societies surrounding video games as a hobby? Really, this is a complicated issue and one that I suppose comes down to opinion. Which is, in essence, a part of games journalism. While reviews do discuss things like mechanics, graphics, gameplay, all of that, a large part of how we feel about any given game does come down to our own personal experiences and the types of games we like to play. Someone who doesn’t like platformers, for example, isn’t going to have a good time with a platformer and may not give the same score or review that a dedicated platforming fan might give. And that’s a good part about being able to see so many reviews, we can combine a range of opinions and thoughts on mechanics to help influence our own decision, or view differing opinions on games we may have already enjoyed.”
posted by Fizz (106 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Having watched many episodes of Awful Squad, I am happily confident that at least some segments of games journalism are not hung up on "getting good".
posted by howfar at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


Videogame Culture Needs to

die
posted by edeezy at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2017 [86 favorites]


He wasn't even reviewing the game. HE WASN'T EVEN REVIEWING THE GAME. I don't even think game reviewers have to know how to play all the games they play, but he wasn't even that; he's someone who writes about the games industry 99% of the time.

From now on, I require all my baseball writers to play at the level of major league ballplayers. All financial writers must be able to manage major hedge funds. If you are writing about politics, you'll need to have been elected at least once as the head of state of your country before I'm willing to even entertain listening to you.
posted by chrominance at 10:58 AM on September 16, 2017 [68 favorites]


A video that was intended as a joke, an insider joke to the fact that this one gaming journalist is bad at a particular style of game.

This results in racist comments, death-threats, and usual gamergate bullshit/assholery.

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 10:59 AM on September 16, 2017 [43 favorites]


I love games. I love gaming. I've loved video games for as long as I can remember. My parents talk about ruing the day I figured out that you had to put quarters in the Pole Position cabinet because up to that point I was content with just turning the steering wheel. I've got a gaming PC complete with RGB mechanical keyboard in the office and a stack of consoles in the living room.

I'm not very good at video games.

I regularly placed in the very bottom of any multi player shooter. I almost never finish games. I start pretty much every game I play on easy mode. Strategy games, where I spend most of my time, usually start with a console cheat to give me a currency boost.

I understand wanting video game critics to finish the game they're reviewing, just like I want a film critic to finish watching a movie and a book review to be based on the entire book. But there's the machismo hierarchy of gamers where be good at games is a virtue beyond the leaderboard and out into real life, and there's this idea that people who are great at games should also be the gatekeepers. There's also this idea out there that games journalists are people who are paid to play games, so why is fair that they get that perk if they aren't even leet? It totally ignores the "journalist" part of the job. It's all just another facet of toxic gamer culture and it's all bullshit
posted by thecjm at 10:59 AM on September 16, 2017 [49 favorites]


In an age where games are tailored best to your preferred style of gaming, such as changing difficulty levels or having auto-assists on, it makes it difficult to judge which opinions from games journalists are trustworthy these days,

This seems more like an argument that you actually need game reviewers at a range of skill levels than the argument the author is trying to make. The seems to be an implicit "and only this style of gaming is worthy of consideration" going on there.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:02 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake. Why are gamers so preternaturally stupid and toxic? Have they never written an essay on a novel that they wouldn't have had the skill and patience to write themselves? Never had an opinion about a movie that they couldn't direct? Never evaluated a piece of music they couldn't personally play? God these people are dumb. I'm embarrassed to be associated with them.
posted by xyzzy at 11:06 AM on September 16, 2017 [33 favorites]


Gamers and gamer culture - the dumbest shitheads in existence or merely dominated by the dumbest shitheads in existence?
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


From now on, I require all my baseball writers to play at the level of major league ballplayers.

Wouldn't a more logical analogy be requiring a book critic to be extremely good at reading? Which, yes that should be a requirement.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


There's a lot of shit dudes who've made video games their whole fucking life and adopted an image of "gamer" as their identity in lieu of anything creative or constructive, and part of that is lashing out violently at anything that challenges their idea of "me = gamer and gamer = me"- and since this group is overwhelmingly white, straight, and male, these dudes were early and easy recruits for Gamergate and similar white male identity causes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:11 AM on September 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


Artw: Gamer Culture: The dumbest shitheads leading the dumb shitheads.
posted by SansPoint at 11:14 AM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm sure I heard an argument along these lines on Metafilter: "I'm allowed to say the steak is badly cooked without being a chef."

A couple of minutes later, I realise that's not entirely appropriate in this case.
posted by quinndexter at 11:15 AM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't a more logical analogy be requiring a book critic to be extremely good at reading? Which, yes that should be a requirement.

Analyzing text I can agree with but reading, What does that mean?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2017


Wouldn't a more logical analogy be requiring a book critic to be extremely good at reading?

I think this is apt, but I think there's two sides of this. One are the actual reviews. I think that for the most part, actual reviews should be written by someone who's capable of finishing the game, even if they don't necessarily make it all the way to the end. It should be noted in the review if this is a thing most people won't be able to do, but a person who is capable of playing the game can note which parts required real skill and might be hard for people who aren't really as apt, whereas a person who is less capable won't be able to produce a review worth reading about the rest of the game that they can't really access. Like, I'm terrible at Dark Souls but I actually really like Dark Souls as a game--it's not even about giving things bad reviews because they're too hard. But I can't write a good review of Dark Souls because I have zero idea how the game plays past a certain point and I can't tell you at all if later-game combat still feels as good as the early stuff did.

But that's FOR CRITICISM. Which this isn't. And people who write stories about the publishing industry don't actually have to be really into reading modern literature to actually do really good writing about modern publishing. They just have to be informed, have connections, know who to talk to about things. A person who isn't even interested in playing video games could write great stuff about the games industry if they knew the right people and knew how to ask the right questions and get good answers.
posted by Sequence at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't a more logical analogy be requiring a book critic to be extremely good at reading? Which, yes that should be a requirement.
What is "extremely good at reading?"
posted by xyzzy at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Another game journalist (and some say “shitlord”) saw my video.

"Shitlord" understates it, if anything.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:22 AM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Good lord, it's just toxic masculinity all the way down.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:23 AM on September 16, 2017 [17 favorites]


The steak analogy works better if we look at like this - food critic is video taped eating, and a forum full of competitive eaters proceeds to call out her lack of eating speed and inability to clean her plate and want to know why she gets to review restaurants when clearly she's not a REAL eater.
posted by thecjm at 11:25 AM on September 16, 2017 [28 favorites]


What is "extremely good at reading?"

*turns pages faster*

*sound effect of extra life and + 200 points*
posted by Fizz at 11:31 AM on September 16, 2017 [27 favorites]


I mean, we can joke, but I will admit right now that I am as bad at reading literary fiction as I am at playing Dark Souls.
posted by Sequence at 11:34 AM on September 16, 2017 [15 favorites]


Is awfully strange to think that that the only way to play a game is to be "good" at it. If you are having a good time, you are playing correctly, IMO.
posted by surlyben at 11:35 AM on September 16, 2017 [11 favorites]


I think that when a reviewer is bad enough at a game that their review becomes factually incorrect and doesn't perform the duty that it has set out to, that is bad (For instance: "This game has a steep difficulty curve and there's no way to level up your skills" when there absolutely is a way to level up your skills). Unfortunately, this DOES happen a lot.

Anything short of that is fine with me. Being bad at a game (that's not even out yet) in a preview video is understandable and probably to be expected. Those videos are to show gameplay as it currently is in the current build/state of the game. Gameplay of a 'poor' player is still gameplay.
posted by destructive cactus at 11:37 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Being bad at something is actually one way into criticism. It might not be the best way, but sometimes it's insightful. I would rather read criticism of video games from someone who loves to play video games but is bad at them than criticism from someone who thinks video games are a stupid waste of time.
posted by chavenet at 11:40 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's interesting. When it comes to art, people often require critics to be "good at" the art form they're critiquing --- to understand the influences the artist is drawing upon, the techniques they're using, what they're hoping to accomplish thematically, in order to offer a full critique. When it comes to sport, however, you're not required to be an excellent pitcher yourself to argue that so and so has lost his fastball. People claim video games as both art and sport, it's interesting that they seem to demand both of a video game critic.
posted by Diablevert at 11:40 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of shit dudes who've made video games their whole fucking life and adopted an image of "gamer" as their identity in lieu of anything creative or constructive, and part of that is lashing out violently at anything that challenges their idea of "me = gamer and gamer = me"- and since this group is overwhelmingly white, straight, and male, these dudes were early and easy recruits for Gamergate and similar white male identity causes.

This solidified something for me about GamerGate, something that explains so much: It's a bunch of people who are so thoroughly terrible at life that they can only justify their supremacism by pointing to the fact that they are way more into playing video games than other people.

Sartre, writing about Anti-Semites, argues that they are mediocre people who seek to elevate mediocrity itself to the status of an elite tradition, and need an enemy to hate in order to maintain the solidarity needed for their self-delusion.

GamerGate and the alt-right are this, in so many words. They can't argue that successful women or minorities aren't successful on their own merits, so they have to invent some utterly trivial criterion where they are the kings. It's why they invariably descend into sniggering at their own in-jokes in public. (I believe their preferred term of artlessness is "dank memes.")
posted by kewb at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2017 [53 favorites]


I think that's an interesting comparison, Diablevert - when I read art criticism, for example, I'm generally less interested in the ability of the critic to... experience the art in the right way, or to be able to create it themselves - instead, I want them to provide context for the piece, to attempt to divine the goals behind it, that kind of thing.

Which, in the context of a video game, has basically nothing to do with how well you play it. Hell, I play like two games a year, and I could still probably write a few cogent paragraphs on why, say, Destiny 2 is important.
posted by sagc at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


When it comes to art, people often require critics to be "good at" the art form they're critiquing --- to understand the influences the artist is drawing upon, the techniques they're using, what they're hoping to accomplish thematically, in order to offer a full critique.

That's not "being good at art" at all. You can do all of those things with a piece of music even if you can't play a lick, or with a painting even if you can't draw a stick figure.
posted by Etrigan at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Games journalists are responsible for providing accurate and entertaining content for their audiences.

That seems like part of the problem right there. Since when is a journalist responsible for entertaining people? Informing, yes. Contextualizing, yes. Entertaining? No -- journalists are not entertainers.
posted by dbx at 11:49 AM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm sure I heard an argument along these lines on Metafilter: "I'm allowed to say the steak is badly cooked without being a chef."

Might have been me. I'm fond of saying that I'm not a chef, but I can tell when I'm being fed a plate of shit.

For what it's worth, I think there are two problems here, one of which is the nature of the medium. There aren't very many other artistic arenas that are in theory accessible to anyone who's got the time and hardware to participate, but in practice demand a certain amount of skill and coordination of you in order to appreciate the entire thing. In some respects it's like being asked to be a food critic, but where every course is served between rounds of chessboxing. Sure, you might get to appreciate the full meal, but you'll also need to be able to dish out a beating and solve some challenging problems in the meantime, and if you get knocked out in round seven then it's hard to say you had a full appreciation of the fifteen-course experience.

On the other hand, god damn a lot of self-described gamers are entitled, pissy bigoted little assholes. I won't even play online shooters anymore, and I'm a regular old middle-aged dude. Showing up as a woman - or a woman who is at all discoverable on the greater internet - is to all reports a total disaster of an experience.

This medium is so young and its growth has been so horribly stunted by the the toxicity of its participants, and the entire "review" process has been so corrupt and poisonous for so long that it's hard to see how it can recover. This is why you get nonsense reviews like "this is the worst game we've seen in years. 7/10" and no cultural or critical insight whatsoever.

In conclusion, video games are often wonderful and beautiful experiences, and people are terrible and don't deserve them.
posted by mhoye at 11:56 AM on September 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


Back in my broke-ass, I'll-write-anything-for-money* freelance writing days (the early 2000s) I wrote video game reviews for a website and a magazine (both long-since defunct). The only console I owned at the time was an original Playstation, so I cobbled my reviews together from other reviews, which presumably were written by people who had actually played them...but I always wondered what percentage of these reviews were shams like mine.

* the nadir was the "gadgets" column in a sad Maxim ripoff sponsored by a cigarette company where I'd "review" things like NFL-branded barbeques shaped like beer kegs
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:10 PM on September 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


I wish more people evaluating video games were bad at them! I love gaming, and I have spent a lot of time playing, but I am just never going to develop the particular sort of hand control that you need to do the complex fast multi-button maneuvers you need to be able to complete a lot of games. And it's not like I'm clumsy or unskilled! I'm actually ambidextrous when painting or sculpting! Even so, I have a hard time getting through even fun kids games like Little Big Planet. I wish there was a way to know ahead of time how much the difficulty of a game was going to ramp up before I bought it, so I didn't have to end up adding it to the pile of games I got halfway through and then had to abandon. Or that there was more variability in the difficulty levels. I would love to play Pery, but couldn't even get through the demo when the black thingys were attacking
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:11 PM on September 16, 2017 [11 favorites]


Wouldn't a more logical analogy be requiring a book critic to be extremely good at reading? Which, yes that should be a requirement.

What is "extremely good at reading?"

Being able to make it past page ten of Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow, or Nohow On.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


Games are different in that your ability to play drives the literal % of the game you can experience as opposed to the figurative %. If you're emotionally crippled, your experience of all types of art will be pretty limited but you won't be aware of this. You can finish watching the movie, even if your response to it is narrow. Your critical response to it is likely to be limited but limited in the way Gamergaters and their ilk like.

I'd like a game review to reflect some of the game play - although I'm pretty bad at games so identify with people who are bad at games, and enjoy reading their POV.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2017


(By the same token, I would argue that anyone who can endure more than five clicks of a Twine Game or twenty steps of most walking simulators is actually extremely good at video games and very patient.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2017


But that's FOR CRITICISM.

Not even that, but specifically reviewing which is, or should be, distinct. Reviews are very utilitarian. If a game is aimed at skilled players, and it's a review, then, sure, skill is important. In pretty much every kind of game journalism that's not that, not so much.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


As someone who has played a hell of a lot of platform games, my main reaction to watching that video was an urge to offer advice, or to just demand the controller and actually play the damn thing.

In which case you would probably see me pausing and looking for the controls a lot in the first level, that tutorial sure throws a lot of shit at you very quickly.

As someone who has played a lot of games and thought about what makes them work, I want to throw that tutorial back for another couple of passes. Like, hell, teach "jump", teach "dash", and THEN have something that you can only pass by jump+dash, and have a big-ass arrow on the screen that runs along the approximate path you'd follow, with little button labels to say "first press jump while moving right, keep moving right, and hit dash at the top of your jump". And I hope that Cuphead's developers have a similar reaction to watching this guy play, because that sure is a half-ass tutorial right there.
posted by egypturnash at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


I'd say that part of the problem was when gamers started behaving as though being good at videogames mattered in any significant way. Okay, someone is really good at Call of Duty, but so the hell what? What significance does that have in the real world? Why do people who play videogames believe that they have something to contribute to the world at large, much less that their opinions matter more and that they should be able to dictate the trends of the industry and who is allowed to participate and critique it?

It's as stupid and self-absorbed as people conferring elite status on who watches the most selections in Netflix's movie catalog and being really good at watching movies on streaming, and competing with other Netflix customers around who is the best at using a TV remote to get the most out of their streaming subscriptions. And arguing with entertainment critics, shaming other Netflix customers for being "casuals", and creating some bizarre alternate history around how movie-watching has always been a men's pursuit, and an interest in watching movies says all sorts of things about one's character and potential as a human being, and that Netflix and even Hollywood should cater to the "Netflix elite".
posted by Autumnheart at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2017 [20 favorites]


So, it's really about mad skillz in gaming journalism.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:31 PM on September 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


Journalists don't need to be experts at it any more than the writers at Car and Driver need to be world-class racers. But they DO need to be generally competent drivers just as someone writing about a game should probably be somewhat competent at the game.

That video was painful, it wasn't really about being "good" at games. The game is telling them the solution to the problem in front of them. I want to point at the screen and yell at them, "STAND HERE AND HOLD 'A' FOR A SUPER JUMP THEN PRESS 'Y' TO DASH OVER THE PILLAR!"

Like, just read what it says on the screen! This is actually a frustratingly common problem where I'm playing some some online game and a bunch of people either clearly don't understand what to do and/or are asking about it when it literally tells you what to do right there on the screen.

Like anything else, practice and you'll get better. If you can't read the words in front of your face, provided that it's a language you understand, you're not bad a video games, you're an idiot.
posted by VTX at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


Also, its worth reiterating and maybe I didn't emphasize it enough in the original post, but VentureBeat released that video as a joke!!

PC Gaming Editor of VentureBeat, Jeff Grubb, released the following statement/comment on reddit regarding the video after it blew up the way it did:
“Hey, I work at VentureBeat's GamesBeat with Dean. AMA

I'll just answer a few misconceptions I've seen a couple of times: Dean doesn't get paid to play or criticize games. He's primarily a reporter who covers the business side of the industry. Sometimes that means he's the only person on our staff in Germany for Gamescom and he ends up behind the controls for a new platformer that he has no business playing.

We uploaded this because I thought it was hilarious. Dean came back and said the gameplay was unusable, and I wanted him to post it because the rest of GamesBeat is constantly making fun of Dean's gaming capabilities. He prefers narrative-driven games like Uncharted/The Last of Us, so it's always a treat when he has to play something that is legit difficult.

We shouldn'tve published the error about Super Meat Boy. I've fixed that. Dean doesn't like platformers, so he doesn't follow that scene, but we still should've caught that in editing/factchecking.

If this makes you furious, I'm not here to convince you that it shouldn't. Do your thing. But if you want to ask me questions about this or just yell at me in general, I'm here for that.”
posted by Fizz at 12:42 PM on September 16, 2017 [21 favorites]


What is "extremely good at reading?"

This is derail, but since I started the "extremely good at reading" thing, here's some of what I think it might mean (although I admit I used the phrase without being 100% sure myself): They're focused and attentive and undaunted by weirdness. They have excellent memories. They mostly understand what they read right away, but are careful to notice when they miss something and then re-read or do what ever they have to in order to get it. They're probably multilingual and well read in general, so they notice allusions and references to other works.

(I'm thinking about ways that I'm sometimes bad at reading, and then describing the opposite.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:46 PM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Being able to make it past page ten of Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow, or Nohow On.

(As a follow-up, this could reasonably described as a Game FAQs walk-through for Beckett’s Worstward Ho.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:50 PM on September 16, 2017


Thinking about this more and it's clear that most everyone in this thread wants gaming journalism and criticism to be up there with literary criticism and film criticism.

What the other side seems to want is Golf Digest.
posted by thecjm at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


I would love to play Pery
damn. meant to say Prey. missed the edit window
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:53 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Like, just read what it says on the screen! This is actually a frustratingly common problem where I’m playing some some online game and a bunch of people either clearly don't understand what to do and/or are asking about it when it literally tells you what to do right there on the screen.

This seems like an indictment of tutorials, as much as it’s also an indictment of human laziness. Printed text is not a particularly natural form of communication in a visual medium defined by fluid movement.

What the other side seems to want is Golf Digest.

Perhaps what the “other side” wants is to be told that skill is the thing that matters. It’s not enough that now, say, the New York Times now mentions video games - it’s that it needs to mention them the right way. It’s the same people who would get made if you discussed the culture of Football or Baseball and not just the box scores. It isn’t that folks didn’t want legitimate, full cultural treatment of video games - it’s that they wanted their particular perception of how something matters to become the way it’s covered. The critics are the ones who are wrong about what their readers want, not this subgroup.

And the worst bit is that no one is wrong in principle. The outraged folks are wrong in practice that it matters if Dean is good at this game, but if you want coverage of all of the ins-and-outs of a high-level platformer, it would be nice if the critic had actually played at that level. (There’s a reason why former players are recruited as sportscasters.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


But again, why do people care so much if someone is good at a particular kind of game? Enough to call for a person who plays poorly to be fired, physically assaulted, or otherwise tarred and feathered as a failure of a person? Why are gamers so emotionally invested in other people's gameplay? Why do gamers believe that someone must not only be good, but good at certain types of games? They're so rabid and reactionary, they behave like radicalized religious fanatics.

I personally am really good at The Sims 3. I have every expansion pack, have created my own content, and have built some amazing houses. But I don't consider myself on par with real-life homebuilders and interior decorators, I don't make demands on the architectural industry, and I don't give a shit if other people build shitty Sims houses, or get their characters killed by meteors, or have too many ghosts in the house because their Sims don't put the urns in the town graveyard, or feel that someone else's "bad" playing of The Sims 3 is somehow a reflection on me. Even trying to be a Sims 3 purist seems like it would be hilarious on its face. "The value of your nectar collection is completely pathetic. Anyone with a brain would try to maximize their gardening skill and then head to Egypt for life fruit." Or "If you're not going to put in the time required to adopt a unicorn, then I don't even see why you should even be allowed a copy of The Sims 3: Pets."

But it seems perfectly reasonable to have that mentality around Red Dead Redemption or World of Warcraft? Really? Why do these people not realize how ridiculous they sound?
posted by Autumnheart at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


I can understand people using "being good at video games" as a proxy for "has wide experience and a deep understanding of video games". I don't think the sports analogy flies because most people don't experience sports by playing the sport, they experience it by being a spectator, so they would want a sports reporter to have watched a lot of a sport and gathered a deep understanding of it. If you were to assume that most people paying close attention to video game reviews are people with a deep interest in video games, why would they not prefer the reviewer to do the same?
That said, the video was pretty much made as a joke, the person playing was not a video game reviewer, the reactions and comments about the video are disgusting, and gamer culture is generally awful, but some of the arguments I'm reading here are pretty specious.
posted by WaylandSmith at 1:09 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


He apparently wrote a scathing review of Mass Effect because he didn't realise he had to level up his characters. That's like calling a novel bullshit because you don't understand the vocab. A baseline level of competence is really important if you want to present the totality of the gaming experience to the consumer; different skill levels, sure, but outright incompetence? Who benefits from that?

WaylandSmith, he is indeed a reviewer, some of his reviews are listed here.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


So what if he did? If anyone has a complaint to make about his review, it'd be the company that produced the game, not the consumer, who is free to buy the game and decide whether they like it. It's like complaining that Roger Ebert shouldn't have been a movie critic because he didn't Iike "The Usual Suspects".
posted by Autumnheart at 1:19 PM on September 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


No, it's not a difference of taste, it's a failure to grasp basic mechanics. It's like someone reviewing a new car panning it because they don't realise they can shift gears.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


> Having watched many episodes of Awful Squad, I am happily confident that at least some segments of games journalism are not hung up on "getting good".

If you've watched Let's Play videos that some of the Awful Squad regulars have posted of other games (for example, the recent Destiny 2 runs), you'll quickly appreciate that these guys can be motherfuckers at many video games. Even if they're not at pro tournament levels, they're probably good enough to hustle for bar bets.

The Awful Squad streams, in context with Polygon's other videos, leave the impression that PUBG is a bastard of a game.
posted by ardgedee at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2017


I think the car reviewer / competent driver analogy is apt. If somebody is struggling just to avoid stalling a manual transmission, it'd be unreasonable to assign any value to their review of the roadfeel of a high end sports car. There are all kinds of different skill sets that different game genres call for, which should be celebrated. It sounds like this guy appreciates other game styles and lacks the skills fundamental to this type of game, which is fine, but it also makes any criticism he might've made in the past of games that do require those skills seems suspect, IMO. This opinion is a weaker claim than what some have been suggesting is the central claim here, but I think it's also closer to what the (more reasonable portion of) complainers are feeling.

Regarding the video being posted as a joke: sure, but nobody's claiming that the gameplay itself isn't 100% in earnest.

Regarding Gamergate, threats, calls for firing: absolutely disgusting. Amazing how video game culture manages to ruin everything it touches.
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


No, it's not a difference of taste, it's a failure to grasp basic mechanics. It's like someone reviewing a new car panning it because they don't realise they can shift gears.

But the review itself doesn't matter. The issue here is why videogames became a platform for fanaticism and a channel for a form of violent extremism. Self-described "gamers" seek to quell dissension and to create exclusivity to an excessive degree. The same behavior directed at Dean for playing this game badly is also directed at anyone who criticizes a game, regardless of their skill level, and anyone who doesn't meet their qualifications for entry (including gender and skill level). It doesn't matter that a given reviewer does or doesn't have the background to give a qualified review, what matters is that the culture of the consumers reading these reviews is super violent, hierarchical and authoritarian. Even if every reviewer were an acknowledged expert at the game they reviewed, it wouldn't stop gamers from having this culture--Gamergate is a perfect example of that.

I mean, talk about a failure of basic mechanics--these people are lobbing death threats because they didn't figure out that the video was posted as a humorous jab at the person playing. And this video is not, in any way, an outlier--these people lob death threats at tons of people for not meeting their expectations in some way, no matter how trivial. And they do it over a subject that is, itself, incredibly trivial.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:36 PM on September 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


Fortunately nobody's decided that developers need to be good at their games. I'm frankly, shit at every game I've made. Getting your ass beat in a combat system THAT YOU WROTE AND BALANCED is one of the truly unique experiences of gaming.

I think people are being jackasses to Dean though. And Death threats shouldn't be the go-to response to adversity.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


The issue here is why videogames became a platform for fanaticism and a channel for a form of violent extremism.

We every so often have articles on this site about terrible practices in book culture surrounding science fiction fandom, and we’ve watched football fans wrestle (or fail to wrestle) with the idea that their favorite game has been optimized to kill people via concussions. While video game culture has indisputably toxic portions, to say nothing of idiot fights over what it means to even be a video game, the pocket social dynamics aren’t really connected to the games themselves.

That is: video games are a thing you can spend your time playing and enjoying. The culture surrounding them is garbage, but that isn’t the same thing as a “video game”, a nebulously defined thing that continues to encompass both Minesweeper and Overwatch.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


But again, why do people care so much if someone is good at a particular kind of game? Enough to call for a person who plays poorly to be fired, physically assaulted, or otherwise tarred and feathered as a failure of a person? Why are gamers so emotionally invested in other people's gameplay? Why do gamers believe that someone must not only be good, but good at certain types of games? They're so rabid and reactionary, they behave like radicalized religious fanatics.

Mostly because it's all they've got. This has been touched on above, but I wanted to talk about it further.

We men are poorly socialized generally - this was the topic of a an FPP not long ago. I think I'm doing pretty well at having one close guy friend, with a personal best of 'two close male friends at the same time' some years back. Most of my close friendships are with women, which is most of where I've learned how to - hopefully - be a decent person. (Disclaimer: not talking about acquaintances. I could find a dozen guys to play D&D with or go hiking with or other activities, I mean guys I'd discuss emotional matters with.)

For a lot of guys, especially young ones who don't have their own places or cars, video games are where they go to get any kind of social contact. It's not merely that video games are fun - though they often are - it's that this is where they get to talk to people, to feel like part of something, to feel like they're good at anything, and - most dangerously - to learn how to interact with people at a formative age.

This leads to men with particularly poor perspective and empathy to make that central to their identity: 'this is where I feel good, and without this I would be unable to cope.' From there, it's a pretty short hop to 'anything that makes me uncomfortable about this must be destroyed,' the sort of fragility common to any kind of extremist. When something becomes a linchpin of an unhealthy person's life, they get dangerous about it.

I also think it's exacerbated by the fact that most games reward really aggro, macho behavior. I mostly like to noodle around MMOs by myself, (I'm a tourist in virtual worlds - I'm there to see the sights, and I'm fascinated by large scale virtual economies academically, but I don't socialize in them much), and it's commonly understood that the most efficient style of play is to be as aggressive as possible: do the most damage, fling yourself at problems instead of thinking them through. Basically, behavior that would make a person an asshole in real life - a poor team player, bad at human relationships - are constantly rewarded in most of these kinds of games, while the consequences of bad behavior are minimal due to the expense of enforcement and management turning a blind eye to abuse generally.

Basically, these places go Lord of the Flies pretty easily because there's not much steering immature people away from that.

So you have unhappy people pinning their identities on a system of behavior that is generally pretty caustic, and... yeah, it's not really any surprise to me. I've been watching this happen to a kid I know: nice guy, related to my SO. He lives two time zones away. We think he's probably going to go Nazi simply because he's young and naive and that's what he's surrounded with, and we can't get through to him over chat. All of his friends he spends much time with are right wing assholes, and he's just soaking in it, and too young to understand why this is dangerous.

I don't have any easy answers to all of this, but the mechanism for how this turns to crap seems pretty obvious to me.
posted by mordax at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2017 [18 favorites]


(In hindsight my last comment is dumb, since everyone seems to agree on this. But we tend to stress fandom when discussing sci-fi fandom, and we put stress on video games when discussing video games culture, a problem exacerbated by the fact that “Gamer” is a way more exclusive term than “Fan”.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


From now on, I require all my baseball writers to play at the level of major league ballplayers

I think there's a problem with the analogy there. A sports writer isn't supposed to tell people if they'd enjoy playing a particular sport. On the other hand, I'd expect someone reviewing baseball gear (ie, something you'd actually play with) to have some experience actually playing baseball or have with the material to know if a bat is well balanced, the grain is cut right and won't break, etc. A food reviewer doesn't need to be a cook, but someone who reviews pro kitchen knives must at least spend some time making intricate cuts to meats and vegetables to have some sort of informed opinion about the knife other than "yeah, it cuts", and that person might even have a palate fit to eat at McDonalds for every meal for all I care, as unlikely as that might be.
This is why when I've bought a guitar I asked a friend of mine who's a music tutor and is the bassist of an well known power-metal band if he knew the model had any lingering issues he heard of, and later checked if everything was fine or I should take it back to be serviced. At that time I was more-or-less of a music critic and I had no freakin' clue if it had to have the truss rod or the string height adjusted, despite knowing very well what "music" is. Two very different things.

Now, does someone needs to be good at videogames in particular to write about them? They don't have to be eSports-level players, but they have to be knowledgeable enough to know the difference between having a tough time because a particular game is actually hard (because the developer asks more than the player has) and just having shit mechanics, or sometimes, things meet in the middle, where the developer does not take mechanics into account before ramping things to 11 (like many "epic" boss fights in games past generation where the player has to fight enemies bigger than the screen and the camera just isn't up to the task) and suddenly requires far more of the player than it should.
I suck terribly at some of those puzzle platformers like VVVVVV or Super MeatBoy that were so much on vogue a few years ago, yet I'd say the gameplay is fantastic and I'm the one that sucks because I can imagine what I have to do and know the game actually allows me to (because I've seen people do it in front of me), it's just between my brain and the tip of my fingers something is lost. Same thing for some more technical racing games like Codemasters' F1 or Gran Turismo, while I like GRID and PGR4 because it was more friendly to my shunting I'm-Schumacher-you're-Hill, corner-cutting ways. All four are pretty good, while something like, dunno, one of the Need For Speed games I've tried at work where cars were almost uncontrollable and it had like the mother of all rubberbands. That's not fun or good.

But the noise over this? Fuck. That. Don't they have anything else to do, like, dunno, playing a game? There's a good reason I never followed up on any idea to be involved in games writing again, and now because if I suck at, dunno, FIFA 14, I apparently wouldn't be suitable to write about any of the dozen games I have over 6 generations.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:50 PM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


For a lot of guys, especially young ones who don't have their own places or cars, video games are where they go to get any kind of social contact. It's not merely that video games are fun - though they often are - it's that this is where they get to talk to people, to feel like part of something, to feel like they're good at anything, and - most dangerously - to learn how to interact with people at a formative age.

The problem here, and the above post is an excellent example of this, is how guys think their experience is unique to a particular subset men, and that they weren't personally responsible for turning out that way because society did it to them.

You know who else don't have their own places and cars, or a lot of social contact, or who have a lot of difficulty making friends, or who don't have many or any close friendships, and whose social contact is largely limited to online communities, and who in fact have the added quality of having their literal movements in the real world literally restricted and policed, especially in social environments? Everyone besides white male nerds.

I mean, one could say EXACTLY the same things about SAHMs, who have the added barrier of being literally disenfranchised by virtue of being financially dependent on another person, and engaging in labor that requires full-time dedication and yet is completely uncompensated. And indeed the whole Mommy Wars culture is pretty toxic and ignorant...but it's not violent. They'll tell you that vaccines cause autism and act like you're a shitty parent if you invest in yourself as a person, but they don't look up your home address and threaten to come murder your whole family because you decided not to breastfeed.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:09 PM on September 16, 2017 [19 favorites]


Is awfully strange to think that that the only way to play a game is to be "good" at it. If you are having a good time, you are playing correctly, IMO.

Most of these guys actually get really angry if you're having a good time. Games are SRS BZNS.

Toxic gamers basically have the worldview of toddlers. Every one else in the game is there to support them and therefore must be perfect, lest they hinder TG's progression YOU SCRUBS. If TG fails or does something stupid, that's someone else's fault and is NOT FUNNY *ragequit.* If you get loot TG wants the game is SO UNFAIR *ragequit.* If you win and TG loses, you're a cheater try hard *angry game forum post about quitting forever.*
posted by Stonkle at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


No, it's not a difference of taste, it's a failure to grasp basic mechanics. It's like someone reviewing a new car panning it because they don't realise they can shift gears.

With respect, who gives a shit? If I've heard of it, Mass Effect must be a pretty huge, well known, well funded game. There are no shortage of reviews of it out there, no shortage of opinions, a million game play videos on YouTube, literally no person who was in the market to buy the game decided to buy or not buy it because this one guy missed this one mechanic. Why do we care even? Why would we care if one car reviewer in one newspaper missed the gear shift? Who the hell cares about Toyota enough that this would make them violently upset? Plenty of people will still be buying their cars, if that's the sort of thing you need to happen to feel happy.

Increasingly feel games companies and "Gamers" don't fucking deserve journalism, or any kind of attention at all, really.
posted by Jimbob at 2:24 PM on September 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


This incident kind of skirts around a growing problem, not everyone who wants to play video games is good at them, and what can the industry do to include as many of these people as possible? Certainly more than a simple difficulty setting, I hope.

Borderlands 2 included a class specifically designed for new gamers, or gamers new to FPS, the Mechromancer, a pet class with a special talent for doing partial damage to a target even if the player is a poor shooter. That's a perfect example of where the industry needs to go.
posted by Beholder at 2:26 PM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of weirdness here but I think the strangest is the presumption that there's a single skill called "being good at video games." I've seen a lot of responses saying "if you can't handle a simple platformer like Cuphead you have no business writing about games like Mass Effect." But I'm pretty good at Mass Effect and similar games, and really really terrible at sidescrolling platformers; they require completely different skillsets. There are entire genres of video game where it doesn't even make sense to talk about being good or bad; what would it even mean to claim to be good at Monkey Island, or Hatoful Boyfriend, or The Wolf Among Us?
posted by waffleriot at 2:35 PM on September 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty shit at the Mass Effect games (and most games for that matter), but I still love them, and have played them enough to have valid opinions on things like narrative, or use of cut scenes, or clothing/armor options, or why Andromeda was kind of disappointing, or why my Shepard decided to convert to Armenian Apostolic so that she and Garrus could have a church wedding.

There are many perfectly acceptable ways to enjoy a game, and these should be addressed by more reviewers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:54 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you've watched Let's Play videos that some of the Awful Squad regulars have posted of other games (for example, the recent Destiny 2 runs), you'll quickly appreciate that these guys can be motherfuckers at many video games.

Absolutely, but the point of the Awful Squad stream is to have fun playing a difficult videogame without all the players being particularly good at it. There's no hangup about having to be experts at the game in order to enjoy it properly. It's not like they're not trying, just that they are primarily focused on getting fun and entertaining video out of the games. In context of a lot of the content that Griffin, in particular, has put out for Polygon, which mainly focuses on using games as playsets rather than as challenges, that seems like part of a generally healthy approach to gaming.
posted by howfar at 3:01 PM on September 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well, I suppose it's nice that the Gamergaters found something to do for a while besides trolling for Trump. Still doesn't change my mind that game culture needs to be razed to the ground.
posted by happyroach at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


This is yet another flare-up of the less reported-on side of the ongoing cultural clusterfuck sometimes known as GamerGate. Ruthless misogyny rightfully got the attention during that particular mess, but their ruthless gate-keeping shouldn't be forgotten. These people want to create a hard line between "gamers" and "non-gamers," gamers being anyone who engages with video games exactly how they do and non-gamers being everyone else.

It's especially important to them that non-gamers be kept out of positions of power in video game industry & culture, and they see game journalism & criticism as a major center of power. Reviews, the story goes, dictate success or failure in the market, and market results dictate what games are created in the future. If dangerously non-masculine games like Gone Home (which is always the go-to example) receive critical acclaim, developers will wind up creating more games for non-gamers instead of creating directly and exclusively for the gamer dude club. So they've arrived at the idea that only people who think like them, the real gamers, can be allowed to write about games, or else non-gamers will set the path for the industry and every video game will just be Gone Home. (Personally I think it'll be wonderful if Gone Home can have the long-lasting foundational influence on design that games like Half-Life or Super Mario 64 have had. Guess I'm not a gamer, then.)

Incidentally, you can see this phenomenon from another angle in the recent PewDiePie racial slur story. The defense of "oh, his tongue just slipped during a heated gaming moment" has a definite subtext of "it's a gamer thing, you wouldn't understand" as well as "they're attacking us gamers again, let's stand up for ourselves."
posted by skymt at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


He apparently wrote a scathing review of Mass Effect because he didn't realise he had to level up his characters.

To be fair, I ended up killing Wrex on Virmire because I made the exact same mistake the first time I played it.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:06 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The problem here, and the above post is an excellent example of this, is how guys think their experience is unique to a particular subset men, and that they weren't personally responsible for turning out that way because society did it to them.

Pardon. I was a little distracted when I was talking about this because the kid I know is a difficult point: he's been abused physically and verbally, and we can't help. (CPS didn't bite.) So when I think about this, it's colored a bit by 'I am watching someone who was abused possibly turning into an abuser himself, and I can't seem to do shit about it.'

I don't think his situation is the norm with Gamergaters, and apologize for any unintentional implication that I did. I think they're mostly... well, like I said, they're the people who lack perspective and empathy. If you're looking to throw blame around, absolutely pin it on the men choosing this as their answer.

Broadly, I agree with you. I'm also not a white man, and I'm well aware of the breaks they get cut versus the rest of us.

Mostly, I just want to offer insight about why colorful pictures on computer monitors are inspiring the same sort of violent extremism that we normally associate with religion. Call of Duty's just a game, and has no fucking bearing on real life. Christianity argues that it does: it claims to be about the fate of all humanity, the universe and everything. Why do both inspire horrifying violence?

That's all I'm trying to get at: the common thread between the two things is that it's the sole social outlet for a dangerous group of participants.

Your point about the Mommy Wars types just speaks to that: sad, hopeless people have formed this nasty tribal identity that they defend against all comers for similar reasons. Personally, I think the only reason they're not going about it more violently is lack of opportunity due to systemic disenfranchisement: anti-vaxxers are totally cool with third parties dying for their beliefs, their access and acclimation to violence are simply less.

tl;dr: you find extremism where you find hopeless people gathered together, and not talking to anyone outside their little bubble. That breeds delusion, it breeds dehumanization of people not in their circle, and it is easily radicalized toward behavior that endangers the rest of us. This problem is not unique to men by any stretch, gamers are just a textbook example that I find completely unsurprising.

As for why these guys believe they're disenfranchised... ugh. Yeah, that's absurd, but it's 2017. We left the Age of Reason behind last November.
posted by mordax at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


GamerGate types are going to be shitheads about it in the horrific way that they are about so many other things, but a review that basically says "Here's what's in the game, and also it's really very hard and as a person who doesn't play these games much I couldn't get past level 3" is still totally useful information for people reading the review to help calibrate their expectations and figure out whether they'll enjoy it. It is unfortunate that a person who can't get through the game won't get to see all the things that it's about, and in some ways this is analogous to a film reviewer writing a review of a movie they only saw half of, but the "skill" barrier is a real part of the game for the player just as much as it is for the reviewer, which means it's an important thing to review as well.
Something that complicates this discussion is that game reviewer and game journalist and games entertainment creator aren't really the same job and don't really have the same expectations or aims but we often treat them as one (and no games publication outfit is laying out cash to hire people to do just one and not the others anymore). Even here in this thread we have people disagreeing over whether the primary job of a games writer is entertainment or information. I think most people would agree that people who are trying to do what we might call games-adjacent entertainment (I'm thinking of a lot of Let's Play stuff here, including things like Awful Squad) don't need to be good at the games to produce an entertaining product, but I think some of the people who are participating in this discussion here and elsewhere are thinking of this kind of stuff when talking about games journalists, while others are thinking more of traditional book- or film-style game reviews or industry reporting. We would probably all benefit from a little clearer definition of terms.

With respect, who gives a shit? If I've heard of it, Mass Effect must be a pretty huge, well known, well funded game. There are no shortage of reviews of it out there, no shortage of opinions, a million game play videos on YouTube, literally no person who was in the market to buy the game decided to buy or not buy it because this one guy missed this one mechanic. Why do we care even? Why would we care if one car reviewer in one newspaper missed the gear shift?

This is a crazy line of argument. How can you think that last question is a thing that is even worth asking? Yes, of course we should care if a car reviewer can't figure out that a car has a gear shift! That person is actually not capable of doing that job and they definitely should be fired.
A review of Mass Effect written as though there is no leveling mechanic isn't analogous to an Ebert review saying he doesn't like The Usual Suspects, but rather to an Ebert review in which he claims that The Usual Suspects is a family-friendly musical starring the Muppets. It's a fundamental misrepresentation of the product coming from a person whose job is, in part, to make it clearer exactly what the product is. A film or book or car critic who released something as obviously and thoroughly incompetent as the described Mass Effect review wouldn't be getting defended by anybody, so it's pretty bizarre to see that people who clearly don't even understand what's being discussed are rushing in here to defend an offhand example of something that isn't even actually what the post is about.


Also: If what you have to contribute to a conversation about gaming is "gamers are horrible and everything they love should be burned to the ground", maybe just assume that we've heard you already one of the other hundred times you've dropped that into a discussion and just sit one out instead of blindly attacking a large diverse group of people for a change?
posted by IAmUnaware at 4:19 PM on September 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


People that self-identify as "gamers" are almost universally terrible people. People who play games as a hobby, conversely, are a diverse group.
posted by aramaic at 5:38 PM on September 16, 2017 [11 favorites]


Yes, of course we should care if a car reviewer can't figure out that a car has a gear shift! That person is actually not capable of doing that job and they definitely should be fired.

Uhh, yes and no. Games are still playing around with interface design and game mechanics. Things are added and subtracted and common standards occasionally develop only to evolve or be completely done away with a few years later. There's big differences in games 25 years ago and now. Saying "games reviewer" is not really comparable to a car reviewer, but more like an all transportation reviewer, someone that is expected to know not only about modern cars, but also trucks, vans, buses, hang gliders, funiculars, pedicabs, backhoes, and more.

I'm sympathetic to someone missing a key detail in a game, because I often do it. And also because games documentation and tutorials are either very sparse or very poorly done.
posted by FJT at 6:17 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


That video was painful to watch though - my parents are in their mid 60's and could probably play cuphead better than that guy in the video did.
posted by Veritron at 6:38 PM on September 16, 2017


If someone can't engage with work that requires effort and familiarity with a very particular set of cultural referents, then they shouldn't review that work.
posted by dmh at 7:58 PM on September 16, 2017


That video is very shameful. It's not even entertaining, since it has no commentary and is just there. The sense of vicarious embarrassment I felt watching that one is strong and this guy's editor did him no favors by hanging him out to dry like this.

I'm going to say this though all the other explanations of the psychology of gamers and so forth above aside... There's an obvious reason why this video is infuriating that has nothing to do with hating people unlike oneself. The perception is that "video game journalists" are literally paid to play games. They're a bunch of jetsetting balls literally getting paid to do something that other people have to spend money on. There's a perspective where you could see the shameful player in this video as a privileged douchebag who doesn't even care enough about what's just been handed to him to bother to even read the screen.

I don't feel that way, but I think it's obvious to explain the behavior as envy and resentment at people who are given things that others have to earn and then don't even appreciate them. I'm sure you have your own personal examples.

To be clear, I don't feel this way, but I could understand feeling that way about something like this. The whole next thing is just a vulgar expression of that displeasure.
posted by yonega at 8:00 PM on September 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't want to abuse the edit function but as an addendum I don't think game reviewers are given anything for free. Once something becomes an obligation it's not free to you anymore, it costs you. I could see how some might think game reviewing is a dream job, but I would never want it. I've managed to turn one of my favorite things into a career and now I just feel bad about it all the time but it's still the thing I like to do most. The other of my favorite activities I turned into a srs artistic endeavor and now it's no longer actually a personal outlet. It's good to have things to do that no one cares about you doing.
posted by yonega at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


My video game experience trajectory is as follows:

Miscellaneous arcade games --> Atari 2600 --> Super Mario Bros. on my baby brother's NES --> fast forward about 15 years --> Nintendo Wii --> Fast forward about a decade --> The occasional puzzle-type game that I get really wrapped up in and then delete from my iPad after a couple of weeks

EVERY SINGLE TIME I start to think "oh, I missed out by not keeping up with gaming", I read about something like Gamergate, or this unfortunate reviewer, and I feel like I dodged a bullet.
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The perception is that "video game journalists" are literally paid to play games. They're a bunch of jetsetting balls literally getting paid to do something that other people have to spend money on. There's a perspective where you could see the shameful player in this video as a privileged douchebag who doesn't even care enough about what's just been handed to him to bother to even read the screen.

The thing is, that perception is wrong. Video game journalists are not "literally paid to play games", just like sports journalists are not "paid to watch sports". And because that perception is wrong, built on false priors, there's no reason that we should see any anger built on it as legitimate.

So no, your "obvious reason" is neither obvious nor a reason to legitimize the anger that these people are showing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:07 PM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


And as an addendum to my point, here's a video done by an actual reviewer talking about why this "controversy" is idiotic. And he points out that of all the skills that a games journalist needs, skill at games is only one, and it's not even really the most important - the ability to compose one's thoughts into a form that is easily consumed by the reader/viewer is much more important.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid I begged my parents for months (years?) to get me a subscription to Nintendo Power, and they eventually did. At first I was thrilled, but it gradually dawned on me that it was little more than advertising. The effect was to make me want things I didn't have, that in most cases I would never have, and ultimately a feeling of dissatisfaction. Ever since then, I've been suspicious that 'video game journalism' largely functions as a marketing department for the video game industry.
So I'm wondering, what do people get out of reading video game reviews, other than information to help them decide whether or not to purchase a game?
I mean, I spend a lot of time reading about video games, but it's mostly spent scouring message boards for explanations of obscure Europa Universalis game mechanics...
posted by thedamnbees at 9:35 PM on September 16, 2017


Information on whether to purchase a game or not is valuable. I don't have a huge amount of disposable income and having people tell me whether a game is something that is either good or something I would enjoy is a valuable service. This doesn't seem complicated.
posted by Ferreous at 9:49 PM on September 16, 2017


The thing is, that perception is wrong. Video game journalists are not "literally paid to play games", just like sports journalists are not "paid to watch sports". And because that perception is wrong, built on false priors, there's no reason that we should see any anger built on it as legitimate.

So no, your "obvious reason" is neither obvious nor a reason to legitimize the anger that these people are showing.


Whiff. I don't legitimize or speak to the legitimacy of anything nor am I interested in role playing an authority on anything. Perception wrong built on false priors, blah blah. That's not the lifestyle that comes out in the articles, that's not what anyone reads about. Obviously these people are professional journalists/writers and their actual life isn't that different from any others. Surely you'll agree that there's a vicarious pleasure that's meant to be taken out of some of these pieces about how these people get to go to industry events and play all these games all of the time.

I watched the video that incited all of this specifically looking for things that one might object to and I thought that narrative made sense. The fact that some lunatics overreact to every damned thing instead of just changing the channel doesn't make the video good.
posted by yonega at 9:53 PM on September 16, 2017


I watched the video that incited all of this specifically looking for things that one might object to and I thought that narrative made sense.

Just because a narrative "makes sense" doesn't mean that it's not bullshit to the core - in fact, the most insidious of bovine manure is such because it does actually have an internal logic to it, as long as you don't look too hard at the scaffolding holding it up. Which is the point about false priors - the internal logic of the perception doesn't actually matter if it's built on bullshit.

Surely you'll agree that there's a vicarious pleasure that's meant to be taken out of some of these pieces about how these people get to go to industry events and play all these games all of the time.

Nope, and it's this mentality that's at the root of why the games industry can keep abusing workers (namely, there's enough outsiders that think the industry is the Puppy and Blowjob Factory that unless someone is a "rockstar" talent along the lines of Miyamoto or Carmack, they can be easily replaced), which is why I take great pleasure in stomping this shit out. Just because someone's deluded themselves into thinking "wow, it must be so awesome to get to play games as part of their job" about games journalism doesn't mean I'm obliged to acually entertain said delusion with anything other than bemusement.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:49 PM on September 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yes, of course we should care if a car reviewer can't figure out that a car has a gear shift! That person is actually not capable of doing that job and they definitely should be fired.

Well sure okay, if you're the kind of person whose kink is getting random strangers fired. Cool. I'm still firmly in the "I don't give a shit if journalism about consumer products is imperfect, it's not worth getting upset and getting people fired over" camp.
posted by Jimbob at 11:21 PM on September 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


What bothers me about it, is the pervasive opinion that one needs to be 'good at games':
  • Regardless of the genre of the game, as if 'games' is a blanket term that encompasses every game ever, and that doesn't take in to account varying types of game mechanics, gameplay and input. A 2D side scroller is not a 3D shooter, or a top-down MOBA, or strategy game etc. Sucking at one doesn't mean one will suck at the other, or vice versa. Some people suck at certain types of games. It's a thing. Yet, suddenly being bad at one type of game-- which makes up a pretty small chunk of the market-- means you're literally the worst or something, and it puts into question everything you've ever done before.
  • As if playing something for the first time ever (it was a demo) and being bad at it, means that you lack all credibility. That no allowances are made for not being into the game, or not being used to the game, or getting used to game mechanics for the first time. That as soon as you press 'start' on a game, you're supposed to be pro level at it, otherwise you suck.
  • For a game that very little people have actually played. Again, it was a demo. "Cuphead is easy" is moot because the majority of commenters haven't actually played it. And yet, all feel pretty happy to negatively judge the player.
  • That being 'good' at something is the ultimate authority to judge it. That being falliable at all is worth being fired over.
I'm noticing more and more this toxic, shame-filled mentality that is becoming more and more apparent. As if being flawed, vulnerable, and human is reproachable, and only perfection is acceptable. It's ugly, and toxic, and yet, judging by the likes/dislikes on that video, incredibly pervasive.

It's scary and it makes me sad. I think the hate on this is bs, and shame on the other reporters who are perpetuating this hate as if they themselves are infallible.

I am good at games. I've gamed since 1986. I hate side scrollers. I don't enjoy them and am bad at them. This doesn't make me 'bad at games'. Eff off.
posted by Dimes at 11:43 PM on September 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'll just say my first encounter with "gaming journalism" were the imported copies of Amstrad Action I used to buy religiously in the early 1990s. I just figured the guys writing (who did so with a nerdy British sense of humour) were lucky to have access to all those games and hardware - I was a bit jealous but I didn't hate them for it. I can't imagine getting angry at them for making a mistake in a review. I recall back then they didn't necessarily complete every game. But I also recall, even then, the insane angry proto-gaters writing in letters to the editor, angry that a given game was given 8/10 for graphics when they felt it deserved at least 9/10.
posted by Jimbob at 11:47 PM on September 16, 2017


The most interesting gaming experience for me was getting into VR.

VR is wild because the cost of even very small errors is that the entire game breaks. It doesn't crash, *you* do. Because while it's finally over the immersive line, it's not far over.

There's all sorts of implicit assumptions in gaming, about what's easy and what's hard. There needs to be both -- you can't be trying to figure out how to swing a sword, when the level is challenging you to simultaneously manage eighteen assailants and a buzzard. The game complexity curve has risen -- more buttons, more mechanics, more assumptions.

More need for training, more need not only to have tutorials, but to test them, get them right.

Nintendo games had a wall too, of course. And Nintendo literally staffed a massive department of game tech support people to manage that wall. To some extent walkthroughs and online forums take the place of that. But, oddly, the immersion level being so much higher now means that having to leave, is a lot more disruptive.

When I leave a VR game, I often never come back.
posted by effugas at 11:48 PM on September 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


> Yes, of course we should care if a car reviewer can't figure out that a car has a gear shift! That person is actually not capable of doing that job and they definitely should be fired.

No, because even Top Gear presenters/reviewers couldn't drive a truck, or a formula 1 car easily, or a motorbike, or RV, or even some sports cars with paddle-gearing etc. You can argue that Top Gear presenters are entertainers, but even a more review-centric car shows such as 5th Gear has presenters of various skill levels, and various levels of difficulty on the vehicles-- the ex pro racer is obviously very good at driving racing cars, the others vary. Some people prefer some types of vehicles over others.

If a car reviewer can't drive a van, or a large car, or is used to rear wheel drive, or a car they're not used to without any errors, they should be fired? If a games are cars, then 2-D side scrollers are more like motorbikes, trucks or vans. Being good at driving a car, or understanding the principles of driving a car, doesn't automatically make you good at driving every kind of vehicle. Nothing does.

Lastly, lets not forget, he wasn't reviewing anything. He was simply just trying the game. If they taped a 5th Gear or Top Gear presenter struggling with a new model of car, and released the footage for fun, they should be fired?

I mean, James Hammond has crashed twice, and still has a job. Pro drivers crash all the time. I'm afraid your analogy doesn't work for me. At all.
posted by Dimes at 12:00 AM on September 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Just because a narrative "makes sense" doesn't mean that it's not bullshit to the core - in fact, the most insidious of bovine manure is such because it does actually have an internal logic to it, as long as you don't look too hard at the scaffolding holding it up. Which is the point about false priors - the internal logic of the perception doesn't actually matter if it's built on bullshit.

I think the media we're talking about intentionally creates this perception of itself! Pretty much every "enthusiast press" has this aspect to it. From Jimmy Joe's Video Game Review Hut to Hot Rod Magazine or whatever. It may be fiction but it's not my fiction. You're going on about the perception while disregarding the facade.

Nope, and it's this mentality that's at the root of why the games industry can keep abusing workers (namely, there's enough outsiders that think the industry is the Puppy and Blowjob Factory that unless someone is a "rockstar" talent along the lines of Miyamoto or Carmack, they can be easily replaced), which is why I take great pleasure in stomping this shit out.

So, now you're switching from game journalism to game development? I don't even know what to say about that. But see, I agree with you, I'm not sure how anyone could think developing software is anything like playing games all day even if the software. I know about developing software for money and playing games for fun--they're not alike at all. However, I think gaming media is invested in the image I described above, while I don't think game developers are.

This isn't literature where the author pours their personal struggles all over the page. It's "Everything is awesome all the time and games are wonderful." I don't find it a stretch, at all, to believe that someone could buy into or react to the persona of a brand of media.
posted by yonega at 12:38 AM on September 17, 2017


Information on whether to purchase a game or not is valuable. I don't have a huge amount of disposable income and having people tell me whether a game is something that is either good or something I would enjoy is a valuable service. This doesn't seem complicated.


ferreous, I don't disagree with you, I was merely asking (in earnest), what other reasons folks might have to read video game journalism (and/or criticism). Analogously, the function of film criticism is surely not ONLY to help people decide if they are going to see a movie in the theatre, or wait for it to come out on video, or whatever.

It seems to me, that if people are only reading about video games to figure out if they will enjoy them, then they might reasonably want the reviewer to have a similar level of experience/competence as themselves. But I suspect this is not the ONLY reason people read about video games, and these other reasons might explain why there is so much disagreement on the video game skill needed by gaming journalists.

To put it another way - like many other mefites, I genuinely enjoy reading about the latest dramas in the Eve universe, despite never having played the game, and having no intention of ever playing it. So it matters very little to me if the people who write about Eve have any skill at the game, or if they have even played it.
posted by thedamnbees at 6:07 AM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine getting angry at them for making a mistake in a review.

I can live with a mistake, or even reviewers getting screwed by the developers for playing pre-gold code and asked to not mention removed/missing features or bugs because they promised all would be sorted out by the time it hit gold, and then didn't.
However, deception or bad faith is a completely different matter because if I read them, it's because I actually trusted their opinion, and keeping in mind I worked in game retail, having a decent grasp of what's good or not without having to play everything was important, not some sort of entitlement bullshit. If people trusted me to give an opinion on the best games we had available and I had bad info on them (either a scathing review in bad faith, or a glowing review pushed by ad $) that would impact the ability to do my work, yeah, that pissed me off.

Of course, to me "getting angry" means "not giving any more hits to this junk", not making death threats on twitter, because I still have a sense of perspective.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:16 AM on September 17, 2017


Looks like someone beat me to posting Movie Bob's rebuttal.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 7:55 AM on September 17, 2017


Fuck "gamers". I've been playing games since Pong. I got my hands on new games by typing long strings of numbers from a magazine into a machine with 4 KB of memory and a 1 MHz processor. And these basement-dwelling shitlords can get right the fuck off my lawn.

Oh, you love games? They stop holding the medium back with your toxic, adolescent bullshit. Cinemaphiles don't wage organized harassment campaigns when someone makes a movie that doesn't cater directly to them. Foodies don't doxx people for heretical interpretations of jianbing or duck confit. Art fans don't spew racist slurs and rape threats when a magazine slights their favorite artist's gallery show.

Grow the fuck up, you fragile, entitled man-children. You are the invading newcomers who are poisoning the culture.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:07 PM on September 17, 2017 [17 favorites]


You are the invading newcomers who are poisoning the culture.

Surely video game culture, like sci fi culture, has only recently shown signs of misogyny!
posted by Going To Maine at 7:27 PM on September 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


It's similar in that upon signs showing that it might be deviating from that the shitbags came back hard and in force to turn it all to shit by whatever means available.
posted by Artw at 11:29 PM on September 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Heh.

I'm also an old who has been playing video games since they were invented. (I went from pinball to video games.) I'm so old, I'm taken aback that self-identifying as a "gamer" has become so toxic. In my lifetime, it just meant someone hung out in the arcades and then bought console and PC games. (Well, I was a PC snob before that really meant anything.)

It's kind of a bummer that something that's been a part of my life for 44 years (since about eight) has all this toxicity now so baked-in. It was always there in numerous respects, of course, but it wasn't explicitly part of the identity until more recently.

I mean, being a "gamer" was never a core part of my social or personal identity, anyway. Neither was being a "nerd". I'm super-alienated from these people who formed their essential identities around these things. Despite having all those interests -- I have a crica-1978 Starfleet Technical Manual and had top ten high-scores on Defender and I'm the person who introduced Civilization to all the fellow addicts I knew -- I didn't form an alienated white male identity around all this stuff and, frankly, it's annoyed the fuck out of me that people did and do. I first really noticed it in college in the early eighties.

So I guess I won't self-identify as a gamer, anymore. I've become shit at games, anyway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:41 PM on September 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Surely video game culture, like sci fi culture, has only recently shown signs of misogyny!

Please don't use sarcasm to put words in my mouth.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:33 AM on September 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


Okay, but I think blaming these folks as invading newcomers and not just some of the devils that have always been part of the culture is incorrect. Perhaps helpfully so, if it makes it easier to eject them, but unhelpfully so if it dodges the truth in a way that pecludes deeper analysis.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:32 AM on September 18, 2017


Well, think about it like computer programming. My dad was a mainframe programmer and he married (second marriage after my mom) a woman who was also a programmer. His late brother and his wife were also both programmers.

My point in mentioning that is that I have first-hand experience in how the software industry has become more hostile to women. I was in software. However, I am also certain that, as a baseline, the kind of men in the industry aren't that different from their predecessors -- it's the same personality types. And the general culture was more sexist then than now.

My point is that I think what is different in both these subcultures is that the growing women's rights over this time correlates with a backlash against feminism which fostered increasing misogyny among those already prone to it. These groups became self-aware of this inherent sexism and explicitly began to incorporate it into their identities.

I think gaming, like computing, is more sexist today than thirty years ago, but it was already higher-than-average then. Compare racism's relationship to conservatism within the context of the modern history of the two parties. The GOP, being conservative, was always prone to racism, all else being equal, through most of the 20th, but it got much worse after the great sorting of the southern realignment.

Gaming culture, like nerd culture, has always been the domain of white males and therefore has always been racist and sexist. But over the last thirty or so years, both of these began to merge their overall sense of social alienation with a specific hostility to non-whites and women (most especially women) and incorporated that into these social identities in a more overt way. As this has happened, it created a vicious cycle where women, in particular, feel a lot more overt hostility. That's my take. It's always been bad, but it's worse now in a particularly virulent way.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


I just think it's worth pointing out that I value games criticism where the reviewer isn't a hardcore Dark Souls-loving esports level professional, because I am none of those things and I want to play a game that isn't going to be punishingly difficult. In fact, it's a huge bonus for me if a game has a easy peasy training wheels story mode, because I'm here for the experience, not the challenge. The reality is there's a multitude of types of people playing games and acting like there's a monolithic One True Gamer is patent bullshit...but you knew that already.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:30 AM on September 18, 2017 [5 favorites]


I will continue to call myself a "gamer" despite having no interest in (and no skill with):
  • FPS games
  • Top-down shoot-em-ups
  • Team-based action MMOs
  • Dungeon crawl RPGs
  • Racing games
  • Turn-based war simulation strategy games
  • Action and puzzle platformers
  • JRPGs, which I still don't actually understand the definition of, despite going over it with my daughter and watching the relevant Extra Credit episodes at least three times
  • A whole swarm of other video games, which includes almost everything console-based and almost everything else that costs more than $30.
I play tabletop RPGs (but not D&D, not for the last couple of decades), hidden object games, point-and-click adventure games, and puzzle-based games, especially things like escape the room games. (And boardgames, sometimes, but I find myself annoyed with the amount of physical space they take and the prep/cleanup time involved.)

I am not letting a swarm - even a large swarm - of overprivileged vicious manbrats decide that the term "gamer" means "the people who play the kind of games that we find fun and important, and not people who spend substantial time playing other kinds of games that have been around longer and have a broader appeal."

I'd take more seriously the charge of "a person should be at least competent in the genre of games they review" if the most vehment cries weren't coming from people who are also prone to saying "you're not a real gamer if you don't play _____ games."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:33 PM on September 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


They don't get to claim the title "gamer" from us. They can pry it from our cold dead hands and our Crown Royal dice bags.
posted by Megafly at 4:58 PM on September 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


That kind of relates to the distinction between "masculinity" and "toxic masculinity". The toxic aspects aren't endemic to the culture but they're common and problematic.

In my experience, most of the social interaction that gamer have with other gamers is on some manner of voice communications platform (teamspeak, discord, and the like) playing the game or talking about the game you were just playing/about to play. You're not talking to anyone with an active role in your life beyond gaming and it's really easy to just opt-out of uncomfortable conversations.

I can call someone out for being racist but odds are good that most of the other people in that channel will find another channel to move to rather than take a side. If push comes to shove, they can simply leave that unit/guild/faction and find one that won't challenge their worldview.

A while back I was playing a game that had a match-maker which meant we spent a fair amount of time waiting for the next match to start. So we'd end up having conversations that ranged far and wide. Someone started in with the "but what about guys falsely accused of rape?" nonsense. I was REALLY nervous as I called him out on it and pretty gently, I thought. I was thrilled and relieved when two of the other guys jumped in to back me up. The guy who had made the original comment had a genuine realization. That might be the one and only time it's happened but it happened at least that once. Gaming culture isn't totally hopeless.
posted by VTX at 11:17 AM on September 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


Polygon takes an oblique swipe at the toxic gamer edgelords in their first new installment of SEO Play since July.
posted by ardgedee at 2:41 PM on September 26, 2017


Cuphead is out, btw. Maybe they'll make a DLC witch hurls vitriol at you while you play.
posted by homunculus at 5:03 PM on September 29, 2017


In other quirky game news, Steam is having a weekend sale on Supergiant games (Bastion, Transistor and Pyre).
posted by homunculus at 5:24 PM on September 29, 2017


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