The first time I knew something was wrong with gaming journalism was several months before I had ever heard of #GamerGate or anyone had told me something was wrong. Gamespot.com was my go-to site for gaming news and reviews at the time, and the PC port for Dead Rising 3 had just come out. I already finished Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One, thoroughly enjoyed it, and Gamespot had rightfully given the console version a good score and a glowing review. I was therefore very surprised to see the score for the PC port of the exact same game, a paperweight score of 3 on the same site.
Obviously this meant that something must have been lost in the port process. Terrible performance issues or controls that didn’t translate well –someone had gotten lazy in the porting over. Or so I thought. As I began reading the review to see where things went wrong, I was dismayed to see that it was nothing to do with the game and everything to do with some politically incorrect jokes in the game that completely went over the reviewer’s head.
If you haven’t played the Dead Rising series there’s two things you need to know here. First, the game is not grim-dark serious a la Resident Evil. It is more of a parody. You create ridiculous over the top weapons, fight outrageous tongue-in-cheek enemies and the game is based on humor aimed at zombie cliché stereotypes. The second thing you need to know, is that a running theme throughout the series is that humans are the actual evil –not zombies. This message of irony is conveyed through a collection of optional boss battles where the bosses are humans who represent the “seven deadly sins”: lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, pride.
Everything I have just said in the paragraph above was completely missed by the (second) Gamespot reviewer. Gamespot blasted Dead Rising 3 (which had already received a 7 on the same site) for making politically incorrect caricatures:
“One psychopath is a Chinese man, bearded and dressed as a monk, fought in a temple garden, who attacks you with a medieval polearm and kung fu. The game stops just short of playing “Chopsticks” as an accompaniment (but it does ring a gong). One is a sexualized policewoman wearing a Halloween-costume version of the uniform. One is a female bodybuilder that the developers, through Ramos, gleefully misgender. Another is a chap-wearing bisexual man in a pink cowboy hat. He has a phallic flamethrower…..It’s a cruel portrayal, and superfluous besides: in a game that’s ostensibly about zombies, shouldn’t the zombies be scary enough on their own?”
If isn’t already clear by now, the context of game is completely missing. If the game was somehow completely serious in tone, and then had you fighting an obese woman riding a scooter or an Asian monk, then yes I think you could draw an offensive message from the developers about their politics. But if you come to that conclusion after several hours of driving over zombies with a rocket propelled bulldozer and wielding a chainsaw powered phallic device while dressed as a sport team mascot–you are simply imposing your politics and outrage culture where it doesn’t belong. In art. In gaming.
I don’t care if you find a pimple faced, calculator wearing, white male nerd boss (envy) offensive (this boss strangely not referenced by the Gamespot review as ‘problematic’ aayyy) or an obese woman wielding a turkey leg as a club boss (gluttony) offensive. Keep your political correctness and outrage culture out of my review.
So yeah, before anyone ever told me something was wrong with games journalism, it was clear. Before I knew a games journalist ever proclaimed that “gamers were over”, “all video games are stupid” or declared “smash a nerd day” a national holiday, it was clear.
You didn’t need #GamerGate to bring you down, gaming journalists.
You were already doomed to fall.