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Better Than Us

March 13, 2012 5 comments

Increasing amounts of comments and content from gaming press over the past couple of days have been attacking gaming consumers for being “entitled” and accusing them of not knowing enough about game development to have grounds to complain. It’s as if gaming press has suddenly responded to some sort of call to arms here, defending the industry that it covers instead of even attempting to look at the issues at play in some sort of balanced format.

The war has begun, and the very gaming websites that we read for video game news and information think that they’re better than us. They’re even taking to the bully pulpit to do so. It’s disappointing. It’s offensive. It’s a scenario that I never really thought would happen.

Why is it that Forbes, a financial website, has to be the one to even try looking at the consumer’s side of the debate when it comes to issues revolving around Mass Effect 3? Why is it that I don’t see any gaming portals even acknowledging that consumers may have a point, even if it’s not pursued the right way? Is there some fear of backlash from industry insiders if this occurs? Have relationships forged between gaming press and industry staff obscured the ability to see both sides of the fence? Is this finally the breaking point for gaming press, where they’ve simply become sick and tired of dealing with consumers complaining?

I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but I fear that we’ll never find the truth. Gaming press will be defensive, claiming that they can’t be bought and that they’re as impartial to the issues at hand as possible. It’s likely true that the average consumer doesn’t know the basics of game development, but talking down to your readership as though they’re comprised of petulant youths isn’t really the best way to make a point. Instead, it comes off as being a massive superiority complex:

We write about games, so we know more than you. Stop your whining and deal with it.

It bothers me to bring things like this up, but I can’t help but to feel as though the message has been made very plain. Respected gaming portals like IGN and Vox Games believe that they’re better than you. Crave Games thinks it’s better than you. Various members of the gaming press on Twitter think that they’re better than you. It’s an “us vs. them” scenario, with seemingly nobody in our corner as consumers.

I don’t get it. I always thought that gaming press was the consumer’s link to the video game industry. I thought that we were allies, or that there was at least some kind of responsibility to the reader when it came to what was said and written. Then I got this tweet from Ian Miles Cheong from Gameranx, which made it very clear:

We owe you nothing.

There you have it. If this tweet is to be believed, gaming press owes readers– most of whom are gaming consumers– nothing. This means that people like you and I don’t have a voice, outside of the complaining that we’ve been unequivocally told to stop doing. That’s just the way it is. It’s deflating to realize this, because having a responsibility to my readers and to consumers is part of why I wanted to get into the gaming press in the first place. Instead, it’s all about alliances and politics… and if you’re not part of the agenda, you need to kindly go away.

It won’t matter to anyone but me, but I’ve lost some respect for this medium over the past few days. Nothing will change, and that’s fine, but it’s a damned shame that something that I’ve held in such high regard for so long can be like this. I expected better. I expected different. I guess that’s my fault.

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