Professional Victimhood and Yellow Gaming Journalism
To paraphrase Michael Corleone: “Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in!”
B-Mask cites a recent debacle between himself and ex-game journalist, Matt Lees, in which Lees goes on a diatribe in his own podcast, condemning the use of female sexual attributes (exposed breasts and female fantasy armor) to sell mini games on the Apple App Store. B-Mask suggests that the issue isn’t as black and white as most news outlets and journalists would like the public to believe, cites cultural differences and traditional marketing tactics (sex sells), and states that it’s a topic worthy of having a rational discussion or debate in order to find out whether there’s any real link between video games and real-world misogyny, and if so, formulate a genuine solution. Matt Lees’ indignant reply consisted of essentially trying to shut him up by stating:
- “this is one topic that [Matt Lees is] entirely unwilling to debate”
- “opening the floor to ‘fair debate’ gives [the opposition’s] wonky ideas an air of credibility that they simply don’t deserve.”
- “[the opposition] can quite simply fuck off, as far as [Matt Lees is] concerned”.
In addition, Matt Lees drops the biggest bomb with the claim that no one in the gaming industry is paid to have opinions that are different than his own, which not only reeks of a totalitarian and self-righteous mindset, but it’s also telling of how first-world problems, professional victimhood and yellow gaming journalism have amalgamated into a massive source of revenue.
It seems like everywhere you turn video game developers, game designers, and game reviewers are flocking to questionable political ideologies like moths to flame while completely dismissing or outright ignoring any voices that question the potentially skewed world-view that these game industry insiders seek to perpetuate. Soap-boxing insiders like Adam Orth make a career of publicly denouncing the ‘toxicity’ of the gaming community, after being fired from Microsoft for actively trolling the Xbox One consumer base. Industry insiders like Halo designer David Ellis call out the questionable attire of other video game developers’ female leads, and in the same breath over-generalize gamers as ‘man babies’, all the while featuring the sensual, digital naked woman (Cortana) as one of the main characters of his company’s flagship franchise. Reviewers like Jim Sterling take short-sighted, under-researched, yellow journalism headlines and proceed to look down from their podiums and condemn the very people who listen to their shows as being ‘toxic’ or ‘immoral’. Suey Park takes a Colbert Report joke entirely out of context and begins a knee-jerk campaign which, ironically, battles hate and bigotry with more hate and bigotry. And what conversation about professional victimhood would be complete without Anita Sarkeesian, whose feminist gaming videos, funded by a $160,000 Kickstarter campaign, have been met with scrutiny by legions of unsung YouTube watchdogs who actually bothered to fact-check the information that she suggests perpetuates misogyny in the video game industry. Meanwhile, the concept that video games have a direct influence on a gamer’s real-world social behavior has been scientifically debunked in past video game political controversies, such as Jack Thompson’s war on video game violence. And yet, gamers united against Jack Thompson’s crusade against violence in video games in the early 2000’s, so then why are main stream video game journalists so willing to side with Anita Sarkeesian’s (often debunked) claims that video games promote misogyny and perpetuate ‘the patriarchy’?
When will the madness and the blatant hypocrisy end?
It’s bad enough that too few gaming journalists, game developers and designers, or professional victims want to even acknowledge the points brought up by those who have questioned the opinions that they are banking on, but the main stream media not only keeps circulating these debatable political viewpoints and the professional victims who voice them, but, like Matt Lees, the media plugs its ears to contesting voices, and tells anyone who doesn’t agree with its proposed agenda to essentially “fuck off”.
Because it’s a topic that video game journalists simply don’t want to publicly investigate -for fear of being labeled as ‘sexists’, or they have a case of classic ‘nice guy’ syndrome- we had no choice but to jump on our own high horses, and return to the table to air our grievances and plead to the masses that some open discussion of these hotly contested topics take place.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friedrich Nietzsche once made the statement that “God is dead!” and as a result we live our modern, comfortable lives searching for something tangible to fill that void that the supernatural can no longer fully satisfy. And so, we latch on to our first-world anxieties and make celebrities of those who offer those anxieties a voice. Additionally, in a sick society where, as philosopher Alan Watts once suggested, we mistakenly feel a need to have to validate our own existence through others via television, the newspapers, and now the Internet, many people aspire to be the next leader of a cultural revolution and right a slight. And despite the logical fallacies, false facts, and biased rhetoric that they propagate, they are infallible in the eyes of their followers.
We live in the age of #MESSIAH.
Penn Jillette of “Penn & Teller” with B-MaskPenn Jillette: “Hi I’m Penn Jillette and this is the CCS Podcast, and everything else is BULLSHIT!”
B-Mask: Well basically every time we’re pulled out of this topic, we’re pulled right back in again. And of course, that topic is feminism and white knight video game journalism. Recently there has been a slew of articles that have been championing the ideals of feminism, championing the ideas of social justice within video games. And recently I was listening to a podcast by a comedian that I like quite a bit named Matt Lees. He’s been a gaming journalist for quite a while and he just started a new podcast called “Daft Souls” which was quite good and very informative. And then one day they got into the subject of, shall we say, female sexual attributes in video games. And Matt Lees suddenly goes on a small tirade with his friends about how it was ridiculous about how there were ‘tits being used to sell mini games that you can buy in the Apple App Store’. And then they started saying that “it’s okay because I’ve never met anyone who’s been paid to give a different opinion that doesn’t agree with our opinion.” Which is effectively the Liberal slant.
Ken: Excuse me?
B-Mask: Exactly, and I instantly took to the comments because I can’t help myself, and I gave a long responsive ‘Well, I think you need to look at the situation more holistically. Social mobility and the way that the love industry works in Japan is the reason why video games are as sexualized as they are. The way that a lot of people really aren’t taking cheesy sexualized marketing tactics as seriously as you think they do. The discussion that is NOT being had about whether or not this sort of content is really effecting gamers and whether or not they are being turned into slavering animals as you think just because they buy a game with tits on the cover. The fact that this is all just marketing and it’s being used as an advertising slant and nobody takes it seriously.’
And the response that I basically got from Matt Lees was ‘I’m not interested in ths discussion. Anyone who calls it Social Justice Warrior nonsense just has a one-key opinion. I don’t believe that tits should be in games to sell them. And if you want to unsubscribe to my Patron account you’re more than welcome to do so.’
B-Mask: What could I do? I posted a small response afterwards saying ‘well that’s not really what I was saying, but thank you,’ and I moved on. But I was quite disturbed that there has been this sort of growing trend amongst anyone who is even slightly in the realms of professional reviewers where they completely and utterly subscribe to exactly what propaganda is being put forward.
LaughingMan: They swallow it hook, line and sinker…
B-Mask: Exactly. This propaganda being put forward by developers, being put forward by review sites, being put forward by people who have social anxieties that they want to advertise. I’m just… suck of it really. I don’t know why we’re still putting up with it.
Ken: So essentially what you’re saying is that there’s a hive mind now where…
Ken: Where people are really afraid to disagree with each other because if there’s that disagreement then their ideas could be called stupid. I mean, that’s part of it.
LaughingMan: It’s less about the fact that they don’t want to disagree, it’s more about the fact that they don’t even want to have the discussion in the first place.
CineMax: Exactly. I mean Jesus Christ, talk about ivory towers… I mean, it’s funny that you mention the Matt Lees incident because not too long ago, one of the more recent comments that we received on our White Knight Gaming Journalism After Hours Podcast was some gentlemen basically dismissing the entire debate with a snide ‘oh wow, now that’s a 38 minute long circle jerk that I never want to hear again’. And albeit there’s a good chance that this guy’s not listening to this podcast right now, but one thing that I’d like to ask is this: ‘sir, if two people who more or less agree with one another, imploring their listeners to look at the situation from multiple angles rather than letting their biases get the better of them, is a circle-jerk, then pardon me but what words would you use to describe this pantheon of Internet demigods who’ve preemptively decided that their point of view or political ideologies is the only way to look at these matters and have absolutely no desire to any dissent?
CineMax: Because the YouTube guy could have been trolling, but this Matt Lees fellow, that’s the textbook example of everything we’ve been talking about all of this time.
B-Mask: It was almost word for word what he said, “We’re winning! Nobody is paid to have a different opinion!” which suggest to me a totalitarian view rather than a victory.
Ken: And it’s incredibly disappointing to see that people still act this way in that they try to shut each other down rather than have an intelligent discussion. We see that Social Justice Warriors are pretty much the dominant mindset these days, or at least what they believe in is what society largely values. So it’s just bizarre that they try to shut down contrary opinions as if there was no such thing as free speech. It’s kinda weird in a way. Wouldn’t you want to hash ideas out so that we can grow as a society?
CineMax: Exactly. If you believe that the truth is on your side, then what do you have to be afraid of?
B-Mask: Yeah, it is bizarre, because years ago we had the incident with Jack Thompson who came out and claimed that video games are causing violence in children. The consensus a the end of the day, which was put through many courts and studies, was that video games ultimately DON’T have such an effect on our children. -put in a clip of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit here, from the episode Video Games are Bullshit- Kids are able to distinguish reality versus fantasy, but now the argument has come up that video games now cause misogyny and people AREN’T making the distinction between fantasy and reality. Apparently everyone believes that video games really do influence gamers now. Which is it, guys? You have to choose a side here.
Ken: And what’s really disturbing is that you see some people like Anita Sarkeesian -surprise, surprise that she comes up again- championing this movement where, like Jack Thompson’s war on video game violence, we see a distorted point of view in trying to present an ideology that only she wants to talk about where you can’t contest her ideas or she’ll ignore you or come after you.
LaughingMan: Anita Sarkeesian will be dismissive and call you either a troll or a misogynist.
B-Mask: Not to mention that Anita Sarkeesian blatantly ignores the context of the stuff that she discusses on her Feminism vs Tropes web series. There’s already loads of comments on the fact that she missed out that the video game Dinosaur Planet was EQUALLY a boy and girl situation.
LaughingMan: And yet only her opinions are propagated in the media. For example in the May 2014 issue of WIRED Magazine there’s an article by Laura Hudson called “Beat the Devils: Curbing Online Abuse Is Not Impossible”, a four page article about how companies are attempting to reform verbally abusive gamers through temporary bans and more descriptive warning messages. However, on page two of this four-page article, there’s Anita Sarkeesian’s face taking up the top-half of the page, and it’s the only photo, besides the cover, in the entire article. Now 80% of the article is about measures taken by one of the world’s largest online games, League of Legends.
CineMax: Not to be confused with League of Angels, our official sponsors! *sarcasm*
LaughingMan: Gratuitous panty shots!
CineMax: Approved by Cheshire Cat Studios! *more sarcasm*
LaughingMan: So out of this entire four page article, Anita Sarkeesian’s contribution is three sentences.
B-Mask: But of course Anita Sarkeesian gets the whole page with her photo.
LaughingMan: And her only contribution to the topic is that she’s essentially received rape threats, and that the police didn’t take the threats seriously. However, I know from personal experience that without evidence of a threat or clear and present danger, there’s very little a cop can do about internet threats, regardless of who’s receiving them, or who’s sending them. But to me it seems like Anita Sarkeesian is going out of her way to bait the trolls and get more attention.
CNN News Anchor to Anita Sarkeesian: “What do you say to people who say ‘Don’t feed the trolls’?”
Anita Sarkeesian: … … … … ummmmmm….
LaughingMan: And I’m like ‘ehhhhhh….’
Ken: And we’re not saying that anyone deserves that sort of treatment, certainly.
B-Mask: But I think that we should pay special attention to what happens when people go to the news with the fact that they’ve been harassed opposed to the police. We discussed earlier of what happened with Marvel Comic’s Dan Slott. Dan Slott not only went to the police with the death threats that he received after creating The Superior Spider-Man, he also went to the news to say that “I received death threats for this story.” But you know what? He sold a shit-ton of comics that day.
CineMax: Mmm-HMM! Sooo…
Ken: And yes, that’s the point that I was going to make. Nobody deserves these kinds of threats, but it’s what you DO with these threats that really differentiates you from being a victim with Anita Sarkeesian and Dan Slott.
LaughingMan: But that’s just the rule about the Internet: The minute that you show that something can hurt you on the Internet, whether you’re Dan Slott or Anita Sarkeesian or whoever, and you’re saying “oh my God, these horrible trolls are offending me! I feel so hurt! I’m getting PTSD!”
LaughingMan: You’ve basically signed a death-warrant for yourself on the Internet. You’ve let the trolls know that they can get under your skin, that they can hurt you, and they’re going to come at you in full-fucking-force.
CineMax: Right because it all comes down to that Internet Anonymity Equation that Penny Arcade developed all of those eons ago. But to go back to the WIRED Magazine article that you mentioned. You do know why Anita Sarkeesian’s face was plastered on the second page of the article. It’s because at this point people like Anita Sarkeesian, Suey Park, and Rebecca Watson, they’re no longer people, they’re BRANDS!
LaughingMan: I’m going to coin it right now: #Messiah.
B-Mask: Nicely done!
CineMax: Yes, that is exactly what they are. And the worst thing is that not only can you not have a meaningful debate with these people, because that’s not really what they’re interested in…
Interview clip with Suey Park where the interviewer asks Suey Park to explain her position and she replies “I just told you that I will not enact that labor”.
CineMax: But we can’t even have a constructive discussion amongst ourselves because people keep bringing them into the discussion as though their personal opinions in the matter deserve some special recognition. But speaking of professional victims, if you still have any doubts about the voracity of what we’re talking about when we mention ‘professional victimhood’ look no further than our good friend, Adam Orth.
B-Mask: Aha! Ha ha!
Ken: Wow, ancient history for the Internet, Max.
CineMax: It’s not really ancient history because just a few months ago, in March 2014, Adam Orth was invited to a Game Developers Conference to hold a speech about the toxicity, and the hostility, and the sleaziness of the gaming community.
LaughingMan: Which Adam Orth directly contributed to.
B-Mask: What can I say, Ted-X, the poor-man’s Gettysburg.
CineMax: And I mean, let’s look at the situation holistically here. Adam Orth trashes his consumer base on Twitter at an in-appropriate time for his company, Microsoft, because there were all of these tensions about whether or not the Xbox One would be always-online, about its price, and people were actually considering boycotting the Xbox One because of these issues. And here comes good ‘ol Adam Orth with a couple of questionable jokes where he basically mocks a large portion of his consumers, and acts like a pompous douche. He loses his job -which I’ll go on the record and say that I don’t believe that he should have lost his job. I think that a formal apology or something would have sufficed, because I don’t think that Twitter shenanigans should cost anyone their professional career.
B-Mask: Well, there was Adria Richards and Donglegate, so…
CineMax: Here’s the thing, after all of this, instead of making a mental note that perhaps it’s not wise to bite the hand that feeds ie your own consumers, he then thinks “wait a minute… it’s not me or my questionable sense of humor that’s at fault here… IT’S THE GAMERS! IT’S THE GAMERS! It’s the vile, and the misogynistic and the vulgar… It’s so fucking clear now!”
*shows slideshow of Adam Orth’s tweets about how Hitler and the Holocaust were #worthit to get Indiana Jones movies, joking about how the Holocaust DIDN’T happen, how murder isn’t a crime because the victim is dead and can’t give a shit, and how the Xbox 360s red ring of death made gameplay more challenging.
CineMax: Yes! And now he’s going to go and try to create a professional career… I stress this: CAREER!
B-Mask: Oh God, it’s a super-villain origin story!
CineMax: Out of talking about how horrendous the gaming community is. And again, I don’t believe that Microsoft should have fired the guy in the first place. But after this, let’s just say that buy the guy a drink and listen to his sob-story if I met him in real life.
LaughingMan: What you do is throw a glass of 151 on him and light a match.
LaughingMan: Whoops! Did I say that?!
B-Mask: It’s amazing that people believe in the toxicity of gaming.
LaughingMan: I think it’s because he wants to ride the hype train. It’s exactly what David Ellis at 343 Industries, a developer of the Halo Game series, said the gaming industry was “full of man babies” in relation to Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 5 character Quiet and her skimpy-ass attire. Meanwhile, David Ellis is working on a fucking game series where one of the main characters is a naked blue digital woman named Cortana. HYPOCRISY!
B-Mask: And of course it ignores the previous context that in the first Metal Gear game, the main character Snake is naked from the waist up being tortured in the same way Quiet will be tortured. And in the second game, the male protagonist Raiden is COMPLETELY NAKED and being tortured in the exact same way, AND you get to play as him, completely naked.
LaughingMan: Holding his balls, running around, bare ass naked.
B-Mask: Holding onto his crotch and doing lots of flips. It’s bizarre that people are so good at forgetting all of this shit. It’s clear that they’re just all wanting to get on the video games cause misogyny bandwagon.
CineMax: But B-Mask, who cares about context? *shows picture of sorceress from Dragon’s Crown* Here’s a pair of digital breasts, get incensed! … WHAT YOU’RE NOT OFFENDED BY THIS?! WHA-WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU MYOPIC RAPE APOLOGIST!!
CineMax: But here’s the thing, with all of these video game review websites, it’s almost a ritual that whenever there’s a slow news day or some controversy breaks out, they always have a news article or two, dedicated to the toxicity of the video gaming community that they’re ready to dish out. Sometimes even unwarranted *in the case of the Dragon’s Age writer and BioWare employee, Jennifer Hepler, who allegedly quit her job after being sexually harassed online, but it turned out she actually quit for other reasons* And yet, when you look at all of these articles, often times it’s these journalists themselves who are being hostile and sometimes even abusive *Jim Sterling’s Jimquisition calling the gaming community ‘toxic’ after doing half-assed research on Jennifer Hepler* –
LaughingMan: To their own readership!
B-Mask: Ah exactly!
CineMax: I mean, seriously, at this point video game journalists are like the drill-sergeant from Full Metal Jacket: “Attention you worthless CIS scum! Today, I’m going to tell you about why Quiet from Metal Gear Solid 5 and Dragon’s Crown are terrible examples of the abuse and the objectification that’s going on in the gaming industry!”
B-Mask: “You magnificent bastards! You should read my book!”
LaughingMan: I was flipping through the June 2014 issue of Reason Magazine (Video Game Nation: how gaming is making America freer and more fun) and something that an article pointed out that it seems no one else wants to talk about in regards to these nefarious female fantasy armor fetishistic MMOs is that there’s actually some interesting research being done that suggests that they’re contributing more towards genuine gender equality than most people would want to give them credit for. Nick Yee, a researcher at Ubisoft ran some studies, and published them in the book “The Proteus Paradox”, which suggests that men are more likely to gender-swap in MMO games. After all, if you’re going to be staring at an ass for 40 hours, it might as well be a good looking one!
B-Mask: LOL. That’s exactly what my house-mate said to me last year!
LaughingMan: But seriously, as these gamers are playing as scantly-clad Night Elves or whatever, they may experience sexual harassment from the creepy to the chauvinistic first-hand. They might get followed around by others players who are gawking at their digital tits and ass, or out of frustration they might call you a bitch, or you may get cat-calls and get hit on. Video games are about virtual experiences and here the player can experience the ‘shoe on the other foot’ so to speak. Which may lead a guy to re-think his approach when it comes to real-life women.
B-Mask: What this should show is that games are FAR less predictable than the media outlets would like you to believe.
LaughingMan: Or the social justice warriors.
B-Mask: Social Justice Warriors, they talk about games as though it’s this one big conglomerate, ignoring the fact that each game is unique, that each game is different, and that we don’t look at a game based on its social commentary or social content, we look at games based on if they’re any good or not. I do believe that there is genuine social justice that needs to be applied in this world, but when I use the term ‘social justice warrior’ it’s normally in a sarcastic sense towards people who are looking for first-world or middle-class problems…
LaughingMan: Or attention.
B-Mask: Genuine issues of race, genuine issues of misogyny DO exist, however I think that anyone with half of a brain cell knows that these are problems. I think that the problem is that people are looking EVERYWHERE for these problems now.