Cuphead, video game, title, characters, protagonists, cartoon, devil

Storm in a tea-Cuphead

At the end of August, I published a post about an experience we’d had with my ten-year old stepson recently. He’d become extremely agitated during a session of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so much so we had to pull the controller away from him; and after a little coaxing he revealed his frustration was coming from the fact he’d seen YouTubers complete it much faster than he was able to.

This got me wondering about the effect gameplay videos have on both our kids and ourselves. Do they have the potential to turn gaming from a hobby into something which is only fun if you’re succeeding, and pile on the pressure to complete a title without any fails? If that’s the case, it then follows that it could end up being easier to watch someone else play a game than attempt it yourself – and that sucks.

Shelby from Falcon Game Reviews left the following insightful comment on the post: “YouTube doesn’t make it any easier, that’s for sure. I know that while looking at my own streams, I’ve been tempted to cut footage that made me look like a fool before uploading it. Even on my normal videos I’m constantly debating what to cut and keep because I don’t like how it turned out.”

Little did we realise how timely our conversation was. A few days earlier on 24 August 2017, VentureBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi published a video of himself playing Cuphead at the Gamescom expo in Germany. Then just over a week later on 02 September 2017, gamers all over the world were calling for him to hand in his notice and questioning just how good a gamer you need to be in order to legitimately review video games.

So what happened?

In Takahashi’s own words: “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.” It’s fair to say he struggled with the title: he floundered in jumping and dashing to a high platform in the opening section; bumped into enemies running towards him once he got into the actual game; and then fell down a hole to his death.

The Daily Caller journalist Ian Miles Cheong then decided to highlight a section of the video and attach this to the following tweet: “Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they’re qualified to write about games?” His message has since received around 1,500 replies covering not only Takahashi’s lack of skill, but condemnation of video game journalism as a whole.

In a follow-up article on VentureBeat on 08 September 2017, Takahashi wrote: “Before [Cheong] got to it, my video had maybe 10,000 views. Afterward, the Gamergaters, or hard 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 f**k myself. I should be fired. I had brain damage. I was retarded. I should kill myself.”

Cheong then countered with his own response on The Daily Caller later that day, stating: “Just as sports journalists don’t have to be professional athletes, game journalists don’t have to be esports champions. Such expectations are unreasonable, and the only ones making that claim are game journalists upset that one of their own was made fun of by yours truly earlier this week.”

We’re playing video games, not ping-pong

So whose side am I on? You know what: it’s actually not important. What I instead want to bring attention to is this pointless game of ‘ping-pong’ which takes place each time a new controversy raises its ugly head within the gaming industry. Both sides call the other out for damaging video game journalism – and all they succeed in doing is making the entire community look stupid. For example:

  • Round one: Takahashi publishes a video of himself playing Cuphead badly in what was, in his own words, a post which was ‘intended to be funny’ and ‘not a serious review’. Cheong then posts a delayed reaction over a week later by tweeting this evidence that game journalists are bad at video games, and therefore should think they’re qualified to write about them.
  • Round two: Takahashi responds in an article and drags up past controversies with his claim he was used to ‘condemn all game journalists, raising the smouldering issues around Gamergate and its focus on gaming journalism ethics’. In return, Cheong publishes his own post stating that ‘facts aren’t [Takahashi’s] forte’ and complains he’s now being painted as a cyberbully.
  • Round three: popular YouTubers jump into the fray, declaring that game journalists watch their videos rather than playing the titles themselves; and their ‘lack of a basic level of competence’ means they’re ‘misrepresenting the game badly which is an actively harmful level of incompetence’. Once again, forums such as Twitter and Reddit become awash with hurtful comments and cries of ‘but it’s about ethics!’


    Video games are meant to be fun

    Video games are supposed to be enjoyable, yet I can’t see how situations like this – this constant tit-for-tat and all the vitriol that goes along with it – are anything of the sort. An open discussion about professional standards within the industry we love isn’t a bad thing and is actually welcomed; but when we allow it to escalate to such harmful levels, how is that in any way professional?

    It’s not the titles, their genres or the skill level of the people playing them that are the problem. It’s our own attitudes, lack of tolerance towards other and desire to take the humour out of our gaming failures that are the real issue here. Instead of creating ‘an environment that looks down on players who don’t conquer content at its penultimate challenge levels‘, we should allow everyone to play games in a way that makes them enjoyable for them (thanks Shelby).

    So to the games journalists, YouTubers and other professionals: grow up. You should be showing your support for your industry and those within it, not slinging dirt at each other in a war to prove who has the highest ethics and bring in the ratings. To the gamers, bloggers and spectators: stop allowing yourself to be dragged into these controversies. Aim to tear down the walls within our community and be prepared to constructively discuss your views with others.

    And to everyone out there reading this: get a life. In fact, get several. Go play some video games and get back to having some good old fun.

  • 8 thoughts on “Storm in a tea-Cuphead

    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this. I think open-minded discourse is really important to society in general, but nowadays it seems all we see is people shouting above one another to make their opinion heard, no matter how toxic or disrespectful. I think it’s probably magnified by the fact that all the negative stuff is what grabs people’s attention, and it’s so warming to read articles like this that encourage us to focus on the positive aspects of things.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It can be difficult not to get dragged into the controversies because details about them are everywhere you look. Twitter, Facebook, even here on WordPress – everyone seems to be writing about the latest argument. It’s an endless circle and one which causes so much noise it distracts from all the good stuff going on in the gaming world. Like you said, let’s focus on the positive things!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Agreed Kim. I hate the back and forth on both sides. I read a pretty cool post by CasualGamerMum where she was talking about gamers segregating each other. You don’t have to be a pro to be considered a gamer. I consider anyone who plays any sort of game a gamer and that’s how it should be. Everyone will have their own levels on interest but we shouldn’t be fighting about meaningless topics. No gaming journalists are not going to be the best, what makes them valuable is their insight and knowledge. Think about whatever job you’re in now. You may not be the best performer, but you know how to do your job. That’s it!

      -Luna

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said Luna. If you play video games, you’re a gamer – regardless of your sex, age, background, skill level or anything else for that matter. And it’s a community, not a competition – so let’s show one another a little bit of respect and support. 🙂

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    3. Whilst I would never be on to hurl abuse about this. I actually have a few issues with this video.

      Firstly, they seem to have changed the name of the video – to look more jokey, presumably after seeing it get torn to shreds.

      Secondly, it is very painful to watch, they should’ve just scrapped the video. It doesn’t do them any good and doesn’t show the game in a good light, at all. All this negative press around it could have an impact on the games success.

      Thirdly, gamers rely on people like this to review games and give opinions on them, some will stump up money on games based on reviews. People trust journalists to give objective reviews of games, and seeing something like this will make people lose a lot of trust in many publishers reviews, it’s damaging beyond just VentureBeat I think.

      This Dean chap also wrote a really poor and damning review of Mass Effect that came from a point of ignorance about the game – he didn’t seem to understand the basic concept of it being an action RPG etc… and the review probably influenced people not to buy it. That was also something else that reared it’s head in this whole debate.

      It’s impossible for journalists to be good at every game, and attacking someone because they aren’t is ridiculous, over the top and unacceptable.

      I just think in this case, they probably should’ve re-watched the footage a little more and thought “this is garbage, lets trash it.” or edit it more to make it not so painful to watch. But I’m sure there was pressure from someone ‘above’ to get coverage for it and this is a whole massive problem (probably for another conversation) with the games industry as whole, right from the journalist side to developers, to get ‘something’ out there no matter what.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I see can points from both sides of the argument. It wasn’t professional for Cheong to post such a tweet over a week later, and then keep tweeting about it for several days afterwards. And it wasn’t the best idea to publish the video in the first place, or for Takahashi to bring up Gamergate and Donald Trump in such a way in his response article.

        Regardless of your point of view, the one thing we can all agree on is that there’s a way to discuss your opinions without entering into any kind of abuse. As you said, it’s unacceptable; and if we can talk about it constructively here on WordPress, then surely the professionals should be able to show each other the same level of courtesy?

        The ‘massive problem’ you mentioned, it’s definitely that. There’s so much pressure on everyone in the industry to be ‘first’ – the first developer to release their game, the first journalist to reveal the news exclusive, the first website to get the ratings. Definitely a conversation for another time and possibly with a few drinks too. 😉

        Like

    4. Stuff like this makes me happy to be part of a healthy game blogging community where we all are just excited to talk about what’s happening in the industry and how much we’re enjoying the games we are playing. Toxicity online in the game community doesn’t seem to be a problem that’s going to be done with anytime soon – the best we can do as bloggers is to contribute what positivity we can. And for those of us who are parents, we can teach our kids about the (apparently novel) concept of healthy discourse!

      Like

      1. That’s so important! Children learn from the people they look up to – and they’re like sponges when they’re young – so it’s vital we all show each other a bit of respect so they can learn by example.

        If we do that, then there’s every reason to hope the hostility and discrimination within the community will eventually die out… I just hope I’m still around to witness it. 🙂

        Like

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