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.
Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they're qualified… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 02, 2017
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:
Video games are meant to be fun
BREAKING: The world's problems will not be solved by arguing with strangers on Twitter. We'll update you when we have more on this story.—
Channel 4 (@Channel4) September 13, 2017
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.