Jerry Springer Journalism

Jerry Springer Journalism / Page 1

Should we listen to everyones rants in the gaming industry? Are game magazines trustworthy, or should we take their ‘truths’ with a grain of salt?
by James Fudge

Gamers have this habit of defending their favorite topics with a zeal that hasn’t been seen since the days of the inquisition – when it seemed alright to put a man to death if he claimed anything besides what was believed to be the truth. If you have ever had the displeasure of perusing the news groups game related message board you’ll see it. These correspondences tend to be laced with a level of fanaticism that borders on insanity. The subject matter doesn’t have to be game related either: Coke vs Pepsi, 3Dfx vs PowerVR, PlanetQuake vs Warzone, Windows 95 vs Linux. The problem is that no ground is ever gained, and the war rages into an inferno of bad words and equally negative Karma. It’s good that people want to state their opinions about things with zeal, but the line at which to stop has become hazy. You know the line I speak of – The one that falls somewhere in between a simple argument and an exchange of death threats.

Sure, the news groups are a jungle of spirited rhetoric and bullshit, and we all learn after perusing them that the subject matter should be taken with a grain of salt in most cases. But the most subtle game happens when the supposed informed journalist applies a “Jerry Springer mentality” to an article. When a journalist resorts to shock value to make a point it’s enough to turn a rat’s stomach. The most shocking thing someone can ever do is twist the truth to suit ones’ own purpose. Game Magazines and online publications are proving that opinion and speculation are more important than the actual truth of the matter. The problem is that if an overly opinionated article is taken to heart by the uniformed reader, it can prove to be a vehicle to incite angst towards the subject matter – whether it be a game, a developer, a company, or a person. If you have ever read the newsgroups (my condolences to you for having to endure them) you can occasionally see someone bantering over an article that pissed them off or gave them inspiration.

But really what most of these articles did was throw a bunch of bullshit out into the court of public opinion to validate someone’s lame assertions. So what does an article like the aforementioned ones I describe? Keep reading… What follows are a few examples:

Duke Nukem is Sexist
Shadow Warrior is Racist
Quake 2 was Half Done
Unreal is Vaporware

Let’s take a look at Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior – These games had some pretty controversial content in them according to several publications – and yet these same stalwarts of political correctness and equality weren’t bellowing from the depths of their souls when Xatrix released Redneck Rampage – a game where a bunch of stereo-typed Southern folks beat people with crow bars, shot at each other, consumed large amounts of moonshine, and had odd relationships with farm animals. Apparently Duke and Shadow Warrior are not PC but picking on people from the southern regions of the United States is okay. And when Acclaim offered up naked pictures of a girl to promote Forsaken – apparently this was cool to these same people. I guess Duke didn’t handle this as tastefully as those wonderful Forsaken ads did….

Then there’s Quake 2 and Unreal. Quake 2 was an unfinished product according to many prominent publications, due to numerous patches that were released in the weeks that followed. Yet Unreal being patched on a regular basis seems like a very similar situation to me. These same publications say nothing about this situation… And who can forget the old Vaporware craze – the buzzword of every major game related magazine. Unreal was supposedly Vaporware, as well as Sin.

Now before you start firing up your email programs, I don’t agree with ANY of the statements above. Quake 2 and Unreal are completed games supported by developers that actually give a damn, Duke Nukem, Redneck Rampage, and Shadow Warrior were not THAT controversial, and Unreal & Sin are obviously not vaporware.

So what is the point? The point is that the zealots and net nazis out there, so quick to knock something without necessarily having the facts, or by manipulating them, are usually the most hypocritical – turning a blind eye to similar situations. They write stuff in an attempt to indoctrinate you to believe what they want you to or to cause controversy. The best course of action is simple: laugh at them like you would the guy muttering to himself about aliens on the street corner, and go your merry way.

Having a debate is good if a reasonable person is at the controls, but a single-minded person isn’t interested in what you think, unless it validates their own beliefs. To them all the things they say are written in stone. This is their motivation to write an article about new technology, new games, and game player trends. Pieces written in this manner are worthless, and are simple tools to validate egos, malign ideals and concepts, discredit reputable people, and to draw in “hits”.

So the next time you see a high profile article read it thoroughly – and if the guy that wrote it offers more opinion than fact, call that person out and politely tell them, “not in our community, bub.”

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