I’m guessing that many of you have, by now, seen the news about the “Internet outrage” over Carolyn Petit’s review of Grand Theft Auto V for Gamespot. Some readers went ballistic over her calling the game “misogynistic” and scoring it a 9 out of 10. Mean words and evil thoughts ripped through many of the comments on the article. Surprising? Sadly no.
I don’t envy game journalists and reviewers, those that get paid for their services, that is. I can’t imagine the stress of coming under fire for simply expressing one’s opinions about a game. For any number of reasons, so many people hop onto the Internet in attack mode, ready to fling nasty feelings and epithets and anything and anyone. And yes, we know, there are lots of angry gamers out there.
I get it, we are a passionate group! Many of us weathered the storm of questionable video games of the past decades. We survived the time when gaming was far from cool and bullies readily doled out verbal abuse concerning our chosen hobby. We love video games. We love the the acting of playing and are sometimes defined by those experiences. We love them so much that we’ll defend our favorites until we are hoarse. We love them to the point of exhaustion. Exhaustion with the games, exhaustion with the media, exhaustion with ourselves.
And some love them to the point of anger? I’m honestly not even sure how that mindset works. We all know that the Internet has grown exponentially since its birth, and it offers a myriad of ways to connect with people across the globe. If you want to be seen and heard, you can do that. If you want to express your opinion, you can do that to. And if you want to make fun of people and hurl death threats at anything with two legs, then have at. This is a free world, by golly! Right?
Well, this free world requires earplugs and thick skin, because criticism in some form or another lurks around every corner. If I want to offer up a moderately intelligent retort to a review with which I don’t agree, that’s one thing. If I feel compelled to comment that a reviewer is a “blankety-blank and a blankety-blank with a blankety-blank,” that’s another. We’re taught to ignore the bullies, stand up for what we believe in, and that it all gets better someday. And it does. Really, it does. But until it does, we’re left with a loud albeit small group of video game players who will do nothing but spew hate from behind avatars and fake names simply because it can be done. It’s bad enough that I worry about that happening on my tiny, itty bitty blog, but I can’t imagine how strange it must be to be a paid game journalist working under such a close, angry lens. Frankly, I head to other itty, bitty blogs, those that fall under the radar of most trolls, when searching for gaming information. The waters in the blogosphere are much more calm and serene. It’s a place where conversations are welcome, no one’s calling for this or that blogger’s head on a stick, and most non-friendly sarcasm is kept at bay, because we sincerely want each other to succeed.
In the end, I admire those who seek out game journalism careers, for they are tougher than I. If someone I’ve been following makes the jump to professionalism, that person has my utmost respect. If someone wants to dive into the wacky and scary atmosphere of game reporting and reviewing, that’s perfectly awesome, and to them I say good luck and godspeed. We want and need information about our games, and it’s not like all that news is produced out of thin air. There are people, plenty good, a few less so, behind those opinions. Not randomly-generated code, not 5000 robots at 5000 typewriters…human beings. Unfortunately, it’s easy for some to forget that.