After a lifetime of dealing with people you would have thought I’d inured myself to the occasionally baffling concepts they are sometimes wont to throw up, but no. Several weeks ago I linked on my Facebook wall an editorial that I thought to be a fairly decent critique of Fable III, only to have Lusipurr.com’s own NATE LILES suggest that the argument was void due to the fact that the author had used the word ‘retarded‘ to describe one of Fable III’s many mongloid features. I must admit to some initial surprise, this is after all Fable III we are talking about, yet on reflection I was forced to concede that this line of argument constitutes a fairly widespread mindset, predominant among all walks of gamerhood; I refer of course to TEH BIAS.
This is the notion that anyone upfront enough to submit a firm opinion on a game, and then argue that point passionately and incisively with the occasional passage of colourful language, is somehow an inherently untrustworthy authority on gaming. Thus you have people dismissing out of hand the legitimate criticisms of reviewers like Yahtzee, Jim Sterling and indeed the author of that Fable III critique, as though having an opinion about something can somehow invalidate the point they are trying to make.
LUSIPURR.COM PROTIP: just because a reviewer hides their personal bias ‘neath a superficial facade of impartial language, doesn’t mean that they do not have one, it simply means that they do not have the confidence in their own judgment to be able to assert it. Is it really more accurate and useful to exclusively read reviews written by journalists who lack sufficient intellectual courage to take ownership of a well argued partisan opinion? Is it really the case that someone is inherently untrustworthy for asserting their position in no uncertain terms? It seems to me that it would be easier to discern the extent to which a review meets my needs if the reviewer is open about the stance they are taking, rather than burying it beneath reams of inane waffle. Instead individuals brave enough to go against the grain of the sycophantic herd are branded as unprofessional review trolls for not buying into the vacuous INDUSTRY back-scratching BS that passes for game journalism at present.
There seems to be a pervasive school of thought festering within the heart of INDUSTRY reporting that if everyone awards a perfect score to the newest Call of Duty game, and then you in turn score the game as anything less than 9/10, then that makes you a bad reviewer. The blissful zombies in this conga-line of retardation will not look kindly on anyone who forces them to confront the fact that they’ve been pressured or passively led into heaping praise upon yet another insipid porridge of a game, thus shattering the illusion. Yet this is the only chance there is of breaking their dozy stupor. Call of Duty is not objectively awesome, it is objectively adequate (more or less), and the only reason that we do not see a fuller picture of gamers many varied responses to the title, is because most gaming journalists are either too frightened or too easily led for them to be able to have their own unique opinion on the game.
Perhaps this is why a film critic like Roger Ebert is unable to take gaming seriously? If the surrounding literature is penned by sheep, then what could this possibly say about the product? The vast majority of film critics certainly could not be accused of intellectual cowardice. They do not look to pander to studios or their peers for fear of bringing to the attention of the common herd, the fact that they are people with ideas and opinions about things. If one were to look at a selection of this year’s most critically well received films, then they could bank on the certainty that each and every one of them would have a uniformly lower review aggregate than their gaming counterparts. It would seem that it is possible to have a dissenting opinion in the field of film journalism without the arse falling out of the world in a maelstrom of angst, bile and bullshit of butthurt fanboys who feel vicariously slighted at having their favourite franchise deemed to be as worthless and banal as they are themselves. So yes, given the inherent lack of maturity among gaming journalism and gamers in general, I can see how Roger Ebert and his ilk might come to view Video Games as children’s fancies, and not something deserving of respect.
Thus we gamers find ourselves in a toilet of a debased fanboy culture, built around the copy/pasted inane platitudes of people too frightened to have opinions, who are not only able to get away with penning this intellectually bankrupt dross, but are also able to convince the general population of gamers that doing so is a virtue! Gamers are not interested in reading incisive critiques of video games, they just want a review which will validate the scaffold of unreasonable expectations they have constructed atop the foundations of a forthcoming franchise game. Should a reviewer stick his neck out by virtue of having an original thought, gamers will attempt to paint their criticism as void, due to some of the most arbitrary and arcane reasoning made this side of religious fundamentalism.
And so I put it to you dear readers; should the judgement of a reviewer really be considered unsound if they openly express their personal stance on a game? Or is it better for a “good” review to contain the inherent variation and personality of a Big Mac?