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Open letter to the Press for Interactive Entertainment

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  • Open letter to the Press for Interactive Entertainment

    Dear Madams and Sirs,

    perhaps your are confused by the term “Press for Interactive Entertainment”. Let me explain: In the last few days, a concerted effort was made by a handful of gaming journalists to appropriate or decry the term 'gamer'. The tone of those pieces was all too often hateful, condescending, patronizing and filled with self-righteous holier-than-thou-ness.
    It became abundantly apparent to me that the persons writing these opinion pieces did not want to identify with the likes of me: Someone who is passionate about gaming. They see gaming only as a vessel to broadcast their message, as mouthpieces for their world view. And they will try to shame and silence anyone who does not agree with their message. What they are no longer about – is gaming.
    And yet, those individuals have the audacity to try to appropriate and define the term 'gamer' as they see fit.
    What gives them that right? That they write for some magazine that alleges to be about gaming? Well, so have I. And I say that it is not them that get to say who is a gamer and what gamer means. It is gamers themselves, and not a group of people hell-bent on appropriating the defining power not only over that term, but also over the content the entire industry produces.
    I am perfectly aware that I am but one voice, one lone gamer. But for me, it is those people who have forfeited the right to call themselves 'gamers' and 'the gaming press'. Which is why I will refer to them as the Press for Interactive Entertainment, or PIE for short, from now on.

    And I think this moniker is more honest anyway. Because the PIE as a whole has long since stopped being of real use to gamers, and instead has become an extended PR department for developers and publishers. Even 15 years ago, the gaming press had value: The internet wasn't as ubiquitous as it is today. We needed their magazines for news, patches, bugfixes, for demos and walkthroughs. And back then, they were the only ones doing reviews. The gaming press had value for its customers.
    But nowadays? If I need in-depth information on a game, I go to user-maintained FAQs and wikis that are infinitely more useful than the paper-bound walkthroughs ever were. Most games are self-patching, demos are mostly a thing of the past (and if I want to see a game in action, I fire up a Let's Play or a Twitch stream). News I can get from the devs and publishers themselves – gaming sites are little more than accumulators for those. If I am lucky, the press release gets a little rewrite – but do I need the PIE for that?
    And reviews? Well, that topic is worth a closer look. In the last couple of years, 'professional' (I use that term very loosely here) review and user review scores have grown apart quite noticeably; While press scores are perpetually inflating and you rarely even see a score as low as 7/10 any more, users seem to be a good bit more critical of their products than the actual, you know, critics.
    I have read too many professional reviews that gloss over or even flat-out don't mention problems with a game, problems that affect me as a gamer when playing. And so I have come to rely on comparing user reviews. Because I cannot trust press reviews any more. The PIE has lost touch with its reader base. This is not a new thing, but I am mentioning this because it leads directly into my next point: PIE dependence.
    As I've mentioned before, I have worked in the PIE myself. And to make a long, tedious story short: Most PIE publications are far more dependent on staying in a given publisher's (or developer's) good book than they are on their readers. Readers provide PIs and (to a far lesser extent nowadays) magazine sales. The number of readers you have determines how much money you make through ads: Readers are marketable mass.
    Let me type that again: Readers are not seen as customers for too many PIE publications. Readers are the product those publications can use to leverage more money from their real customers – the developers and publishers.
    To iterate: Gamers are only of interest to the PIE for their value as a sell-able mass. Publishers and devs are of far more value to the PIE. Because not only do they provide the bulk of money the PIE is running on (through ad sales), they also provide access to everything that attracts the marketable mass (us, the gamers): Review copies, exclusive previews, artwork, trailers, inside looks: The PIE is depending on the publishers/devs to supply them with all of that.
    Do you know how much shit has hit the fan for a PIE publication if they don't receive a review copy of, say, Mass Effect 3 because they didn't give some other EA title the score EA thought it deserved? Or because they published some less-than-flattering article about EA?
    Add to that that most PIE editors are a lot closer to PR personnel and often devs themselves than to gamers in their daily lives. In my time in the PIE, I would have five to seven phone calls with industry people on average a day. When I went out, it was often with PIEers or with people from the industry. It's one self-contained circlejerk.

    And this, in a nutshell, is, why the PIE is so unwilling to discuss corruption in their midst following the Zoe Quinn incident. This is why they try to steer the debate towards the allegedly rampant sexism in gaming. Because this discussion would blow the hood off the entire rotten core of the industry: That they're a good deal more dependent on devs and publishers than on gamers, and therefore can simply not afford 'journalistic integrity'.
    This is why it is so much easier for members of PIE to take their hatred out on us gamers, especially that relatively small group that really cares about games: Because we're relatively few in number, and they would rather lose a few thousand or ten thousand PIs than their livelihood and friends.
    This is why so few PIEers act as consumer advocates and would rather break a lance for the industry, their buddies and their cause.

    And that is why I can no longer call them gamers. Because they aren't. Maybe some never were.
    If you look at some of those articles, it becomes abundantly clear that they do not care for games for the sake of gaming any more. Games, for them, are vessels for their version of social justice. It's no longer about gaming for gaming's sake – be it competition, or enjoying the visuals, or losing yourself in another world. It's all gotta have an over-arching message shoved in people's faces until they suffocate.
    Here in Germany, some people divide music into two categories: Austere and Fun. And I have a feeling that for those PIEers, any fun games are anathema, and all games have to become austere ones, conveying a wholesome message they approve of. This, for them, seems to be the future of gaming. In their eyes, gaming now is nothing but adolescent power fantasies for -their words- white men.
    And I just have to wonder how much of a gamer those people have ever been. Because there have always been really good, enjoyable games that nevertheless asked hard questions and left me as a gamer very thoughtful (Planescape: Torment, for example). And there have been games that are just like popcorn blockbusters: You dive in, have fun blowing up shit (I am not talking about Modoc, though), goof around with your buddies and use it as a means to escape the real world for a bit. To relax and let your hair down.
    Gaming always has offered both alternatives, and many in between.
    If people see fit to try and demonize me as a 'misogynerd' for speaking out against the very apparent corruption in the PIE, while they are at the same time crusading for their limited “stop having fun, games are serious business, we must educate the plebs!” view of the world... Well, there's one analogy I have for them.
    Do you know Handsome Jack?
    Dear PIE, he is you.
    And I am are sick and tired of your blatant and unwarranted hatemongering against us gamers. I fart in your general direction.

    Dear PIE, you are also a giant on feet of clay. You are more dependent on the industry than on us gamers. Yet you need us gamers as mass to negotiate with. What do you think will happen if both gamers and the industry realize that you are just a middle man that nowadays has no real use beyond being a bothersome, hateful mouthpiece that adds no value any longer?

    Last edited by Andres; 09-01-2014, 10:28 AM.
    12/12/12 -The day Germany decided boys are not quite human.

  • #2

    "I fart in your general direction." I love it
    I want to use this now as the official YES I AM A MAN!


    • #3
      Originally posted by clubber-t View Post
      "I fart in your general direction." I love it
      I want to use this now as the official YES I AM A MAN!
      Well, to be honest: I chose it because it's a really classy way of telling someone to fuck off because the conversation is over (just google the expression and watch the clip to get the context, if you don't know it). OTOH, it would be a good fit for your purpose, too :-D.
      12/12/12 -The day Germany decided boys are not quite human.


      • #4