MovieBob - Intermission
And Rohan Will Answer: Film Comes to the Defense of Games

Bob Chipman | 29 Aug 2014 12:00
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Depression Quest screenshot

It's not the end of journalism as we know it. Film journalism has already traveled the exact same path games journalism is heading down now.

I've mentioned this before, but the nature of my job - a film critic working for an outlet devoted predominantly to video games - is sometimes a surreal experience (especially since I'm also a gamer). It sometimes feels akin to time travel. Being familiar with the evolution of the film/entertainment press, I find myself experiencing whiplash watching the younger medium of games journalism experience many of the same growing pains. Not so much in the vein of "Aw, that takes me back," but rather "Wait... they think _____ is a huge deal? What decade is this!?"

That's certainly the sense I got watching what turned out to be the beginning of games journalism most-recent debacle. For those not keeping track: The ex-partner of an indie game developer (I'd rather not fuel the fire by mentioning names here, you can learn what you need to from the multiple links throughout) posted a lengthy description of her alleged infidelities during their relationship to the web, where it was seized upon by some as the launching-point for what became a massive, coordinated campaign of abuse, sexual harassment and threats.

It goes without saying that many of those most vociferously attacking this woman (in the interest of full disclosure: I do not know this person outside of social-media interaction, but we share a handful of personal acquaintances) had her in their sights long before this nonsense began, as the presence of her game on Steam had already allegedly made her a target of those who resent the praise heaped onto "art games" (especially those with a political theme - see also: Gone Home) by video game critics.

This would be one of those "time travel" moments I was talking about. For a film critic, it's jarring to see gaming deciding to re-fight the Arthouse v. Blockbuster argument film-culture moved beyond decades ago. Nobody in film journalism (worth taking seriously, at least) will ask why Boyhood is more likely to be a Best Picture nominee than Transformers 4 but in video games one is still expected to receive outrage if they suggest that a small game more about emotions than combat might be more worthwhile than the next installment of Call of Battle: Wargasm (Now In Special Police Brutality Edition!)

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