They Said / We Say
Recently, there’s been a lot of negative news in regards to video games and the gaming industry as a whole. A lot of fire has been thrown at a lot of people, and various internet forums debates are burying what good news there has been under a torrent of heated back and forths. After taking a look at various points of interests, from the Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed uproar to the more recent Zoe Quinn blow-up, I decided to sit down with a few of my fellow editors and contributors here at Enthusiacs to find out what they thought about the various issues, and what it could ultimately mean for the industry in the not too distant future. Joining me are fellow editors Gmandam, Baronfang, site owner VernonTuitt, and site contributor and community member Trexasle.
Wastelander75: So there’s been a lot of controversies popping up in recent months that have, in my opinion, really painted the whole gaming industry in a negative light. I mean don’t get me wrong, the industry’s not this shining paragon of righteousness. It’s a business, and sometimes that business can get ugly. I mean if you look back – and really, you don’t have to look back that far – you’ve got the Activision/West/Zampella fight, the Curt Shilling bankruptcy issue, “Dorito-gate”, Gamespot and Gerstmann, and so on.
Topping this list is the whole Zoe Quinn fiasco. I mean, yeah, sometimes break-ups can be miserable. Sometimes they can be really brutal. That doesn’t excuse someone of airing dirty laundry like that, I don’t care who you are. But I will say that the accusations of having slept around to garner positive reviews and awards for a game paints the entire industry, as well as the indie scene, in a very negative light. And the more I read into it, the more I’m inclined to agree that what she’s done is inexcusable. This doesn’t just damage her reputation, it damages the reputations of every female gamer, every female game developer, and every female in the industry trying to place themselves on an even playing field with the more male-dominated gaming community. What I want to know is how the hell did Youtuber TotalBiscuit and Phil Fish get thrown into this mess?
Gmandam: Tbiscuit got pestered to release what he thought of the issue.
Wastelander75: What do you mean? Pestered how?
Gman: Twitter spam, really. He finally released what he thought of the issue, which was fairly neutral, phrasing his opinion on how he felt in theoreticals, refusing to judge on whether or not Zoe Quinn had actually slept for reviews or not. However he did condemn the DMCA of a youtuber who talked about the sleeping around issue, which is why he’s been getting shit from people. A lot of indies, have been throwing abuse at him for not coming down firmly on one side or another despite the fact that he’s been pretty fair. Phil Fish gets in on this because he runs in the same circles as Zoe Quinn from the sounds of it and came to her defense, and he got weird when he found out that TB did a bit of criticism of Quinn’s actions with regards to the DMCA.
Baronfang: Man, Phil Fish is a lunatic. He’s unworthy of attention until he can learn to play nice with other humans. He adds nothing to the discussion beyond adding more crazy and emotion where there is already more than sufficient amounts of both. But yeah, DMCA take down notices are never OK when the point is purely to censor someone else talking about something you don’t like or agree with. The moment you stoop to that level you’re no better than that Clever Noob fellow. There are plenty of ways to deal with people that have different viewpoints than you (ignoring them, counter-arguing etc.) but that DMCA crap is just not cool, and shouldn’t be tolerated by people on any side of this issue. Deleting comments also has an unpleasant reek to it, even if its clear the attacks in this case have been in many cases, extreme. It often just makes matters worse.
Trexasle: It’s sad but Encyclopedia Dramatica can sum it up. This has nothing to do with her being a woman now. Instead it has more to do with her silencing others and censoring their voice, something she has done multiple times. Worse, she controls and contains their side by using her connections with the industry to shut them down.
Sad part about this is…nobody wins.
Wastey: What the deal between her and… the uh… the charity she was attacking recently?
Trex: The Fine Young Capitalists. They’re a woman’s rights group attempting to get women and girls into the video games industry. So you think Zoe Quinn would actually help that. Sadly that’s not the case. She contacted a project helping girls who have no computer skills create video games and uses the money from those games to donate to charity. 8% of the money still goes to the girls who came up with the idea even though they do 0% of the work.
However, according to Zoe Quinn, making women work for free for a charity is “oppression.” When this happened she went off and told industry insiders who preceded to rip the charity a new one. The site was then Doxxed and DDossed. And Zoe Quinn proceeded to rip on the foundation itself and sway the vote to her own Game Jam. The problem with this? A. There is no start or end date. B. Donations go directly to her and C. No Venue or Details.
Wastey: That sounds illegal as sh*t. Why the hell wasn’t more said about all of this back then?
Trex: Wait, there’s more. Do you know who came to the rescue? F**king 4CHAN. Seriously, they decided to donate something like $25,000 to the project.
Trex: Yeah, 4chan being heroes. how ’bout that?
VernonTuitt: I also think Phil Fish is a nut-job, but I don’t think they (Zoe and him) should be attacked like this. In an age where we all have to put our two cents in about EVERYTHING, it’s a surprise to me that only a few people are getting attacked just because their two cents aren’t being shared by everyone.
Trex: Usually a guy posting about his exes exploits would usually be looked down as somebody with petty problems, and honestly that’s still a problem. That’s a code that you never break, that’s their private business and it should be settled as such. In PRIVATE. The problem comes from her sleeping with gaming industry insiders.
Vernon: From what I’ve heard, it’s all hearsay that was blown out of proportion by gaming media and rabid internet nutcases. If the allegations are true, it wouldn’t be the first time that someone has traded sex for professional gain. As dumb as it is, it’s a shame that the environment is such that people feel like they have to. Shame on the people putting the personal information of those involved, though. And if the allegations aren’t true, shame on people for spreading lies and being complete anonymous douche bags.
Baron: I agree. Its a bad breakup story, writ large, nothing more. When the “source” you’re relying on for accurate information on a person is a bitter, angry former partner of said person, you really need to take things with a grain of salt. There are so many more genuinely, verifiably egregious things going on wrong with games journalism it’s simply pointless to spend any energy focusing on soap-opera drama like this. It isn’t a smoking gun, nor a tip of any unseen iceberg. It’s irrelevant.
Trex: If this is all true and Zoe has been using sex to give her weight in the industry, The Women’s movement in gaming takes a damaging blow. If the internet is wrong about this – and sadly, it’s looking like they’re not – then the gamer crowd just looks more and more introverted and misogynistic.
Gman: This is both an issue and not an issue. It’s an issue because what it has done is to expose the level of corruption and nepotism that currently exists in gaming journalism, and more importantly inside of the indie development scene. To say an overused phrase, it doesn’t matter if she did it or not, the reaction to the accusations has been cause enough to mark it down as true in a general sense for both Ms. Quinn and the industry as a whole, even if she didn’t sleep with those particular people. When the only places that seem to discuss this openly in the gaming industry are 5th and 6th tier websites, Encyclopedia Dramatica and parts of 4chan, then you have a problem.
Because one person’s friend(s) should not be able to restrict the discussion to those locations. It is not an issue in the sense that Zoe Quinn has almost become irrelevant to the topic that has seem to have arisen now; namely gaming industry corruption and nepotism on a unheard of scale. The chances are looking like she actually did have an inappropriate level of relationship (sexual or not, doesn’t really matter, they are far beyond what a game maker and journalist should have been) and the reaction has more than proven this is an issue that needs a more general address outside of Ms. Quinn.
Wastey: Fair enough, let’s move on. The next one I want to cover is the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal with Microsoft. Now, we all know that it’s a timed exclusive. For how long I don’t know, but this is originally what had me and Vernon talking about the current state of the gaming industry. Um… OK first off, do you think that fans of the series went overboard when they first heard the news and do you think Squaresoft–
Vernon: You mean Square Enix?
Wastey: …. No I’m not calling it Square Enix. That’s not a business, that’s a mistake. Anyway, do you think Square made the right decision in making this deal in the first place?
Gman: Yes and no, on the one hand it seems more less like the entire purchase of a game. I tend to dislike exclusives as a rule but tolerate them when they take the form of being in exchange for the game’s actual existence. This seems rather more like a publisher looking to do a nice quick cash in at the expense of gamers. This is one area where I feel it differs from most other exclusive arguments such as Bayonetta 2 (which would not have been made without Nintendo) as it’s just Microsoft holding a game hostage from a third party that wouldn’t have normally done this. On the other hand, some of the reaction has been insanely over the top, and it certainly doesn’t warrant petitions. I’d much rather see people withholding money from the companies than signing petitions.
Vernon: What?! I think that having more exclusives on either console is a good thing. Fans completely overreacted when they heard the news, or should I say half news? And should I say fanboys?
Wastey: …. Standing right here thanks.
Vernon: The announcement should have been clear from the start, I agree. I don’t care what was at stake. It seems as though the industry wanted to see how fans would react before making up their minds about the deal that was made. For me, it’s two-pronged. There is absolutely no reason to buy the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 right now. Yes, there are a few exclusives that people have played to death already, but they need more first party releases. Almost everything that has come out so far and that will come out within the next year and a half will be a multi-platform release.
Vernon: Are you kidding? Tomb Raider as an Xbox One exclusive would have been brilliant. I enjoyed the first game, and it may not be a console-seller, but I’ll have at least one reason to get an Xbox One aside from Halo 5. Now that it’s a timed exclusive, and now that Ryse is coming to the PC, why would I want to invest my money into the Xbox One? If I have to try to make up reasons to spend $400-500, that’s not a good sign.
Wastey: There’s nothing appealing about Xbone to me. Honestly, Microsoft’s screw-ups prior to the release of the console turned me completely off to it. Square is going to lose out too much in the long run, in my opinion. There’s no gain for making a title exclusive anymore.
Vernon: Nintendo did the same thing with Bayonetta, and I didn’t see one petition pop up for it.
Wastey: That’s because Bayonetta is and was a niche title. And honestly, Wii-U? Really??! That’s like… seeing the most successful business model out there and then deciding to do the exact OPPOSITE of that. Did fans fly into a rage about this whole Tomb Raider deal unfairly? Yes, there’s always going to be outliers and “fanatics” no matter where you go. But I do think that the “core” outrage was justified. Hell, Sony should’ve just kept Tomb Raider to themselves and lorded over us all.
Vernon: Sony didn’t buy the rights, so it’s not exclusive to that company. This is why gaming media (and other media) describe us as whiny and entitled. Stop acting like the industry owes you something for putting them on a pedestal. No. They don’t. Sure, they take suggestions from time to time, but they don’t have to. Once they have your money, you’re just a number… wait that came off more confrontational toward you guys than it should’ve. Really though, it was meant more to challenge gamers as a whole.
Gman: Perhaps a better way of putting it would be to say “The media has certain opinions of us, and while these opinions are wrong they’ll continue to have them until we challenge them in such a way as to prove we are not what they say we are”?
Vernon: Maybe. It’s just that folks like you and I prove them wrong all the time. Heck, we’ve got a whole forum of people proving them wrong, but we are outnumbered by those the media focuses on. Their actions make it easier to lump us all in one category. Unless the ratio changes, I don’t see us proving the media wrong any time soon.
Baron: It was in no way unreasonable for people that purchased and enjoyed the first Tomb Raider game on Playstation 3 and PC to have assumed that they were going to be able to continue to play (and support) the series’ next iteration as well. I think those fans were perfectly justified in expressing their frustration that they were effectively being forced to buy an Xbox One because of an unexpected decision that Square made to agree to an exclusive arrangement. Consumers are allowed to get upset about situations that are going to impact them negatively. There is no upside for the consumer here.
Xbox One owners would have received the game on this system regardless, everyone knows that. Square’s meager attempts at spin (which have only served to fan the flames even further) have done nothing to make a convincing argument that this benefits anyone apart from lining Microsoft and Square’s pockets. In the context of Square’s previous statements in 2013 about how disappointing they found sales results for the first game across MULTIPLE platforms, the decision to make it exclusive to one platform is even more maddening and nonsensical.
The cherry on top of this stupid sundae is the eventual reveal that the exclusive is in fact a timed exclusive – this has been accurately described by Jim Sterling and others as more or less of a lie by omission. The decision is terribly short-sighted and has done nothing but make Square look like lying jerks. It will remain to be seen whether the long-term sales results are impacted. If there is any karma in the gaming world, then they deserve to take a hit over this.
I’m tired of the well worn argument that we should just roll over an accept these sort of practices because they make sense for the company involved when its being done at the expense of the consumer. This is not some new property. It began as a multi-platform release, that sold damn well mind you, despite the pathetic claims of the publisher. It was always going to get a sequel. Selling the sequel to the highest bidder for piles of cash in the short term is not a sound strategy. Feebly trying to justify the decision as in everyone’s best interest only pisses off people more. My advice to Square if they do insist on behaving like this in the future is to at least keep their mouth shut about their reasoning. We’re not morons, we can see through this stuff.
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