Do the Establishment Games Press Engage in Circlejerking?
Posted on Friday, April 18 @ 11:30:00 PST by Daniel Bischoff
As defined by Urban Dictionary, a circle jerk is the act where "a group of males sit in a circle, jerking each other off."
Urban Dictionary offers another definition:
When a bunch of blowhards—usually politicians—get together for a debate but usually end up agreeing with each other's viewpoints to the point of redundancy, stroking each other's egos as if they were extensions of their genitals (ergo, the mastubatory insinuation). Basically, it's what happens when the choir preaches to itself.I can't say that the establishment games press has engaged in the first definition of circle jerking, but I, and certainly Youtube personality Angry Joe, could make the point that the representatives of games "journalism" have engaged in totally redundant agreements of each other's view points, as if they were scared of the reaction from both readers and publishers for disagreeing.
This point seems to have come to a boiling point between Angry Joe and Dan Stapleton of IGN, one of the largest video game websites on the Internet. In one of his videos, Joe Vargas quotes IGN's preview of Titanfall while referencing the site's review score. Stapleton took issue with this and the very lengthy Twitter argument that ensued is only worthy of your eyeballs if you like killing your brain cells with something other than alcohol.
Neither party is necessarily "right" or "wrong" but the entire ordeal does shed light on an issue creeping up on the establishment games press and their refusal to acknowledge how ridiculous reviews and scoring have become at the top of games coverage.
Stapleton correctly argues his point while Joe's overarching criticism of IGN and other 9/10 Titanfall reviews is on point. Neither side can save face after the embarrassing ordeal on Twitter. Where Dan fails is in acknowledging Joe at all. The establishment games press has managed to keep the industry on lock by closing the circle to newcomers like Joe and other Youtube personalities or fansites. If IGN hasn't bought up your site, they clearly don't perceive you as a threat to their business.
Where Joe fails is in being an insufferable dick about how righteous his message is. Just because his point is valid, doesn't mean he should go around calling people names or crapping on another reviewer's opinion.
That said, games criticism desperately needs more outliers. While many enthusiasts might stick to one outlet or another for their stream of gaming news and reviews, the vast majority need to branch outside of the mainstream circle jerk to read anyone's disagreeing opinion even if they intend on buying the game anyway.
Obviously that's what happened with my Titanfall review. That's what Joe hoped to achieve in sticking his dick in the eyes of all the reviewers who sat about casually and accepted Respawn Entertainment's multiplayer shooter as "the next best thing".
Titanfall's metacritic and generally lazy reviews from major outlets read like rote exercises in explaining a game or the action within, while ignoring the material outside or how the game affects the player's brain or who the creators were and where they've come from.
I would argue that it was a huge mistake to forgo Titanfall's single-player campaign, especially as the Respawn pedigree was established with both single and multiplayer modes in Call of Duty. The establishment press totally ignores this in an effort to push Microsoft's Xbox One console. Obviously this hardware needs to sell in order to support that wing of the industry, but this is the beginning of a new console generation.
How can we start it by lauding launch games with such universally glowing reviews?
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