The Game Geex Report is an almost weekly exercise in transparency. We will pull back the curtain and show you the workings of how we do things around here, what we are planning for the future, and what we've learned from the past. And then we'll ask for your input on how we've been doing with the site.
Something has happened to game journalism of late, something dark and dangerous. It's become standard practice to spew vitriol in order to gain pageviews. Writers would rather debase the industry they love, because controversy breeds traffic. This week there was a prime incident of this sort of troll warfare when the brilliant mind behind Fez Phil Fish was attacked for not responding to the news that Microsoft was now going to support Indie development on Xbox One.
There's a pretty good reason for such a notorious hothead as Fish to not respond: He was probably still weighing his options when it came to Fez 2. Had he lambasted Microsoft for flipflopping, or even come out in favor of the policy, he would be taking sides on a still developing issue -- and one that greatly affects him as an Indie developer. Fish rightly decided not to comment on the story, and was attacked by Game Informer's Marcus Beer for it. Well, actually Beer decided to attack both Fish and Indie innovator Jonathan Blow (the two have been paired up in the blogosphere as BlowFish since starring in Indie Game: The Movie). That was when it all hit the fan.
Fish announced that was cancelling Fez 2 and quitting the game industry for good. He had been abused for far too long, he said, and it wasn't worth it. What is he talking about when he uses the word abuse? Well, for one, the huge fight Marcus Beer Fish started on Twitter in an attempt to defend himself. Beer represents a growing group of "insert displeased synonym here" gamers, people who are "Annoyed" "Angry" "Raging" against the industry they profess to support.
But let's stop and take a beat here: If you're angry at something, irritated at the way games are being designed or the industry is run, shouldn't you go do something else? We got into this business for a simple reason: We love games. We love them enough to build our lives around them. So why is it so okay to hate on what we love? Why are people giving fame and attention to what amounts to the professional forum troll?
Rage is not passion, and for every loud mouth screaming his hatred at the top of his lungs there are a hundred sane writers using their brains and not their expletives to talk about what is wrong and what is right about this industry. The trouble is that gaming journalists are now starting to get a bad reputation -- we're quickly becoming the paparazzi celebrities run from. Just listen to how Cliff Bleszinski spoke about gaming journalists in his open letter to Phil Fish:
Never underestimate the intestinal fortitude of the anonymous loser hiding behind a monitor and his or her ability to sling vitriol at someone who willingly puts themselves out there.
The key with the idiots is to outwit them because the idiot uses hate (and poor spelling/grammar) because the idiot does not know how to be witty.
We’ve seen the rise of many “Rush Limbaughs" in the gaming industry, people who do videos or podcasts digging a finger into an open wound that gets the gaming community going because, hits.
It is never a good thing to know that developers cringe when they see you coming. As Bleszinski said, they owe us nothing. Game developers are there to make products for the players, not to answer to journalists. Somewhere along the lines people started thinking that raging against the man was cool, except that they forgot that "the man" in this case is a gamer just like them. These gamers though are brave enough to create more games for us to enjoy, and that alone deserves something many gaming journalists are completely leaving out of their toolkit: Respect.
Respect is something core to what we do here at Game Geex. Last time I talked about our site focus, how we are geeking out about games. Rage monsters are the opposite of this: They are intentionally ignoring the fact that this entire industry is here because we love games. Instead they spit on everything that made them what they are so they simply can get more attention.
But that's not what we do here. If I am angry about losing the sequel to a great game as is the case with Fez 2, I am entitled to my anger. That does not mean that I have the right to pour my emotions all over the developer and expect him to change his mind. We are here to celebrate games, and that means that we respect the people who make them. Even if they take their toys and go home. That's their right. It might not be right, but as a developer they have the last say on if a game gets made, if we get it on PC or on Mobile, on the name of the characters or the color of the opening titles.
I have had to let people go in the past who were not Game Geex material, who were more interested in yelling through a bullhorn than talking intelligently about games. Yes rage is an emotion, and it is a passionate one, but when you bully others with it, your rage is no longer deserving of air time (or site space).
To some extent I extend this edict to those who comment here. We are a supportive, collaborative community. I've worked on sites that fed their forum trolls regularly, and it was not pleasant to log in to see the comments. I've even had my own Marcus Beer, a kid who decided to make it his mission in life to get me to stop writing on "his" site. Well it worked; I left that site and started my own, a site where no bullies are allowed -- be they writer or community member.
We are all geex, and geex need to find a way to communicate their emotions without destroying the industry we love.