PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

Game Reviews and Pushing Agendas (part 1)

on September 12, 2014

Some answers may have been merged – ie, where I’ve been given the same link/article/answer multiple times, I will just include link with a note of how many people answered with this in the format: [article](x5)

Some answers may not be included if they misunderstood the question – they may instead have moved to ‘bonus’ as a section. Will highlight if that is the case.

People are anon if they didn’t explictly say “call me x”. Email me again if you want to change that 🙂 Anon referencing consistent within this topic, but not with others.

1. What do you count as “pushing an agenda”? Can you give me an example?

Anon1: “See the bulk of recent clickbait articles. One that relates to GamerGate(even if it was beforehand): See the issue with Divinity: Original Sin and their boobplate.”

Anon2: “Condemning a game for content instead of construction or application. Jason Schrier condemning Dragons’ Crown because of the character design has nothing to do with the fact the game is fun to play. Not to mention I thought it was ridiculous to say that those sorts of shapes are offensive to women when I know women with those shapes. Does that make them bad, somehow?”

Anon3: “Anita Saarkesian complaining that women are poorly presented in games (yes, I can see this being a thing. Anyone with a brain can see this a being a thing). However, the way that she does it is not “hey, women are presented poorly, lets make games to show that 1. women can be part of the industry too and 2. this is what a real in gaming should be like”. Instead it is “hey, women are presented poorly, you should change all games to make sure they are the way we say it should be or it is misogynistic.” I am for artistic freedom. People should make what people want. By saying “you should do it our way” is essentially killing that concept. This is why I support the fine young capitalists.”

Anon4: “To push an agenda could be something as simple as pushing an idea or general task. I’ve mostly heard this discussed about many of the people who leech off of the 3rd wave feminists. The “SJW”s. Many of whom I have talked to and say that all men are misogynists, one even said no one could be racist against white people. This is a marxist point of view where objective thought is replaced by a consensus agreement. But it also transfers to game journalists who want to push this extreme political view into every game they review and try to make it mainstream.”

@SHREKFLEX: “Pushing an agenda refers to the constant reference to a line of thought as fact for an extended period of time. A single article is not necessarily pushing an agenda. The media’s consensus that criticism against Mass Effect 3 for its poor ending, an opinion shared among diehard fans of the franchise, is the whining of “entitled gamers” is pushing an agenda. The same statement in response to people protesting EA’s bad business decisions by voting them Worst Company in America twice in a row is pushing an agenda. The gaming media has made itself out to be very anti-consumer. It should be noted that merely stating an opinion or expressing a belief is not pushing an agenda. Saying that a game is sexist is not pushing an agenda. Saying that all games are sexist is pushing an agenda. Saying that gamers as a whole are sexist is pushing an agenda.”

Anon5: “Okay then. For example, Zoe Quinn having a sexual relationship with Nathan Grayson who later gave her a positive review of her game. [PixieJenni note: Kotaku says on this: “Nathan never reviewed Zoe Quinn’s game Depression Quest, let alone gave it a favorable review”] A sexual relationship with Robin Arnott, a judge for Indiecade, an award she won shortly later. This is why people dislike her. Not because of her infidelity (which frankly is nobodies business except her and her ex), but because the people she had sexual relations with furthered her game career.”

Anon6: “gone home was an incredibly generic game, i say that as an avid gamer and reader of books. it’s a game solely reliant on it’s story, it’s story was both generic and poorly done yet it got rave reviews because it’s twist was about a lesbian couple, i think that’s silly. if the game was about a straight couple (brother instead of sister) nobody would have cared about the game, its really very generic.there are also games that receive criticism for not towing the line, that’s equally as bad, you shouldn’t promote or suppress games based on politics, a good game is a good game.
if you really want to see someone push an agenda read the article nathen grayson did with a moba creator (heroes of the storm) he spends 0 time talking about the actual game and nearly all of it talking about female depictions in OTHER games. if you actually read it wanting to learn about heroes of the storm you’d be out of luck and there’s a lot more articles like this.”

Anon7: “Sure…here

Anon8: “Racism in skyrim click bait. How tbagging is rape. Assassin Creed Unity doesn’t have a female protagonist = misogyni. Come on, the evidence of pushing agendas is pretty obvious.”

Anon9: “Tricky. I’d suppose it’s a relative question. For instance, there are religious groups that review games from the perspective of a religious person. They are clearly pushing an agenda, but they are pushing that agenda on a receptive audience. I’d expect Family Christian Review to put a much greater focus on how holy a game is than IGN.”

@Oboromusha: “‘We despise games like GTA because women are objectified there. Here, play Gone Home instead. it’s not as big, it’s not really a game, rather interactive story telling, but let’s compare the two nonetheless’ – One easily identifiable example.”

Anon10: “An agenda would be say diversity for the sake of diversity in a game.  It’s great to have an array of different people of a multitude of backgrounds and I fully support it.  However if a period accurate setting game has various racial groups that never had contact let alone lived in that area of the world then it’s just senselessly pandering to satisfy some people. “

Anon11: “This: [PixieJenni note: quotes from linked article, cut for ease for reading]


There was kinda no point in that. The criticism was taken on board, rather fairly I would say, and the agenda keeps getting pushed. That’s not cool.”

@Jeronimous_: “When one focus on only one specific aspect of a history, without giving any attention to the whole thing. i.e. when journalists only focus on the harassment a minority is doing, instead of listening to as many people as possible and publishing that it’s all that’s happening.”

Agayek: “The example that immediately springs to mind is Dragon’s Crown, where the artist was lambasted and insulted (I believe the exact phrasing was “14-year old boy“) because he had the audacity to design an over-the-top “sexy” character in a lineup of over-the-top characters.  Implicit in it was a demand for Kamitani to change his art style and artistic vision because it disagreed with Schreier’s morality or politics, and there was a massive internet hatefest for Kamitani because of it. Another decent example would be Divinity: Original Sin, where the artist was browbeaten into changing the cover and compromising their artistic vision by the media and a Twitter mob.”

2. Do you think there are any “agendas” that are okay to push in game reviews, or not at all?

Anon1: “The problem with agenda pushing is it makes it harder to be objective, especially if you do not clearly disclose how you came to that opinion(As many of these writers tend not to do).”

Anon2: “Leave it out. Your job is to tell if a game is made well and fun, not whether you approve of the content or not.”

Anon3: Heck no. That’s op-ed territory.”

Anon4: “Everyone has their own ideal worldview. I have no doubt many of these people believe it to be 100% benevolent. And it may be okay to constantly beg for something like more female options, etc. We need that! Very much! But many of the other things are either very extreme or personal. That’s not okay.”


Anon5: “None. None at all. I mean sure, if you’re an indie developer and want to make a game highlighting something like depression, I think that’s very admirable. But do not take an existing franchise and force an agenda down your audience’s throat, like Bioware does with almost every game.”

Anon6: “no, games are art, you should [PixieJenni note: assuming meant shouldn’t] suppress art base on political motivations, an artist should create as if the outside world did not exist.”

Anon7: “I don´t know… is a right wing newspaper a credible source of information?”

Anon8: ” Here is the thing, if you push an agenda that end up going to the extremes (rape, misogyni, terrorism, etc) you are probably pushing it too much. The problem is that the agenda that is being pushed is exclusionary, and you need to be inclusive. Don’t talk about how few female protagonists are, embrace the ones you have and probably hype a little more those games. Look at Nintendo, they know their main demography are female, and those they launch Hyrule Warriors with a big cast of females. This was smart, because everyone love those characters, and they only need to make a game where they are playable, its inclusive.”

Anon9: “I’d say it’s a matter of knowing your audience. I’d expect Family Christian Monitor to put a much greater focus on how holy a game is than IGN would. I’d expect TheMarySue to focus on a game from the feminist perspective. I’d expect TotalBiscuit to focus on how well it plays on PC.”

@Oboromusha: “None. Agendas are that of a personal nature. An agenda is a plan to fulfill your own desires. It is not a mechanism by which you try to influence the masses to help you fulfill it. That is called: Propaganda.”

Anon10: “The purpose of a game review is to critique it as a game and not socially.  So I’d be disinclined to say that it’s a good idea for a reviewer to push any sort of agenda over the merits or lack of.”

Anon11: “No. Sure, if the game is also to send a message, then that’s the work of the game’s designer, and how successful the game is reflects on that. It should not be down to the reviewer to decide that in a -review-. Opinion pieces whether it does it well or not? Go for it. More power to you. But badgering the developer because you feel one way and they evidently do not isn’t a good or a productive thing.”

@Jeronimous_:  [no answer given]

Agayek: “No.  The review should be a review of the game as an actual game, not a review of a social platform disguised as a game.  It is never acceptable to try and tell people what they are allowed to enjoy or consume, and as such, any kind of shaming or inflammatory rhetoric designed to provoke responses and censor the game, its critics, or its supporters is unacceptable.”

3. Do you have an issue with any of these three things, and if so (or if not), why?

  • Statement a: “I think this game has poorly designed female body types and it’s somewhat sexist in how it portrays them” -> Game changes body types
  • Statement b: “I think this game has poorly designed weaponry and I find it very boring and unintuitive” -> Game changes weapons
  • Statement c: “I think this game has made poor choices in promoting actual weapons and linking to arm manufactures in doing so and it’s glorifying war by doing this” -> Game changes weapons


Statement a: “Universal issue. I get tired of being portrayed as big muscly men as well, but it’s not simply a one gender issue. It’s more of a problem of stereotyping. Could make a decent op-ed, but only focusing on one gender would grate.”

Statement b: “This one is okay because it relates to potentially bad game mechanics. For instance, having the button to reload being in an awkward place.”

Statement c: “Game changes weapons This one is not so hot because again, it pushes agendas. This particular one would only be acceptable to me in an op-ed as part of a general issue involving the glorification of violence in video games. Not appropriate in a review.”


Statement a: “Character design and artistic integrity are important to me. It’s a hard call, though. If the artist says “Gee, I didn’t think of that, I’ll redesign it with that in mind” it’s one thing. I disliked the campaign against Elizabeth from Bioshock: Infinite because again the message was “breasts shouldn’t be conveyed like that.” Largely, this is strictly opinion because character design won’t influence gameplay, and the argument comes down to “I disagree with this portrayal, change it to satisfy my personal whims.””

Statement b: “There’s a difference between character design and gameplay. If the weapons are unfun, changing them is warranted. Again, though, these sorts of things don’t just get into playable shapes; A team thought Weapon A worked best when it emptied the chambers in one trigger pull, so there’s something to be considered.”

Statement c: “Again, this is an opinion requesting change that’s purely philosophical for the sake of appeasing a personal preference. Calling a gun what its modeled after isn’t promoting anything, in my opinion. The creators made the call to name it the correct model.”


“The way I see it is this. If people don’t like a game, they can simply avoid it (yes?). Sure, they can criticize it but they have no right to go in and force the creators to change the game. If on the other hand not enough people buy the game to support a creation of a similar one and you have the people creating the game deliberately changes the game to suit the demand. Then that is fine, it’s not censorship of the arts. Its just business.”


Statement a: “It depends on how seriously the game takes itself. When you look at games like Bayonetta or Dragon’s Crown, it’s clear that it’s a parody of the issue. But the more serious the game takes itself, the more worrisome these designs are.”

Statement b: “I love variety! But hey, nothing wrong with sticking to a formula that works.”

Statement c: “I’ve never heard this argument and it interests me. I feel it’s blatant promotion if they do this, but there are many realists and connoisseurs of firearms out there who appreciate the details. Go to /k/ on 4chan if you’re up to it. They go nuts over this stuff.”


Statement a and c: “Yes. Censoring expression through chilling speech”

Statement b: “No. Important feedback on the part of the consumer.”


“I think you’ve got to take a lot of things done by game developers with a grain of salt. But also, you are more than free to criticize something you see in a game, be it blatant sexism or a poor story. By putting something out into the public like a video game you must have critique, good or bad.”


Statement a: “this already happened to a game called dragons crown, everything was extremely over the top including hero designs (both male and female) and it got some flak for it despite it being clearly evocative of D&D and serving a point. sometimes overdoing something to the point of satire is a legitimate artistic decision, you should not be called sexist for choosing it.”

Statement b: “if it effects gameplay then yes, don’t care if it’s a design issue”

Statement c: “i’d have major issues with this cause that’s advertising, i don’t want advertisements in my games. also the idea of not being able to use real life weapons is really stupid.”



There is a thing called creative freedom. I see what you did there with the weapons, and that makes me realize you weren´t there in the “Final Fantasy” era of gaming. To me, games like SUDEKI are cringeworthy in the design department, but I liked it, and as an adult I can bear with accepting something with it´s flaws instead of trying to change it. The same happens with Nintendo. Everyone wants to change them, and yet to this day I haven´t seen real criticism on how they should treat their franchises”


“On the first one, I could have. If a game that try to appeal to a female audience, sure. A game that appeal a male audience, who cares? Also, what if the body types are designed for other reasons? like making distingtive silhouettes between characters, or it intended to be sexists? Also why do they have to be emale body types poorly designed sexists? it doesn’t make sense to me because poorly designed doesn’t equal sexism. Second one, I do have problems with poorly designed weaponry, but in most cases if just dismiss it. By example, Glass armor in skyrim? is that a joke? But eh, its a video game, lets keep playing. Third one, who cares? Those type of statements basically follow the idea that video games make us violent.”

“I’m confused about the “-> Game changes” parts. Is this suggesting that the game is changing based on the proceeding feedback? There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what the developer wants to do.”


Statement a: “Yes, it is not your place to provide directives for character design, based on your identity politics. These are characters, not people. Game developers do not develop human beings. Learn to separate reality from fiction in your expectations. In any medium.”

Statement b: “Gamers will decide that by trying the game. If it is in fact poor and unintuitive, then back to drawing board, I guess”

Statement c: “Politics again. Illegitimate concerns in any order. war exists because people don’t get along. War is prevalent in human history. Games are a cultural product. For right or wrong, they reflect human culture and build upon that. All art forms do. These ideas are non-sequitur to what the object of the concern is. Derived from a clear lack of understanding of the medium.”


“The first two are fine in my book.  The third I have a little issue with due to the implications of an unproven link between violence and gaming.  However let me point out that my lack of issue with the statements IS conditional.  These are all fine things for the gaming community to point out and have done.  It’s NOT ok for the issues to be raised entirely by journalists.  As they are fond to point out they are megaphones and as such wield disproportionate power to the actual consumer.  They have a responsibility to avoid getting their listeners to flock to one side or the other based on their own personal opinions.  If they have an axe to grind about a game they still must be as unbiased as possible when they present the issues.”


“If they are blanket statements with no follow up, there are issues with all of them. Assuming they have followup…”

Statement a: “Iffy. I wouldn’t like a game changed just because someone deemed it sexist, in the same way I don’t really want to see a game changed to broaden its appeal to include everyone. The first feels like a kind of censorship. The second feels like dumbing down. Both are bad.”

Statement b: “If the weapons aren’t fun (in a weapon-focused game) then the game isn’t fun. If a lot of people don’t think the game is fun, then it’s by definition a bad game. That’s warranted. Mostly because of the mechanical effect it has rather than the fluff surrounding the whole thing.”

Statement c: “Yeah, issues. Again, that’s censorship. I guess there are issues with using real brands for various reasons, but “glorifying war” is one of those weasel phrases that’s been around for a while demonising the things I play. Yes, I do like the idea of being a soldier. It’s also not going to happen based on gender, psychological, physiological and safety reasons. (Last I checked, the UK Army isn’t big on female front line troops. Support, auxillary, but not dedicated combat. And that’s fine.) Surely doing things I can’t do is why we play games in the first place, and some people like the more realistic experience and feel over things like being a one-man murder machine.”


Statement a: “I have an issue only if the change in body type was not on the original developer’s vision for the game. Because that statement was only an opinion and anyone can validade or disagree with it.”

Statement b: “Again, this is only an opinion and can be disagreed with. The developer should do whatever he wants.”

Statement c: “Same as before. This is only an opinion and the developer must do whatever his artistic vision is.”


“Those examples in particular, I don’t actually see any issues.  It’s simply “this part of the game has (perceived) problems, dev agrees and fixes problems”.  That’s no issue.
That’s not usually how this process works though, and that’s what has people upset.  It rarely goes “I think this game has made poor choices in promoting actual weapons and linking to arm manufactures in doing so and it’s glorifying war by doing this”, but instead “This game is terrible because it promotes actual weapons and glorifies war.  The developer and anyone who likes this garbage should be ashamed of themselves!”.  Then there’s a furious Twitter mob storming the developer until they capitulate.
That’s the part that people object to.  Not reviewers voicing their opinions or games changing in response, but the shaming tactics and backhanded (or blatant) insults at people who disagree with that opinion.”


One response to “Game Reviews and Pushing Agendas (part 1)

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