PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

Game Reviews and Pushing Agendas (part 2)

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?

Anon11: “when you wan’t games to adhere to a certain ideology, (liberalism, christianity, conservativism,….)”


@Kawalorn: “Pushing agenda would be when a reviewer gives positive coverage and exposure to a person or piece of work, only because of personal relationships or the writer has invested in said individual or his product. It would be also when reviewer is pushing his point of view on the reader.”


Anon12: “Carolin Petit’s GTA V review. I’m not a big fan of slapping scores onto games, but Petit found a fault in the game because it was misogynistic, as she put it.
And I quote: “Or perhaps you dive right into the game’s story problems, or its serious issues with women. GTA V is a complicated and fascinating game, one that fumbles here and there and has an unnecessary strain of misogynistic nastiness running through it.” You can find the full review here
And it’s not about the fact that the game didn’t get a perfect 10, the game is far from perfect, it’s about the author finding a fault in the game because it did not agree with their world views. ”


Anon13: “I think a solid example is that RPS piece that they pulled on Blizzard. Specifically, the Nova piece. It was terrible ambush tabloid grade clickbait and an actual journalist would be looking for a new job if they pulled that anywhere else but the game industry.”


Anon14: “Pushing an agenda. Anything that has to do with some political or moral affiliation that is not inherently about videogames. It’s mostly the click bait articles that pertain to things like rape, racism, sexism, etc. in the industry. Rape is bad, I fucking get that. You don’t need to write articles about it and try to make me feel bad for saying and using the word rape in a context that has nothing to do with sexual assault. And implying people are bigots or misogynists because they don’t agree with or want to argue with a female who has a differing view? Like, literally what the fuck. They’re trying to paint everyone with the same brush to fit their ideal world view and people eat that shit up, as evidenced by the anti-GG people.”


Anon15: No answer given.


Anon16: ” i just gave an example of the host of the gdc awards*. also patricia hernandez writes opinion pieces about personal issues that are highly political and thinly connected to gaming i was so sick of the politics that i quit reading any article she wrote.”

*from answer to other question in other topic: “like i said equal rights are fine but when you hire someone to host the GDC and she spouts so much hate. like the audience cant handle her because she’s a woman. and most have never seen a vagina. think for a moment if a man went up on stage and told women they couldn’t handle the fact he’s a man and have never seen a penis. its just sad when the fight for equal rights becomes the fight for more than equal rights at the cost of others rights.”


Anon17: “I haven’t read a game review in a while (I’m really picky about my entertainment, and only really read them after the fact to see how they match up with how I thought), but I’m not a fan of politics being injected into a review, and coverage of anything that isn’t directly related to the game or work itself.”


Anon18: “When a reviewer or a group of reviewers show a particular pattern when addressing a particular subject, and present a very one-sided narrative when doing so, then I start to see an agenda. A good example of this would be the amount of negative press Dragon’s Crown received by sites like Kotaku and Polygon because the game had two female protagonists with heavily sexualized designs. The game was called sexist because the reviewers said the designs objectified the female body and would alienate women gamers. One or two articles talking about this is just fine. It’s when I start seeing a succession of these articles that I see an agenda being pushed.”


Anon19: “People trying to link every single thing with their political agenda which ends up in talking about their politics because of things that have nothing to do with them. It is also trying to use everything as an argument for their opinion and completely disregarding/ignoring or even insulting any argument or data that shows a trend that they disagree with. E.g.: “Dragon’s crown is bad because the unrealistic depiction of women is misogynistic and oppressing women. It’s unrealistic because no women fighting for their lives would dress like the game characters. The designs were clearly targeting pubescent boys.” This is wrong and stupid on several levels. First, they completely omit the male character designs which are just as fucking unrealistic, the dwarf being literally almost naked, and the sempiternal claim that it’s “fanservice aimed at boys” is heterosexist and implies that no women enjoy playing as a big muscly amazoness or someone with huge breasts etc.”


@Tuckerism: “I haven’t been following this as much, but my definition for pushing an agenda is essentially using your position of influence to spread your personal beliefs while also silencing criticism of that belief (whether literal censorship, or by painting others as “undesirables”). If you also start twisting information or blatantly providing misinformation, then that’s even more egregious. Personally, I’m not aware of any great examples of this. All I’d comment on is that many journalists & developers tend to live in the same area / circles, and with any thing like that, you’re likely going to share certain beliefs or “agendas”. It’s not a bad thing, but I’d say that this situation is happening because there’s a big disconnect between the industry and gamers.”


Anon20: “Claiming that women or minorities are being “objectified” in games. I’m a white male. If we’re going by video games I’m a blood thirsty murderer with a penchant for dying. There are two sides to the equality angle, the “agenda” is only pushing one.”


Ashton Liu: “Pushing the opinions of one’s own particular political viewpoint into the narrative, whether by outright declaration or subtle implication.
“If you enjoy game A, you are a communist.”
“People who play game B might not have matured past their middle school years.”
“The designer of this game is a 12-year-old boy, why did Vanillaware hire him again?””


Anon21: “What I consider to be “Pushing an agenda” to be is forcing an opinion upon readers that may be a conflict of interest. An example of this could be Richard Eisenbies review of “Girls RPG: Cinderellife”. Early on, it becomes clear that Mr. Eisenbies is pushing an agenda by making sarcastic comments like “Remember, girls: outward beauty is the most important thing” and implying that “Hostess” bars are more or less “prostitution”. The agenda that he seems to be pushing is that the Japanese have a focus more on the physical, that the game itself doesn’t conform to “American” standards, i.e.: Inner Beauty vs Outer, the idea that this game is developed for young girls (when really it can be enjoyed by all ages and sexes without being judged), and that his character was “Hoe’d” up. Actually, Japanese Host/Hostess bars are a form of social outlet in which men and women can pay to spend time with a “Hostess”, which is a handsome man or beautiful woman that will sit with you, serve you drinks and food, and just sit and talk with you.”



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

Anon11: “if the site openly admits to adhering to an ideology i have no problem, but one of the problems was that it was increasingly difficult to avoid that agenda, seeing as these journalists felt the need to be in every news-site”


@Kawalorn: “That’s a hard one. Perhaps things like condeming obvious criminal activity (and OBVIOUS, not ALLEGED).”


Anon12: “If the author is transparent about it, writes an op-ed about it, then I have no problems with that. But disgusing op-eds as reviews or writing reviews and “hiding” statements that promote an agenda in said reviews is dishonest in the least. But I’d go as far as calling it despicable.”


Anon13: “Only if/when a game specifically has an agenda of its own, but if I previously found the writer untrustworthy to discuss said agenda, then in a review, none should be pushed. It should be separated into an op-ed piece.”


Anon14: “Yes. Better PC ports(stolen from totalbiscuit), better and more diverse games overall, etc. The agendas should have to do with games, not culture or morals.”


Anon15: No answer given.


Anon16: “no if you want to write about agendas or politics then write for political news sites”


Anon17: “Yes. Pushing for technical/artistic competence, or the release of a quality product.”


Anon18: “No. If you are reviewing a game I want you to leave your agendas out of the narrative. If you have an agenda to push, start a blog and push it there.”


Anon19: “Pushing an agenda means bringing up something in a review that has no place in it in the first place. If a game blatantly tried to vehicle an agenda and/or if the developers clearly said they were trying to support an agenda, then discussing the legiticimay of this agenda or the way it is being pushed by the game may be alright. If the devs just wanted to make the game like this because they didn’t put much thought about how it would be politically perceived, who cares? If you don’t agree with how the game turns out from your own political feelings’ point of view, just make games that fit your agenda or pay people to make a game that fits it.”


@Tuckerism: “As long as it’s an editorial and you can take people disagreeing with you (constructively of course!) go for it! The joy of the world today is that we can all educate ourselves and come to our own conclusions. Also understand that at some point, people who disagree with you may feel that they don’t have an outlet for their opinions… hence #GamerGate.”


Anon20: “As the norm? No. If you have a writer on staff that specifically looks into these issues and reports on them, great. If you have a website called “feministgamereviews” knock yourself out, I’d probably read it. But these outlets are quoted in press releases, trailers, and box art for the games they cover, so it just feels wrong for them to have a slant one way or the other.”


Ashton Liu: “Pushing agendas as a matter of personal preference rather than as politicized statements can be okay, but only with a modicum of respect and realization that explicit or implicit character assassination attempts are unacceptable. For example:
“I find myself feeling uncomfortable when I see the body types in game A.”/”Game A has very sexualized body types, so take note of that if you plan on buying this game.”
as opposed to
“The body types in game A are some of the most chauvinist depictions of women I’ve ever seen.”/”I have to wonder about the emotional and mental maturity of anyone who would draw women like this.””


Anon21: “No, its never o.k. to push any form of agenda whatsoever in a review. “



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: “only change it unless it was actually offensive, and no sexy characters are not offensive , only to puritanical prudes ”

Statement b: “gameplay is important, if its not fun then change it, games are supposed to entertain not propagate an ideology”

Statement c: “same as the previous [PixieJenni note: assuming previous to mean a], games are not propaganda, and using realistic fire-arms does not promote war”



Statement a: “First one I don’t think it’s a good thing, when it’s “kinda” sexist it is highly possible it’s just one persons oppinion. Things would be different if community as a whole said that and the designs would be changed.”

Statement b: “Second one makes much more sense as it is a more technical and more important thing for the gameplay. If there are fair points made as to why those things are poorly made, it’s a good thing.”

Statement c: “Third one is just… dumb. It’s the same as saying things like “games are the cause for school shootings”. The author is unable to see the game from perspective of a person with common sense.”



Statement a: “I have no issue with a reviewer stating his/her opinion, it may or may differ from my own in this case depending on the actual body types. As for the developer changing the body types, again, I don’t have a problem with that either, if the changes came willingly. ”

Statement b: “Same as above, with the added fact that boring and unintuitive weapons usually kill any game’s chances of succes right out of the gate. It’s more a case of needing to change the weapons rather than wanting too.”

Statement c: “Correlation does not imply causation. If the dev changes the weapons it’s his choice, but it may not be for the best. ”



“I categorically find issue with 2 of those 3 choices.”

Statement a: “First off, this is a heterosexist viewpoint and denies the fact that gay women may find it just as attractive. Moreover, I believe that your sexual orientation has very little to do with being able to appreciate art, even if it is evocative. I think that’s simply stereotyping of the worst kind. Gay people can express themselves quite eloquently without me, you, or anyone else claiming to speak for them, and I find #NotYourShield is an excellent example of that. Ultimately, it’s a stylistic choice and if you honestly believe that “sexy characters” create sexism, might as well say that Jack Thompson was correct about games creating violent killers. It’s the exact same literal argument. Finally…what’s wrong with sexy characters of either gender? Women constitute almost half the games audience right now on some level, and the most popular work of fiction lately has been “50 Shades of Grey,” an erotic novel. By continually starting this argument, you’re conditioning people to be ashamed of sex and natural bodily expression. Ultimately? Sexualization occurs inside someone’s mind, first and foremost. If you don’t want something sexualized, then DON’T SEXUALIZE it. It’s literally that simple. Literally ANYTHING can be sexualized or not, if you do or don’t want it to be. For example, some people sexualize hands. Do I personally find hands sexual? No, I don’t. More importantly, for some people, NOTHING is sexualized, so at that point, doesn’t this argument also exclude asexual people, who don’t sexualize things in the same manner as other individuals? Lastly, censorship. I don’t think I need to voice my opinion on that, really.”

[PixieJenni note: I find it repeatedly interesting that where I stated “poorly designed” people read “sexy”. You can be sexy without being poorly designed, and poorly designed without being sexy.]

Statement b: “Example of legitimate criticism, especially if it makes the game unbalanced, derivative or drudgery. Unless, of course, that decision IS the creator’s ultimate stylistic choice. At that point, the dev should be free to dismiss that criticism. Example: Historically accurate game set in say, World War I, The Civil War, or any other point in time where you need to be faithful to your depictions.”

Statement c: “Problematic, for the same reasons as I’ve previously stated. Censorship is bad, and this argument holds about as much water as saying that your pet turtle died due to a random Italian plumber jumping on it, so all depictions of turtles in Mario should be removed. “



Statement a: “Yes. Its impeding and hampering how the dev wanted to make their game. Freedom of speech and expression should come first. If I don’t like a game’s art or character models I get over it or find a new game.”

Statement b: “Depends. See before if they just mean the weapons in general. But if they are talking about balance in online combat or something, then developers should look at that. I also feel like its harder to change a weapon than a character model, but I’m no dev so whatever.”

Statement c: “That person should just get wrekt and play something else. See answer 1”


Anon 15:

Statement a: “if games want to be a serious medium, they need to be open for all aesthetic expression. you don’t get princess knight without boku no pico.”

Statement b+c: No answer given



Statement a: “games do this for both sexes and i think its great that i can play as a figure built like the hulk that no human could ever accomplish. games are fantasy.  however the whole dead or alive series bothers me because of the breast physics.  i love that figures like the new laura croft and especially ellie (ashley hit that one out of the park) are in games.  they need to  mature, but attacking zelda who is one of the most bad ass to play as in smash brothers when we save her in other games is wrong.  without her, the kingdom goes to ruin and she’s the incarnation of a goddess how is that not a strong role. because she happened to get into trouble. same with peach.  anita’s argument purposefully ignores mario kart or smash brothers because it doesn’t support the point she’s trying to make.”

Statement b: “weapon design is based off of current weapons but i would like to see more weapons like ratchet and clank, or resistance. i look forward to the weapons in sunset overdrive and hope the industry gets more creative. use future timelines if you need too.”

Statement c: “I hate that by using weapons based of real world counterparts, companies have to pay royalties to gun companies. i believe in all our amendments but dev’s having to support gun companies because of the use of a gun is wrong.”



“A) Yes. B) No. C) Yes. The reason is that two of those really have no bearing upon the work itself, or how it operates. One is an aesthetic argument, one is a functional argument, and one is a political argument. It’s the difference between arguing about the colour of a tool, the operation of a tool, and if the tool is made in China.”



“I think all are valid arguments so long as the person making them can present them in a well thought out manner and provide examples to help their argument.”



Statement a: “Men are always portrayed in games in a sexist way and I don’t complain about it. If you want to complain about sexism, then you have to point out ALL the sexist aspects and ask for all of them to be changed. Games having a degree of “unrealism” aka poor design is necessary for enjoyment. I don’t think people would be happy to be unable to carry two plate armors in their bags in Skyrim.”

Statement b: “If by poorly designed you mean “unrealistic”, as I said, it’s a game. If the devs want to make guns shooting killer bees then why not?”

Statement c: “You can be an arms enthusiast without being a war enthusiast. Changing something because it is “too realistic”? Really? So, if we have people complaining about things in games being too unrealistic on one side and other people complaining that some aspects of the game are too realistic, what do we get? No games.”



“I have no problem with these statements because it says “I think”. However if they’re written like…

“This game developer is sexist BECAUSE this game has poorly designed female body types and is sexist in how it portrays them.”

“This game developer is BAD because the weapons are designed poorly, and it’s boring and unintuitive.”

“This game developer supports murder because they’re using real-life weapons and linking to gun manufacturers.”

The difference is that the author of these lines is presuming to understand the mindset of the person who developed the game. Like I said before, if you identify it as an editorial statement and are open to discussion / disagreement, go for it! And if the developer agrees and changes those things, that’s their decision too.”



“I have issue with a and c. Games exist to be fun, social commentary comes a distant second to that. Films, painting, photography, music, etc. are based on their technical merits first and foremost. Games should be no different.”


Ashton Liu:

“None of these are wrong in and of themselves. It is the developer’s prerogative to react to game journalists’ criticisms. That is the whole reason why game journalists exist. This is no different than changing the gameplay in response to criticism. However, I must again reiterate: respect is key.

“This gameplay is unresponsive and a bit too slow” vs “This game plays like a drunk blindfolded monkey”
“This game has poorly designed female body types and it’s somewhat sexist in how it portrays them” vs “This game is sexist, and whoever drew the art is a prepubescent child.””



Statement a: “When you say “Game changes body types”, is it done through revamping the body types in general? is it corrected with the ability for the player to modify the body-type in any “Way-Shape-form” that they would like (See: Skyrim, Saints Row)? If they fully revamp, this could hurt their fanbase as there are women who will want to play those body types so that they can at least “Feel sexy” in the game, even though their self-image in real life is totally different (and people around them that care beg to differ), and they may not like the new body types.”

Statement b: “Again, it comes down to “What about the people that might enjoy that weapon?”. For example, I think the Fart in a Jar from Saints Row III, while somewhat funny to use, was pretty boring and useless overall. Keep in mind, they WERE going to remove it, but enough people got upset on their forums about it that they decided to put it back in. I also feel the same way about the Probe weapon in IV, I thought it was kind of boring in actual game play, but I know people that swear by using it.”

Statement c: “To be honest, I don’t care if my sidearm in the game is labeled as a Smith and Wesson M&P .45 or if its got some form of generic name. They can have generic manufacturers, but a firearm is still a firearm, and will still be used for the same purpose in the game. With that said, I feel that more than a firearm alone glorifies war, and that its the context of the game itself. (COD, BF, I would consider Glorify war on content. NRA’s Range simulator on iOS and Android on the other hand, is merely glorifying sport shooting at a range or in competition)”


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