PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

Game Reviews and Pushing Agendas (part 4)

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?

Anon26: “There are many different types of third-wave feminism, including male advocacy feminism, second wave feminism, sex-positive and sex-negative feminism, but gaming media tends to focus much on mainstream third wave identity feminism. It’s been shocking to me how many women I’ve met in the gamergate community who have wanted NO part in that brand of feminism. ”


@orichalcumroad: Well, as I said [PixieJenni note: will attempt to remember to link when that goes up too!], I think Reviews are, by their nature, Op-Ed pieces. I expect my critics to be biased, or else I would be terribly confused when we disagreed on how good a movie or game was, which happens fairly frequently. I would rather a reviewer spend their time giving me a review or critique of the game and not trying to sell me on their political platform or social causes, but if it relates to the game in some direct fashion I’m not going to be terribly upset. Bias isn’t a problem, it’s a reality. Writers are supposed to be aware of their bias, and write to counter it, not simply declare they are miraculously unbiased.


Anon27: Removed by request.


Anon28: “Pushing and agenda is trying to submerge your audience in ideas, perceptions, ideologies that don’t have much to do with the subject you are writing about because you want your audience to assume your values as theirs. Example: “Dead or Alive 5 presents us with overly sexualized characters that depict woman as sex dolls that should be offensive to anyone with a drop of empathy on their soul.” I remembered reading something like this on a big media outlet.The reason I was reading the review was because my girlfriend, a long time DOA fan bought the game because she felt empowered by the characters, not offended. We can think for ourselves, thank you.”


Anon29: “To me, pushing an agenda is when the gaming press chooses to focus on a social/political issue rather than the quality of a game, especially when only one perspective is echoed by the gaming press. If an op-ed is written claiming that part x of game y is problematic, then I would expect a rebuttal from another writer. Progress is built on dialog, not by vocalizing only one side of a discussion. That makes people feel like they’re being preached to, or lectured. There’s a reason the most effective way of learning in academia is seminar courses and tutorials. They promote discussion and the sharing of ideas in an environment that thrives off of debate and believes issues are settled by the side with the more compelling argument. Should we expect any less of games media if they choose to write about controversial or sensitive topics?”


Anon30: “Forcing my attention onto an issue mostly. I come to gaming as a pastime, I want to enjoy it, preferably with people who also enjoy it. I don’t want to have to deal with agendas and politics, especially if veiled, in my free time unless it’s my own personal choice to do so.”


@WolfSaviorZX: “When a group outside of people just interested in gaming is using it as a way to push their agenda. I guess more anything I’m afraid of someone being a “Political Group” first, and game journalist second.”


Anon31: “Pushing an agenda I feel applies to this situation with this overwhelming idea that the Journalists in question are for progression and that dissent is morally wrong. This counts as pushing an agenda because it removed neutrality, or open discussion. Presenting their ideas as the only way.”


nomuru2d: “Pushing an agenda is either promoting a constant statement through an individual’s works or promoting a unifying statement through a group of people’s separate works . The former is an example I wish to talk about in the next section, but the latter is the starting focus of #GamerGate: the “gamers are dead” mentality being shared by big-name gaming ‘journalism’. This negative agenda only exists in the first place because ‘journalism’ decided that it couldn’t handle having its dirty laundry exposed yet again (as I explained some sections back), and so it would instead try appealing to a new audience generation who wouldn’t know better while simultaneously attempting to get rid of its old audience. The result is an extremely petty cry that only serves to show how immature gaming ‘journalism’ had become, resulting in a long-overdue greater cry for it to grow up.”


Anon32: “Agendas are fine, we all have them. But when facts are twisted and presented as news or without full disclosure, then it becomes a real issue. It’s why we have Fox News and MSNBC now. I think most people want real news first and the occasional op-ed. When most of the main outlets are pushing one line of reasoning, frustration builds. It’s pretty natural. For example, many of the outlets promoted Anita Sarkeesian when she hit the scene. And that’s fine, she has every right to her opinions. But there wasn’t any other discussions. She was promoting a very specific form of feminism, that at the time, many other feminists were trying to argue against or at least give a different view. And there was a huge consumer base that disagreed with her because they felt as if she was repeating the Jack Thompson idea of games, only from a different angle. It was a good opportunity for a good community discussion where maybe everyone could of learned something, but instead, many felt like it was preaching over us instead of talking with us. And with complicated issues like that, open dialogue and inspection of counter views are vital. “


Anon33: “Simply put, Anita Sarkeesian. Instead of supporting and contributing to positive reinforcement of women in gaming and in the game industry, she spends the money she’s received with the negative deconstruction of ideas within it, only complaining about things she views as misogynistic instead of actually trying to get people into the industry who can change those things. That, I think, by its purest definition, is ‘pushing an agenda’. But again, this isn’t a discussion that should be held within #GamerGate as her video series is not part of any established journalistic medium. (Conversely, any article presenting itself as valid game discourse (Kotaku, etc) that favorably covers her video series and defends her against ‘misogynistic male gamers’ is exactly what #GamerGate is about.)”


Anon34: “TotalBiscuit actually addressed this in a way I found very agreeable. Pushing an agenda would be aggressively trying to push your cause onto someone else. I can give an example in an article written by a RPS writer about how women are portrayed in MOBAs in general. Pushing the issue more and more when the creator clearly states that they are just trying to make a cool looking character. However the “Journalist” continues to badger the interviewee trying to get him to admit to things being sexist. However it is all pretty much just waved off. Here is a link to said article: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/11/22/blizzard-on-heroes-of-the-storm-female-designs-in-mobas/


Anon35: “Getting payed/bribe for positive coverage. Pushing personal agendas and political views into the reviews. Bastardizing an articles, bashing or praising a product, not based on its content but based on what it represents for the reviewer personal believes.”


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

Anon26: “In game reviews? No. In games journalism, sure, but it’s seems very one-sided. Kotaku, Polygon, etc, seem to focus on all the same issues while ignoring others. ”


@orichalcumroad: “I think any agenda (political platform or social cause) can be “pushed” in a review, as long as it relates directly to the game. That’s part of art criticism, that the critic will see things in a piece perhaps unintended by the artist. It’s how artists of all stripes can be forced to look outside the bubble of their own creativity and make decisions about the nature of their own work from an external perspective, if they’re willing to listen. The issue I have with several current “Game Critics” is the exclusion of context for the sake of shock, which is then used to prove a point unrelated to the material. A critic should have an understanding of the medium they critique, as well as a general interest in the various forms it takes. A literary critic, for example, should be able to tell the difference between erotica and a Penthouse letter.”


Anon27: Removed by request.


Anon28: “Pushing the “make good journalism” and “draw your own conclusion from my piece” agenda would be nice. If that isn’t possible I don’t want any perception forced on anyone.”


Anon29: “I think some agendas are acceptable, provided they are tempered with healthy debate, and provided the agenda itself is “healthy”. For example, decrying the gaming community as hateful and sexist is not productive. Writing pieces that say “hey, I’ve been noticing issue x in gaming, and I’m not sure it’s helpful to the gaming community as a whole. What do you guys think?” is productive, and it leaves room for dissenting opinions. This is the environment that should be promoted by games media, not just for its audience, but among its staff as well. If someone writes an article saying “I think so-and-so raises some valid concerns here”, then another journalist who has a different perspective shouldn’t feel discouraged from writing their contrarian response.”


Anon30: “Not really. Ideally I’d like you to give me an upfront opinion on a game. Tell me if it’s good, tell me if it’s bad and justify it. That’s all I want. I just want you to look for the truth of the matter in a game review.”


@WolfSaviorZX: “Not that I can think of, maybe pushing for funner games. As much as I hate Microtransactions, I don’t think a game review is the best place for having a universally “All Microtransactions are wrong so 0/10″. If a game did microtransactions in a way that doesn’t affect my ability to play the game I don’t think it’s a negative just something I personally scratch my head up. ”


Anon31: “I think agendas are fine, as, like most of what we’ve been calling for, it’s open. Only recently in their faux apology, did Rock Paper Shotgun call itself “Feminist”. Unfortunately this idea falling into “my view of Feminism is the right tone, and because Feminism is defaultly a force for good, you are wrong”. This entire situation has disillusioned me to quite a bit to the subject of Feminism, and Political Correctness, as it has given me the great example that if you’ve ever said anything bad, all your opinions are now irrelevant to the situation. It has been used an excuse to not listen to people. And I’m a die-hard Liberal that thought Social Justice couldn’t go to far unless you were either actively hating things for being average, or complaining about a white person eating a curry being “cultural appropriation. Unfortunately the corruption of Feminism as a badge of honor for all people wanting equal rights, it has instead become an excuse. They consider themselves bullet proof, because as long as what they do sounds like a benefit to women, it is, and to disagree it to be wrong. Hell, before this, i wouldn’t have even called Feminism an agenda, because it sounds like “the gay agenda”, which is something only muttered by crazy people, worried about people ruining their stuff, and hiding their true mindset of “Stop liking what I don’t like”. Agendas are a fine discussion in reviews, it falls into discussion of both the reviewer and the audience’s personal taste. If they cite it as a reason to be concerned about something or think a certain way, it’s a reasonable thought that may resonate with the audience.”


nomuru2d: “The only agenda that I feel really needs to be pushed in game reviews is calling for competently-made games without any excuses. A particular reviewer I am a fan of, Joe Vargas a.k.a. “Angry Joe”, made his show and website centered around this specific agenda. He pulls no punches when it comes to reviewing games (to date, no game he has reviewed has earned a perfect rating from him because every good game so far has had its own flaws), but it’s when he reviews particularly bad games (like Ride To Hell: Retribution and Sonic Free Riders) or games that had the potential to be great but fell short because of at least one important aspect (like Kane & Lynch 2 and Mass Effect 3), that he really pushes this positive agenda.”


Anon32: “I would just like to see more real news. But op-eds are fine as long as their ethical and transparent. It gets troublesome when an entire industry seems to be representing on point of view despite the concern of their consumer base. “


Anon33: “Not at all, unless you fully disclose those agendas.”


Anon34: “In reviews? I can’t think of any. Interviewers and such before the game is made? Absolutely! Not nothing comes to mind on the “Social Justice” front. Again, TB makes a point out of this, for example asking about PC specs, pushing for quality ports to other systems. If it is about pushing for quality gameplay, then I feel that it is fine.”


Anon35: “No. No agendas should have any affect on a review. I accept personal opinions regarding the product as a game. But pushing personal ideologies, pushing political agendas and bashing a game just because it doesn’t catered to their religion, sex or political view.”


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


“I have no issue with these things. If a game publisher wants to alter their game based on feedback from the audience, then there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think they should be censored, and I don’t believe gamers or journalists have any right to force artists to change their work to fit a particular world view. Art should be as free as possible. ”



“Honestly, I don’t have an objection to those, because the suggestion that the Devs made changes suggests that it was wider sweeping than a single critic or voice saying it was bad. However, I think declaring something is bad, and that something should be changed, are two different statements. You can say “this offends me” without demanding that it not be allowed to offend anyone else. Not all things are for all people, and if Devs and critics want games to be treated as an art, and therefore become more artistic themselves, it has to be allowed to occasionally offend and misstep, and does not require any moral police to keep it in check, as long as what it does is not overtly harmful.

That said, I will admit a bias: I do not believe that video games cause misogyny any more than I believe that they cause violence. I agree that games adhering to an overly sexualized aesthetic for female characters is problematic, but only in that it shows a lack of creativity. In addition, a lot of the inspiration for the more ridiculously attired female characters lies in Anime, but I don’t see the geek culture sites decrying anime, nor its readers or makers, to be misogynistic, hateful, or oppressive. There are games that could do better, and there are games that are doing better, and that’s a good thing. We’ve moved out of the era where only corporations can make games, and that means representation across the board is only going to get better, for everyone.”



Removed by request.



Statement a: “Probably the target audience of the game is the people who likes that type of thing. If that audience finds that the developer has gone too far that’s a pretty bad sign and should be changed if possible. If someone stating that is not part of the target audience…why bother saying anything? I don’t complain about services or products that were not designed to appeal to me. Because they usually don’t.”

Statement b: “Boring is pretty bad for a videogame thing to be. It would be wise from the developers to remedy it if those weapons are a big part of the experience.”

Statement c: “Glorifying war doesn’t have to do much with the weapons being actual weapons, I think. Its more of a action aviavility, scenes and tone. Changing weapons won’t solve much.”



Statement a: ” if that was the only opinion voiced by the press? Then yes, I would take issue with that. If most of the gaming community disagrees with the author? Then I definitely have an issue with it. The gaming community is a tricky market. Games journalists are writing to consumers. It’s totally fine to write a piece saying “hey, this might be sexist, what do you guys think?”, in part because it contains the word “might”, noting that it isn’t necessarily fact, and is the opinion of the author, and it also promotes discussion. As we’ve seen these past few weeks, if the gaming community doesn’t like something, they do have the power to change it. If Your audience agrees with your point and feels compelled to see change, they will act on it. If not, tough break. Your opinion was over-ruled by the audience. However, I wouldn’t be too concerned by this. Most gamers are very open to the idea of something being sexist and worth changing (we’ve been seeing a transition away from hyper-sexualized female characters over the past several years; most of us are totally okay with that transition.) We just want our input valued, not dictated to.”

Statement b: “this one makes the most sense, by far. If weapons are unbalanced and thus don’t contribute to flavour and fun in a game, then they need to be reworked.”

Statement c: “this one is much trickier. The glorification of war and violence has been going in since time immemorial, for the primary reason that, well, violence is exciting. At its core, war is a competition between nations decided with blood and iron rather than athletic prowess or intellectual contributions. However, given that all the scientific data points toward the fact that violence in video games do not make violent people, I would venture to say that the glorification of war in fantasy worlds does not glorify war in real life. I grew up during the Bush years. Many of my friends loved playing war games. I don’t remember any of them believing things like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan were good things. The youth of today have a strong liberal streak, and non-interventionism among youth is, I would imagine, only continuing to rise. The public is weary of war, despite the rise in war games.”



“Firstly, I’m confused as to the question, I think it can be taken 2 different ways to allow me to answer them both. I’ll try to make it clear as to when I’m swapping between the two answers.”

Statement a: “1: It’s not bad, again I’d like more in depth as to why it’s poorly designed vs just an artistic style.” + “2: I feel uncomfortable on deciding this one. I would generally say let the company decide after the case has been made. If it turns out that it’s a big enough issue and they refuse action, then the free market will generally sort them out.”

Statement b: “1: Normal critique. I would generally prefer more detail as to why this is the case and why this isn’t a artistic choice however.” + “2: If the game changes because it was recognised as an issue after a case has been made, then this is acceptable. I would generally like to know why however.”

Statement c: “1: I’d object to the statement without further information. Simply allying with weapon manufactures to provide more accurate detailing is not inherently bad. I’d need some evidence that their influence caused the guns to be used in such a way as to promote guns.” + “2: Again, if they decided that this was the smarter move, I may criticise their choice. They will either do well or not do well based on that choice.”



“I think all 3 doesn’t affect the gameplay for me personally. For all I care I could play as a giant blob monster with a horrible body as long as it’s fun. But I also think there should be games made that do try to present women in a more realistic way but it’s not a positive for the game. Just a personal preference.  I don’t care if a game promotes war or not, I have seen no evidence it affects the mind of people. Personally playing war games my whole life and I’m very anti-war. ”



Statement a: “I have a problem with the first because, as state before, it doesn’t say why they’re sexist. And I don’t if something panders to their audience. It’s a valid concern if you think it pushes away an otherwise total viable female audience. I think it’s more my opinion that a design of a character can’t be sexist, just the character’s role in the narrative. And hell, even designed by a raving sexist, people still have a right to enjoy it. I think it should be more to do with being a fault of the game than something marched for changed with.”

Statement b: “The second thing I’m fine with because it presents boredom. But naturally any change will probably have backlash by people who liked it, so I’m going to say I’m fine with this at a conceptual level.”

Statement c: “The third isn’t descriptive enough. It would take a lot to me to think it promotes violence. Glorifying war on the other hand is probably something many people would even enjoy. I’m not sure if it’s a moral problem. I’m pretty anti-war. If this meant telling the player “isn’t this real life weapon cool” I’d have to think. Many games use real weapons, but if it did indeed get bogged down in manufactures, and promoting the accurate representations of guns, I may at least think about it for a while, but I’m not against it on a conceptual level.”

“If any of these situations proved a problem then by all means I’d find some problem. The second example may present simple balancing issues, so has the potential for change. But the first and last seem, under my understanding, more core to the design, ergo an overall criticism. However that relies on my idea of sexism problems. If, as I said, what it does it adding literally nothing to the game, not core to narrative or art style, and is just stupid or driving away part of the audience, I think it should be voiced, but mostly during development. Otherwise it changes the game people bought. Also, I don’t think there should be some “right” for it to be changed. I think people should be allowed to express in their art what they want to. I feel like a big part of the problem is people see games as mainstream media, rather than the brainchild of some designer with a fantasy.”



Statement a: “If females are supposed to be an important focus to the game, then of course this statement matters. If their roles are basically interchangeable with male non-player characters, then it doesn’t.”

Statement b: “First, you’re going to have to clarify whether or not the “poorly designed weaponry” is tied into the game being “very boring and unintuitive”. If it is, then modifying the weaponry would be an ideal solution, regardless if it’s something approved of by the player base on average when the change is made and presented. If it’s not, then there’s no disguising that the problems with this hypothetical game lie in more than just weapon design.”

Statement c: “This line is exactly as senseless as linking video games to causing violent behavior (which has incidentally been repeatedly scientifically disproven). The reason that the AKA 47 trope – as it is called – exists in the first place is entirely to write around trademarks so as not to get in trouble with actual weapons manufacturers, who make a LOT more money and are a few of many corporations willing to sue the pants off of somebody if given a reason. If you really want to blame something for glorifying war, blame national culture romanticizing it via patriotism.”



Statement a: “It’s up to the creators. But I believe that any form of creative medium, no creator should feel forced to change something based on someone else’s sensitivities.”

Statement b: “Again, same thing as above. Either one is subject to market place reaction. But where one shows an ideological objection, the other shows a technical objection. But both are opinions and the creator should have the freedom to do as they like.”

Statement c: “Same as above.”

“(Quick elaboration on all of this) The more freedom of creativity in any medium, the more variation on ideas you get. I think we were seeing this happen before big sites started to run piece after piece of one small portion of a particular ideology. Personally, the gamers I know and have known encourage more people getting into the hobby. The more the better. There’s a big difference between supporting what art you agree with and helping it to grow and tearing down examples that don’t fit a viewpoint. In short, there is room enough in the world of gaming for Gone Home, Dragon’s Crown, and everything in between and beyond.”



Statement a: “This is a bit of a strange one for me because I am attracted to women. Obviously, some body types as portrayed in games are so over-sexualized that they’re simply not attractive, and some of that is just simple cartoonism, others it’s very blatant, but overall, I think the issue of sexuality in video games is the same as the issue of human sexuality, with all the conundrums and caveats that comes with it. However, I think that what people trying to change it don’t realize is that past the age of 9 or 10, we are pretty damn good at differentiating between what’s real and what’s not, so I don’t think it’s nearly as important an issue as, for example, Anita might say, though it is a bit jarring to see the skin coverage of armor decrease as the armor rating increases.”

Statement b: “This is directly relative to gameplay and therefore its worth as a game. No issue here except a subjective level of skill.”

Statement c: “See my answer to question 6 in the first section.*”

*From answer to “What do you think the difference between an op-ed and a review is (if any?)”
“I consider an op-ed any article that hypes or denounces games based on aspects that have no relation to its worth as a game. Saying “X game is bad because there are guns in it” and then going on to list reasons why guns are bad is an op-ed, because it is clearly charged with the writer’s political views on guns. Saying “X game is bad because the AI is terrible” and then going on to list instances of how the AI is terrible is a review.”



“I don’t have an issue with any of these things at the surface. Getting feedback is perfectly fine, and if the creators want to listen or not is THEIR choice. To quote Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

However being pressured into changing body types, changing weapons or anything like that in a way that violates the artist’s visions I do have an issue with.”



Statement a: “It depends of what you are talking. I don’t think artistic view should be controlled that way. People tend to claim that everything is sexist. That you can’t create a sexual female character without being called a sexist. There is a recent scandal regarding spider woman and how people said her design was too sexist. Listen, its common for both men and women to be often overly sexualized in games, comics or movies. Personally I don’t see a problem with that as long as it doesn’t diminish each those characters. Some people tend to be overly conservative. They tend to see sex as something to be avoided, to be criticized. Sex in an amazing thing, everyone appreciate eroticism, sex. Why shouldn’t you praise and show how much you love the female body? The male body? If the character has a strong personality, if that character has a strong purpose to the story, who cares if him or she is walking around in a swimsuit. The human body is something to be appreciated. Stop persecuting artists just because you have a conservative view on the subject”

Statement b: “That is a different subject. Weaponry, items generally affect gameplay unlike what a character looks like. If those gimmicks in some way negatively affect a game then it should be changed”

Statement c: “I don’t see how that can happen to be honest. I don’t think a game having weapons have any kind of influence in the way it deals with war. If it glorifies it or not. It all depends on how the artists explored that subject, how war is portrait in that game. I don’t think you should change anything that doesn’t affect the gameplay. Again, it all comes to how people want games to be changed to fit their personal agenda. How they push religion, sex and politics into games and demanding changes just for the sake of appealing to their group”


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