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?
Anon71: “I am very hesitant to call someone “pusing an agenda”, because ultimately saying that about a person requires you to have spent quite some time with them, even if I sometimes get the impression of someone doing their actions for a specific (second) gain, that’s why I have not and will not accuse people of whiteknighting (protective behavior to ensure social status or personal relationship, possibly sex) or hating a group (misogyny misandry, racism, sexism etc) unless they themselves state something to that extent. As I mentioned before, a lot of people have this impression because there is whole groups who focus on specific themes frequently and there have been almost none for other areas of game design.
Silverstring media/Digra seems to be (I have only briefly looked into this) an ideological company, and I am not sure if that’s something I approve on, because our economic system relies on companies acting like companies.”
@bkiffter: “Assassins Creed Unity. While there was a small unheard outcry of some SJ fellows for Watch_dogs (“Once again white male protagonist”) a few weeks later was this completely blown out of proportions shitstorm which was pushed and fuled by certain gaming news sites and reported on by the rest. Those who stoked were IMHO pushing an agenda, those only reporting on the shitstorm were not but simply stating the facts.”
Anon72: “Attacking a game for percieved sexism or misogyny is a great one AS has made herself famous for. Look at her Bayonetta Video- Oh! That’s Right! You Can’t- Because she took it down when she realized she let it slip and showed too much of her agenda.”
@UnrealDonnie: “Pushing an agenda is when someone is trying skew or ignore facts in order to drive their point. As an example, (and this is based on something that happened locally here in Texas a few years ago), a man hits a woman after she stabs him. The media goes nuts over the fact that he hit her, despite the fact that she was trying to kill him, meaning he was acting in the very definition of self defense. Even though the police agreed with the man because of the nature of the events, the media pushed that the man was abusive and a misogynist simply because he had the gall to hit a female. Their ignorance of the context is what constitutes pushing an agenda.”
Anon73: “Everyone has some form of agenda, but it can be a problem with it is based on ideologies that has nothing to do with games and are not necessarily improving games in any way. The most obvious example is working actively against things in games that offends them, when it does not offend others. It is a problem if we have to remove everything that offends someone in games.”
Tom Anonymous: “Censoring criticisms to what the article is trying to promote. Refusing to cover information that is critical of a certain idea while covering the smallest of things that promote that certain idea. e.g., writing an article based solely on a tweeter post, but refusing to write anything based on someone or a group of people’s similarly-expressed ideas, as eloquently-spoken or rational as they may be.”
@Jwguy0: “Any time where a political or ideological trend can be detected in the author’s, and perhaps in some events, the company’s, collective posts, but not only that. The idea of pushing an agenda, by its own nature, is difficult to confirm. Other signs are silencing/condeming dissent, elevating one’s position instead of approaching from the ground of the argument, largely exaggerating or outright lying about qualities in order to frame it for a narrative (the main criticism on Anita Sarkeesian’s videos regarding Hitman: Absolution, and my own for Patricia Hernandez’s article about Papers Please) or refusing to acknowledge events or people who might differ from the narrative one is pushing (such as the blackballing of the Fine Young Capitalists and their campaign).”
Anon74: “Pushing an agenda is anything that takes away focus from the primary subject. As an example, if you take one scene in a game that lasts maybe a minute or less and use that to springboard into a subject that has little or nothing to do with the game. It’d be like taking the design of the Sorceress in Dragon’s Crown and saying that the entire game is misogynist and shaming the creators. The lady has big over-sized boobs, it’s a design of a character. Is anyone going to sit there and tell me that six pack abs and giant toned muscles is misandrist? Or is it only if a woman creates this fictional six-pack abs male character? To me, it’s agenda pushing, as the design of the one character has little to nothing to do with the game itself.”
Anon75: “If you count Anita Sarkeesian’s “reviews” then yeah. ALL of that is pushing an agenda. All of it. But she’s openly “allowed” to do that. Since I didn’t go fund her on Kickstarter, she’s just doing what she said she would. Although I do have a problem with some of her reviews as they’re completely one-sided. ie; rather than finding out the good and bad in tropes of women in her first video she just says that it exists, and it didn’t go into why that’s a problem. Nor did she encompass what other facets of the characters there are, and why this is good or bad, and whether this is a stereotype that harms or hurts, and how. IF she was a journalist (I do not consider her such so I’d prefer articles NOT to call her one) I’d call this shoddy journalism.
Moreover, I don’t think articles that talk about her being run out of the house by harassment from gamers are accurately delving into the situation. I went from blindly assuming “WELL OF COURSE SHE WAS, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE A MISOGYNIST TROLL TO THINK OTHERWISE!” to realizing that there are actually some major questions to be had here, and more that ASKING those questions doesn’t make automatic misogyny.
I have a HUGE problem with every single article Miss Leigh Alexander writes, and has written, because she’s a bully. She also has no interest in promoting good games, only her own, and those of her friends.”
Anon76: “Choosing to write an article, or distorting/omitting facts or arguments within an article, to deliberately persuade the reader to the writer’s point of view – whilst masquerading the article as unbiased fact. Example: http://gamasutra.com/view/news/224400/Gamers_dont_have_to_be_your_audience_Gamers_are_over.php“
Anon77: “Complaining overmuch about minor things that aren’t game-breaking or game-making, I’d say. Objective, of course, but I never cared about stuff like boob physics, or how many guys you have to kill in comparison to girls. Heck, maybe more boob physics would be good. Like–I guess the whole “Gone Home” thing. It’s cool, but not really a “game” per-se, just an exploratory area. I don’t know how to describe it.”
Anon78: “An extremely subjective op-ed, often controversially phrased or titled, positioned to evoke a particularly partisan or polarising response, a series of articles with a clear undercurrent of a social or political slant which the author(s) try to imply that readers that agree with that sentiment are ‘good people’ and those that disagree or fail to see it’s relevance are ‘bad people’ or complicit in the actions/thoughts that the author thinks are disagreeable. As an example http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-08-30-why-we-need-more-developers-like-zoe-quinn why not ‘we need more developers willing to create games that tackle mental issues’?”
Anon79: “I visit Kotaku alot, and I see it. I see Kotaku always giving an opinion on things. Superhero designs and costumes for example. Its always the same thing. “These Characters should be drawn a certain way. These Characters are portrayed as sexist objects. Milos Manara is a monster and hack”. Fact of the matter is….Comics are fake. They are Cartoon. Yet they continue to push this Feminist agenda on this and others. The Sorceress from Dragons Crown, Dead or Alive Xtreme. ect. ”
@DocBray: “Game reviews do push agendas, but they are pretty simple in my opinion. “You should bu y thisgame because…”, “You might want to hold off on this game because…”, and “You should not buy this game because…” are the three main ones! Haha! I don’t think people have any ulterior motives in reviews. They promote games they believe to be good. If good to them means in a social consciousness sense then I do not see a problem in that. Reviews are a product to inform, but are written by people with their own personal views and will always be subjective. That is not a bad thing to me either.”
Anon80: “Using your reviews to opine on social issues best left to opeds that you believe are present in the game, and trying to use the review process to push that. For example, reviewing Japanese fanservice games and spending the review criticizing the sexualization of the characters as sexist or misogynistic. Another example would be to review Western RPGs with criticisms designed to compare them negatively to Japanese RPGs (for example, criticizing the ‘make your own protagonist’ and its interaction with the world in comparison to the often fixed charaters in Japanese games).”
2. Do you think there are any “agendas” that are okay to push in game reviews, or not at all?
Anon71: “improving technology, telling compelling stories, making engaging gameplay. all of these are very vague and full of buzzwords.”
@bkiffter: “Yeah, game related ones. Like “It’s wrong to release unfinished/unplayable products”.”
Anon72: “Not at all”
@UnrealDonnie: “NO. Pushing an agenda intentionally skews truth for the purpose of telling a story, and does not belong in any form of journalism, whether it’s reviews or exposes or whatever. Journalism, even when written as an op-ed, should stick to what’s known as FACT, because otherwise we are manipulating information for our own beliefs, which is wrong. Intelligent debate, positive change, and a better society can only come from context, facts, and research, which pushing an agenda always ignores.”
Anon73: “Sure most agendas are ok. If you are a pc focused reviewer and pushes an agenda to get better pc ports, that is a agenda that has few negative consequences for others.”
Tom Anonymous: “The only agenda that should be pushed is whether or not the quality of the game deserves my money.”
@Jwguy0: “hat… is difficult. I would like to say that any ‘agenda’ that pursues the common good for all people, a Humanistic agenda, would be fine, but the problem with saying that is that people will always see things differently. What is good for all, in my eyes, may not be good to someone else. Generally speaking, as long as a person discloses their bias or intent and is generally respectful, I don’t have a whole lot against the idea of “many people, many voices”. In recent days, I feel like we’ve come under fire by people who say “many people, our voice”, though.”
Anon74: “If it makes sense, if the game itself is pushing an agenda, to fail to mention the agenda would be disingenuous. Don’t make the agenda the sole focus of the review though. It’s still a game review after all.”
Wait, yes. Selling games? I mean yeah, I have heard a LOT of ranting about how the AAA games have the game reviewers by the arm just trying to be like “We’ll give you a demo early if you’re good,” and I consider that a problem, actually something I want to fight! And yes, I have a problem with anytime someone is going to get fired for telling the TRUTH about a game. I think reviewers should be HONEST and PROTECTED from the AAA companies getting them in trouble. HOWEVER, if they honestly believe a game is good AND FUN, that’s great! SELL ME IT. Tell me why it’s awesome. Be a salesperson for it. But don’t use me, tell me I should buy something just because your friend made it. Not without at least saying “My bff made this, and I don’t even know any games not made by my bffs because I only talk to people in my own clique.” And if so… well then you probably aren’t going to be someone I want to read because the idea is finding out about stuff I have no access to. And while I may not have access to your best friend either, at least have someone who doesn’t know your BFF help test it out and tell us what THAT person thought.”
Anon76: “As long as it’s clear to the reader that an agenda exists, and any conflicts of interest are disclosed throughout the article, then i think reviews have the right to push whatever agenda they want. I’ll just ignore them as the reader. I don’t think it’s okay for a writer to push an agenda for their own personal gain (or the gain of someone they have a relationship with – romantic or otherwise)”
Anon77: “Nawww. Aside from the typical “Don’t be an asshole irl”, I think that we should try to keep any agendas out of a review. I don’t care if it’s right or left wing. Just. Out.”
Anon78: “No, not really – if a review veers to the point that it becomes so subjective that the author spends the majority of his time pointing out a particular issue that is not really an issue with the game itself but an issue with the authors view of it, then there’s an agenda there – doesn’t have to be a wide net conspiracy – it could be as simple as continually pointing out a single failing as an issue with a game in a review rather than games at large.”
Anon79: “None. Absolutely none. Videogames are Art. And nobody should scrutinize any videogame with an Agenda. Look at all the people who bitched about Georgia O’Keeffe or even Michelangelo’s David. These people are pushing their Political world view Agenda on them. “Put Pants on Michelangelo”. There is a really good episode of the Simpsons about that.”
@DocBray: As above.
Anon80: “Never. A review is an analysis of the game in question and its merits and flaws and a recommendation as to whether the game is worth buying or not. Opinion Editorials exist for you to discuss your personal beliefs about the industry – reviews exist so that you can keep gamers informed as to what new games are like before they spend money on them.”
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
“who is making that statement, does the developer agree with these statements? If the developers agree with feedback provided, then there is no problem, if not it means they are either valuing the potential income of listening to their customers over the artistic integrity, which can be a problem but doesn’t need to be, after all they are a company.”
Statement a: “As it hinders freedom of expression I have an issue with it. In my (cismale) opinion that is like telling a woman in real live who dresses (overly) sexy to wear something less revealing/more modest. Sexism isn’t defined by what is on display but by what the one seeing it thinks.”
Statement b: “Gameplay related, no issue (unless the dev receives death threats about it, then I have an issue with those).”
Statement c: “While killing real people is wrong (only exception: direct unprovoked self defense) the statement is IMHO bullshit. By the same argument Mario incites aggression against turtles.”
Statement a: “Yes- That’s the artist and developers decision. It brings up something completely unrelated to the gameplay for other nefarious purposes.”
Statement b: “That’s not agenda – that’s feedback and you know it.”
Statement c: “Agenda. It brings up something completely unrelated to the gameplay for other nefarious purposes.”
Statement a: “This one depends. What context is there? Are all of the women portrayed in overly sexualized manners? Who is the target audience? If there’s a legitimate reason for seeing them being sexualized and it being sexist overall, then I completely agree, change may be necessary. But if a few female characters are strippers and a large majority are just regular, non-sexualized characters? That’s when it ignores context and I don’t agree.”
Statement b: “This is more of a technical analysis. The weapons have what seem to be design issues, so the critique points this out so that the company can make changes to rectify that. I agree.”
Statement c: “This is a tricky one. I would lean more towards “no” because it seems to draw broad conclusions simply from the inclusion of real weapons. Does Saving Private Ryan promote war by including actual weapons? Black Hawk Down? I don’t see it. Instead, the games include real weapons for the point of immersion and realism, but overall is a form of interaction rather than glorification. Now if this statement was written in a way that could provide facts (like peer-review research) then I could see myself going more towards a “yes”, but as the statement stands, I don’t agree.”
Statement a: “I think this is really difficult to answer, if this criticism comes from the player base then sure I’m fine with it, but if it comes from a outsider that simply is offended by a game they would never buy anyway, then yes I would have a major problem with it. Criticism like this is subjective so the important part is to offer a best possible product the consumers will enjoy. What the cultural critic thinks is irelevant if it does not represents the opinion of the consumers/playerbase, or there are scientific research that supports their claim and explains why it is problematic.”
Statement b: “Same as above.”
Statement c: “Same as above.”
“It all depends on the context. There are games that are just outright crude in how women are portrayed. There are games that push it too far. However, not every game is sexist. Too many people go out of their way to find something to be offended by. That is what I mean by bringing politics into it. It’s one thing to call *Ride to Hell* distasteful in how they portray women, but it’s another to call Ubisoft sexist for not including a female
protagonist in the new *Assassin’s Creed.* The same applies to the others.”
“Overall, no, I do not. I have minor issues with something like the third, in which I don’t necessarily think realism promotes war; I am sure it can, but I also think that saying that using actual weapons from real world conflicts cannot be reliably considered a probable cause for war. In fact, I think some level of realism, especially in war-games, should be respected: war is terrible, and it is in our history… and we should not be afraid to examine it wholly and uncensored, even if it is a tiny thing like a real type of weapon. If you mean that these weapons are commercially available outside of war and adverts appear in the game clearly targeted to audiences that might be interested in harming others, then, I can agree with that, although I will say ultimately that a developer should have his own rights, and building a dialogue is important to maintain mutual respect.
In special regards to the first, I would like to point out that I don’t necessarily think this is incorrect (It is true. Sexism does exist and there are plenty of examples of hyper-sexualized characters in video games). I do, however, think players should ultimately maintain their own choice in how they represent themselves, female or otherwise. While it is a relatively smaller group of games, I am happy that more games with customizable characters have many variations of body-types and some even have the “body-slide” options, with a neutral, plain template for male and female characters, which I believe promotes individuality and allows everyone freedom to experience the game in their own ideal, whatever that may be.”
Statement a: “A creators art is their own. A creator is not going to strong-arm another creator into making design changes because they will recognize this fact. Creators need to have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to these people. If, however, a creator/company/etc. is receiving significant negative feedback from their potential audience, it makes sense business-wise to evaluate and make changes that make sense to you as a creator, but only if they feel it makes sense.”
Statement b: “I stand by the previous argument, and would add that community feedback is important, if the creator disagrees, they should stand by their work. If they reevaluate criticism, and the criticism makes sense to them, it’s their choice to make changes. It’s their work and their art in the end.”
Statement c: “I will now take the step to say, see my previous statements above.”
Statement a: “YES!!! HUGE PROBLEM!!!! I HAVE GIANT BOOBS IN REAL LIFE. It’s my freaking genetics, and part of my CFIDS. I think 1) it is NOT sexist to appreciate an amazing woman figure’s, 2) SAYING THAT IT IS SEXIST IS HETERONORMATIVE!!!! There are MANY women who also LOVE sexy women! LIKE ME. And I want to be able to enjoy the art! FURTHERMORE, don’t judge for me what is sexist in BODY TYPE my god! Body types aren’t sexist! Not even if they are based on models, which I would find ANNOYING, but not sexist, provided that they based their men the same way. Now if they based their men on animals, but all the women on supermodels, it would be fair to call that uneven, and beg for a change. Difference? Uneven =/= sexism.”
Statement b: “That is okay provided that you can explain why it’s boring (repetitive?) or unoriginal / counterintuitive. Ditto, please provide suggestions of how it may be done better in your opinion. Ie: “It would be better if it was more colorful to fit the rest of the game,” or “It would be better if it simpler so that it didn’t take so long to operate.” Or “It would be better if it was more creative, and ‘otherworldly’ looking to fit in with a space theme, instead it just looks like they copied weapons out of the Iraq War and put them in space.”
Statement c: “Ehhhhhhhh….. I don’t think that’s an okay statement because 1) you have to guess what goes on in the audience’s head, 2) “promoting actual weapons” is not automatically glorifying war, and that’s a huge leap in logic. Moreover, you need to show the actual correlation to make it not guess work. Instead, please say something like that realistic weapons make you uncomfortable with the grittier realism, so that it is clearly your own personal preference, and then if the game makes changes based on that, it is still their choice to try to please consumers.”
“Interesting note: each of these sentences start with “I think”. You’d find it more difficult to find the same sort of critical comments written from first person in a kotaku article. The first two are fine with me, so long as it’s an opinion shared by most of the game’s audience and not just a slew of review site writers. The third is tricky: it’s a change based upon a clearly subjective opinion (it’s easier for example, to define something as objectively sexist or not-sexist). But again, if it’s an opinion shared by most of the game’s audience, it’s not an unreasonable change.”
“NNnnno issues. The consumer wants what the consumer gets. Have to cater to your audience after all. ”
Statement a: “It depends on whether the game can add body types, or update them, but in the main, if the game is string for realism then it should be realistic, if the game is say imitating art genres then it should strive to make them apropos to that expression of art. Of course at the same time, some games such as Japanese have an audience that are vastly different in their gaming culture from Western gaming culture, so it’s sometimes important to take this as a consideration.”
Statement b: “Sometimes that’s a reflex reaction – “I’ve just started playing this game and I’ve not get used to playing it and I’d rather blame the game than persevere”, of course if you finish the game and the issue is still important, then either you change your buying habits or, when looking at other people having the same issues, it’s a bad game, pure and simple. Particularly in multiplayer games though, weapons are changed and game balance changes are made, some weapons are made a bit more powerful or accurate and so one, and others are nerfed”
Statement c: “Actually I think this is important, but perhaps not for the reasons you state, again as a matter of personal distance, I don’t see that in a world of creativity that a game company can’t just make a couple of changes to a helicopter and make up a new company name – helps them keep out of expensive litigation that in turn reduces their market cap and ultimately harms the industry production in the future. Of course some games, such as simulators, pride themselves on their realistic accuracy.”
Statement a: “I have issue with this. It is against the Artists Interpretation. Nothing in Art has to be Photorealistic. That would be asking Vincent Van gogh to change his work because he’s designing his subject a certain way. An artist needs to be left unfiltered. ”
Statement b: “Same Thing as above. Its the artists interpretation. Regardless of Audience, the Artist needs to be left unhindered. And games with “Boring” Weapons seem to be doing all right. I mean look at Call of Duty. it does well on its real life inspired weapons”
Statement c: “Now this I do think is an issue. That’s just advertising then. That and the NRA has used games as a scapegoat. ”
“I feel there is nothing wrong with them. Why? My view that reviews are inherently biased, and that isn’t a bad thing. Reviews, to me, are literally “I think you should buy this game, here is why.” How does someone expect there to NOT be bias? It’s a matter of finding reviewers who share your bias, and thus have similar ideas on what makes a game “good” or “bad” to you.”
Statement a: “I notice they said ‘poorly designed’, not ‘sexualized’ [PixieJenni note: Yay! I like you!] – they need to qualify exactly what is poor about the character design from an artistic standpoint (do they move in unnatural ways? Are they lacking features? Are the proportions off? Are they all the same?). Saying they’re ‘somewhat sexist’ without immediate prior qualification is a mistake, and that line should be removed. You can actually describe the flaws without mentioning if you think they’re sexist (all the female models being the exact same with the same proportions, all the female NPCS having the same shy timid voice acting and body language, are both examples of lazy character design firstly, and may evoke sexism because of that). Sexism is better handled in an opinion piece rather than a review, and while I feel you can mention if a technical element can be construed as sexist, the technical element should take precedence as its tied to the game’s functionality as a game.”
Statement b: “This is largely a valid criticism, though again, I would need to see the reviewer explain why and how. It’s focused on the game mechanics and the design, and on objective qualities that impact the ability to play the game. Describing some of the weapons and why they’re problematic is necessary. ”
Statement c: “This is pure opinion and has no place in review. There’s nothing here about the designs of the weapons, how they play, or whether they fit the setting. Whether or not using realworld arms manufacturers promotes war is a matter for an op-ed piece, not a game review.”