"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." (sorry for the cliche)
This is my first and most likely last blog post I've ever made on this site. I have been a member on gamespot since 2004, and had been lurking around the site for much longer than that. I started gaming at a very young age and the first system I ever owned was super nitendo, though I used to play on my friend's Nintendo before I got my SNES. I've seen a lot of changes in the game industry, gaming journalism, and more specificially gamespot over the years.
GTA V is one of the most anticiapted games of all time, and in its first 3 days has brought in over a billion dollars. It is massively popular and with anything popular you are bound to get some fanatics. That being said GTA V has seemed not only to bring out the ugliness of the gamespot community but bring it to a level that I have never witnessed here before. The treatment of Carolyn Petit has been disgusting, cruel, and an embarassment to the gamer community as a whole. I am writing this blog not to defend Carolyn, she is a fully capable woman who can stand up for herself. This blog is a reflection on the behavior of the community which I consider myself apart.
Carolyn is one of the best gaming critics and reviewers in the industry right now. Her passion for games is infectious and she has an ability to capture the feelings of gameplay in words, better than most. Carolyn is paid to be a critic. A quick google search defines a critc as, "a person who judges the merits of literary, artistic, or musical works, esp. one who does so professionally." Carolyn being one of the top reviewers at gamespot was given/volunteered/took it upon herself/whatever, of reviewing GTA V. I haven't played the game yet, but Carolyn felt that it was a great game and after writing a review decided the game deserved to scored a 9. Which is an extremely respectable score by anyone's standards. Sorry I am taking this one step at a time, but people seem to not understand how this works. Carolyn who shares the view of most other critics and many of the gamespot community, believes that games should be accepted as art. So as a critic, she judged the merits of the piece of art. When judging the merits of a piece of art one of the questions that one must look at is "what is the mesage of the piece?" GTA has been known for their scathing satire of American pop and political culture. So knowing it is a satire it is her job to discuss how well the satire comes across, if it was effective, timely, or completely off base. I am sure people could write a book about everything GTA V was attempting to take jabs at, but Carolyn opinioed that the game either fell flat with its satire of America's views on women, or plainly held these misogynsitic views. Carolyn spent most of the review talking about the other merits of the game, such as graphics, gameplay, story, and so on. So in short she was doing what her job required. The review was then posted.
This is where the trouble began. People who have been anticipating this game for years, were let down that a reviewer didn't find this game they were waiting for as perfect. They disagreed with the reviewer and flooded the message boards to announce this far and wide. Maybe they didn't feel like games should be treated as art, maybe they thought that the gameplay was so great that people should look past the few graphical issues, maybe politics should not play a part in videogames, or maybe they believe that the satire hit every mark. All of these could reasonably and validly argued. But instead of arguing the validity of those views, people decided a better course of action was to attack Carolyn herself, and even go as far to demand her termination. The vile that was being spewed doesn't deserve to be repeated. Where did the members of gamespot get the idea it is ever okay to attack a person for their views? In society it is acceptable to attack the views themselves, tell her she is wrong about any aspect of the game she commented on. But it is NEVER appropriate to attack physical characterstics, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, clothing they wear, car they drive, and on and on and on. This isn't a matter of common curtesy, but it is the morally and ethically right way to behave; spewing these hateful things is nothing more than a reflection of the character of the person spewing them.
I used to be much more active on the boards around gamespot, but in the past few years I have become dramatically less. Maybe it's because as I get older I seem to have less time, or maybe it is because the boards and comment sections have become less engaging. Gamespot used to be a place where people of all ages would congregate to discuss video games at great length. It was inclusive of everyone, and eveyrone was entitled to their opinion. Yes fierce debates erupted, and console wars was just as harsh as it is today, but people didn't seem to live or die by review scores, or which console was selling better. People came here because they were gamers and though they disagreed they never forgot the fact that they were all connected by the same passion. Gamespot was a haven, gaming wasn't a mainstream, and there were a lot of gaming websites popping up all over the place, but few with an active discussion board. This was worlds away from flipping through a magazine, getting excited by a game and having no one tell, unless you called up a friend from school you knew was also a gamer. Gamespot offered a place where you knew everyone on here loved games and was willing to discuss them in great length. Don't get me wrong, people always kept track of review scores, and they'd argue till the cows came home about if a game deserved a score or not, however, it was never as big of an issue as we find it being today. No one was starting a petition to get a reviewer to be fired. Maybe it was because my generation was so used to reading gaming magazines with highly inflated scores or websites that were known to be tough reviewers, that we learned to read the text of the review and not get caught up by the score because we knew it'd vary widely. But now a days people see these score as a personal affront to their very being. I never recall people in great numbers coming out to spew hate speech over a simple score. Is this all just a case of Carolyn being right and because people can't find a way to refute what she is saying they lash out instead? How can a person's identity be so tied to a game score that they feel not only that it is necessary but it is okay to treat a fellow human as a lesser person? It moves beyond the scope of being juvenile and into hatred territory.
The latest feebackula was very well done. It is similar to what happened with Dave Chappelle when he left the Chappelle show. He left because he was starting to worry, that people instead of laughing at the satire becuase it was so tragic were laughing at him. The skits though were funny were also supposed to illustrate some serious issues in the world. I worry that many people missed the fact that Feedbackula was supposed to be making a mockery of those posts, and instead took that to mean that those comments were to be encouraged. If your post was selected to be in feedbackula you should have felt ashamed of yourself. It means you were at the lowest rung of posters here and not offering anything of quality with your comments. It saddens me that the GTA V episode even needed to happen.
In all this gamespot itself is not without blame. They have a pretty clearly set out list of rules and guidlines for posting. However, at least when it came to GTA V it didn't seem to be getting enforced, or if it was it was happening much too slow. It should be an automatic man or at the very least a long suspension for anyone spewing the types of comments we were seeing directed at Carolyn. No warning, just comment made, then send them on their way. Those are not the type of people who are going to contriubte to the community and by allowing them to stay around you are indirectly encouraging the behavior. I can understand that it can be hard, every user you can claim counts to your ability to charge more for ads, but there are certain lines of decency that you just cannot allow to be crossed.
I took quite the rambling way to get here, but my take home message is that the gamespot community should demand better of itself. People who know this behavior is wrong should speak up. You never know who is internalizing what they are reading on these forums; being hurt, feeling isolated, or indirectly targeted. These comments are not funny, they are hateful. We can do better.