Does anyone remember 2014? I do. Vaguely. I mean, it was an okay year. I remember losing a relationship and having to look like a total bitch moving back home. Graduated from college. That’s about it as far as personal things go. Though there was something else that happened. A big movement of online activism against corruption in games journalism that had very limited results because online movements rarely have much success. That movement was called GamerGate. Not gonna get into the long and storied history. Just type in InternetAristocrat GamerGate on YouTube and you’ll find a big compilation of his entire documentation of it as it was happening.
But another thing I remember is that the movement died in 2014. It burned bright and had lots of people on it, but then it petered out and life resumed with games journalism being just as bought and paid for as they’ve always been. You know who doesn’t know that it died? Games journalism! After all, every time they want to easily smear detractors without having to actually make good arguments, they just throw the word GamerGate into the article and boom! Instant clicks. It’s easy, it’s stupid, and those who do it are part of a wonderful world of people who don’t have a single journalistic ethics bone in their body.
Which brings us to today’s piece. An article written by a guy who wants him to have some of that SWEET click-bait-y goodness to his article, which is about as content-free as his contemporaries. Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.
If Gamergate was ever consistent at something, it’s that they’ve mastered the manipulation of the news cycle to their advantage by fabricating controversies predicated on an overarching conspiracy by “the left”, or “SJWs”, to perverse their entertainment.
Let’s not even get into how GamerGate is dead and has been since 2015 at the LATEST. I wanna ignore that for the juicier bit in this article. Their implication with this accusation is that everyone who thinks that the Cyberpunk 2077 controversies are bullshit is right-wing. That’s what they meant to say. If there’s one thing that games journalism was ever consistent at, it’s using a buzzword to vilify their detractors so as to not have to actually respond to them in a serious way.
But it was the “Gamergate” crowd who fabricated a controversy? Not you all for finding whatever you could latch onto with this game and running with it? Okay. Sure, let’s go with that. It wasn’t you and yours who made all this shit up. It’s everyone else. Why not?
Cyberpunk 2077 headlined Gamergate’s concerns as E3 just concluded, and it’s all for reasons not entirely unfamiliar.
*puts on tin-foil hat*
The tale started as everyone knows it did — Keanu Reeves in an unprecedented gesture walked into the Xbox E3 2019 briefing stage, and with him, he brought along the promise that Cyberpunk 2077 was indeed going to be the game everyone was bedazzled by last year.
Yeah, that shit was pretty cool. Your point…?
After the dust of the impressive announcement settled, CDPR released screenshots of the game taken on its PC version, and one of them included a an advertisement poster of a trans woman with her dick visibly bulging upwards through her apparel used to sell soda— it’s important to point out the controversy wasn’t strictly stoked by progressives, or even the LGBT+ community specifically, but it was more of a broad observation that if CDPR screwed up their PR campaign about the game previously, that it was quite indicative of a troubling trend in Cyberpunk 2077’s marketing that it doesn’t relish in the body-altering experience some trans people go through, and rather criticizes it without realizing how ironic that looks in retrospect. CDPR used problematic imagery to sell a game supposed to critique said problematic imagery — something was off.
Um…no. There’s nothing off. The world of Night City is one of corporate consumerism gone horribly wrong. It’s a world where people modify themselves into oblivion in order to chase an ideal of absolute beauty. It’s why we saw the trailer last year with the woman who had no mouth, because it was a cybernetic appendage she could put on. In this world, if you can use something to sell to people, you do. Whatever that thing is.
Here’s the thing about cyberpunk as a genre – it’s set in a future near enough to ours to have the cultural issues, but far enough to be believable about the technology involved. You see in this world that people are able to alter themselves to insane degrees. Last year, we saw a gang who took modification to such an extreme that they wanted to turn into machines themselves. This is a world where you can have whatever kind of body you want, so long as you have the money to pay for it. Not to mention that in this universe, the more you enhance yourself with cybernetics, the less human you are. Humanity is an actual measure in the pen-and-paper RPG.
Now, imagine that you are a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in your own body in this universe? Instead of having to go through intense hormonal treatments, you can augment your body however you wish. You can even finish your transition with your sex drive and potential intact. This is the world of Cyberpunk 2077. With this in mind, think about the fact that there are corporations who will do whatever it takes to sell their stuff to everyone and anyone who is buying. Why exactly is it that you wouldn’t exploit trans people the way you would everyone else?
But that’s called “context,” which is a term I know you games journalist types fear like the fucking plague. If you all could have any amount of nuance in what you talk about, what a wonderful world it would be. But then you wouldn’t get as many of the almighty clicks. Because nuance doesn’t make a good article. Nuance makes people uncomfortable. Yourself included. Having to think critically about things is more difficult. In this age of apathy, you can’t have things be too hard. Especially not when you have an ideological ax to grind.
A good gauge for the profile of a controversy is usually to type a neutral search term on YouTube and see if the first result pertains any closely to the terms being searched, or has it conversely been flooded by an algorithmically exploitative fit of rage and outcry.
An “exploitative fit of rage and outcry”? Really? It’s especially weird when YongYea’s video is there. I’ve seen him get worked up, but rage and outcry? No. When one of the AAA-gaming companies does some exploitative thing of their consumers, I’ve seen him get pretty skived about that. And I’ve never seen Cleanprincegaming get raged about anything. Do you even watch the videos you’re denouncing, or is that too much context for your uniquely-lazy ass?
The content of the analysis isn’t necessarily misleading — outlets like Kotaku, Polygon and Rock Paper Shotgun have all came out in mild reservations against the problematic depiction of Haitians and trans people in the trailer.
As is ALWAYS the case when these kinds of articles come out, it’s always just some mild criticism that people blow WAY out of proportion. Never mind that it was people calling this game racist, CD Projekt Red racist and alt-right (a buzzword that has lost all reason), and the creator of Rock Paper Shotgun saying that Mike Pondsmith is making terrible arguments to defend racism. But yeah, it was us who started this. It was all of us “right-wing” people (anyone who can prove I’m right-wing, give it your best shot. I’m an unapologetic liberal. But Khaled here couldn’t handle that nuance either. No, all detractors must be cut from the same cloth, lest they actually have an opinion worth listening to).
This was the same bullshit back in 2012 when Anita Sarkeesian stuck her ugly head into gaming. “She’s just making commentary, guys! It’s not like she’s trying to ban video games! She doesn’t want to change anything.” Years later, with her non-profit dying and as she desperately is trying to latch on to gaming companies, a lot of change has happened. Mostly because you all, games “journalists” (I feign to even ironically call you all that. You wouldn’t know the first thing about good journalism. If Edward R. Murrow could see what the field has become) took the banner and ran with it. Game companies saw that every major news outlet was saying the same thing, and believed that your view was the consensus.
They never did nothin’! It was those mean “alt-right” people! They are the ones who made this a big issue! Our criticism was so mile that it might as well have not even been there! *rolls eyes*
What that however was spun into, is this preposterous notion that the writer of the story in question was out to smear the game as part of a “larger agenda” targeting freedom of artistic expression — never mind that Gamergate contends heavily with the conceit that video games are art at all — when the pointed critique was more about the game’s thematic inconsistency, rather than its ineffectual portrayal of Haitians as having a natural inclination to commit crime, or trans people as… whatever the hell that poster’s artist thought they were.
This is what I love about people who do articles like this. You can just bullshit your way through whatever narrative you want, with no worry about contradiction. See, back in the day, when you printed bullshit, you had to defend yourself. And if you couldn’t do that, you had to print a retraction. But this is 5th Estate journalism. Online journalism. Where you can spin a narrative out of whole cloth and nobody bats an eye.
People weren’t accusing the writer of the Rock Paper Shotgun article of trying to smear the game as part of a “larger agenda.” We were accusing him of smearing the game for clicks. It was a hit-piece, designed to get people’s click fingers going. There’s that nuance again. Fucking up the narrative.
Also, where did ANYONE ever say that the game is depicting Haitians as having a “natural inclination to commit crime”? The fact that the Voodoo Boys gang is primarily made up of Haitians is inconsequential. That’s like saying that Cryps and the Bloods are primarily made up of black people so black people are inclined to crime. No, it’s just gangs who have these ethnic groups affiliated with them.
To the last point you made – the article was saying that trans people are able to be exploited just like anyone else! How is that so hard to understand? Do you not get how corporate marketing works? If corporations think that there is a market to exploit, they will! Look at how Disney talks about how much they LOVE diversity, but you don’t see any openly gay characters in their big movies? Why’s that? Gee, it’s almost like a major market that they want to appeal to has strict rules regarding depiction of homosexuality. That’s weird, right? I wonder who that could be… *cough*China!*cough* Or how Netflix made a reality TV show where they give two unemployed people a job and make their lives hell, only for them to find out it was all a gag. Showing that Netflix really does abhor the working class and has no problem fucking with them for laughs.
Corporations will exploit whoever, wherever, and whenever they can. If there’s a market to exploit, you better believe that those bastards have their fingers in the pie, ready to exploit the ever-loving fuck out of whoever it is. What is so hard to get about this? What part of that nuance did you social justice types miss?
“Is it so difficult to accept that Cyberpunk 2077’s world is the kind in which, people in general, regardless of race, just, kill each other for all kinds of fucked up reasons” says YongYea in his video commenting on the issue;
There’s one person who gets the nuance of it. It’s so weird that people are going after YongYea. A very safe content creator. I watch his stuff and I like it. But I acknowledge that he’s safe, as far as advertising and whatnot goes. And it’s weird to me that he’s being lumped in as a part of some GamerGate conspiracy. A man who has talked about how he has no problem with diversity in gaming and how he just wants it to be done with a deft hand. He’s some right-wing caricature now? That’s so weird, to me.
It’sAGundam also echoed similar sentiments, he further added a political dimension to the debate by complaining that “People are trying to interject their own politics and personal beliefs in a god damn video game based in a far-off dystopian future.”
I watch Gundam as well, and I don’t actually agree with him that no politics should be in gaming. I just think that it should be done with a deft hand and not feel out of place in the world one is trying to create. The problem is that so often, it isn’t done that way. Besides, his videos are never meant to be taken too seriously. He’s in it for the performance of it. To be entertaining. So is YongYea. What’s your beef?
LegacyKillaHD went as far as to say the original Rock Paper Shotgun article was a “hit piece”; and the tone of the rest of the videos follows accordingly.
It was a hit-piece, designed to get people’s click fingers twitchy.
What this has been furthered by is a defensive response by the creator of the IP CDPR’s game is based on, Mike Pondsmith, who has deflected accusations of racial inadequacies by advising that people dish it out to their racist uncles in a thanksgiving dinner, promoted the view that “the Animals” as a gang name for a predominantly-colored group is one of endearment,
What?! A term of endearment? No, you stupid fuck! He said that the Animals call themselves that because they want to be powerful, strong, dangerous, akin to a wild animal. Hence the name. What weapons-grade bullshit is that? Also, you have to keep the focus on the fact that black people are a part of this gang? When Pondsmith said that this gang is ethnically-diverse, it means that it has all kinds of people in it! Why can none of you ethnically-void hacks even speak about what he said with any amount of truth?! I don’t get why there isn’t a single one of you fucks who can do this.
And the bit about how, if you want to help with racism, actually tell your racist uncle off at Thanksgiving was funny. I still laugh. That’s called a joke. Guess that’s too much for Khaled to process.
It would be really hard to take away from Mike Pondsmith’s own interpretation of what CDPR has been making for the last few years since he’s more closely aligned with the project than pretty much anyone outside of the company, but what appears to have happened, is that Gamergate is taking Mike Pondsmith as a token black creative
If ANYONE is token-izing Pondsmith, it’s you! We aren’t saying that CDPR can’t be racist because a black person says so. We’re saying that Pondsmith, the creator of this IP, has explained where this perspective comes from. And his interpretation of it has more legitimacy than your stupid-ass, nuance-lacking, unrepentantly-biased reporting of it! You all are the ones who are saying that he’s a token, but just like any good far-right Christian, you try to lay that at the feet of your detractors. Because you have no good argument for your point of view. Just one based on your own opinions, indefensible in reality.
Gamergate dressing him with authoritative authorship serves a two-fold purpose: For one, it allows them to come out in stern opposition of criticism which they paint as stifling creators’ freedom of artistic expression, but it also permits them to shift the narrative away from the creative leads and portray the conflict as “PC culture” gone berserk. In both cases, the final outcome is heavily contrived, and is barely based in any grounding of truth or reality — it’s just yet another attempt by Gamergate to capitalize on the current popularity of a video game by painting its criticism as sacrilegious and unduly.
These people live in a fantasy world. People were accusing Rock Paper Shotgun and those who followed of trying to smear a game, a company, and the creator of the entire franchise, all for the purpose of getting clicks. That’s where this began and ended. But no. You can’t accept that. To do so would mean you have to look critically at your own medium. Oh no! To actually look at the ethically-void hellscape that modern games journalism is critically, I don’t think any of you would survive. Then you’d have to wonder if you are not making the entire concept of journalism a dead venture, where only the fastest to report on whatever scandalous thing gets those precious clicks and precious ad revenue.
But you’re right about one thing – this is heavily contrived. You’ve contrived a narrative that you can spin without any worry of any amount of opposition, where I’m sure the comments section is gonna be one giant circle-jerk. In the process, you’re also gonna prove a lot of points people have made about your industry, but still.
Furthermore, when “artistic freedom” is brought, it is only done in service of Gamergate’s ideological inclinations, rather than any impartial appeal to creativity no matter what part of the political spectrum it hails from. When BattleTech introduced the option for a gender-neutral pronoun, no such defense was invoked, and the backlash was instead directed towards the developers — who might I remind, should have retained full artistic control over their IP. The precedent for “creator over fan voice” just does not bear out.
This is the great thing about being able to smear people with a broad brush. You don’t have to even bother trying to be honest about something. Instead, you just say that all people in a group who you made up (because GamerGate is dead) all think the way that you tell your readership that they do.
Meanwhile, I don’t give a fuck about gender-neutral options. Never heard a word from YongYea, LegacyKilla, Upper Echelon Gaming, or even ItsAGundam. You took some loud minority of right-wing assholes being assholes (or maybe trolls being trolls. Everyone likes to forget they exist), and paint ALL of us us as thinking just like they do. You can have your opinions all day, Khaled, but you can’t have your own facts. Sorry to say.
It’s even more so the case when the call to collective action is intermittently placed along Patreon links when the authors of such ludicrous claims are already a comfortable level above the majority of their audience on both a financial, and a social level.
There we go! The other shoe drops. You are mad that people make money off their work. You’re made that people choose to pay content creators that they like money. Never mind that the whole reason Patreon has grown is because YouTube is now basically a unmonetized hellscape where making any money at all is next to impossible. So many channels who aren’t right-wing, but have honest opinions about what’s happening in the world get demonetized because their content ruffles feathers.
This is how the article ends, and it’s so fucking blatant what Khaled is actually angry about. So he has to smear everyone. Defaming whoever he doesn’t like all because they were mean to people in his industry and painted him and his out to be opportunistic bottom-feeders who wouldn’t know ethics if it reached up and bit them in the ass.
Until next time, a quote,
“Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians 50 or 100 years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there fine – recorded in black and white and in color – evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities in which we live.” – Edward R Murrow