Game journalism is in a very odd place now. We are stuck in a weird hinterland where battle lines are clearly drawn between top level game journalists and gamers. An ‘us versus them’ mentality is starting to prevail, a ‘you’re either with us or against us’ feeling which is only harming the ability to have intelligent and interesting discussion about games in general.

Just to be clear, it is not what is being discussed that is damaging, it is how things are being said that is the major problem. Whether it’s major game journalists arguing down from ivory towers or the angry, vitriolic shouting of the random person on Twitter, people need to pack it in if we are actually going to get anywhere in terms of discussing issues prevalent to games and their societal impact.

Whenever a big contentious issue comes up in the gaming space, it seems to be the same old story. People, whether they are a journalist or not, will usually end up either talking over or talking at others who disagree. Very rarely do people end up talking to people, it simply becomes a contest of who can shout the loudest and then censor the most people who have a contrary opinion. I don’t care which side of the argument you are on, as soon as you start actively shutting down or silencing groups because they have an argument that does not agree with your point of view, you cease to be credible. No matter how innocuous or toxic the opposing view may be, when you have to resort to shutting other people up or just not engaging with them as they are somehow ‘beneath you’ to safeguard your point of view, why should we listen to what you have to say?

The GSM Exhibit B

This says it all really.

The whole ‘If you debate someone with a toxic view, it gives them credibility’ excuse does not fly either. Surely, if you believe your argument is the stronger one, someone offering up their view which is easy to argue against and show as stupid is like shooting fish in a barrel. You are being given an easy way to not only show your argument off as the stronger one, but destroy an argument you think is silly. It’s a win win surely? This is not to be confused when an obvious troll is being obvious. If someone is just throwing insults at you and claiming it to be ‘an opposing view’, feel free to block away. No-one likes that in the conversation and all that does is add unwanted fuel to what is already, a raging fire.

Also, it is the binary view that many who jump into these arguments that doesn’t help discussion either. For many of the issues that cause these mass arguments, whether it is if games cause real world violence or if women are misrepresented in the gaming industry as a whole and so forth, there is no 100%, unequivocal right answer. Just because someone may not agree with one aspect of your view point, does not invalidate their whole argument and give you free reign to crush further discussion. There are shades of grey when it comes to these issues, a straight ‘it’s either one or the other view’ is reductive and adds nothing to the debate as a whole.

What is even worse however, is when people on either side of an argument claim victory in a debate, when all they have done is circled their argument round their respective echo chambers and blocked any dissenting opinion. Furthermore, when you proceed to gloat about your victory and do the equivalent of blowing raspberries at your opposition because you either get paid for your argument so it is therefore valid or have stopped any opposing opinion reaching you, you just look incredibly unprofessional and quite petty. Just because the people you surround yourself with also tow the same line, does not mean you are right to parade around as a victor.

The GSM Exhibit A

While the person being called ‘boy’ isn’t helping his case, the response to it might as well be replaced with the sound of a raspberry being blown.

We are at a dangerous crossroads here. The very fact I feel I have to write an article which boils down to ‘don’t shut people up because you disagree’ is troubling. If people continue to refuse to engage actual open discussion and continue to simply talk at or over every dissenting opinion, what is the actual point of game journalism? If we get to a point where it is celebrated that there is only one view and that any opposition has been silenced, we have failed at any chance of proper progress and growth as a medium. Letting everyone speak does not mean you have to agree, of course not, feel free to rip someone an intellectual new one once you’ve heard their argument but give people the ability to say their piece first, rather than just shutting the gate to your ivory tower.