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  1. When I was a child, I was not yet hooked to reading video game content online. My focus was on video game magazines. These colorful, ad-filled pages appealed to me and made me feel as if gaming were a massively accepted medium. After all, why else would the subject see coverage via so many magazines and issues? Although the surviving game magazines have likely changed their tone, there was definitely something about the old ones that really pandered to a child“s mindset. At the current state in my life, though, I have definitely embraced the internet as a go-to source for gaming news and editorial content. However, I now stray from the simple reworkings of press releases and seek out the voices speaking about topics I“m interested in and that go beyond the “norm” of what gaming journalism has always appeared to be. People have taken to talking about games as well as their surrounding culture. Sometimes games are even a tangential part of the writing which can cover a variety of important issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and more. We have seen more and more big name sites attempt to address more serious issues over the past few years. Why? It appears to be because there is an audience for this material. Although we are all aware that gaming as a hobby is not filled with just one type of person, many writers had previously been content to write for that “one” type. Social media seems to have influenced the change where we are now able to see writers working to cover gaming in ways that were previously relegated to smaller sites. Now, Destructoid, Polygon, and Kotaku have injected their sites with a fair lot more critical content. But are game journalists prepared for this transition? Some are already able to write effectively about often confounding concepts such as privilege, speak about status as a minority in game development, or otherwise just be a fantastic advocate for many causes. However, there are also a ton of journalists who fit fairly close to the mold of what a gamer has often been considered (i.e., a white male). There is nothing wrong with considering yourself as white and a guy. There is no need to fear being yourself or necessarily needing to reject the life you“ve been given if it is fortuitous. It just happens to be the case that some of these individuals are unaware of the struggles that other races, genders, or body types may experience. Sometimes their stories may be incredibly similar, but there are many reasons why systemic inequality causes minorities to have their own set of problems. With that said, it is not impossible for the “white male” to learn about the complex struggles faced by those outside his group. It is not impossible for them to make friends outside of their group and begin to understand what happens and why. The term "advocate" means someone who is willing to stand up for another, and there are many advocates for differing causes of all races, religions, nationalities, genders, age, and the like. Of course, by leading into things this way I mean to state that while all of this is possible, many gaming journalists do not appear ready to be an advocate for much of anything other than games. Readers definitely want a writer who cares deeply about games. But as we see more “serious” articles emerge, more big name writers are jumping on board without the proper preparation. This lack of preparation may not bother many readers, but definitely can cause animosity among the supposed minority audience who also visits these sites. Of course, social media only intensifies the problem since many involved in gaming in some fashion end up putting their foot into their mouth at some point because they are tweeting so regularly. One horrific example of a gaming journalist not comprehending lifestyles beyond his own occurred a few months ago. Former Destructoid Editor Allistair Pinsof had discovered a crowdfunding campaign (which did not get funded in the end) where a woman, Chloe Segal, stated she was in need of lifesaving surgery and was offering copies of her horror game Homesick as backer rewards. Assuming the hat of an investigative reporter, he contacted and began to speak with her in order to understand the nature of her needs. Presumably, he only did this because of the tangential relation to video games in her campaign. In her depressed state, Segal shared personal secrets with Pinsof because she trusted him and had few people to talk to. One secret turned out to be that she was a transgender woman and the lifesaving surgery in question was that of gender reassignment. However, things quickly spiraled out of control as she attempted suicide at a later date. A day after she had left her suicide letter on a forum and was believed in dire trouble, Pinsof chose to tweet that Chloe had been deceptive all along and did not need a surgery, and rather only “wanted” one. He outed her in an incredibly public forum under the name of journalistic integrity. It“s likely that many agreed with his choice to do so, but regardless, they still should recognize it was done with incredibly poor timing as well as wording. A woman so depressed to attempt suicide would have a far worse climate to come back to with her intimate secret exposed to the internet. Thankfully, Segal survived and has since started a new campaign which clearly states her surgical needs. Pinsof did not know - and continued to remain ignorant - about why outing someone as trans could have been a big deal. Although it was not a long form piece he wrote, he showcased a huge amount of ignorance which is prevalent among many game journalists (and players). Of course, he is not the only person guilty of ignorance, this is just one of the worse examples in recent memory. Time and time again, new articles are written which share tremendous degrees of problematic content without even realizing it. Other times they recognize something may be off, but stubbornly fight back, as Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik is known for. One stranger example of a real disconnect between writer and reality is Ben Kuchera“s piece titled “Kotaku“s nerd-shaming article about Bronies is both nasty and unnecessary”. Ignoring Kuchera“s unusual habit of responding to a great deal of things with why they are wrong or right, I found this article in particular to be a bit odd. No, not because it relates to Bronies, but because of the way it is written. There is no doubt in my mind that males wearing My Little Pony garb at school or work can get teased or bullied. As for the online component, I have seen it myself, although it is not as common as Kuchera makes it out to be. The strikingly strange thing about the article to me is why this is the type of thing Kuchera chooses to focus on. Was he just low on topics? When there is a wealth of serious cruelty going on in regards to many minorities involved in gaming he chooses to espouse the importance of not hating on Bronies. It“s true that everyone“s suffering is important and that we should be an inclusive community, so why not write a longer piece about that with simply the lead in being about Kotaku“s article? “We need to stop nerd-shaming” is a true statement to make, but we also need to stop the culture of "othering," which expands far beyond so-called “nerdy” Star Wars vs Star Trek or PlayStation vs Xbox vs Nintendo stratas. In the case of these, you at least would likely never have your life legitimately threatened. If the current gamut of game writers are unable to tackle social issues adeptly, then why doesn“t the community form their own alliance of writers? There have been multiple attempts by individuals and groups to do exactly that. The issue lies with the fact that many individuals who have the best understanding are the ones who have gone through great struggle themselves. African Americans, racial minorities, disabled, and others are more often relegated to a lower socioeconomic status. LGBT people often battle addiction due to rejection of their lives from those important to them. With a community who needs to work like hell just to survive, they are not nearly as able to simply write long form posts whenever. You could then suggest they simply get in with a big, paying site but that is obviously easier said than done. With the number of “big” gaming sites dwindling, there are only so many places to apply. Without a large enough catalog of work, you are likely ignored. However, even if you have been writing consistently, and well, for years you may still be ignored in favor of someone the manager is friends with. This happens in all work environments, but is especially insidious in game journalism where all the big names seem familiar with each other. They have the ability to bring in fresh, different opinions but they choose to remain stagnant. Despite all this, a crowdfunding campaign went up to create editorial content by socially conscious writers that are lacking from most major sites. As you might expect, though, it has been a hard sell. Although Re/Action Zine has seen tons of hits and already (one post prompting IGN to change their moderation policies) has a collection of posts there is still something keeping donations away. It seems that, although many major writers and fans publicly state that games and games media “need to change” and that “we need to do better”, they are unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. They are not prepared for change at the moment. Again, I do not mean to single out any particular writers because a great deal of them have had their own obscenely problematic content. These scenarios are just smaller illustrations of a much larger issue. As game sites attempt to provide “high brow”, serious critiques they must be aware of what they are saying, and at this point, it appears that most journalists have a long way to go.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Giant Bomb's Ryan Davis Has Passed Away

    Giant Bomb is one of many gaming sites out there, but one of the few that has managed to craft one around the personalities of site staff. Each member of the crew has their chance to shine and many site members become fans and friends with them. Launched in 2008, Giant Bomb has continued to grow in popularity and still never lose touch with the community that has gotten them there. Today a post has gone live on the site which simply states one thing. Ryan Davis, 34 years old and newly married, has died. Davis was the co-founder of Giant Bomb alongside Jeff Gerstmann. Despite his high ranking status for the site, he was always around to provide new videos for many Giant Bomb series such as Unprofessional Fridays, Giant Bombcast, and I Love Mondays. This is a profound loss for the Davis' family, site's staff, community, and the world of gaming journalism in general. We at Game Podunk wish the best for his family and friends and hope for the continued popularity of Giant Bomb for years to come.