Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
Who is my neighbor? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves here at Gamasutra. Here we have a community of game developers and enthusiasts united by a love for the art and a desire to see it grow and mature. You’d think that would mean that we as a global community would see each other as neighbors. But we don’t. And if we were to ever seriously consider the question in our hearts, who is my neighbor, it would cut us right down to the core.
Gamasutra is not immune to a certain intellectual elitism. In fact, it’s openly encouraged everywhere here, and even news headlines are written with contempt for games that are considered too mainstream. In the same way that intellectuals use the words “herd” and “mass” to describe those they see below them (and who must be destroyed), the gaming intellectuals here and abroad disparagingly use the word “gamer” to separate and “save” themselves from their neighbors all around them. It’s a common tactic of the intellectual, and it is especially common on the Internet, where reality can be disregarded entirely without nearly as much discomfort, and the only limit to your perceived superiority is your imagination.
But here’s the thing. Certain things happen to us that challenge our delusions. It may not even happen directly to us, but rather around us, near us, or somehow has come to our attention in one way or another. Those unpleasant things that remind us that we are not as great as we think we are. And whenever such a thing appears, in whatever form it takes, it must be destroyed at all costs.
This is the common lot of the AAA game, which regularly finds itself under the merciless crosshairs of its peers who are driven into a frenzy at its very existence. Its peers are both envious of its success and torn up inside over its (sometimes drastically) superior ability and beauty. And so its neighbors, including those at Gamasutra, pour over every last detail of the game in search of a weakness, and when they find it (and they will not stop until they do, although thankfully they usually stop after the first find) the Internet armies assemble, and total war breaks out against it.
I wrote about one example of it here, in relation to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. And I wrote about it again when the same thing happened to Assassin’s Creed Unity. The comments I got across the Internet were interesting, to say the least. The more honest commenters spent time reflecting on what was wrong with them, that they delighted so much in the supposed downfall of others. Others were puzzled thinking I’d written a piece of satire. Others accused me of being paid by Activision and Ubisoft. But the prevailing attitude was this:
So what? They don’t deserve justice.
This is the kind of stuff I see posted regularly across the Internet, and yes, even here on Gamasutra. When I called out this abuse recently in another news article whose author desired that the war against Assassin’s Creed Unity should never end, the top rated response included this little nugget, “a more representative picture of the game would be entirely missing the point given the context here.”
I want you to think about that for a moment. Representative pictures are completely missing the point.
Of what? Propaganda?
Today, the Internet is overflowing with warmongers, who love to incite violence against their peers, and it’s about time we’ve woken up to their evils, to oppose them instead of blindly charging after them into the battlefield. Can’t we see that we’ve been turning our blades against our own brethren?
At this point, the warmonger will reach for his shield. “Criticism!” he cries. “Criticism!” But for him, criticism is only a pretext for war. This is obvious by the way he nitpicks his way through a review or video, which by the end of it, can hardly be said to contain even a single piece of substantive criticism. As if a game could go from bad to great simply by fixing a few bugs that hardly anybody would notice. Or care about. But if you really want to cut into a game and destroy it, “any excuse will serve a tyrant.”
In reality, people do not want criticism. They want to see blood.
The good critic takes blood as a doctor might, and does so in a way that prevents unnecessary blood loss, but at the same time draws up enough for a complete analysis. His technique is clean, precise, and informed. Afterwards, there is no infection, and if the game is found to be sick and dying, it won’t be on account of the needle.
And then there’s the pseudo-critic who draws blood with a chainsaw, which he loves to let rip and roar as it tears through meat and bone. The ensuing scene is one of absolute carnage. Rare is the game that can survive such a procedure.
In criticism, the game dies from a poor prognosis. In psuedo-criticism, it dies in the examining room.
Next time you see a pseudo-critic tearing one of your neighbors to shreds, ask yourself, “Will I stand against the blood of my neighbor?”