What is political correctness? Over the course of the last few years the term has become a little muddied as a whole, because its definition means to not be “offensive”. Considering in this day and age we have people getting offended by games for having too much violence, sexuality or use of guns in combination with violence: as seen with the responses to up close and personal gritty kills in games like “Hatred“, it appears more and more that video game reviewers and video games journalists do not like the idea of reviewing an “M” rated game.
“M” rated games make up a very small percentage of the gaming market, in terms of how many titles there are, with the majority of games rated anywhere from “E” for “Everyone” to “T” for “Teen”. Though this does not take away from the fact that “M” rated games make up a huge percentage of consumer interest, especially when you consider a game like “Grand Theft Auto V” has sold over 60 million copies: a measurable fact which implies you have a bare minimum 60 million person market who needs good coverage of politically incorrect games.
It is no secret that one of my favorite video game franchises is the “Pokemon” series. If I were to for example, review the recently released Sun & Moon games, I should inform my readers that I am likely to be potentially more positive in my coverage of it then other potential reviewers. So when Ben Kuchera tweeted out that it is a “crappy strategy” to promote your game as being politically incorrect, it was natural for me to ask him if his coverage of “M” rated games could be trusted: seeing as an “M” rating can be seen as politically incorrect and also be seen as advertising it as such.
Since political correctness is about offense: Is he talking about all “M” rated games?
You see, a big problem in the video games industry right now is with those who cover it. They are becoming untrustworthy in the eyes of the gamers, the consumers, who go to video games websites to be informed of upcoming titles. Comments like Ben Kuchera’s lead people to be skeptical of how games journalists cover video games. When a video game can cost as much as 100 dollars to buy, especially when you are hoping to get a collectors edition, being able to trust the people who review these products is paramount.
There are many critics and reviewers out there who recommend against “day one” purchases, myself included, but there is a problem with that:
We should be able to go out and get a video game upon release, because the coverage we should be getting should be accurate enough AND fair enough that we shouldn’t need the opinions of other gamers, after the game is made available, to have a clear idea of the actual game we are about to buy. Yet, this is where we are.
People laugh at the idea that there are gamers who are stupid enough to go get the video game day one or pre-order it: because obviously you can’t trust the developers anymore to release a game without bugs, glitches or frame rate drops. You also can’t trust the reviewers and critics anymore it would seem, because those who were supposed to be the people that kept an eye out for that, who would inform you and warn you in advance against purchasing the game until the glitches were fixed: that system more and more often seems to not be in place.
If I review these games: Would you want to know that I am already a huge fan of Pokemon?
Game reviewers, especially those working for popular gaming websites, can get millions of views on one article alone and have the ability to make sure that consumers go in knowing what they are getting into. But instead they have let bias, and or the fear of losing their free early review copies, get in the way of properly informing their readers. While I don’t necessarily condone video game developers denying reviewers their copies, because it can leave gamers less informed, it is simultaneously hard to fault the game developers when you see how game reviewers mark down a video games score over themes and features that are obviously going to be contained within the game.
Two-word statements like: “Too Violent” 5/10 “Too Sexy” 3/10 “Too Difficult” 2/10, when used to describe games where you could garner that information yourself from looking at the screen shots, fails to provide the elaboration consumers are looking for. Why is it objectively “too difficult”? Why is it “too violent”? Why is it “too sexy”? More often then not questions like these go unanswered in the review, or the reasons are simply due to subjective, personal taste.
Political correctness is more often than not doing the same things to the “wrong” kinds of people
Now of course, reviewers and critics are allowed to have their own personal opinions and views as to what makes a good game or not. It does however raise questions as to how fair a reviewer can be with such a blatant bias, also as to whether or not they should disclose that bias to their readers: especially when many of them currently do not. A rise in friendships between developers and reviewers, or in some cases personal vendettas, have left the gaming audience more and more uninformed. Equally frustrating is a lack of disclosure regarding any absolute dislikes for specific genres or a strong personal preference of a genre. When the Angry Video Game Nerd announced he would not be reviewing the newest Ghostbusters movie because he knew he was going to hate it, several media outlets attacked him for not reviewing it: accusing him of being sexist. Though what he did do was what many video game reviewers often do not: he informed his audience of his bias.