As you probably know by now, gaming journalism… does not have a good reputation. It’s seen as corrupt, filled with obvious clickbait and flooded to the brim with articles based on questionable rumours from sources with absolutely no evidence behind it. Admittedly, that may or may not be a fair assessment of the field. But it’s definitely how the public think of it, for better or worse.
Yet as bad as the reputation may be, there are some examples of ‘journalism’ that well and truly live up to it. These include articles and videos based on questionable rumours, obvious clickbait made to attract pageviews from angry people and all manner of other things besides.
And so here they are. Here are the worst examples of gaming journalism in 2016!
12. SJW Says Super Mario Run is ‘Sexist’ Because She’s Captured in Super Mario Run
So let’s start this party with a bit of a bang. Or in this case, a delusional moron who’s never played Super Mario Run complaining that Peach being kidnapped is ‘sexist’ for the two hundred and fifty millionth time.
Of course, what makes it all more hilariously bad are the complaints brought up here. Oh no, she’s baking a cake instead of DJ-ing at a party! That’s a sexist stereotype!
No really, that’s actually from the article. As are comments about how the series should be ‘restructured’ to appeal to young girls. Because apparently Super Mario 3D World, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam and various other games where Peach is either an independent character or outright playable don’t exist, do they?
And to put the final nail in the coffin, this is in regards to Super Mario Run. You know, a game where…
Peach actually IS a playable character! No really, you unlock her as a playable character complete with floating ability after playing a bit of Toad Rally.
So not only is the article painfully outdated and cliché with its content, but it was clearly written by someone who’d played four minutes of Kingdom Tour and assumed Peach was only a damsel in distress. Hooray for thorough research there guys!
11. Destructoid Says Minecraft Billionaire ‘Feels Oppressed by Women’
But hey, at least Super Mario Run is sort of relevant news. Cause this Destructoid article (about an argument between Notch and Jennifer Scheurle on Twitter) really isn’t:
Basically, the latter posted a picture of a statue and said it was ‘Mansplaining: the statue’, then Notch followed it up with a comment about mansplaining being a sexist term and a joke involving the non word ‘cuntfusing’ some time afterwards.
Fair enough. It’s your usual back and forth between someone with more left wing political views and someone with more right wing political views. Like the other two hundred times it’s occurred on Twitter by now.
Which means it’s not newsworthy. Even if one guy was the creator of Minecraft and the other one was a game designer.
But no, they ran with it. What a pointless article to run on an otherwise respected website.
10. Polygon Tries to Play Doom
But hey, onto something a bit light-hearted now. Namely, Polygon’s absolutely terrible attempt at showcasing the 2016 version of Doom. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it:
It’s pretty obvious that whoever is filming this cannot play the game to save their life. Seriously, even the simple tasks of moving out of the way of enemy fire and not falling off cliffs while trying to shoot opponents seems to be beyond the person holding the controller.
Now admittedly, that’s not an uncommon thing for gaming videos. After all, if you ever saw people trying to play Mario Kart Wii before its release date, it was just one big cringey train wreck filled with karts and bikes flying off the road at every opportunity. And every Pokemon game seemingly gets recorded by an awful lot of gaming journalists and YouTube celebrities who clearly don’t have the slightest clue how the game mechanics work.
But here’s the thing:
Most of those were done by either one man bands or people whose jobs didn’t specifically involve playing games.
Polygon on the other hand, has a team of staff. Of which most of them likely have different interests and game genres they’re good at.
So here, someone who’s played an FPS before should probably have taken the reigns. That way, the video would have shown how the game actually works (aka when played by someone with any interest at all in the genre) and the site’s reputation wouldn’t have dropped even harder the minute the video hit the internet.
Still, it’s a simple mistake to make.
9. Metro Assumes Niantic is Making Harry Potter GO
Which is more than you can say about this one. Where the Metro newspaper is saying that Niantic is working on Harry Potter GO:
Sounds good, right?
Well, no. Because there’s just one snag here.
They’re not making Harry Potter GO. The original news story was from a questionable site (which might be rightfully classed as ‘fake news’) that ended up being debunked by Snopes.
And that’s not all! Because you see, they never bothered doing the research or actually looking at where the story came from. Instead, they found a random online gossip blog (which then quoted the fake site), and took their word as gospel. Great work guys! Not only did you not look up whether your source was a reliable one, but you never bothered to look up whether THEIR source was reliable as well!
Just goes to show you how much ‘research’ goes into news reporting this days…
8. Niantic Labs isn’t Making Pokemon Z?
Which is all relevant to our next item on the list, and perhaps another example of the ‘blind leading the blind’. Aka, Crossmap Christian News and their hilarious coverage of Pokemon Z.
Well for one thing, because there’s no such thing as Pokemon Z. Yet surprise surprise, the writers here weren’t having none of it. Since from the start of the year to now, there has been at least FORTY articles about a non existent Pokemon game. Are they trying to will it into existence? Eh, maybe.
But it gets funnier. Because not only do they clearly think Pokemon Z is still coming, but they seem to have also somehow thought that Niantic Labs would be developing it.
Quick newsflash guys: Niantic Labs only makes Pokemon GO. The main series games (like X/Y and Sun/Moon) are by Game Freak.
Search Pokemon X and Y or Pokemon Sun and Moon and even the Google sidebar will tell you this. As will Wikipedia itself. And any other site you might be checking for information.
Still, anything for those free clicks, right?
7. The Shufflegate Debacle
Just like here to be honest. Where despite all evidence to the contrary, a simple Watergate joke into Paper Mario Color Splash had half the press saying it was a GamerGate reference and threatening boycotts of the title in response.
And yes, it was as stupid as it sounds. For starters, the only similarities to either event were that the Toad promoter called it ‘Shufflegate’ and there were five Toad dancers involved in the plot. The actual mini game itself was literally just ‘which guy is currently holding the key’, in the style of those ball and cup games some scammers try and trick people with.
Secondly, you have to ask yourself why Nintendo would even include a GamerGate reference to begin with. Oh wait, they wouldn’t. This is the company that had previously got crucified by the media for firing Alison Rapp (based on the assumption GamerGate was responsible for it). The company that then got in even more hot water for calling GamerGate a ‘hate campaign’ in response to the controversy.
Do you really expect Nintendo would deliberately kick the hornet’s nest this hard again?
No, me neither. But some people did (including original GamerGate focus Zoe Quinn), so the internet got flooded with pieces about how Nintendo was including GamerGate ‘propaganda’ in their video games and how Paper Mario was making a ‘sick joke’ at the expense of so and so.
Talking about making a mountain out of (a completely non existent) molehill!
6. Cracked Complains About ‘How Games are Ruining Gaming’
And talking of mountains and molehills, how about this hilarious example of ‘journalistic’ stupidity from Cracked?
Yeah, I know. Cracked is hardly seen as a reliable source by many people. It’s a humour site based on a MAD Magazine type publication from the 80s.
But in the last few years, whatever accuracy they did have fell off a cliff. Why? Because the well written and somewhat amusing articles about trivia got replaced by pointless Tumblr drama and whining.
Case in point: This video:
It… really doesn’t take a genius to tear it down piece by piece. So why don’t I let a bunch of other journalists and writers do that for me? Like good old Troy Leavitt on YouTube:
Or Brad Glasgow, the guy behind the GamerGate survey:
Cause pretty much everything in the story is based on lies, exaggerations and poorly done non research. Oh, games focus on violence? You mean like every other medium on the bloody planet? Go on, look at the movies Hollywood is putting out right now. A fairly hefty chunk of those involve violence in some way.
Of course, just like games, none of those films are really ‘focused’ on violence. It’s just there because an alien invasion or a comic book adaptation or a horror movie kind of needs violence to solve the issue of the day.
How about that claim about how many games feature violence? Oh wait, that came from someone who is somewhat well known as being ‘absolutely batshit insane’ and had no evidence provided at all.
Or the one about how he can ‘only’ think of The Sims and Minecraft as non violent games. Okay then. Animal Crossing, every sports game ever (with note to FIFA, Madden, etc), almost every puzzle game ever made (from Tetris to Portal), almost every racing game ever made (well, the ones no more violent than Mario Kart), Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, at least one whole route in Undertale…
That’s off the top of my head. You could find 2 million more examples on Steam or the app store through minimal effort.
And that’s without going into the whole deal about ‘what’ counts as violence. After all, something like Pokemon has battling, but only a fool would class it alongside Call of Duty on the violence front (hey PETA!).
Either way, it’s a video filled with problems, and it’s rightfully been torn to pieces by much of the internet. Let’s move onto something a bit less grim…
5. Zelda Breath of the Wild on PlayStation 4!
Like this non story, where one completely clueless YouTube celebrity decided to make a video about…
Oh come on, the title gives it away. It’s a video about how the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild might be released on the PlayStation 4. No, I’m not making this up. Someone actually made this video:
Newsflash guys: Nintendo isn’t going to release a console selling exclusive on a rival’s system, especially not when right when they’re trying to get sales for a brand new console like the Nintendo Switch.
Really though, you have to be utterly desperate to make a video about this…
4. A Piece of Paper Leads Journalists to Believe Breath of the Wild is Cancelled for the Wii U
And talking of Breath of the Wild, that brings us to this cluster[BEEP] of a story.
Did you know The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was cancelled for the Wii U?
I mean, I read it on this nicely typed piece of paper!
You’re not buying it are you? No, me neither. Nor were most people who knew what they were talking about.
Alas, that still leaves a lot of sites that clearly didn’t have that level of common sense. Like this one:
Or this one:
And ReviewTechUSA on YouTube:
What’s worse, there were plenty of signs it wasn’t a trustworthy claim. For instance, the blogging site hosting the page (Blog.goo.ne.jp) is a free hosting site where anyone can set up a blog with minimal effort. Basically, it’s the Japanese version of Blogger or WordPress.com.
The blog that posted the ‘news’ also had no posts other than the rumour one. It was created purely to spread this rumour.
The Japanese used in the document was wrong for a business document, as pointed out by people on 2channel:
And well, the evidence itself was virtually non existent. I mean, a piece of paper with Japanese text printed on it? Really? That’s the kind of thing anyone could mock up in all of 5 minutes. It’s basically no more valid than a text post on an internet forum.
Basically, this is the kind of thing the most basic research would have caught. The kind of thing your teacher tells you to check before citing a source for a paper.
So why did it get posted everywhere? Well, I don’t know for certain, but my best guess is that it’s partly down to the news media almost fetishizing Japanese ‘news’ sources. What do I mean by that?
Well, I mean that there seems to be an assumption in the gaming press that being ‘Japanese’ (or perhaps even just ‘foreign’) makes a source more reliable. That somehow, something being posted on 2chan or in a Japanese magazine or on a random Japanese blog means it’s more likely to be accurate than the equivalent on an English or French or German website.
This is complete crap.
Every country in the world has trolls, liars and hoaxers. And even if they didn’t, almost every ‘service’ on the planet is accessible from everywhere in the world.
So if you see something unbelievable on a Japanese blog, it’s as likely to be fake as it would be on an English or French blog. Don’t default to trusting anyone as a source.
3. Games Industry.biz and the ‘Sin’ of Mainstream Video Games
Back to controversy now, because we all know that’s what’s behind most cases of journalistic incompetence on the list. Remember that Cracked video that I discussed earlier? How it was somewhat discounted because it was on a comedy website that no one should be taking seriously to begin with?
Well, imagine the same sort of thing, on an industry news publication. Because Game Industry.biz’s article about the ‘sins’ of mainstream gaming is literally about as poorly thought out. Except now it’s supposedly on an ‘industry leading news source’ aimed at people working in the video game industry itself. Here’s the link to the article:
So why is it so bad? Well, first you get the usual misguided comments about how ‘keeping politics about gaming was never an option’. Sure it wasn’t. This is so political, right?
And this is the most political game in the world, right?
Just like all those modern Nintendo titles, right? Pokemon Sun and Moon, Super Mario Maker, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, Kirby Planet Robobot and so many others… all the most political games on the planet.
But we’re not really talking about politics in games, we’re talking politics in gaming coverage. Guess what? It’s still perfectly possible to keep it out. Most independent gaming sites have. Just look at GoNintendo for example.
Either way, that’s just a minor point compared to the rest of the article. Negative about GamerGate and treating it like the downfall of society? Check. Complaints about white males, as if the only people supporting such things were some racist outgroup? Check. Comparisons of the movement to the IRA and Islamic State? Yeah why not. I’m sure that’s not gonna cause a huge commotion later, right?
It’s basically a big ol’ bag of everything social justice complaint about video games on the planet, with everything from GamerGate critiques to complaints of stereotypes in gaming (which are really just based on the context of the game more than anything else) and talks about diversity. Which ring hollow given the publication we’re talking about.
Honestly, for a gaming industry publication, this is an embarrassing article, and it’s the type you’d expect to see on Tumblr, not a mainstream news source.
Still, did you think that was a bit nuts? Well, the next two items are certainly something else…
2. Journalist Thinks Murder Should be Illegal in Virtual Reality
Talking of crazy journalist ‘opinions’, here’s a real screwed up article for you all. Behold, a ‘journalist’ thinking that murder should be illegal in virtual reality:
It’s the latest in a line of ‘virtual crime’ panic articles sparked by the similar ‘worries’ about virtual groping.
However, here’s the thing:
Virtual Reality… is not real. That’s why it’s called ‘virtual’ reality.
Remember kids, we’re not talking about The Matrix here. We’re talking about virtual reality as in video games. Where extra lives are cheap and ‘permanent’ damage to characters pretty much doesn’t exist.
If someone kills you in virtual reality, then you respawn. Or roll a new character and respawn/try again if it’s a game with ‘perma-death’. Either way, there are no lasting consequences for the player in real life.
Either way, the idea of trying to enforce real world ‘laws’ on fictional worlds is insanity, and the fact someone even considered this worthy of writing an article about makes it very much worthy on this list. Utter insanity, the lot of it.
1. Pixel Empire Stealing Content from Other Sites
But hey, even the insane are better than thieves. Because Pixel Empire (not to be confused with the t-shirt shop of a similar name) has become notorious for stealing articles from other video game journalists.
Well, they call it ‘reprinting’ anyway. But hey, they don’t actually have any permission to repost any of these articles, so it’s all stealing none the less. And as you can guess, the internet is not happy about this. I mean, just look at the discussions on their Facebook page!
You’ve got gaming journalists chewing them out for stealing their work. Indie developers practically threatening to boycott the site due to its unethical content posting practices. And perhaps the worst example of ‘damage control’ since Amy’s Baking Company to make it all the worse.
It’s a massive trainwreck, and perhaps the worst thing to happen to gaming journalism in 2016. Because of this, Pixel Empire takes its rightful place as number one on the list.
And that concludes our list. Did you agree with it, and think the articles included were some of the worst of the year? Or did we leave out other (far worse) examples that should have been included instead?
Post your thoughts on the matter at the Gaming Reinvented forums or on social media today!