5 Ways Old-School Gaming Journalism Sucked
Shitty) Gamers have been obsessing over the belief that video game journalism has gone bad and is indoctrinating boys into "insert any dumb conspiracy you can find" ever since Gamergate in 2014.
While most pieces criticizing games journalism are just a poor front for rallying up kids against women and minorities, there's also the less talked about fact that a lot of pre-2010 game journo stuff is nowhere to be found on the Internet -- because it was too bonkers to stay online. Luckily, we've managed to dig up a lot of past examples that prove that, if anything, video game journalism used to be oh-so-much-dumber.
Yeah, You Think Reviewers Say Dumb Shit Nowadays?
Gamefan, one of the most popular gaming magazines in the mid-'90s, once printed and sold an issue containing a review that seemed like a collection of insane ramblings out of the mind of America's first racist gamer grandpa.
Gamefan blamed this on the ol' "rogue employee" trying to sabotage the magazine, but it was actually filler text they'd accidentally sent to print. We're surprised the rogue employee defense didn't stick, though, as we're talking about the magazine where an employee allegedly slipped acid into everyone's coffee and had the tripping-balls founder write a review of Cybermorph that also made its way into publishing unedited.
And it's not just a thing of "edgy" magazines either. The late Electronic Gaming Monthly once doctored a picture of soldiers mourning fallen friends and turned it into a promotional image for Soccom 2.
And, to brighten the mood a bit, we have IGN, the biggest gaming news outlet of all time, concluding a review by saying players would have more fun by slapping their cocks around. And you can still read it because they somehow didn't bother deleting it.
Sometimes, Reviewers Really Were In It For The Money
Relax, we don't mean media outlets were getting paid off by big publishers in order to write glowing reviews; some reviewers were just incredibly lazy. That's evidenced by Play Magazine's review of Sonic the Hedgehog, also known as both Sonic '06, also known as one of the most critically shat on games of all time. Attempting to go fast on water and against the tide at the same time, the once-respected magazine gave Sonic a score of 9.5 out of 10. Now, how much you enjoy a game is usually a matter of taste, sure, but Sonic '06 came out in a nearly unplayable state. Rather than accusing them of pushing an anti-penis agenda or some bullshit, gamers of the time criticized the review on how incorrectly it addressed the "merits" of the game, causing the magazine to cave in and lower the score ... to 8.5 out of 10.
But there's also the exact opposite of an outlet giving a high score to a game from a popular series they thought wouldn't disappoint. Mercury News published a negative review of the original Mass Effect highlighting problems they'd completely made up. Turns out, the reviewer was too lazy to learn that he could level up (in a goddamn RPG), so he tried to beat the game with a party at LVL 1.
And it wasn't an independent-only thing. The cream of the crop is a beautiful IGN review that scored Football Manager 2.0 out of 10 solely because they expected it to play like FIFA (despite having the word Manager in its goddamn title). The review ended up dubbed as the worst review ever written, which might have contributed to IGN issuing an apology and removing it from the site (but not internet archives).
Gaming In The Clinton Years (The Show) Was Unintentional Comedy Gold
All major gaming outlets of today make use of video in one capacity or another, and most of YouTube's biggest channels grew exponentially simply because of shouting at gaming content. It all had to start somewhere. George Woods' public-access TV show was one of the earlier forays into video games journalism in video format, and we're astonished that it didn't straight up kill the medium while still in the womb. Wood made a name for himself through his video reviews, which were so bad they seem like visionary anti-comedy in hindsight. Instead of addressing the games' technical aspects, Wood usually went on bonkers tangents like challenging the developers of Tomb Raider 2 to make Lara Croft go on a real challenge for Tomb Raider 3: overcoming cancer.
The breast kind, but of course. sigh
He also complains about car games not being creative, saying that they should feature the option to follow regular traffic rules as you do in real life.
In an F1 racing game, where getting to the finish line first happens to be the only traffic rule.
Wood's nonsense got a life of its own through a YouTube channel that changed its name to "gaming in the Clinton years," and a cult following that spawned various YouTube and Twitter accounts hellbent on not letting anyone forget the mad granddaddy of video game reviews.
Gaming Outlets Got Into Some Sketchy Stuff
When shady deals take place between gaming outlets and publishers, it's usually the journalists who push back against selling out -- to disastrous results. In 2007, Jeff Gerstmann, the then Editorial Director at GameSpot, posted a lukewarm review of Kane & Lynch ... then ended up fired for mysterious reasons.
Now, this likely being the first time you're thinking about Kane & Lynch in nearly 15 years spares us from explaining how right Gerstmann's review was. Still, it's possible that publisher EIDOS had been pumping some ad money into GameSpot to turn Kane & Lynch into the next big thing, so a meh review may have been a problem for them.
After a myriad of (admitted) damage control attempts by GameSpot, Gerstmann finally revealed that, yeah, they did fire him because of publisher pressure. He then went on to launch the awesome Giantbomb.com with various ex-GameSpot colleagues (who don't even know about this article and didn't give us any money).
This story might lead one to believe that gaming websites can hold a lot of power over the success of a game. Imagine if a big website reviewed a game their employees made. Wouldn't that be cra-- oh, wait … RPGgamer.com totally did that.
Objectification Was The Name Of The Game
We didn't read them all, but we're willing to bet that there's not a single old-school article about the Tomb Raider series that doesn't make an unnecessary mention of Lara Croft's breasts. It was so prevalent, in fact, that you could argue games journalism was a mere front for a competition about publishing the most embarrassing take on Lara's physique.
When not trying to get a fictional character to ask for a restraining order, IGN was either busy listing the hottest scantly clad models that publishers without enough faith in their product hired to attract gamers or getting very existential about it.
Interestingly, Kotaku, one of the "villains" of gaming journalism nowadays, has always been vocal against booth-babying events. Hmm, we wonder if the people complaining about journalists criticizing an industry using sex could be pushing any sort of weird agenda. But, before we ruin the mood with any sort of wise conclusion, let's instead take a look at the holy grail of bad games journalism: Ign For Men.
Though most of the content is now gone.
We still managed to scavenge their touching tribute to Aaliyah.
Top image: Eidos Interactive