The Jimquisition Tackles Gamer Entitlement

It’s Monday, and that means it’s time for the latest video from Jim Sterling, reviews editor for our sister site, The Escapist. This week’s topic hits especially close to home, as Jim is investigating the oft-misused idea of Gamer Entitlement. It’s a topic we’ve talked about a lot, especially as it pertains to the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle.

Jim explains what entitlement actually is, where it exists, and more importantly, where it doesn’t. My personal favorite quote, and some great advice for all you gamers out there, was this one:

“I would like to instead encourage gamers to wear their entitlement on their sleeves, to continue to call out companies who put their short term love of cash above not only consumers, but the long-term health of the games industry as a whole, because you’re the fucking customer – and your job is to look out for yourself in just the same way.”

Enjoy!

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12 Comments on The Jimquisition Tackles Gamer Entitlement

R.J.

On February 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

I had forgotten about that joke of an article on IGN. I don’t think you’re ever going to get an honest answer from anyone, regardless of who it is, if you ask, “Why don’t people like you?” So the sheer pointlessness of that article is funny to me.

I certainly don’t expect reviewers or other gamers to agree with my opinions, but I will question someone like IGN’s Colin Moriarty’s opinion as a journalist when his coverage of something as big as the ME3 ending was summed up by him as, “People are angry about the ending because…that’s it they’re angry about the ending.” I wouldn’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I would expect them to do their jobs and investigate prior to forming whatever opinion they have.

Derek

On February 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm

“Once you start imposing your tastes on others…you cross the line from reasonable to bratty.”

So what? That’s how you convert them. That’s how you get people off the consoles and onto the PC where all true gamers should be. That’s how you get the mindless peasants content playing only COD, WoW, or League of Legends to actually play good games.

It’s sad but true that the best video games have the least marketing. And it’s also true that such games are handled by the developers who actually pay attention to their customers.

lol

On February 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

lol gamer and consumer aren’t the same thing.

Much less gamers around these days.

thedog

On February 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

As far as reviewers go, it all depends on how it is written. I’ve seen reviews that I didn’t agree with but could see their point, and they could see mine. I can respect a review that’s done well, even if I don’t agree with it. I’ve also seen reviews that treated its readers as children, and berated them if they had a different opinion. Very narrow and closed minded. If tore into a few writers for there lack of vision, and their one sidedness.
I’ve seen writers who are big fans of something, and their writing shows it. They are not objective and only point out the things they find positive leaving the negative aspects out. As a writer, they need to bring out all aspects, good or bad, out into the light so we the public are better prepared to decide if we want it or not. Those who don’t deserve to have their collective as-ses handed to them in a sling.
I’ve also seen writers who get very defensive when they are questioned about their opinion. They can get downright rude sometimes. For them, I will throw a barrage of very nasty comments and jokes about their lineage, and or, intelligence (or lack of usually). That’s usually rare though.
AC3 was another game that a lot of reviewers only brought out the positive and left tons of negative out. Reviewers need to be held accountable. It’s one thing to have a different opinion, it another to glorify something in such a way that its made out to be something it’s not.

AxΣtwin

On February 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

@ Derek – That reply is EXACTLY what Jim was talking about. I don’t know if you’re trolling or if you’re serious, I do know there are those that would say this in seriousness. So I don’t want you to think I blindly accepted your troll-bait, if you are in fact just trolling then what I’m about to say won’t apply to you but it will apply to those that think like this.

So what if a person spends most of their time playing CoD or WoW or even LoL? Who says these are “actually good games”? There is no secret high council of gamers that passes down decrees whether or not a game can be enjoyed or not. There is no Pope of gaming telling players they are sinning because they enjoyed World of Warcraft. So who are you to determine which games are worth playing?

In the end what really matters isn’t if a game is “good”, it’s whether is fun. The worst crime any game can commit is to be boring, not “bad”. Bad games can still be fun, in my opinion a prime example of this was Too Human. Really bad game, but still really fun to play. I know others would argue Alpha Protocal. The game was universally panned by critics, yet it has a pretty loyal following because it’s fun to play. You might not think those games are fun, but that doesn’t make those players wrong. If “yes it does” just entered your head, congratulations you’re an entitled gamer.

Dobbie

On February 18, 2014 at 1:27 am

The most amusing thing is when reviewers call their readers ‘entitled’ or ‘babies’ while acting like complete entitled babies themselves, demanding their obedient voices are head above those who are dissatisfied, even if the dissatisfied party constitutes a clear and provable majority. OPM in the UK mastered this act of institutional failure to a tee over the ME3 ending debacle, deliberately missing the point and misleading the audience which simply wouldn’t bite on its obvious baiting and sent their credibility down the toilet until they had no choice but to treat it a bit more maturely (which still meant they were completely dishonest and partisan, but at least stopped calling people names if they didn’t agree with them). The funniest part was that they even admitted that 82% of people in a poll of over 30,000 (and this was at the start of the backlash, so it’s into at least the hundreds of thousands by now) hated the ending, then proceeded to make no effort to look into why this might be and instead threw mud again. The next month they had a “debate” in which the person saying they shouldn’t change the ending was your typical sycophantic, sneering fantoy saying people are too stupid to know any better and we shouldn’t question the creative process etc (he later tried to tar people who hated the ending as homophobic because of a completely separate, valid criticism of male Shepard suddenly having the option to spontaneously enter a same sex romance with no explanation in the third part of a trilogy in which he’s always been straight – a writing flaw, but don’t let that get in the way of blind social pandering) and the person who said they should change the ending said so because he thought they could charge money for it – and still called the players whiny children. Oh, and he’d never played Mass Effect in his life, he even admitted as such.

Thankfully, as I already mentioned, most people saw through this as the disgusting ad hominem nonsense that it was and forced them to act like proper journalists, as they should be. Of course, even this example of holding people to account for blatant unprofessional conduct in a publication that cost £5.99 per issue would be seen by the less critically capable as ‘entitlement’ simply because it wasn’t blind and accepting. Unfortunately we live in a world that routinely punishes independent thought and rewards (or just refuses to challenge) the status quo. Until that changes, the games industry will never improve.

lloyd bartlett

On February 18, 2014 at 4:48 am

following dobbie’s comment about opm, here’s a list of the guilty names so you’ll know never to take a single thing they say seriously if you’re ever unfortunate enough to encounter their work (not that anyone in the us ever would since they’re even relevant in the uk).

phil iwanuik (the fantoy who called fans entitled then months later admitted he knew what the real reasons were behind the backlash, proving that he had been lying through his teeth and trying to deceive people for ages on what it was about)
andy clark (a man so insidious and so desperate that he tried to portray people who hated the ending as racist and also said bioware should ignore them or it would be bad for the industry)
nathan ditum (the guy who had never played it but still felt it right to pass judgement on those that had)
leon hurley (who attacked those that raised $80k for charity, something which i didn’t realise could ever be considered a bad thing)

all four of these men committed a shameful betrayal of consumer loyalty and journalistic integrity during their targeted smear campaign and damage limitation on behalf of ea and bioware. and the editor at the time this was all going on was ben wilson, so he has blood on his hands for letting this happen and likely endorsing it every step of the way. the only person on the opm payroll with the sack to admit he didn’t like the ending was dave meikleheim, and even he could only say it in a way that suggested it was no big deal because it was only a small percentage of the game’s content.

remember, it’ has official in the title. you’d expect some degree of impartiality or at least fair representation but they didn’t even try, which is why they are now laughed at as are their xbox counterpart oxm which said pretty much the same things only slightly more diplomatically.

thank goodness for gamefront and its community for restoring a bit of sanity to gaming.

Frank

On February 18, 2014 at 7:28 am

I’m not sure I can even be bothered replying to lol. This is the same person who keeps resorting to fallacies like the appeal to the majority, then in the same sentence will say “gamers today are like this” indicating that he is in fact in the minority – thus negating his own logic since in his mind only the majority opinion counts, so if he’s not part of the majority then he isn’t saying anything worth listening to. Also, he tried to claim that the Nuketown DLC fail (where pre-order DLC was pulled within a few days of BLOPS2′s release then put back online after people rightly complained that they’d pre-ordered the game on a false assumption) was a “courtesy,” and that the price you pay for a game is a “gamble,” so it’s pretty clear he thinks gamers should just swallow everything offered to them and never complain even in the case of false marketing. Unfortunately for him, the actual majority of gamers – aka those that buy their own games instead of having them bought for them by their parents as lol does – do not want to be treated like whores and want to know that what they receive for their rather large financial commitment is going to be what they were told they were going to receive. The idea that gamers and consumers are somehow mutual exclusives is a belief that is not only asinine, but is incredibly dangerous and needs to be dissuaded at every opportunity. It’s to the benefit of not only gamers, but the developers and publishers themselves that we continue to be analytical (while fair, obviously) and hold them to account when they lose their way instead of burying our heads in the sand while demanding another plate of excrement. One of the main reasons for the videogame crash of the 80′s was oversaturation of substandard games that went unreviewed and unscrutinised by an apathetic audience. It’s important we don’t allow that to happen again with subservience and realise that views such as lol’s are, fortunately, not as popular as they once were.

As for Derek, there are no words. Just none. Utterly banal, arrogant and separative comment that is beyond my contempt.

Dan Miller

On February 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

No matter what you expect from a review, the Gamefront Mass Effect 3 review is probably the best example of the disconnect between what an intelligent reader of game reviews expects, and what the reality of running a gaming reviews site presents.

Here’s that review if you are interested: http://www.gamefront.com/mass-effect-3-review/3/

The most notable feature in retrospect is the complete absence of any mention of the ending. Given what we know today, this is a total failure of assessment. It’s not that he liked the ending, or disliked the ending. Obviously, Phil just didn’t finish the game. Hardly an uncommon practice in game reviews to post a review of a long game before beating it. If we always asked a reviewer to finish a game before forming their opinion, we might have NEVER had a review of FFXIII-2!

But it highlights the disconnect between reader expectations and the pressures of publishing reviews. If a game is just a piece of software and I need a rough idea of whether that software is a worthwhile upgrade over something else (should I get CoD 12 or keep playing CoD 11?), Phil’s review is adequate. He highlights the upgrades over ME2 specifically in the ultimate sentences: “RPG elements feel like a step up from Mass Effect 2″ “Scanning sucks less”. The purpose of this review is clear – to tell you if this game is better than ME2. And the method of doing so is blatant – a direct comparison of their features.

But I’m an “entitled” gamer. I want two things: 1. my games to push the boundaries of video games as a story telling / entertainment medium, and 2. my reviewers to quit reviewing games like they are new versions of excel. On Mass Effect 3, I had a lot to be disappointed with. Gamers were disappointed with the game specifically, yes, but like me, they were also just frustrated that we’ve fostered a review culture where it’s both acceptable and normal to publish a review without even experiencing the full narrative. Multiple outlets, if not the vast majority, published positive reviews without mentioning the ending. Can you imagine any other critical discipline where the climax of the plot is ignored in an assessment of the work? It’s embarrassing.

Phil Hornshaw

On February 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

@Dan Miller

Yes, I did finish it. I’ve talked at length about the fact that I feel not talking more about the ending at the time was a failure on my part (I can’t speak for other reviewers as to whether they just missed it or what, though). The situation was that I marathoned the entire game in the span of roughly two days because of when we were able to procure a copy (I actually purchased it from a local shop that sometimes breaks street dates; no early copy from EA for us). I abandoned side content along the way in order to finish it (Rannoch was a hot mess for me). I barely slept so I could finish the review on time. And frankly, I thought a better ending was out there and that I hadn’t managed to earn it, and I did a bad job reviewing the element of the game.

All those items above are reasons for the review in the state it was when I wrote it, but I don’t mean them to be excuses. The fact is, at the time, the ending didn’t hit me as hard as it probably should have. But we spent the next two years analyzing it and reanalyzing it. Because a critical discussion is difficult if not impossible in the span of a 30-hour all-night marathon culminating in ripping through a review as quickly as possible to beat an arbitrary deadline, but if we don’t do it that way, it gets harder to stay in business.

I do, however, stand by the score, ending issue or no. The bulk of Mass Effect 3 is good. Its improvements over ME2′s watering down are important, especially for fans of the series waiting for gameplay improvements. There’s a lot to that game, and the ending is not the only thing that required evaluation. But I think I failed to adequately evaluate the ending. Those second and third and fifth looks at games are why we continually keep writing about games on Game Front, even after they’re fading from timeliness.

Anyway. Just wanted the record to be straight: I finished the game, and the failing wasn’t with our policy but with me and how I perceived the experience at the time. In fact, no game review appears on Game Front in which the game went unfinished. That’s our policy, and we let embargoes go when we have to. I wish I’d spent more time thinking about the ending before sitting down to write my review, but part of the situation was that my estimation of the game wasn’t destroyed by its ending. It still isn’t.

I guess my point is that if one review were the end of critical discussion about a game, that’d make for some very short, very boring conversations. As you mentioned, journalistic reviews often get mired in (and must discuss, if we’re being realistic) the more technical, more dry elements of what users expect a game to be. But I think too much emphasis is placed on reviews anyway, and that’s why we often add more critical analysis to games; reviews aren’t always adequate. Distance, time, perspectives other than our own — they all add to our ability to analyze games well.

Rawls

On February 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Dan has a point, but to take it in a slightly different direction it’s worth mentioning that several positive reviews actually did mention the ending in passing and said really ambiguous things like “the ending won’t please everyone” or that it “will have people talking.” It’s pretty obvious from these few examples that the reviewers in question struggled to really know what to make of it, because they reviewed the game in a complete vacuum under time pressures, and therefore didn’t have enough time or enough freedom to properly think about what they’d just seen. Not to mention that much of the examining of the ending and why it didn’t work was only possible due to gamers talking to each other about it and forming a consensus of sorts, which obviously is not possible for a reviewer going on his or her own judgement with a bunch of leering colleagues and expectant lobbyists demanding a fair review. You’d have thought, therefore, that the weeks after the game’s release would be welcomed by these reviewers as they would therefore have permission granted to them by the audience to actually think freely and look back on what they’d said, and how perceptions can change when the game is seen as a whole or when looked at in a different light. Instead, almost all of them just decided that they didn’t need to evolve their opinions and would instead stick to their incredibly limited, insular first judgements as if that’s a positive thing to do. It’s to GameFront’s credit that they actually took the time to listen to what the fans had to say and adjusted their outlook accordingly, because nobody else in the mainstream outlets did as much until a begrudging acknowledgement months later while still insisting they were right.

Dan Miller

On February 18, 2014 at 5:01 pm

@phil

Glad you cleared that up and my mistake drawing the conclusion I did. I loved ME3 when I played it, thought the ending was weird but certainly not terrible, and would have rated it as you did if I was assigning a score. It wasnt until I youtube’d the ‘other endings’ (lack thereof) that disappointment sunk in (a went synthesis, like a sucker!). I love that Gamefront has kept the discussion going since it’s such an interested work.

I’ll stand by the rest of my criticism, though, but it really isn’t leveled at you. Game reviews just don’t serve a purpose these days, especially for the big AAA titles. Absent abject failure to assemble a coherent experience, I was buying ME3. But most reviews (here’s where I’ll keep my hopefully constructive criticism of yours going) approach AAA titles, especially sequels, as tweaks and refinements and reviewers pass judgement on the effectiveness of those advances. It’s like a new iphone review. Here’s the ten new tweaks, its more powerful, its marginally better than what came before it, etc. A discussion of whether the game works as a medium of entertainment is rare, or in the case of a sequel, previously settled in the mind of the reviewer. It’s not unique to Gamefront, it’s a problem for an industry driven by populist titles, and sites that make their money from ads for those populist titles. Gamefront, to its credit, pays plenty of attention to the indie titles, which is why I’m trollin these comment threads all the time in the first place.

The ‘entitled gamer’ issue seems to sit at the nexus of these problems – SOMEBODY should have called ME3 the utter narrative failure that many feel it is. That was the core disappointment of the ‘entitled gamer’. Not that the ending was bad, but that our standard review structure was incapable of recognizing it as such.