(This is another edition of , a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)
So, Electronic Arts made headlines (as it so often does) after a controversial “victory” in a Consumerist poll. With a voter turnout of over 250,000, EA has been voted the very worst American business of 2012, beating out its number one contender, Bank of America.
That is, I should point out, the same Bank of America that has illegally foreclosed on houses, putting people out of homes and leaving them destitute, all in the name of fattening a few wallets. Pretty shitty, huh? Well, according to the Internet, it’s even shittier to offer lucid customers some downloadable content for a game that nobody has been forced to buy.
That, my friends, is far worse than helping to turn America’s economy into the pile of utter shit that it currently is.
It may sound like I’m bitter over EA’s “win” in the poll, but I’m actually not. In fact, I think it’s incredibly silly to actually get mad over this whole situation. Over the past twenty-four hours, my Twitter feed has been alight with arguments — mostly from my fellow game media pundits — angrily criticizing the gamer community for its lack of perspective and callous disregard for Bank of America’s antics.
At the end of the day though — who really fucking cares?
I like the Consumerist, I really do, but do we really care about a silly little Internet poll that doesn’t actually change anything in the world, ever? Now, if the Consumerist had the power to act on the poll’s results and have the CEO of the “winning” company clapped in irons for crimes against the country, then there might be something to get angry about. That’s not the case though. Instead, a bunch of gamers got upset over something and took out their frustrations on a silly Internet poll. Yes, it’s somewhat nonsensical that EA was deemed “worse” than Bank of America. I think it’s even more nonsensical, however, that people give enough of a shit about it to be legitimately furious.
I’d love for gamers to be a bit more socially aware and open their eyes to some of the truly evil things that corporations do. I’ve attacked Electronic Arts many times in the past, and stand by those attacks. It’s a selfish company that has inflicted harm upon this industry and will likely continue to do so. However, I’ve enough perspective to understand that EA isn’t even close to some of the truly reprehensible shit that corporations can get up to. We live in an age where the likes of Weyland-Yutani aren’t fictional anymore, where there are companies legitimately on par with the make-believe organizations found in Deus Ex. EA’s a pathetic little kitten compared to some of America’s finest establishments.
Nevertheless, it was just a poll, and likely the result of gamers clubbing together to send an extra little message to a publisher they dislike. It really isn’t a big deal. EA got its message — gamers are pissed off at it. Meanwhile, there are far larger and more powerful pundits who continue to take Bank of America to task for the nasty little things it’s gotten up to. An optimist would call that a win/win situation.
I am sure that, when asked for a legitimate opinion, most sensible gamers would admit that withholding a game’s content to sell as DLC is not really comparable to playing with the lives of families, covering up rape, or committing most of the heinous acts performed by EA’s competition in the polls. When have popular opinion polls ever been about that, though? Victors in such polls are determined by how many voters feel personally affected, usually. It just so happens that gamers clubbed together to manhandle the votes, and such folk clearly don’t care quite so much about foreclosures and the like. It’s just the way it goes.
And ultimately, nobody’s actually been hurt by the results of this poll. The families whose lives were ruined won’t get their homes back if a website poll named Bank of America the biggest villains in the country. I simply don’t see the point in getting mad about it.
That said, anybody who tried to further justify EA’s victory by legitimately claiming that the company’s DLC shenanigans are worse than destroying family homes? Those people are dickheads. The kind of folk who fancy themselves armchair economists and pretend their issues with Mass Effect 3 are more important than a homeless person’s–because that guy “should’ve been more careful with his money”–are the kind of folk who deserve to have their brains replaced with potatoes.
I am all for your right to make your voice heard and tell a company that you’re sick of its shit. I am not, however, prepared to defend your assertion that EA is actually worse than Bank of America. It’s fucking not. If you’re honest enough to admit that you were just voting out of petulance and wanted to make a self-serving point, then I have no grievance with you whatsoever. If you’re pretentious enough to try and build your vote up as something legitimately moral-minded and laudable, then your delusion is almost terrifying.
Ultimately, however, it’s interesting that gamers have been criticized by pundits for their lack of perspective when it takes a similar deficiency in order to take any of this seriously. To treat this like a grievous crime that will have any kind of lasting negative effect is somewhat short-sighted itself. It was a stupid vote, and while it’d be nicer for younger people to care more about what major corporations do outside of the game industry, it’s not like this poll would ever have changed that.
And let’s face it … EA is pretty shit.
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