Friday, March 9, 2012

Games Journalism At It's Finest

Erik Kain is a fucking hack. It seems like a harsh statement, unless you have read his theory on why Mass Effect 3 has received a storm of poor user reviews on Metacritic. The article reeks of ignorance, and although he has since posted an updated theory, I still struggle to understand how exactly someone can be so stupid. Shit, his second article is titled:

"What's Behind The Puzzling Vendetta Against BioWare And Mass Effect 3?"

Man, what is with this vendetta against Bioware? Why are these game enthusiasts so angry at Mass Effect 3? I mean, all the game reviewers gave it a great score, that must mean it is a great game! So then, that means that clearly there's something else at work here. Some kind of conspiracy. It cannot be because it is a bad game. I know, it must be because of homophobia! 

dragon age: origins was a game that contained homosexual relationships. and gamers apparently liked it? 

"The reason so many people are giving such a low rating? You guessed it: the gay sex scene. I won’t dignify the reviews with a quotation, but they’re telling and sad and infuriating all at once."

Ugh. Okay, to give him some credit: 'Gamer Culture' is certainly filled to the brim with homophobes, misogynists, racists, and other absolutely disgusting, hateful assholes. There were undoubtedly people who were disappointed at Bioware’s decision to include homosexual encounters in their game. However I doubt they let it ruin their experience, because gamers are apologists at heart. They are willing to ignore balance issues, bugs, bad graphics, poor game mechanics, shitty dialogue, plot holes, and much more. The suggestion that homosexual content, above all else, was responsible for ruining the average person's experience doesn't make sense. 

Did Erik even think about what he was saying? Or was his motivation simply to rile people up? He did not even address the fact that most people probably didn't play a homosexual character, and might not have known, much less cared that the scenes were even in the game. He also neglects to consider that perhaps the Games Reviewers that gave Mass Effect 3 such a great score may possibly be wrong, or might have been insincere in their review (perhaps because of other motivations). 

yeah, it was the gay sex scenes, and not because this game is awful. 

"Paul doesn’t think that 'Bioware intended to make a political statement with this creative decision. They are simply reflecting reality when designing their game.' And CVG notes, that 'BioWare founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk told Kotaku that the move was in response to requests from Mass Effect fans for even more choice in the game.'"

I can't believe I'm actually reading this. According to the founders of Bioware, Mass Effect 3 apparently included the choice for homosexuality because it was so wildly demanded. Thus, there were a lot of people that wanted this choice, enough for it to get included in the game. Perhaps we can even go as far to say that these people are not homophobes. Perhaps the backlash was against, amazingly enough, the game itself! Perhaps people actually thought that the game mechanics were not enjoyable, that the story was poor, and that the writing was awful. What a fucking crazy idea. 

Now, as I said before, this idiot had the gall to post a new article. He finally admits that maybe it was not homophobia that caused such a large outcry towards Mass Effect 3, but not before he received a ridiculous amount of comments calling him an idiot. And not before he gave a parting shot, labeling many of those commentators as homophobes. 

okay, great. 

And then Erik writes one of the dumbest things I have ever seen put to paper:

"Daniel writes, “However liberal their capitalisation, these fans cannot turn back the giant, and no matter how many fiercely they flame, the heat they generate will continue to dwindle. We no longer live in an age of dragons, after all.”

No indeed. We live in an age of trolls."

Fuck you! No, really, fuck you. It is frustrating enough living in an age where good, well designed and thoughtful products are scarce, but the fact that any criticsm towards shallow, broken, and shitty products is immediately labeled as disingenuous and insincere is just enough to make me sick. Criticism is a necessary thing. It helps someone understand their faults, to see where they went wrong and, if they accept it, to be better for it. Not according to Erik. 

This is why the article offends me, and why I express so much vitriol towards the poor man. Mass Effect 3 is apparently not a very good game, and the consumers are attempting to let the company realize this. They do this because they care: they want to see Mass Effect 4 or whatever new product Bioware releases to be better and more enjoyable. There is no homophobic agenda. People are not just writing these reviews for kicks. They are upset that a product they once enjoyed has turned into something else, or that the product was left unchanged and they want something new. 

this is actually in the game. bioware made this, and then put this in the actual game of mass effect 3. 

Erik emphasizes his complete and utter ignorance with this point:

"So a word of advice: if you do have it out for BioWare, and you want to convince people that their games just suck no matter what, don’t take it so far. Give out mediocre scores – a 5 or a 6 or even a 7. It’s more believable. What’s going on right now doesn’t seem real – even if everyone participating has a legitimate bone to pick."

No one has it out for Bioware, despite their recent history of creating awful, broken games (Dragon Age II and Star Wars: The Old Republic come to mind). But besides that, why give mediocre scores? An average user score of 7 or 6 isn’t going to send a message to Bioware. They'll believe that most reviews were positive, except for a couple at the bottom dragging down the average.

It is just unbelievable that Erik refuses to believe that Mass Effect 3 is actually a poor game, that there must be another reason for the current backlash. The thought that the game itself might not actually be enjoyable to play never seems to cross his mind.

erik. it's time. it is time for you to enter the shame cube. 

He ends his article with this final piece:

"A commenter elsewhere has reminded me of a time when I was in very similar shoes as those the old fans of BioWare’s games are in. It’s a useful mirror to hold up to my own face right now. Since I wasn’t a player of the original ME or DA games it’s especially useful.

I’m a big fan of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books, but when his latest, A Dance With Dragons, came out I was sorely disappointed. And yet! All the big literary reviewers were calling it the best book so far. It was widely lauded with perfect scores and glowing reviews.

The only problem was that the book, by and large, was terrible. Okay, that’s only half true. Half the book was brilliant and the other half was just awful. So I wrote my review partly in protest of the big literary reviewers who I felt were dishonestly representing the book as a triumph when it was anything but.

Now, for me Mass Effect 3 was a fine game. It did what I thought it should do, but I didn’t play Mass Effect 1 so I don’t really understand where original fans of the series are coming from. That’s my fault. In any case, the rest of my critique stands, but I want to say that I do understand where you’re all coming from."

What an arrogant asshole. The game met his expectations; hence it is good, end of story. He conveniently ignores the fact that his judgement of the game is subjective, and that other people could have a different opinion. But this is unsurprising, because after reading his articles, you understand that he is completely unwilling to consider a perspective that is not his own. And that is why Erik Kain is a fucking hack.

Erik Kain,

Congratulations, asshole. 


  1. thanks elfbutt for pointing out his these is a solpisps tic mess

  2. And thank you Casaubon for editing my article!

  3. No, you're wrong. They didn't put such blatant space-suit vagina in the new mass effect game. I can't be seeing this; I must have drank too much. That's the only explanation as to why such stupid fucking horseshit could possibly appear in a video game program.

  4. I commented on his Forbes article and he actually seemed pretty reasonable about things like "hey bioware is just trying to get attention that they don't deserve" and "actually a lot of people have reasonable criticisms" so I don't think it's as bad as you're making it out to be. It's exactly what Bioware is trying to do, though: Focus on things like "our detractors are homophobes!" to get around the issue of "our games are bad!"

    I compared it to George Lucas' Red Tails campaign and he was like "oh shit yeah you're right"

    1. He apparently took down his older article that insinuated that homophobia was the main cause of the hate behind Mass Effect 3, or at least the link doesn't want to work. But yeah it is a little absurd that people are getting distracted by a vocal (albeit disgusting and hateful) minority and ignoring the fact that the game itself is subpar.

      Even with that in mind though, his suggestions that you should give the game a 5, 6, or 7 on metacritic, and that people who complain are trolls make me sick to my stomach.

      Nice to know he can realize those kinds of things though.

    2. Yeah the idea that moderate, reasonable criticism will make any impact on people is so adorably quaint that it's like "wow you don't know the gaming community do you"

  5. "Game journalism at it is finest"

  6. Cant believe people actually go mad for trash such as Mass effect, some even going as far as to say "It is the second coming of christ".

    But you do come across a bit Ignorant and arrogant yourself MacWilliams, but aren't we all sometimes these days when discussing the video game industry and how pathetic it has become.

    As for your other article "Stories in games fucking suck", have you not played Deus ex? Although I agree stories in games usually do suck they still add to a game, in combination with an interactive and immersive gameworld, intelligent gameplay and great music, a games entertainment value can be much greater than that of any book. Books for me are for education primarily, whilst some books can really suck you in and entertain, it is not with the same intensity experienced in some games.