Dave Irwin’s views do not necessarily represent the views of One Hit Pixel.
If 2011 was the year that hacking came into its element, 2012 was one filled with more controversy than your average parliamentary election. So much so that I couldn’t actually decide what is worse between these three subjects. In practice, I’m going to have to call it a three-way tie because the more you read into them, the worse they get. I was going to put this in my Alternative Game of the Year awards as I thought I’d have one thing to talk about, but then I re-evaluated and re-examined the evidence and found that to miss out on talking about these things is to deprive you of analysis on what has been a stormy year. Let’s jump right in shall we into the abattoir slop-bucket of issues in the videogame industry of 2012.
The War Z
First up is the hullabaloo surrounding The War Z, a game that was put onto Steam despite being an unfinished mess reminiscent of an alpha build as opposed to the final product. When first announced, people suspected that this was to cash in on the success and eventual building of the standalone version of Arma II’s DayZ mod. But that wasn’t the thing that set my alarm bells off. The producer – Sergey Titov – was the one responsible for big stinker: Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing.Unfortunately, people probably didn’t know this and were essentially walking into a trap. When the game launched, it came with many of the promised features on its Steam page not being present. When people complained on the Steam forums, the developer responded by banning people from their servers. The game has micro-transactions (a feature not promised by the developers) for essential items and reviving your character immediately as opposed to the updated four-hour re-spawn time.
The game is no longer on Steam and Sergey Titov has apologised, calling the release the ‘foundation build”, but I think people have now clued in to this obvious scam. Even a little kid peddling counterfeit homemade lemonade from a stand in the middle of his street has more chance on making money than Sergey. Will we hear more about this in 2013? Probably, but the more people who see footage of the game such as the one TotalBiscuit posted on YouTube will mean less money for this poor excuse of a purchase. But that is only a recent controversy.
Earlier in the year we had various counts of something I had ignorantly thought we eradicated in the 2000s: Sexism in the gaming industry. It’s about as rampant as a crazed pervert in an overcoat and needs to be put down! Don’t believe me? Listen to the jerks on Xbox Live or look through the comments on sites that highlight the need to stamp out sexism to find those immoral scum of the internet, trolling their way to make them feel better about themselves, in among the more intellectually minded commenters. As for actual events, there have been countless.
We’ve had Fighting Game Community bile, Tropes Vs Women in Videogames backlash, the sexy nuns (featured in this gratuitous crotch shot above) from Hitman Absolution, Tomb Raider pseudo-attempted rape, and of course the revelations of sexism in the industry thanks to the Twitter hashtag #1reasonwhy. We did see one advancement in the fight against sexism with Eurogamer Expo banning Booth Babes from future shows thanks to some of them strutting their stuff with QR codes on their buttocks. I was actually there at the time and while one ‘booth babe’ was actually one of the main designers of the game who chose the outfit herself, the QR butt girls were essentially sex as marketing. That’s disgusting and Virgin Games were rightly condemned for this blatant sexism. So well done Eurogamer for taking that bold step, but we’re still far from solving the overall problem.
We seriously need to wake the hell up and smell the coffee. Women don’t need harassment from people within the industry. They don’t need the harassment from those they work with. They don’t need scenes in games where a female character is being held against her will in a sexually provoked attack and they sure as hell don’t need misrepresentation as sexy nuns in promotional material. Finally, the bile that comes up on comments/message boards whenever this subject and projects associated with it comes up, only ever serves to prove their point. It’s not getting any better as this piece of utter garbage “Collector’s Edition” shows. The world is still a sexist pig and it’s about time we stopped. In case you were wondering, the jury in my brain about whether or not Lollipop Chainsaw is sexist is still out, though it unanimously thinks the camera is a pervert.
Corrupt Journalists and Their Relationship With PR
Then there’s my last controversy I want to talk about, and I’m not holding any punches on anyone involved. The second big controversy surrounding what I do, has been one that has rocked me to the core. I am of course talking about the two news stories about respected games journalists essentially becoming PR vehicles, either courtesy of an image of Geoff Keighley surrounded by Doritos and Mountain Dew (hence being called ‘Dorito-gate’ by many) and an article by Robert ‘Rab’ Florence on Eurogamer that initially named and shamed two journalists for promoting games by using Twitter hashtags. The former is obviously a shameless promotional deal agreed by a journalist who is pictured having just had his soul extracted through his mouth, but the latter is a legal battlefield that has caused many to complain about corruption in the profession I now contribute to. As far as I’m aware, the latter saga is still an issue being discussed round tables involving equally soulless individuals, so I won’t go any further. Do note though that I still see it as one of the more important stories of the year.
The reason I got into this business was because of Gerstmann-gate. This was of course a different scenario, where publishers threatened to pull advertising money for poorly scored reviews. The thing is, I always trusted Gerstmann back then and in many ways I still do. Heck, all those who were on the site back then I trusted. Alex Navarro even summed up why people shouldn’t have been fooled by The War Z back when Big Rigs came out in the most elegant way I could think of. When these guys were all gone, I knew where I needed to be and what my passion was. I had to write honestly and not be bought by PR companies who may threaten to pull support if I write the wrong thing in their eyes. It is the consumer I look out for, making sure they aren’t hoodwinked by shady practices. I know I’m not alone and I definitely know that the majority of people can’t be bought out for good reviews. Not all PR companies are like this. They generally accept that everyone has an opinion. It’s only the immature ones who don’t react in a mature way that try these tactics. My priority since day one has been to express my untainted opinion and I will continue to do so.
So that is my tirade on the stuff we had to put up with in 2012 and quite frankly its given me a bit of a migraine. Sure we also had the usual DRM vs Piracy issues and DLC fiascos, but 2012 really has been an absolute stinker! I hope you all have a great 2013, with any luck without the bad smells of 2012 resurfacing like a bad hangover. Don’t have nightmares! Happy gaming!