Game Journalists Must Be “Good” at Video Games

This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

A recent gameplay recording of the gorgeous upcoming action-platformer Cuphead is making the rounds, and unfortunately it’s not for the right reasons.

The game has been developed from the get-go as a love-letter to classic action-platformers, all funneled through the old 2D art style you’d see from an older Disney movie, or an old Fleischer series.

All of it flows and breathes like a living painting, and its goal is to challenge you every step of the way. This game is so hard, apparently, that VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi literally failed for 26 minutes.

This is a problem on a multitude of levels, and I’m going to make an attempt in not repeating myself when I stress a fact I thought was widely agreed upon: games journalists must be good at playing video games. 

Having a games critic that is not good at a video game and not good at adapting to said game is not only unfair to the game, but also to the reader (or viewer) as well.

The enthusiast community that has helped build the gaming industry into a multi-billion dollar entertainment megalith that eclipses the music and movie industries combined want to know if a game is “good” or not. This mostly requires the game critic to have excellent hand-eye coordination, as well as both subjective and objective methods to critique the game itself.

If the game journalist or critic repeatedly fails at a game and simply can’t adapt or learn from its mechanics, it becomes the fault of the game or the game journalist. I haven’t played Cuphead yet, but judging from its tutorial (which Dean repeatedly failed over) and its levels, I simply cannot fathom how anyone with any gaming experience can fail so much with that game.

I’m really trying not to come down hard on Dean or single him out, but his example is the latest in an ongoing and baffling collection of veteran critics at major gaming or tech websites inexplicably failing at games. Are they purposely failing to make the game look harder? Were they so distracted and somehow the gameplay was still greenlit for public viewing? Who knows.

We’ve talked about this before in a previous editorial, so requiring our staff to be at least adept at playing video games is an absolute must.

Sure, we all make mistakes and sometimes we’re not playing our A-game, or sometimes we’re just really not feeling a game. That sort of thing happens when you play hundreds and hundreds of games, but you learn to get better – right?

In the case of Dean, he’s been a journalist for 25 years and he’s now the lead writer for GamesBeat, the gaming-focused division of VentureBeat.

You’d expect someone with his kind of klout to roll over on games like this, yawning as he farts his way through its enemy placements and its tutorials. Maybe I have a different set of standards, or perhaps I’m too hard on myself and my staff.

I feel like the main purpose of a game is to challenge you and to present clear winning and losing conditions – to me that is the very definition of a game.

Digital games, or video games, therefore need to mimic these conditions so they can establish clear goals and provide a fun gameplay experience. Many people will argue with me over the definition of a video game, but I digress.

How do you feel about games and being expected to “git gud” while playing them? Is this an exclusionary way to look at things? Is this unfair to the more casual crowd that simply wants to “press X to awesome!” or “press B to engage dramatic, emotional hallway cutscene reading of a diary note”? Sound off in the comments below!

Studio MDHR is finally releasing Cuphead on September 29th, for PC and Xbox One. We’ll be reviewing the game, so make sure to follow our feed when that gets published!

Brandon Orselli


Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • Touma

    In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet and too much chocolate gives you diabetes.

  • Riosine

    You aren’t Speedrunners either way

  • Anon_Amous

    They don’t have to be good. They have to be competent though at minimum. When you watch somebody playing and it looks like my mother trying to figure out basic elements of gameplay that’s pretty sad.

    Like you mentioned, somebody in the “industry” that long should be able to understand basic elements of a platforming game. The part in question was embarrassingly obvious to anybody who has played a platforming video game for a few minutes.

    Also, if a reviewer can’t beat a game, fair enough not everybody can beat some games. They shouldn’t review it if they can’t, that’s not going to be a good review, it’s impossible that it could be.

  • R3474X0R

    Anyone reviewing games should be good enough at playing them not to look like a damn lost kid in the woods.
    If that means taking a pass on a game and let it be reviewed by someone else, then so be it.

    The only thing a dev can do about this nonsense, is add a difficulty setting called “polygon writer” that basically plays the game for you.

  • BaronKrause

    On the flip side, too many game journalists forget that the reader is not a game journalist, and is instead playing the game for fun.

    I cant count the amount of times I’ve read things like “totally beatable without investing money” when talking about a FTP title, like the readers goal is to play the game as fast as possible, with as little invested as possible just so they can shelf it to play the next one on their review list.

  • Cy

    (I’d argue with your definition of video game, but honestly that shit is exhausting and I don’t need 50 people telling me I’d enjoy games more if a die a million times)

    But yeah, I agree. Journalists don’t need to be able to blast through a game on hard mode without dying, but a basic understanding of the very clear and simple instructions on the screen is a must. I’d even go as far as to say a basic proficiency with the game genre is a must too. Even if the genre is just default not hard, fans deserve someone who knows what they’re talking about. If the only games I like are the ones where I press B to engage dramatic, emotional hallways cutscene readings of diary notes, I damn sure want the person doing a gameplay preview to be able to find the B button.

  • Mr.Sixes

    Even competent at games to realize basic gameplay such as using obstacles as platforms.

  • Eldhin Hellknight
  • InkViper

    Personally speaking I don’t think there’s been an overreaction to Dean’s miserable fail! And I certainly think the people stupid enough to defend him might want to reevaluate their decision.
    The simple reason I say this is a number of them have drawn comparisons to sports journalists and the field they cover, the problem people don’t understand when they use this analogy is 90% of sports fans and sports journalists don’t play sports. Where everyone who watches twitch, let’s plays, tutorials and E sport tournaments, more or less do play video games, we require the Journo’s and other middlemen to be competent in their knowledge and their ability, in essence gamers aren’t just spectators where also the athletes in some respect, in short you cannot bullshit us! That’s why I don’t feel sorry for him, and I feel that he deserves everyt bit of criticism he gets.

  • sciencemile

    They used to have that; it was called “Attract Mode”.

  • Madbrainbox

    Is the “git gud” attitude exclusionary?For sure.But that’s not a bad thing.If you want to be part of a community or provide any kind of service to the said community then you need to be engaged.In the case of games you usually get better at them the more you play.So that’s just a measure of your engagement.

  • malbhet

    “difficulty setting called polygon writer”, I think all games from this day forward are gonna need this setting for those type of people lol:D
    That video was unbearable to watch, I’d prefer to have someone smacking their lips as they eat and take small sips of their drinks as they say “aaahhh” after each sip in my ear rather than watch that video ever again, that’s how cringy and annoying watching amatuer gaming journalist attempt to play games.

  • blackice85

    Agreed, the keyword for me is competency. And honestly that’s all most games require.

  • Cats736

    Thay don’t have to be good, they have to be competent.

    Spending a minute humping a wall in a tutorial that literally tells you how to get over it is something my mother would do if I tried to get her to play something.

  • Mr0303


  • SuuLoliBoob

    It baffles me. People who critique music must at least know the basic of music and know what songs are good or not, same with movie critics, you can’t just ask to review movies for a websites that specializes in that kinda work when you don’t even know anything about movies or the process of making them. So why is it that we allow people to review games that have ZERO experience in playing them? I not asking for these journalist to have speed running experience here, but at least have some bit of fucking skill playing them.

  • Mr0303

    Not all game journalists need to be good at playing games since their contribution can be historical knowledge, technical and economical analysis of a product or even a writing editorials like this one. That being said at least the people who get to try the new games have to be competent enough to showcase the game to the general public. It is called management – send in the best people for the job and if they are not good enough hire somebody else.

  • Anonymoose

    This makes DSP look like he could go pro in a competitive circuit.

  • magicalfollower

    How could anyone forget this gem? Hahaha.

  • blackice85

    Exactly. You wouldn’t see me critiquing football, because I don’t know squat about it.

  • Stormwatch

    But then again, he was playing an FPS with a gamepad. That’s like trying to run a marathon wearing a ball and chain.

  • Point is if you are getting paid to record gameplay for the internet don’t fucking suck at playing videogames.

  • Dale Frewaldt

    It sounds like what games journalism needs is the kind of professional, paid staff that would lead to high quality, competent game players, rather than the current standard of notoriously “paid in exposure” journalism that the industry likes to give readers.

    On that topic, what is the current pay rate of a typical Niche Gamer contributor?

  • Uncle Ocelot

    That video was painful to watch, and it didn’t help that in his article he claimed that Cuphead was developed by the Super Meat Boy devs.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Even that’s no excuse, there’s much better gamepad gameplay than this.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    And it changes in game dialogue so there are no hetero-normative pronouns and various other progressive-isms.

  • Riosine

    Damn I’ve watched a Fragment of the video and I’m now Skeptical anyone can honestly play that badly even if Drunk..

    Are you sure the guy isn’t just Trolling for Attention?

  • GoldenBoy

    Exactly. Competency is required.

    Though, I disagree with the last statement. I’ll be the first to say that I SUCK at Devil May Cry and I hate it but I recognize the quality of the game. It’s a good game objectively. I can realize that without being good at it out liking it.

  • AuraMaster DX (austin9568)

    I’m assuming that difficulty includes an aimbot.

  • AuraMaster DX (austin9568)

    *approaches health pack*
    Ah! Enemy sighted!

  • Sand Ripper

    Even if you’re not good at the game, edit the video to make it look like you are. I do it all the time.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    Great article! It’s crucial for all critics of games to have at least some basic knowledge or experience of the medium which their profession is based around.

    Nobody is saying you have to be Jimmy from 1989’s The Wizard, but when you’re a game journalist for over two decades and you play worse than a toddler or a clueless parent, then I can’t help but assume that there is a hint of fraudulence there.

    Then again these are the type of guys who claimed “gamers are dead”, so its no surprise they suck at a hobby they have contempt for.

  • buddyluv324

    It’s not as if people want these game journalist become a top-tier pro gamers, but the journalist who are playing these games and posting them up for the internet to see just have to have a basic, competent understanding of the mechanics and the game they’re playing. It just goes to show that certain people who are simply not fit for this type of profession are are just better off being twitter activist of social justice….which they’re not so great at either.

  • AuraMaster DX (austin9568)

    … i’m pretty sure one of them is a tabletop game and the other is a third person fps.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    Welcome to Marxism, even people who suck at games or hate them should be treated as skilled gamers because “muh feelings”.

  • ChazDragoon

    If you’re in ANY facet of the gaming industry, you’re a gamer, you play games and you love them; and by logic, should have the ability to not fail a fucking tutorial or the first level like that for 26 mins.

    Whatever the true reason for this disgusting blight upon the industry and community, it’s clear that bullshit needs to be purged and expunged from the whole of gaming.

  • Its not that I care if a reviewer is good (I’ve reviewed retro games I’m terrible at) but they definitely need the ability to adapt and learn. The first thing I ever do in a game is work out what all the buttons do and how the gameplay works so I don’t fail so miserably like some of these Journalists seem to do.

  • NoobSmoke

    At least be able to show some standard gameplay mechanics and maybe some stylish stuff in there. We aren’t really asking for much but if youre gonna review a game and give it a score you better BETTER have beaten it and be good at the game too.

  • Mr0303

    That’s only a problem if you have no thumbs.

  • Bret Hart

    Considering Warhammer was the main inspiration for Star Craft…

  • Joey James Kitchener Hedrick

    Holy shit, it’s THAT guy? It all makes sense now.

  • Magnifico Ginormous

    Is it just me or does this game look a bit shit beyond its visuals? The gameplay looks pretty vapid and not nearly as engaging as the game it’s most obviously aping, Gunstar Heroes.

  • Mechonis

    At the end of the day these guys don’t care. His horrible play attracts casuals looking for the “next Dark Souls”. And he gets paid by whatever platform he is reviewing on. These people are in it for money, not a hobby

  • Casey

    So, I’ll spill a little bit of inside knowledge. Believe it or not, this isn’t a new thing. Back in the day of print magazines, it wasn’t unusual for companies to send review builds with “review booklets” which basically told reviewers bullet lists about how awesome their games were, and had tips for getting past crap that wasn’t obvious. It also wasn’t unusual for the companies to send “twinked” characters (read overpowered) so that reviewers could get past certain roadblocks or more recently, a certain amount of funny money in fee2pay games.

    I think that reviewers and press SHOULD be good at games, but it’s nothing new if they aren’t.

  • Jack Omally

    You should at least be good enough to clear the tutorial and first level for god’s sake. How are you gonna judge an entire game when you can barely even get past a tutorial?

  • Riosine

    You mean the cheat codes that the developer used to test the game in first place? and that sometime the old magazine also made public.

    I really think people are being too harsh with those reviewers, Its not like they have enough time to actually get familiarized with a given game to excel at playing them in first place.

    And then they also have to write and edit a Review so even less time for that matter

  • edge

    “Git Gud” isn’t something new with dark soulds, this was literally the expectation for any classic platforming / action game, the kind this game is supposed to be a love letter towards. I would expect nothing less from the game itself other than to bring old school difficulty to the table.

    >both subjective and objective methods to critique the game itself.
    I feel this is part of what was missing from early 2000s game journalism. I specifically remember losing my mind when a guy who despised RPGs, was reviewing an RPG and criticizing it for being one. On the other hand we have the overly subjective Kotaku who thinks everything is rape. I guess my expectation for a reviewer is to at least have some experience and enjoyment of a genre before attempting to review a game in a serious manner. Not really sure what to do about Kotaku other than giving it the old yeller treatment (DAMNIT HOGAN YOU HAD ONE JOB).

  • Stormwatch

    No stick can offer but a fraction of the precision of a mouse. There are genres that work best with gamepads, but an FPS just needs good aiming… or aim assist, which is like riding a bike with training wheels.

  • EroBotan

    your article should show Dean’s defense regarding his performance. It’s good XD !!

  • Riosine

    When you quickly flip an stick from a direction into its opposite, 180°,direction You had to overcome The inertial mass of both the stick and the Friction the little ball makes again the controller wall

    In a Keyboard you only need to button mash SW or AD plus the key spring a little so the energy conserve making it way faster than a conller ever would

    And a mouse that detect the change of position of a Laser vs a surface has practically negligible inertia. And the same precision that is used to measure stuff in Land Surveying and Engineering. Since pinpointing a laser is the same method they use to do so

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Don’t they adjust the targeting for controllers? I remember seeing how blatantly off my killshots were when I was playing Timesplitters Future Perfect on Gamecube after a long while of PC games.

  • Kessek

    Game journalists should be able to beat Contra without the 30 life code or they can suck on these nuts.

  • as an guy who played FPS Shooters on a Controller for basically my entire life, I disagree with that.

    with DOOM 2016, it gets a bit weird and slight hard to shoot a demon with a weak pistol during the tutorial phase until you get better weapons very early (shotgun early). thankfully, it translates better than playing Duke Nukem 3D on a Console (or PS Vita, which I played on)

  • Virosh Siegecraft

    or maybe we could just motion that Polygon be removed from the reviewing pool.

  • Doppp

    Minor type, it should be “clout” and not “klout.”

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    They don’t have to be amazing, but they must be decent enough to play most games so they can accurately review them. Thanks to SJWs though, that’s been thrown out the window. They shouldn’t be the people reviewing our games if they don’t even know how to fucking play them.

  • Richard

    You haven’t plumed the depths of youtube to find darksydephil, have you?

  • malbhet

    Aimbot, infinite health, and one hit enemy kills are the settings. It may include an auto play so the ai play the entire game for them as well as the enemies stand there and do nothing because the enemy’s ai will be turned off for that mode.
    Given how that journalist played, all of their deaths will be caused by the journalist turning off the auto ai play for the player during a mid pitfall jump and the journalist, not realizing the ai didn’t have a chance to do the air dash before he turned it off, afterwards will complain that the game is broken lol.

  • sanic

    If I’m bad at a game I don’t blame the game, I just accept that me and it are not compatible, its sort of like women although I don’t want the $60 ones.

    The guy couldn’t figure out how to jump dash and it was pathetic he should find a new line of work.

  • Primee133

    It was when the THQ/Relic game Space Marine was coming out, that he made the claim. He hadn’t even bothered to look at the source material, and said THQ’s response that it predates Gears was “Prompt, and suspicious”

  • Madbrainbox

    Never.Gaming is a meritocracy.People with no skill can critique walking simulators or mobile pay to win trash if they want to be part of a gaming community that badly.

  • Mr0303

    I agree that FPS are played best with mouse and keyboard, but it by far not the disadvantage you present it to be and nor is it the excuse you give to Polygon’s incompetence. Millions of players are playing FPS with a controller and they are quite good at it.

  • Mr0303

    OK, I agree that M&K is better for shooters, but it is not the “ball and chain” he presented it to be and the free pass to the hacks at Polygon he offered.

  • orbo
  • uncle_alfred

    I think no one sane is gonna expect reviewers to be at some kind of e sports level, but some basic knowledge and proficiency with the medium you work with should be given.
    Imagine being huge movie enthusiast, would you listen to some movie reviewer that paints Adam Sandler commercials as cinematic marvel? You wouldn’t unless it was parody (and even then, you would come for comedy there, not movie reviews), and i don’t think anyone would try to bother you about it. In vidya gaems everyone overreacts, reviewer gets mad that someone shits on him for being, well, shitty at the game, and some people try to harass people a bit too much.
    Less ego on both sides, and everything would be fucking golden.

  • uncle_alfred

    Superb explanation Mr. Cat. I couldn’t agree more.

  • TT

    just bask in the fact it took someone with 18 years of experience covering games to fuck up a platformer’s tutorial for 3 minutes

  • Ted Yu

    But Dean, by his own words, has been reviewing games for 18 years. 18 YEARS!!!

    He may not have the time to get familiarized with a game, but he has supposedly 18 years of games experience underneath his belt. I do fully expect them to have at least a smidgen of platforming experience.

    The fact that he played the way he did speaks volumes to me.


    Agreed an no shit. I’ve said somethings similar before, but pertaining to a broader audience coupled with reviewers.

    That’s partly why I believe CupHead has been in developmental hell. Its beautiful, unique, hand drawn graphics stand out and catch everyone’s attention, but it always appeared to be a hardcore bullethell platformer at its core. It’s a godsend for those of us who love bullethells with its outstanding graphics, but for the rest of the crowd, what does that mean once they get past that? Your average audience doesn’t understand the appeal of hardcore score chasers. I feel that the developer has been trying to make compromises or adding additional modes to keep some level of replayability (in casual terms) so that the game doesn’t receive a negative reception because of your average noobs’ sorry expectations. The rest of us would be completely satisfied to chase scores over and over again and try to perfect our game over the same couple of levels. Lol. (Great editorial!)

  • SevTheBear

    If you want to review and talk about games at least be somewhat good at it. Nobody want’s to watch a total noob. If the game is hard you must practice and GET GOOD. It’s the same for written reviews and articles. Nothing is more frustrating than reviewers who suck at playing games and then whine about that the game is TOO HARD. IGN I look at you and (Alien: isolation) and don’t get me started on Polygon.

    I don’t know if games the last 10 years has gotten easier or the growing number of the casual market as made more people lazy and then refuse to play hard games. But each time we get a new game that shows NO MERCY, plenty of “journalist” whines that it’s too hard. Nothing is better than getting your ass kicked and then later defeat the boss, level or other team and feel the satisfaction.

    Maybe they should upload videos with someone who has mastered the game instead of one who barely can. If I suck at a game I wouldn’t upload it either.

  • Audrius Kliukas

    I feel the same way about controllers and FPS games, but then again, I don’t post me failing miserably to aim with a controller. I think even I would do better than showcased in this video.

  • Audrius Kliukas

    Oh wow, this is an amazing comparison.

  • David J.

    The whole thing of games displaying a “press start” splash screen and then reverting to an attract mode after a few seconds is a holdover from arcades, where you’d get “insert coin” instead of “press start”. The whole point of the Attract Mode is to act as an advertisement for the gameplay that you can plainly see as you’re walking past the cabinet. It’s hilarious how so many games for home consoles that never had an arcade version follow this same exact tradition.

  • Shattno

    You clearly don’t know what Marxism is.

  • Shattno

    None of those things are true.

  • They don’t have to be ultra-experts at the game, but they at least need to know their way round the game to play it effectively. Just be competent at the game. Spend some time to actually learn it.

    But there’s one thing that these modern video games journalists do ever so well though, and that’s whining, bitching and moaning about sexy female characters.

    They are the absolute masters of that. Their expertise of this practice is quite simply unmatched.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    So it pro meritocracy? Because most Marxist ideologues in the industry constantly call for the watering down of games in order for everyone to be equally good.

  • Shattno

    What you say about difficulty settings is interesting, I remember Deus Ex Human Revolution having a difficulty setting called Tell me a story, while it didn’t play the game for you, it just lowered the difficulty, it made the game more available for people who aren’t skilled at (that sort of) games.

    As a software developer I have been thinking a lot about this. It would be cool to make a difficulty system so flexible that on its hardest level it would be almost impossible, for example by having extremely sophisticated AI with machine learning, and on its lowest the game would be playing itself, and the user could just watch it like a Let’s play.

  • Meittimies

    Apparently this Dean is the exact same guy who used to say Space Marine game ripped off Gears of War. Why that guy still has a job is beyond me. Or well it isn’t really, he has friends in the industry and not one of them gives a shit about their own job, their dignity or the industry.

  • Shattno

    Marxism is mostly concerned about socioeconomic issues, the means of production and the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. I don’t see where video games come in, but please, enlighten me.

  • braneman

    OK looking at this video on an unrelated note, I didn’t think really basic tutorials like this were really necessary. Like it was insulting to my intelligence that they’d even put these in there, you just push the buttons randomly and you’ll figure out what they all do soon enough.
    I always thought the reason you needed a tutorial like this is if it’s like a vertical shooter where you can do button combos to do special moves, or if one of the buttons sucks the souls out of enemies but it either looks dangerous or only happens in certain circumstances. Never thought I’d see somebody who needed more of a tutorial than this.

  • STAN

    Yeah i saw the gif. Being good at “games” is a broard term, but i do agree with what you are saying. Ir’s probably hard to narrow down how “good” and average gamer is at something. But i agree that having game journalism being a job, it’s necessary to atleast look like you’re trying.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    I was referring to cultural Marxism obviously since were talking about culture. Cultural Marxism was founded sometime around the early 20th century in the German Frankfurt Schools, which was basically the birds nest for every SJW’s egg. Cultural Marxists believe that culture is a driving force behind inequality, which is very evident today when you have major SJW ideologues like Anita Sarkeesian claiming that videogames are sexist because they’re not easy enough for casual female audiences and thus should be watered down to reach true “equality”.

    Since videogames are a very meritocratic hobby, its natural that cultural Marxists want to pick it apart.

  • Shattno

    Cultural Marxism is a conspiracy theory. It’s about as real as the Illuminati, New World Order or the White Racist Patriarchy.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    That would be true if the Frankfurt Schools, BLM, Antifa, and Feminism didn’t exist.

  • Unbeliever

    I never saw someone spending so much time in the tutorial trying to make a simple jump-dash that for a second i even tought it was a joke video.

  • Shattno

    These things aren’t even connected.

    BLM is a reaction to the huge problems America still has with race, just like Malcom X and the Black Panthers back in the 70s.
    Antifa began as an anti fascist movement after WWII but today it’s just people who wants an excuse for violence, just like skinheads but on the other side of the political spectrum.
    Feminism began as a political movement for social rights for women and have made great progress in that regard, but the current third wave feminists have lost their way and spend their time arguing about micro politics.

    What the Frankfurt Schools called Cultural Marxism is all about mass production of culture and the negative effect this has on the culture and society, it is i essence a critique of capitalism. Then in the 90s the term was hijacked by right wingers and white supremacists who think that there is some kind of secret society of blacks, feminists and homosexuals that want to change the world. Ridiculous really.

    As you see, there is no connection between these things, there is no conspiracy, just people reacting to a changing world. This has always happened in all times, but this is the first time in history it’s this big and this apparent, because of the internet.

  • Riosine

    Well exactly. what Dean claims makes absolutely no sense. So either he is Trolling hard or has some serious form form of Motor skill Impediment like Parkinson

  • Miguel Angel Opazo Arancibia

    I thought it was a joke, not an actual gameplay video from a well known gaming news site…

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    Except each group still perceives culture to be a cause of social injustice. It doesn’t matter how much you try to sugar coat as a legit civil rights movement. Whether its BLM whining about American culture on the 4th of July or Feminists whining about Father’s day, they all still perceive certain parts of culture to be oppressive, which is the essence of Cultural Marxism.

  • Shattno

    First of all, as I wrote above, this would be the perverted sense of the term Cultural Marxism that was invented in the 90s.
    Besides even if they do see culture as a cause of social injustice (which I’m not entirely sure they do, please point me to evidence of this. Since you are the one who is making the claim the burden of evidence is on you.) this is still just a case of “correlation does not imply causation”. Just because different groups have similar views on certain things it doesn’t connect them in any larger way. There is no bigger goal here, they are all doing what the do for their own reasons, not because they are part of a conspiracy or whatever.

    If you wanted to you could of course invent a term for that way of seeing things, and say that this term applies to these groups without implying some sort of connection. But in that case the term Cultural Marxism is pretty bad, firstly because it’s already taken (twice) and secondly because this way of thinking have little or nothing in common with Marxism.

  • Brimfyre

    That goes back to my main complaint during the Wii era, or any time a new control scheme is introduced. Most game journalists loose their mind if the controller isn’t a Dual Shock or anything close to it.

    I’m not some great gaming god, but if a game introduces a new control scheme I adapt. I might not love motion controls, but if a game requires it I figure out how to use it, and play it that way.

    But if you watch any game journalist try and play anything outside their comfort zone, it’s like someone severed their brain from their spinal cord mid-game.

    And like with VR they always have to comment about how stupid they look. Most people are playing games in their living room. If anyone is around it is friends or family. I could give a flying fuck how stupid I look playing a video game. But self image is always their #1 concern.

  • I think a game reviewer should be good at video games. For a job like a reviewer how would we make sure reviewers can properly play a game though? Do we ask them to put what games they finished on their resumes? Maybe have a session where someone watches them play a list of certain games? What games would that be? Can only certain people review certain games. It’s an interesting issue with brings up more questions. Any ideas?

  • Are you suggesting more modes like “tell me a story”, which by the way is a very interesting choice of words better than just “easy mode”, or that a game should auto adjust to it’s players?

  • Shattno

    I’m suggesting a difficulty slider that goes from “play the game for me” to “so hard a Japanese person can’t beat it”, but some kind of dynamic difficulty system that gets harder as the player gets better is also a cool idea.

  • A slider sounds like an interesting option. That dynamic system, the only time I think something like that has been used is in Left 4 Dead where the amount of zombies in the horde depend on how much HP you have, if I’m not wrong.

  • King of Zeroes

    I don’t require critics to be MLG Pro. They don’t need to be tournament ready.

    But there is a fucking limit, and taking a minute and a half to conquer the second jump in the TUTORIAL is well and truly past that limit. A game critic needs to be good enough to actually PLAY the game they’re critiquing. Anything less than that means their opinion isn’t worth bupkis. Why would I give a shit what someone who can’t even figure out a fucking air dash thinks about the quality of a platformer? Worthless.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    What is the true definition then? Because all you defined was economic Marxism which isn’t even relevant.

    Are you seriously saying that the groups I named completely ignore culture? I can point to plenty of examples, such as lunatics like Tariq Nasheed or Deeray Mckesson who say stupid shit like “Planet Of The Apes is racist because the ape has the same vest as Deeray Mckesson”, or there is John Mcintosh and Anita Sarkeesian who are ardent third wave feminists with a youtube show dedicated to pointing out any perceived female injustice in videogames and other pop culture. These people are very influential in whatever groups they identify with, but at the end of the day its just repackaged cultural Marxism since they all preach against perceived cultural social injustices.

    There is an overlap with economic Marxism. One wants wealthier people’s earning to be redistributed among the poor and unwilling, while the other wants culture to pander to every single minority who is perceived to be oppressed.

    On a side note, I noticed in an above comment you mentioned that you are a game developer, doesn’t that technically make you a capitalist since you’re trying to compete in a free market in order to capitalize off of other people’s love of gaming? lel

  • Shattno

    That’s really cool. A lot of games actually does sort of similar things to fine tune difficulty, Big Daddies in Bio Shock move slower when you are not looking at them and the first bullet from an enemy always miss, in Doom when you are low on health you take less damage, in Half-Life if you face several enemies only two enemies will attack you at once while the others run around randomly, in System Shock 2 your last bullet does double damage. I think its pretty interesting.

    But it would be cool to see a more dynamic AI, as AI in games are always pretty stupid since the player is often facing several enemies, if all enemies where as good as the player it wouldn’t be possible to win. It would be interesting to have an AI that sees how the player did last enemy encounter and then became a little smarter or dumber the next encounter depending on the players skill.

  • Ninjagai

    It is possible for a game to be too hard, but you have to be knowledgeable enough to know how much harder it is compared to other shooters like Contra or metal slug.

    edit: but having watched the video, it’s clear the writer suffers from mental retardation.

  • ProxyDoug

    It kind of reminds me of the strong man, good times dichotomy.
    Good journalists makes gaming attractive to a wide public;
    a wide public opens the doors to bad journalists;
    bad journalists piss off a niche public;
    and a niche public demands for good journalists.

  • Shattno

    Earlier I wrote “What the Frankfurt Schools called Cultural Marxism is all about mass
    production of culture and the negative effect this has on the culture
    and society, it is i essence a critique of capitalism”. I looked it up on Wikipedia and got this: “The term ‘cultural Marxism’ has an academic usage within cultural studies where it refers to a form of anti-capitalist cultural critique which specifically targets those aspects of culture that are seen as profit driven and mass-produced under capitalism”

    No, I don’t say they completely ignore it, neither should they, culture is what defines us, so of course it has an impact on society, the question is how much. (My take is not not-at-all, but not entirely either.) The people you mention are complete nutcases, and while people listen to them I don’t think you can judge the entire movement based on that, I mean the feminist I know wouldn’t give Anita the time of the day. Whatever they preach I still don’t think they should be lumped up together.

    I don’t know, that overlap seems a bit weak, but sure. Besides Marxism isn’t about stealing money from the rich and giving it to the poor, its all about the means of production and who owns it. It talks about the flaws of capitalism that creates conflict between the classes, eventually resulting in social revolution leading to a socialist state where the means of production has social ownership, this will in time turn into communism where society would be classless and stateless. All of this is very early twentieth century and doesn’t map perfectly to today’s globalized world.

    I wouldn’t label myself a game developer, I’ve only done small things, I think of myself as more of a computer scientist. But yeah, sure, I work in a capitalist economy, I don’t have anything against the free market. I’m not a communist, if that’s what you are implying. I’m a firm believer in social democracy, where you have social justice, welfare and a capitalist economy, what we call the Nordic model.
    Now, if we talk about Marxism, I have my own company, with me as the sole employee, so I already own the means of production, so I don’t need to revolt against the bourgeoisie ;)

  • ProxyDoug

    Are you sure that’s the one?

  • Mighty No. 56008

    When the reviewer has to “test run” the product, then that person definitely needs to know what he/she is doing. Imagine having someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license review a car or someone who’s never fired a gun review a pistol, do you honestly think their opinions mean a damn?

    I’ve heard the argument that a food or movie critic doesn’t have to be good at cooking or directing respectively to do reviews, but those are very different scenarios as you only have to “consume” the products in question.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    They attack anything profit driven because its meritocratic, just like videogames. They also police the culture as a result, for example they would rather pressure talented and hard working developers to pander to those who don’t want to make their own games but still want to be accounted for.

    Culture is very influential whether is fashion, music, or movies. This is why hardcore ideologues like Anita try to hijack it in order to push their agenda, she said herself that “it was always about social justice”. The only reason why the more soft spoken ideologues hate the extremists is because it damages their PR, all waves of feminists agree that women deserve equality of outcome with none of the shared responsibilities with men, but this only starts to become really evident and off putting when fat lesbians push their overt misandry on people. A lot of social justice movements identified with the label Cultural Marxist until it became PR poison.

    Whether its culture or economics, its always about burdening the wealthy with the needs of the poor and incapable. Eventually the wealthy run out of fake paper money to redistribute, then everyone becomes equally poor and miserable just like the Soviet Union in the past and Venezuela today. Same thing with videogames, if you water down the quality of the challenge and story for the sake of political correctness, then the games lose their value and eventually the industry crashes, this is why Nintendo saved the industry by enforcing quality control and copyrights. One world government AKA globalism is just worldwide Communism, especially with things like central banking, central market, and people’s national heritage being erased with open borders and economic burdens on people who want to start families.

    If you’re a firm believer in capitalism while being an entrepreneur, then I really don’t see why you’re trying to make a case for Marxism.

  • Sam XXX

    Link to video, i need a good cringe.

  • Shattno

    No, they attack whats profit driven because it waters down art. As you write, Nintendo saved the industry by introducing quality control, the market became flooded with cheep shoveware and games with blatant copyright infringement because people started to realize you could make money off selling crap. This is one of the largest flaws of capitalism, it encourages a “just good enough” attitude where you are supposed to make as much money as possible with as little work as possible, this might work in a factory producing machine parts, but this is terrible when you make culture, like movies, music or games.

    I don’t know what Anitas agenda is (I don’t think she knows what it is), but a lot of people try to use culture as a medium for their opinions, because people are influenced by culture. This is why it’s so important to discuss this. I believe that all art, including games, should be free, rules shouldn’t dictate what you can and can’t do, with some obvious exceptions. But freedom of expression doesn’t mean freedom from criticism, I still think we should have a debate about it, ask questions like why is it like this and that and so on.

    I think you are misrepresenting feminists, there are a lot of different movements and a lot of different takes on the whole thing, but I think most want equal rights but also equal responsibilities. Also, have you ever thought about that people calling feminists “fat lesbians” is one of the reasons women like Anita seems to hate men? I think we should all try to be part of the solution and refrain from stuff like that. A little civility never hurt anyone.

    You are kind of missing the point when you say it’s about “burdening the rich with the needs of the poor”, the entire argument is that the rich are rich because the poor are doing all the work, so if the proletariat work for themselves instead of the bourgeoisie they can share the profit and you remove the entire class system.
    My personal opinion is that the CCCP went to hell because it was run by Russians, and I don’t trust Russians to run anything. But interestingly, towards the end Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to take Soviet towards a more Scandinavian way of doing things, who knows what would have happened if he had succeeded.

    You are thinking of globalism, I’m talking about globalization, two very different things.

    I’m a firm believer in that instead of replacing capitalism we use it as a framework to crate a system that is fair and equal. I’m not making a case for Marxism, I just corrected you on you use of the term, and I like discussing political ideologies. :)

  • Mr_SP

    The thing about that argument, however, is that the food and movie critic need to understand flavor and pacing to understanding what and why something is good or bad. The critic does not need to be a chef, or director, but they do need to understand the food or film better than any regular customer.

    In games, one needs to know how to “consume” the game – how to play as well as any other player that might read their article, at an absolute minimum. Ideally, a fighting game reviewer, for example, should understand common concepts of high-level play. They do not, however, need to know how to make a game, nor do they need to win tournaments.

    Basically, if the critic can’t understand why the product is good or bad, and then articulate it, then they’re just some average joe off the street.

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    Except Nintendo tanked themselves when they demanded huge profits from third party companies, eventually leading to Sony dominating the PS1 and PS2 era. Free market works because the consumers always pay for what they want the most, and since Sony wasn’t strict with sharing profits and localization, this is why they won, because quality games weren’t being punished due to the fault of crappy ones. Having one company or government strictly regulating everything doesn’t work, it just punishes entrepreneurs and consumers.

    Anita made it very clear that she was using videogames to push her third wave feminist agenda, in her own words “it was always about social justice”. Also, feminists have no problem for almost a hundred years with men dying in wars for them and allowing men in the government to pass all kinds of misandric divorce laws like no fault divorce, so I don’t give a shit if my insults hurt their feelings. Anita doesn’t hate men at all, it was a man who wrote all her scripts, and armies of beta men giving her hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she likes to think shes a woman in power despite all her power being supported by men, just like all of feminism.

    The money has to come from somewhere, if you try to eliminate meritocracy by paying everyone equally, then businesses and products will lose value, thus causing a crash. Why would I work as a doctor if I’m going to get payed the same as a McDonald’s employee?

    Communism was actually funded and ran mostly by Bolshevik Jews, Marx himself was Jewish, and the richest Capitalist at the time in America known as Jacob Schiff funded the entire Russian Revolution. Good to know you’re racist against Russians though.

  • Eldhin Hellknight

    I have Doom on PS4, and it’s perfectly playable with a controller, unless your fingers don’t work properly

  • Eldhin Hellknight


  • Shattno

    Nintendo also had policies saying that companies could only publish a set amount of games during a year, giving preferential treatment to certain companies, pushing companies to their competitors who didn’t have these limitations. But yeah, strict regulation is bad for a free market but completely unchecked capitalism isn’t that good either, you end up with slave labor, companies dumping toxic waste into the ocean and theft of intellectual property, you have to find a balance.

    Yeah, she’s a douche, as I said the third wave have lost its way. But feminism hasn’t existed for hundreds of years so you can’t blame them for things that happened then. I understand that you don’t care about their feelings, but when you’re slinging shit your not exactly helping, just saying.

    Money is just a construct, it can easily be abstracted away. The point is that the owner of the factory has no merit, he is doing none of the work but gets all the profit, if the workers work for themselves they can share the profit. So if you want meritocracy maybe Syndicalism is better.
    Also if you chose to work as a doctor for the money you are in the wrong profession. But lets go with what you said, everyone gets payed equal, in that case what would you rather do if you had to chose, flip burgers or help sick people? Personally I would flip burgers because I’m not good with people, but plenty of people would help the sick because that’s important to them. The paycheck isn’t the only factor when you chose a career.

    Haha, the Russian thing was half joke half serious. I don’t know if you’ve ever done business with Russians, but they are weird. One of my best friends is Russian and I love him to death, but that Russian weirdness, man I can’t begin to tell you. Anyway my point was that if Swedes had run the Soviet union things would have turned out very different. (As a Swede I’m obviously biased.)

  • SalsaMoose13

    Not sure if anyone remembers, but this is the same Dean Takahashi who gave Mass Effect 1 a bad review because he played through a huge portion of the game without realizing that you could level up your character. This guy should not be a video game journalist, much less the lead writer for a gaming division.

  • Mighty No. 56008

    Oh most definitely I agree, but I think what we’re talking about is knowledge. The point I was trying to get across was that you can be very knowledgable and get but as a critic/reviewer in some cases (i.e. with food and movies) but not so much with products that require a person to use them properly.

  • Jack Thompson

    “(I’ve reviewed retro games I’m terrible at)”
    But are you a paid professional with disproportionate influence on metacritic scores?

  • TheOnceAndFutureKing

    I’m not going to go in circles with you about economics, my original point was that Cultural Marxists like Anita Sarkeesian want to push this notion that videogames should be dumbed down for people who suck at them, and I was just expressing my distaste for it because videogames are all about meritocracy whether it making them or playing, and if a game journalist can’t finish a tutorial level, then they should be employed elsewhere.

  • sciencemile

    A lot of the non-arcade attract modes were meant to allow the stores selling them to display them on TVs for similar advertisement purposes, I believe.

    I still remember when they used to have huge metal frames holding up tons of Heavy CRT televisions on the ceilings of game stores and electronic sections. I wonder if anybody got killed by one of those falling on them.

  • Shattno

    It’s fine, I have a lot of shit to do, but I enjoy procrastinating by discussing with you :)
    I’m on the same page as you with the dumbing down thing, I just really dislike the term Cultural Marxism, people who use it are often horrible persons, it makes me think of Anders Behring Breivik in particular.

  • Jack

    Can you imagine a deaf person attempting to review music

  • Casey

    Honestly, you’re not wrong. I’ve always felt wary about video game reviews in the first place and even moreso about scores.

    If you give a character action game like bayonetta or a schmup like Ikaruga to a reviewer, They’ll (MAYBE) beat it once and then go write the review. However, the appeal of games like that is to play them over and over again, to “gitgud” as the idiots call it.

    I think the big problem people have is more of a perceived one. If they see a journo play a game terribly and then score it terribly, they’ll pinpoint THAT as the reason why it got a bad score. It’s also a bit of “this guy isn’t any good at games, he’s not a REAL gamer. In addition to that, there’s the fact that some games just aren’t really made for reviewing.

    There’s really no right answer, but what I’ve found works the best is to find someone you like, learn their tastes, and then follow them. It’s why I mostly use very select youtube personalities as my watermark for buying a game.

  • SiliconNooB

    Game reviewers need to be at least as good as the average gamer on the whole.

    In cases where they are reviewing a more difficult game like Dark Souls, they will need to posses sufficient skills to effectively engage with the content.

    Nobody working at Polygon should have jobs.

  • tccboss

    something is not right when a pigeon can do his puzzle faster than a game journo.

  • malbhet

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you, and please don’t come after me thirsting for my blood after giving you this link, it is just the worse ever O_O

  • malbhet

    Over 26 minutes of this horrible [email protected]#>_<

  • malbhet

    Over 26 minutes of this horrible [email protected]# show >_<

  • Ryan Smith
  • Sam XXX

    thanks. I’m going in, tell momma I love her. :(

  • shiromaki

    “The game gets harder as the player gets better”

    God hand.

    Tho… that game is already hard on easy.

  • shiromaki

    Because game stores used to put tvs playing the games in attract mode to … attact customers.

  • Shattno

    Right! Forgot about that, that was a really cool game.

  • malbhet


  • Random Dude

    Not quite, L4D overall difficulty is assigned by the “AI Director”. The director will throw a horde if you’re making too much progress without problem or you’re dilly-dallying for far too long. AI Director also responsible on item placements and boss-infected (Tank and Witch) spawns, where you’ll be seeing scarce healing supply with lots of horde when your team is healthy and vice-versa (of course, the threshold and it’s generosity depends on which difficulty you pick before you begin each campaign) and the Director may spawn more than one Bosses (outside of scripted encounter) if you manage to kill them with ease or evade them in Witch case.

  • Deus Solaris

    I agree, they don’t have to be pro level obviously but jesus christ, a tutorial that the average gamer can finish in 15-20 seconds shouldn’t take almost 2 minutes for a person being paid to play, rate and write about videogames

  • Justin Williams

    I think game journalists should have a basic level of competency at playing games. It proves they are actually gamers and not bullshit artists trying to hang in a culture they don’t belong in.

  • ERL

    Personally, I think video game journalists don’t have to be good at a game as long as they have perseverance and don’t call the game too hard or too easy because of their skill level and acknowledge the fact that they may be really bad at the game

  • RedPanda87

    You need to be at least competent/average at games I’d say, but you don’t need to be good. For one thing, a huge number of people reading the review won’t be good either, so they might actually get more from someone with a similar perspective.

    In fact, if you’re far better than the average player then unless you can appreciate that fact then your criticism risks being unbalanced. Most games are designed and expected to be played on normal difficulty or the equivalent by the majority of people, so reviewing from the perspective of being able to get through that (while potentially being challenged) is probably the best place to be, rather than having to stick it on easy or feeling it’s too easy if you’re not on hard mode.

    I’d say what’s more important though (and which nowhere that I know of consistently does) is that the reviewer gives the reader an idea of how good they are at gaming in general and at that genre in particular, so the reader knows where you’re coming from.

    Because even most ‘good’ gamers aren’t going to rock at every genre – you included, I’d imagine Brandon. And with deadlines reviewers won’t always have time to ‘git gud’ at something that’s not playing to their strengths.