DFTM

Sexism and the myth of the negligent critic

Viola

I’ve had a pretty lousy day today, so I’m not sure I have the brain capacity to actually write something clever. The great thing is that other people have that capacity! Two different texts turned up on Twitter as I settled in for some brainless skirmish-running in Lord of the Rings Online – two texts that I think you should read.

‘Ooh, if you can’t take it, get off the internet’ comes the call from over clutched handbag. Well if you can’t speak to a woman without resorting to wholly unimaginative sexist copypasta, how about you get off the internet? He who repeats sexist tropes wins? I think not. Sexism can be funny, same as racism, homophobia and so on. But only when it’s used to actually say something.

Mark Sorrell takes on sexism in the games industry, looking mostly at the comment-sections of sites like IGN. The piece by Emma Boyes linked in his text is awesome (I felt similar about Saints Row 2), yet the comments make me want to curl up in my sofa and never talk to another living human being again (you have been warned). They are not only filled with sexist bullshit, they are also filled with blatant anti-intellectualism. Something the world, and the US, doesn’t need right now.

And speaking of comments…

One of the common comments I frequently find beneath game reviews I’ve written goes something like this: “You forgot to mention x, y and z!” with x, y and z equaling whatever pet peeves or mandatory videogame features that a particular gamer holds near to his or her heart. [...] I didn’t mention x, y and z in my review because I don’t care about x, y and z. The fact that I don’t give a squirt about frame rate or the ability to invert the y axis doesn’t make me a negligent critic. It just makes me a critic with way different concerns than you.

Gus Mastrapa looks at one of the most annoying comments you can get when you publish a review of a game. We’ve all been there. I am amazed that we still, after so many years, have to point out that reviews are subjective. That you and me, as reader and writer, probably won’t feel exactly the same about a given game. “Find a critic that is after precisely the same thing you’re after and you’re set for life,” Gus writes. “Just don’t get your hopes up.” That’s something many of us have been saying for years. But it’s worth saying again and Gus puts it eloquently. Bookmarked and saved for future linking.

Posted on December 12th, 2011 in Games 

  • Chris Smith

    Glad to see you blogging like a wild man!

    Comments are one of the reasons I’d love to go back to school for a degree in psychology, because I’d love to get to the bottom of the reasoning behind why people act the way they do on the internet.

    See…actually, that paragraph is part of it. Does your knowing anything about my desire to study the psychology of internet users really ADD anything to your post? Not really, although in theory, it’s “showboating” which I think is where a lot of comments come from.

    I believe that many people like to jump up and down and be included by association, so they not only comment, but try to ENGAGE the author in a dialog. Maybe on some level it lets them believe that if they COULD get their Y and Z lumped in with the author’s X, then A) they’d be on the same level as a widely read (or at least widely available) internet pundit, B) that they actually did the pundit one better by “pointing out” something they overlooked, making them look just as smart, if not smarter, and C) that other people who read THEIR comment will consider them to be “an authority” on a subject, just as they might consider the author of the original piece an authority.

    And even THAT paragraph was an attempt to expand your post by spewing out some kind of amature psychobabble that has no basis in fact… I’m a walking example!

  • Chris Smith

    Glad to see you blogging like a wild man!

    Comments are one of the reasons I’d love to go back to school for a degree in psychology, because I’d love to get to the bottom of the reasoning behind why people act the way they do on the internet.

    See…actually, that paragraph is part of it. Does your knowing anything about my desire to study the psychology of internet users really ADD anything to your post? Not really, although in theory, it’s “showboating” which I think is where a lot of comments come from.

    I believe that many people like to jump up and down and be included by association, so they not only comment, but try to ENGAGE the author in a dialog. Maybe on some level it lets them believe that if they COULD get their Y and Z lumped in with the author’s X, then A) they’d be on the same level as a widely read (or at least widely available) internet pundit, B) that they actually did the pundit one better by “pointing out” something they overlooked, making them look just as smart, if not smarter, and C) that other people who read THEIR comment will consider them to be “an authority” on a subject, just as they might consider the author of the original piece an authority.

    And even THAT paragraph was an attempt to expand your post by spewing out some kind of amature psychobabble that has no basis in fact… I’m a walking example!

  • http://blog.dontfearthemutant.com Petter Mårtensson

    Yeah, that would go a long way to explain some of the comments one tends to get, absolutely.

    Your comment, on the other hand, is actually relevant… ;)