Observers are unimpressed with the gaming journalists’ hatred for their nominal audience:
Slate readers are over, declining—a dead demographic.
Why on Earth would I start a column with this thesis? There is no faster way to alienate my audience—that is, the people who pay my bills. And yet, this is exactly what writers at not one but half a dozen online gaming publications did to their audiences last week, and it points to a significant shift in the business of gaming. Gamers are not over, but gaming journalism is.
Some background: Recently, there were some egregious incidents of harassment in the gaming community, as I covered in a previous piece. The harassment story quickly spiraled into a much larger fight, clumsily dubbed #GamerGate, between an angry, mostly anonymous mass of gamers and the gaming press. The fight blew up on Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, gaming sites, 4chan, and elsewhere last week. With rhetorical shrapnel flying everywhere, one ironic low was achieved when popular and resolutely positive gamer Steven Williams, aka Boogie2988, found himself simultaneously maligned as a brainwashed feminist by self-declared men’s rights activists and fat-shamed by self-declared social justice advocates. Another low was when thoughtful freelance gaming writer Jenn Frank decided to leave the field altogether after being unfairly singled out for relentless criticism.
Trying to sort through GamerGate is like sinking into quicksand, but the general tenor of the discussion has been: A fair number of gamers hate the journalists who cover them, and the journalists hate them back.
If you’ll notice, I don’t pay any attention whatsoever to all the new gaming sites and I have absolutely no idea why anyone else ever did. It is entirely obvious that none of them know anything about the history of games, and many of them are observably not very interested in games at all.