It’s clear at this point that no matter how it began, the ongoing cultural cataclysm known as GamerGate is not primarily about “ethics in gaming journalism.” The fact that it was sparked by a vengeful ex-boyfriend would be one clue; that, so far as I can tell, no male gamers have been attacked except for supporting women who’ve been harassed and threatened online is another. But even taking GamerGaters at their word(s), their concerns rarely stand up to scrutiny, especially when it comes to the insistence that game reviews be “objective.”
I’ve heard this complaint, less frequently, about film criticism as well, to which I usually reply that the only objective aspects of a movie are aspect ratio and running time. Matthew Dessem, who frequently writes for the Dissolve, has taken that idea to the next level with “The Objective Reviewer,” which begins with this brilliant riff on “Citizen Kane”:
The “objective review” goes on to obsess over framerates and “Kane’s” lack of color, which it suggests are likely to disappoint “filmers” looking to push their flatscreens and surround sound to the max. At that point, Dessem’s satire of games journalism slides into a less gonzo critique of the way the aesthetics of gaming have crept into the world of cinema, inspiring (if that’s the word) “The Hobbit’s” distracting HFR cinematography and the cropping of both 4:3 and widescreen content to max out every pixel in a 16:9 screen. By those standards, it’s not surprising that one of the greatest films ever made winds up with a lowly 48 out of 100 score.