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#1 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3578 posts) -

Whenever I hear someone say something like "So I'm in the line at the store, and there's this black guy in front of me who..." my attention starts to drift, and I find myself thinking, "Okay, is race actually relevant to this story, or are you bringing it up because you somehow you think that race matters here? Perhaps it's because the behavior of the person you're talking about either confirmed your prejudice, or actively went against it, and you somehow feel that makes it an interesting part the the story?"

Either way, it almost always makes the person telling the story sound like a racist idiot, and depending on the situation, I'll often call them on it.

Which brings me to the point of this thread.

First of all, great video. I agree with most everything he said here--especially concerning Avatar--and I respect Adam as a games journalist more than a great deal of the people working in this industry. But it did strike a nerve when I reached this quote:

"The whole idea that a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living, somehow come to a collective consensus that decides where someone can feed their children or take them on vacation for work they've done."

Okay, how exactly is race even close to being relevant here? Do black game reviewers give different scores? Is Adam bothered by the lack of black people in the gaming press, and he's awkwardly working it into a completely different topic? Is it some sort of white guilt?

Any reason I can think of sounds a bit ridiculous, but I'd be happy to hear from anyone who feels that they know where he's coming from.

#2 Posted by Dagbiker (6939 posts) -

its one thing to use race to discribe a person. which it sounded like you were going for in the begining with your hypothetical. Also, isnt that exactly what video games reviews are? if he wants to stop the cycle he should stop giving scores to video games.

#3 Posted by twigger89 (277 posts) -

I'm pretty sure mentioned it to point out the narrow perspective reviews tend to have. Most game critics are 20 or 30 somethings who grew up on mario and either the nintendo or super nintendo. It basically means any games that aren't made for the hardcore mainstream audience will be lambasted for not falling into line or will just get ignored.

#4 Edited by TruthTellah (8577 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: His point appears to be that a niche group of people that doesn't represent all demographics has disproportionate sway over how games are perceived and some people get paid. "Predominately white men" reinforces that they don't represent everyone, particularly the majority of the world population that isn't white men. And they're people who "play video games for a living", which also reinforces that they don't represent everyone, as few people in the world have a similar perspective as they have due to their very specific chosen profession.

The point isn't that their being predominately white or men makes their scores less viable, only less-likely to be representative of a larger range of demographics. Their reviews shouldn't be treated as absolutes or indicative of a wider range of viewpoints than they are. Thus, it is absurd that any companies would use opinions from such a select, miniscule audience to determine overall game worth. As Giant Bomb's crew often say, their reviews are not and should not be considered definitive. Their hope is that by getting to know them people will be more familiar with their particular defining factors and preferences which color any subsequent reviews no matter how much they pursue objectivity.

Defining traits, such as them being white men who spend most of their time playing videogames, them being in their 20 and 30s, and them generally preferring some genres over others, aren't bad; they simply help give a better frame of reference to understanding their reviews. People need to keep reviews in perspective.

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#5 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3578 posts) -

I'm pretty sure mentioned it to point out the narrow perspective reviews tend to have. Most game critics are 20 or 30 somethings who grew up on mario and either the nintendo or super nintendo. It basically means any games that aren't made for the hardcore mainstream audience will be lambasted for not falling into line or will just get ignored.

I'm in my 30s, and I grew up with Nintendo and Super Nintendo, but I don't think that if I was a game reviewer that my being black or white would affect my work in any particular way. If a nerrow perspective is what he's getting at, he could have used a much better choice of words. And yes, it would make much more sense to bring up the subject of age rather than race.

The latest Sonic the Hedgehog game might not get the best of reviews, but that doesn't mean that kids won't buy it anyway. There's no reason that developer bonuses should be tied to review scores that probably won't matter very much to the target audience anyway.

#6 Posted by Humanity (8871 posts) -

I think you may be nitpicking and reading a little too much into some of these statements. When someone tells you that "a black guy was standing in line in front of me" they may just want to paint a complete picture for you. It might have nothing to do with race at all. I do the same thing and it's not to say "it was a black guy, cause you know, all black doods are hoodlums, wink wink" it's just because I'm kind of a visual person and that's how I relate stories.

Sessler might be just illustrating a demographic here. Sort of like saying a group of old, white, male businesman is not putting an emphasis on white to highlight any sort of racial connotation but rather because that paints a picture of the stereotypical businessman.

#7 Edited by Kidavenger (3514 posts) -
@spaceinsomniac said:

a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living

He isn't making a judgement about the stated group so I fail to see how the statement is racist; he's just stating a fact that most people reviewing games tend to be white males.

The whole idea of the video is off, there was a prior agreement on both the employee and employer's part on how their bonus would be awarded and they both agreed on Metacritic, it may be stupid but any other method would be just as stupid. These are bonuses, not salary, bonuses are always based on performance/success, what better way to measure success than critical concensus? If people can't feed their children because they missed their bonus they need to manage their finances better, most people have jobs where they never get bonuses so fuck off with that shit. He's just pissed that knowledge of that arrangement puts pressure on the gaming press to give out better scores.

#8 Edited by eskimo (473 posts) -

Loved that video. I think he's just saying that Metacritic tries to be this global entity when its really just composed of people from a small number of cultures/nations. It bothers me too. If The West doesn't start getting on board with Indian and Chinese proclivities then we risk becoming irrelevant.

Also, it's "predominantly", not "predominately".

#9 Edited by twigger89 (277 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: I think you are taking the white from that phrase and placing undue emphasis on it. Sessler seems to be pissed that such a narrow kind of people decide what's good or bad in video games and as such affect the pay of a whole industry.

#10 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3578 posts) -

@kidavenger said:

@spaceinsomniac said:

a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living

He isn't making a judgement about the stated group so I fail to see how the statement is racist; he's just stating a fact that most people reviewing games tend to be white males.

While the title might suggest otherwise, I didn't really mean to suggest that his statement was racist, so much as awkwardly focused on race for no clear reason. I get the whole narrow perspective issue that people are talking about, but I still fail to see how that matters unless you care to make the argument that the general opinion of black people regarding video games is different than white people. And yeah, that would sound kind of racist in my opinion.

#11 Edited by TruthTellah (8577 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac said:

@kidavenger said:

@spaceinsomniac said:

a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living

He isn't making a judgement about the stated group so I fail to see how the statement is racist; he's just stating a fact that most people reviewing games tend to be white males.

While the title might suggest otherwise, I didn't really mean to suggest that his statement was racist, so much as awkwardly focused on race for no clear reason. I get the whole narrow perspective issue that people are talking about, but I still fail to see how that matters unless you care to make the argument that the general opinion of black people regarding video games is different than white people. And yeah, that would sound kind of racist in my opinion.

Do you think someone's race can impact their perspective on the world? Perhaps through how they are treated in a society?

Don't get so hung up on race, as that's only one example within the point. Mentioning their race is the same as bringing up that they're predominately men. Someone's sex can impact their perspective on things, including videogames. For example, having decades of advertising telling them they should prefer certain things or other people in their lives providing pressure against liking some things. He could have also mentioned that many are American, and one's national origin can have an influence on someone's perspective. The overall point being that these are facets of what influence their perspectives, and they by no means should be treated as though their opinions reflect all demographics and perspectives on videogames. Giant Bomb has always made a point to state that they are not the be all end all, and that's exactly the point he is making here.

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#12 Posted by gogosox82 (424 posts) -

I think your reading way too much into what he said. All he really said was that these reviews come from a narrow perspective and such a high emphasis on reviews shouldn't be placed on them because their perspective on the game is severely limited by a product of them being white men with probably a middle class upbringing. Reviews in general are highly subjective and based on one's own tastes, not some formulaic scientific number that you can cook up, so its pretty ridiculous that bonus are given for metacritic review. I'm pretty sure he was just saying "predominantly white men" to show how narrowly the perspective is to illustrate his point that bonus for metacritic averages are BS and the industry needs to move away from that.

#13 Edited by eskimo (473 posts) -
#14 Posted by RazielCuts (2942 posts) -

It's funny how 'white guy' is used as a derogatory term by 'white guys' to self deprecate in a stance of 'Ah whatever, what do we know?' As if because they're white they're coming from a place of uncluttered ness but saying any race/colour/creed group of people are all the same as one another is just as dangerous I think.

I think as you've said, Adam sounds like he's coming from a place of shame. There are many white people in the gaming press (which he is one) and he points it out to 'not be the bad guy' and acknowledge this fact, but as you say, wasn't really related as the topic on hand was Metacritic scores.

In the same vein it kind of irked me a bit during the 2nd GDC live show when Ryan kept on saying 'Straight white males' over and over again, because *this* we can't have an opinion on a subject and if I do take whatever I say with a grain of salt because of *this*. I really hate the opt out mentality that surrounds important topics, is it through fear that they'll get called out in the comments 'WHAT DO YOU KNOW' if they misstep or say something 'wrong' so they chose to sidestep that entirely and say nothing at all? It's a shame because it stilted the conversation and then when it did happen when the ladies were 'rolled out' it was just like okay, now talk about this! It wasn't natural or comfortable at all.

#15 Edited by Dagbiker (6939 posts) -

@razilcuts I agree, just because someone is a white male dose not excuse their experances, it dose not mean they have the same experances, but it dose not excuse them.

Perhaps in stead of just saying, "im a white guy, wth hell do i know" you could say "this is my experance on this subject from my point of view." Everyone has points of views, every single point of view is unique. One of the reasons I lke playing games is to experance diffrent points of view. But people have to realize that all points of views are valid.

#16 Posted by TruthTellah (8577 posts) -

@razielcuts: Come on, Sessler clearly isn't just saying it out of some kind of shame, and neither is Ryan.

We don't need to Anita Sarkeesian this video. His point is his stated point. That a narrow range of people decide what is good and bad in videogames and unfortunately have an impact on how people are paid from Metacritic ratings. That's all.

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#17 Edited by ProfessorEss (7283 posts) -

Forget racism, if people want to discuss this video the topic of discussion should be "Hypocrisy".

#18 Posted by Hippie_Genocide (541 posts) -

Are we at the point where someone's race can't be brought up at all, lest you be labeled racist? In the OP's anecdote, the color of someone's skin is the most obvious identifiable feature about them. Just because someone says "there's a black guy in line" doesn't mean they were passing judgment on the person because of their race. Would it bother you less if the person talking (presuming they're white) said "there's a white guy in line..."?

I roll my eyes whenever someone says they're colorblind and don't even see someone's race at all. Bullshit. We are visual creatures, that's how we identify things in our environment. I don't think we need to run from that. Whenever authorities are looking for someone, be it for a crime or kidnapping, race is often the next thing mentioned in the description right after gender. It's how we identify people. We shouldn't fight our nature in the name of political correctness.

#19 Edited by D0tti (786 posts) -

Are we at the point where someone's race can't be brought up at all, lest you be labeled racist? In the OP's anecdote, the color of someone's skin is the most obvious identifiable feature about them. Just because someone says "there's a black guy in line" doesn't mean they were passing judgment on the person because of their race. Would it bother you less if the person talking (presuming they're white) said "there's a white guy in line..."?

I roll my eyes whenever someone says they're colorblind and don't even see someone's race at all. Bullshit. We are visual creatures, that's how we identify things in our environment. I don't think we need to run from that. Whenever authorities are looking for someone, be it for a crime or kidnapping, race is often the next thing mentioned in the description right after gender. It's how we identify people. We shouldn't fight our nature in the name of political correctness.

I agree with this post, I'm starting to get sick off everyone reacting to everything racial and turning it to "he's a racist" etc. People are so fucking over-sensitive these days(not necessarily OP) or quick to overreact.

#20 Edited by Milkman (16541 posts) -

A person's race or gender or sexuality can give them a very different world view. These kind of differing world views are noticeably absent from the games industry so yes, the fact that this industry is dominanted by straight white males does matter.

This really has nothing to do with racism so I'm not sure why some people are using to thread to go on about how this PC world is ruining their ability to identify people by their race or whatever.

#21 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4307 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: His point appears to be that a niche group of people that doesn't represent all demographics has disproportionate sway over how games are perceived and some people get paid. "Predominately white men" reinforces that they don't represent everyone, particularly the majority of the world population that isn't white men. And they're people who "play video games for a living", which also reinforces that they don't represent everyone, as few people in the world have a similar perspective as they have due to their very specific chosen profession.

The point isn't that their being predominately white or men makes their scores less viable, only less-likely to be representative of a larger range of demographics. Their reviews shouldn't be treated as absolutes or indicative of a wider range of viewpoints than they are. Thus, it is absurd that any companies would use opinions from such a select, miniscule audience to determine overall game worth. As Giant Bomb's crew often say, their reviews are not and should not be considered definitive. Their hope is that by getting to know them people will be more familiar with their particular defining factors and preferences which color any subsequent reviews no matter how much they pursue objectivity.

Defining traits, such as them being white men who spend most of their time playing videogames, them being in their 20 and 30s, and them generally preferring some genres over others, aren't bad; they simply help give a better frame of reference to understanding their reviews. People need to keep reviews in perspective.

Well, I think it's more than clear that you deserve your username.

#22 Posted by Flacracker (1606 posts) -

It isn't racist if you are describing what they are. If they are black, they are black, they are black, and whatever color. You cant change that.

In the same vein it kind of irked me a bit during the 2nd GDC live show when Ryan kept on saying 'Straight white males' over and over again, because *this* we can't have an opinion on a subject and if I do take whatever I say with a grain of salt because of *this*. I really hate the opt out mentality that surrounds important topics, is it through fear that they'll get called out in the comments 'WHAT DO YOU KNOW' if they misstep or say something 'wrong' so they chose to sidestep that entirely and say nothing at all? It's a shame because it stilted the conversation and then when it did happen when the ladies were 'rolled out' it was just like okay, now talk about this! It wasn't natural or comfortable at all.

Ryan kept describing themselves as straight white males to make the point that they don't really know anything about racism or sexism. At least in the games industry white males make up the vast majority. They have no experiences of racism towards them and no one is sexist towards them. It was okay to talk about with the women there because they can have a real opinion and may be have been subject to sexism.

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#23 Edited by JadeGL (766 posts) -

I guess my question would be how is his statement not true? When I look at people online reviewing games and making gameplay videos and all that, I don't see a ton of people that look like me. I see a ton of guys, predominantly white, in their 30s or 20s, which is exactly what he said in that small snippet. That's not picking on something, that's just the truth. I think his point is that they can't possibly represent a good sample of people who buy and play games because they are a narrow demographic in and of themselves.

That doesn't even get into basing bonuses on Metacritic, which is just crazy to me, but I'm not a game developer and I'm not signing these contracts, so I have no idea whether they are technically being screwed or not. Maybe they feel they have no choice in the matter and they weigh signing a crappy contract versus putting food on the table and a roof over their heads? Maybe they think their game will kill it and be well reviewed and have a false sense of pride in their product? I have no idea. I just hope that we can get past this kind of stuff because Metacritic, while a good place to just go grab some reviews and read, shouldn't be the arbiter of whether a person gets a bonus or not, especially when I think other metrics would make more sense. Not only that, but the system isn't good enough to base something as important as income off of. For instance, most people can see that a 3 out of 5 is an average to slightly above average game, but on Metacritic it becomes a 60, which is a "failing" grade. It doesn't parse anything like what the reviewer actually writes, which may be overall positive. Maybe they think the multiplayer is lackluster but the single player is mindblowingly good? You would never know if you just look at numbers and not the actual reviews.

Anyway, I just think that he has a point in there, but trying to attack him based on a statement that is actually true is kind of crappy. Why not attack the actual argument, or say that if he believes so hard in that, then maybe they should eschew review scores at Rev3 Games? That makes more sense to comment on than a simple statement about the make up of the people who review games.

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#24 Posted by RazielCuts (2942 posts) -

@truthtellah: I didn't think that the objective quality of a game was dependent on the race of the person playing it.

@milkman: Yes the industry is apparently 'dominated' by straight white males but is anyone actively denouncing others from joining? If they are then yes we have a problem but I don't think they are. Let it happen naturally, as the industry grows so will the people joining it, forcing it actually does the opposite and makes it more uncomfortable and creates ideals where you have a PR agenda from on high of 'minority hires' for company image which is just the worst thing.

#25 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

As a middle aged white male, I don't take offense to it, because it has become not-so-short-hand for "the establishment" or "the man" or "status quo". It establishes that we're talking about opinions, laws, actions or other things formed within an insular group that has decision making power, no matter the lack of their experience.

Granted, it trades in a stereotype, but middle aged (okay, elderly, is more accurate) white males have tended to control more decision-making power up and down the ladder, even if they are the minority gender of the population (and, therefore - white men or any other color of men - even more so a minority).

I don't like being lumped in with that category by its description anymore than anyone else does, but it is a historically fair and relevant short-hand that won't have outlived reality for at least a couple more decades, I'm sure.

As for people describing themselves, in conversation, as "a straight white male", that's because if you state something and don't make it clear that you understand that you do not have direct experience as someone from another ethnicity, race, sexuality, or gender, you are going to catch unending shit for it. It's a way of saying "look, I know I'm not gay/black/asian/female/whatever, but I have an opinion or something to add to the conversation and I would like you to listen to me, instead of just automatically discounting me as somehow privileged and incapable of insight or sympathy".

#26 Edited by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@dagbiker said:

its one thing to use race to discribe a person. which it sounded like you were going for in the begining with your hypothetical. Also, isnt that exactly what video games reviews are? if he wants to stop the cycle he should stop giving scores to video games.

No. His review of your game isn't impacting your income. Your employer's choice to base your compensation on his review (instead of on sales, profits, etc) is. That is the industry's problem -- not the reviewer's and not the aggregator's.

#27 Edited by rebgav (1429 posts) -

It would be absurd, if the point of a Metacritic-based bonus were to determine worth rather than to create a scenario in which it is almost entirely impossible to achieve the standard required to trigger the bonus. Out of 11,927 game listings on metacritic.com only 1197 have a metascore of 85 or over and that number includes games from this generation which have multiple ratings based on multiplatform releases. If a developer's bonus were based on achieving a metascore of 85 or higher they'd have to turn in a product which received a score reserved for fewer than 10% of all titles listed on the aggregator.

#28 Edited by prapin (32 posts) -

He's suggesting that the fact that a person's job depends on just a review score is unfair.

Theoretically, if the video game industry had developed and internally agreed to abide by actual standards (like the flim industry), video games would be actually judged and reviewed properly by reviewers.

In this theoretical universe, it would be cool if someone lost their job over a review because that would mean he was just not good enough.

Obviously this is not the case when it comes to reality. There are no standards like I mentioned. Reviewers just slap a flashy number which means nothing. (for example, IGN rated minecraft's graphics an 8 ( or something) because they "just loved it", which is complete and utter BS. They should assess the technical aspect of graphics instead of posting their biased opinion).

There's no meritocracy in the video games industry. Publishers and reviewers have a really unique relationship. Here's how it works:

-publishers give the priviledge an early copy of the game to the reviewers before the game launches

-reviewers rate it

-if rating is negative, the reviewer will just not receive a game for early review next time

-if rating is positive, the reviewer has fortified an early review of the next game by the publisher

This is basically how the "client" system works. Reviewers act, willingly or not, just as another marketing department for the game.

Now since not every publisher has the influence to warrant such a reaction, some video games have the unfortunate fate of being rated by a pseudo-professional reviewer with no real standards.

Sessler advises the "top dudes" to grow the fuck up and stop their shitty marketing, which is just pointless blabber.

Video game "journalists" need to start doing their jobs as critics instead. Sites like kotaku, IGN, gamespot, RPS etc and even this site need to get a real nice slap to the face.

Calling a consumer "entitled" should warranty a "carrier" loss.

However, since it's entertainment we're talking about and judgement of a game cannot be 100% objective, I agree with him that people should stop thinking of them as such.

On the other hand his use of the "group of predominately white men..." phrase is just a double standard.

There's a really strong subconcious fallacy or rather implication that the average white male is represented by the top 1% most powerful and richest white men in the world who are also bigoted, opressors, homophobic, religious, racists and other things (hence phrases such as "white priviledge" and "patriarchy" jumping all over the place even if they are just meaningless buzzwords to start with). So in his effort to go against those in the "top" of the video game industry, calling them "white men" is just a little subtle poison he throws at them.

It's certainly white guilt. The same reason if a white man expresses pride of being white, he gets frowned upon.

I realise I might be overanalying and jumping to conclusions but judging by the recent happenings in the industry which are characterised by some form of "social justice", this is my opinion.

That being said, as a white male, it doesn't really offend me at all since I'm used to this treatment on the internet.

#29 Posted by RazielCuts (2942 posts) -
@branthog said:

As for people describing themselves, in conversation, as "a straight white male", that's because if you state something and don't make it clear that you understand that you do not have direct experience as someone from another ethnicity, race, sexuality, or gender, you are going to catch unending shit for it. It's a way of saying "look, I know I'm not gay/black/asian/female/whatever, but I have an opinion or something to add to the conversation and I would like you to listen to me, instead of just automatically discounting me as somehow privileged and incapable of insight or sympathy".

The problem with this is he stated it, over and over, and then didn't add anything to the conversation. Which would've been fine for him/them to be self aware and then add something but they decided because they were 'straight white men' they therefore had no/ couldn't offer an opinion on the matter which I find trouble if we're going to have any discussion about it and need to wheel out the token 'affected person' each time.

#30 Posted by Brodehouse (9649 posts) -

You're not crazy, SpaceInsomniac.

My greatest dissatisfaction with other progressives or left-minded people is that it all ends as soon as it doesn't suit their biases. These folk who would never criticize blacks based on their race but who don't apply that same care to invulnerable old whitey. No problem offending Christians, but the moment you draw the Prophet Muhammed you're a racist and a jingo. The same people who are preaching civility and protecting other people's feelings in favor of free speech are the first to post 'Finally' when Margaret Thatcher croaks. It's incredibly frustrating to have the people I technically agree with on many issues be unrepentant hypocrites provided the hypocrisy serves their ideals. So embarassing.

I'm not PC by any stretch of the imagination, and you're not wrong for noticing how strange it is to reference being a white man in order to assert your ignorance and irrelevance. Because that would never fly in any other example. If anything, saying you're straight and white and male and then going on to make a valid point would put more evidence to the fact that being straight and white and male is not relevant to the argument, a la Danaerys Targaryen starting off with "I'm merely a young girl and know nothing about war, but..." and then going on to make a pertinent, astute observation.

Honestly, I would be any other mix of whatevers because at least I could talk openly about this stuff without being written off based on my inclusion to whatever groups. Scratch that, born whatever else provided it was still to my mother. The only privilege based on my birth I ever grew up with is that my mother is responsible and took care of me.

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#31 Edited by MindOST (215 posts) -

I feel that this thread is dangerously close to tipping into "Men's Rights Activism" territory. "Straight White Male" is frequently used because that's the "default" in society. At no point in our collective cultural memory have we, as a demographic, been at any real disadvantage, It's why nobody cares about the word "honky" or "cracker." Those words have never been a part of any kind of systemic oppression. When you use the N-Word, you're invoking the memory of a time when that group of people were considered property.

Anyways, to the topic at hand, yeah, it was a lazy choice of words by Sessler, but the key point was that metacritic scores are incredibly skewed by a fairly narrow demographic, and since criticism is inherent subjective, that's a big deal. Your culture and upbringing informs your values, opinions, and worldview; all of which can have a profound view on your critical voice.

#32 Edited by prapin (32 posts) -

@mindost said:

I feel that this thread is dangerously close to tipping into "Men's Rights Activism" territory. "Straight White Male" is frequently used because that's the "default" in society. At no point in our collective cultural memory have we, as a demographic, been at any real disadvantage, It's why nobody cares about the word "honky" or "cracker." Those words have never been a part of any kind of systemic oppression. When you use the N-Word, you're invoking the memory of a time when that group of people were considered property.

Anyways, to the topic at hand, yeah, it was a lazy choice of words by Sessler, but the key point was that metacritic scores are incredibly skewed by a fairly narrow demographic, and since criticism is inherent subjective, that's a big deal. Your culture and upbringing informs your values, opinions, and worldview; all of which can have a profound view on your critical voice.

Why should I be judged for things that happened centuries ago?

Also, define "real disadvantage" and why should discrimination against white inviduals be taken as nothing serious due to the "collective" race not being in a "real disadvantage"?

Collectives do not get discriminized, individuals do based on generalizations of the collective they belong in.

#33 Edited by mellotronrules (1172 posts) -

i think you're overemphasizing. replace his "a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living" with "seemingly homogeneous body of critics" and you get the same meaning. i think the spirit of his words is such that sessler is underscoring how silly metacritic is as a fundamental thing- an attempt at numerical consensus that doesn't accurately represent divergent opinions. come to think of it, it doesn't accurately represent anything at all.

#34 Posted by phantomzxro (1565 posts) -

Yeah i think Sessler point had more to do with a narrow range of people choosing what works and what don't. Maybe not the best choice of words but i still think his point is sound. The narrow range of people's opinions that impacts a larger group is bad when you don't take account of the larger groups opinions or possible impact it could have on them. Ideally you want people from all walks of life to give input on the matter so everyone situation is considered.

#35 Edited by Brodehouse (9649 posts) -

I will be good and fucked before I let someone tell me why I, or anyone else, deserve to be generalized as 'homogenous'. Or that I'm just 'the default'. Imagine you said that to some minorities, "there's black people, asian people, and normal people". And if you're going to twist to "well its the largest demographic!", not only is straight white male not a majority demographic, it's not even the largest demographic. Are you going to say that straight white women are homogenous, or that they need to add "hey I'm just a straight white woman so that's the reason I'm ignorant about X topic"? Of course not! And back up with your 'culture informs your upbringing and opinions'... Don't be using 'culture' as a weasel word for 'race', because that's actually what you're saying. And I don't think Asian people need to preface any statement about free speech by admitting "well I'm obviously ignorant because my culture, but..."

This has nothing to do with rights, I will be dead before I understand how people consistently confuse what rights are. This is purely about egalitarianism and what actual equality means, not just equality when it pleases the eye. Judging people by the content of their character or the quality of their statements is not a set of ethics that only apply to one race or another, you can't apply it when you find it convenient, it's a mass proposition.

Urgh, disappointed. Progressives refusing to be progressive.

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#36 Edited by EnduranceFun (1114 posts) -

Sessler is an ignoramus in his choice of words a lot of the time. "Misogynistic gut punch" anyone? It's pretty clear that he and certain other individuals in the games press are desperate to politicise every single issue they can, whether out of bias or wanting popularity, it doesn't matter. It's totally shameless and the only way to deal with it is avoiding those sites or people who do it.

#37 Posted by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

Yeah, the 'white male' comment was fucking weird. I think what he's trying to say is that people with a narrow field of view and relatively similar life experience are all being held accountable to determine whether or not a group full of a wide variety of different types of people get a bonus/raise/whatever. But it still sound fucking odd and out of place. He fucking sounds as he's somehow guilty for being a white dude. Like he would need to apologize and give a long talk about society before he would give his opinion on a matter. It also sounds pandering in light of the continuing talk about sexism in the games industry. Like he has a mental checklist in his head about what things he needs to say to get what audience to listen to what he says.

These things probably aren't true. But that's what I personally get out of it and I imagine that's not what he wanted to get across.

#38 Posted by MindOST (215 posts) -

@prapin said:

Why should I be judged for things that happened centuries ago?

Also, define "real disadvantage" and why should discrimination against white inviduals be taken as nothing serious due to the "collective" race not being in a "real disadvantage"?

Collectives do not get discriminized, individuals do based on generalizations of the collective they belong in.

Ugh, I almost hate to respond to this because it's straying pretty far from the topic at hand. So I'll make it short and be done with it.

You're not being judged for something that happened centuries ago. I'm saying that the words used to insult you don't have deep rooted, intensely negative cultural connotations based off of a long history of oppression. Your victim complex can be seen from space.

And obviously racism against white people isn't okay, but it's not the widespread systemic problem that racism against, say, black people is. The odds of you getting searched for drugs or weapons just because you're white or not getting called in for a job interview simply because you have a white-sounding name are incredibly low.

#39 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -
@prapin said:

@mindost said:

I feel that this thread is dangerously close to tipping into "Men's Rights Activism" territory. "Straight White Male" is frequently used because that's the "default" in society. At no point in our collective cultural memory have we, as a demographic, been at any real disadvantage, It's why nobody cares about the word "honky" or "cracker." Those words have never been a part of any kind of systemic oppression. When you use the N-Word, you're invoking the memory of a time when that group of people were considered property.

Anyways, to the topic at hand, yeah, it was a lazy choice of words by Sessler, but the key point was that metacritic scores are incredibly skewed by a fairly narrow demographic, and since criticism is inherent subjective, that's a big deal. Your culture and upbringing informs your values, opinions, and worldview; all of which can have a profound view on your critical voice.

Why should I be judged for things that happened centuries ago?

Also, define "real disadvantage" and why should discrimination against white inviduals be taken as nothing serious due to the "collective" race not being in a "real disadvantage"?

Collectives do not get discriminized, individuals do based on generalizations of the collective they belong in.

More like 40 years ago in America....Just over 20 years ago in South Africa. Not centuries ago. Educate your self.

#40 Posted by Hunter5024 (5555 posts) -

In Sessler's video it did seem a little strange and out of place, but he was pretty worked up. I think maybe he was trying to make a grander point about the narrow group of opinions that metacritic is attempting to collect, though I think he could have developed this point better. As for the example wherein a person is telling a story and they mention that one of the people involved is black, I don't really see the problem with this. When you're telling a story I think little details are important so you can give your audience a better visual representation. When I'm telling a story I typically give a one word description for that reason be it "Black Man" "Tattoo Girl" "Short Guy" "Pregnant Lady" or whatever. I don't think it's a matter of the story teller projecting their racial hang ups on top of the story, that's just a cynical interpretation.

Honestly though I have to wonder why you gave this example in the first place. It was almost as if you were trying to explicitly point out that your criticism of his video had nothing to do with the specific race he mentioned. Why should you be afraid to point out something that came across a little racist to you just because the race happened to be white people? It's a funny thing about racism that someone could point out racism against black people and be met with empathy, whereas pointing out the same against white people would be mocked. Which is not to say that I found Sessler's video racist, but in your example you specifically mentioned that you typically think this behavior is. Perhaps I'm making too many assumptions, I don't know.

#41 Posted by TheHBK (5466 posts) -

A lot of us don't get bonuses at work. Crying over not getting a bonus is dumb. You do you work, get paid, thats it. Besides, it is the industry that has the problem. The publishers using metacritic to shell out money.

#42 Edited by Brodehouse (9649 posts) -

The part that's troubling me here is not that people are disagreeing that what Sess said was a weird and needlessly racial thing to say... It's that it's wrong for anyone to notice. Nobody is actually arguing the argument, most appear to agree with it (and that racism is a bad thing), but they don't like people having the temerity to actually make that argument. I don't even really care about what Sess said all that much, he's got white guilt, that's fine, so do I to a reasonable extent, but it's the response to the response draws me in. Because it's not "that's not racist or a strange thing to say" it's "that is kind of racial for no discernible reason, but there's no point noticing it!"

I guess I agree with @Branthog to an extent, that Sessler is just covering his bases in case someone jumps the gun and starts calling him "mighty whitey" talking about shit he could never understand... But I go a step further and don't believe he should be made to preemptively apologize in order to protect himself from retribution. You shouldn't have to beg in order to not be subject to appeals to the speaker or appeals to authority.

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#43 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

Whenever I hear someone say something like "So I'm in the line at the store, and there's this black guy in front of me who..." my attention starts to drift, and I find myself thinking, "Okay, is race actually relevant to this story, or are you bringing it up because you somehow you think that race matters here? Perhaps it's because the behavior of the person you're talking about either confirmed your prejudice, or actively went against it, and you somehow feel that makes it an interesting part the the story?"

Either way, it almost always makes the person telling the story sound like a racist idiot, and depending on the situation, I'll often call them on it.

I do this all the time, but it's not just restricted to other races. When I'm telling a story I try to be as descriptive as possible, so if the guy in front of me was white, hispanic, black, etc I'm going to say so. I get what you're saying though, and I do know people who do that in a sub-consciously racist way, especially if I don't mention what the persons race was and they actually ask me something like "Was he black?!".

#44 Edited by RazielCuts (2942 posts) -

The amount of people in this thread equating 'White person = Narrow point of view' I'm finding really offensive.

#45 Posted by Jams (2960 posts) -

First off, what does being straight, white or a male have to do with being able to tell if a game is fun to play and worth buying? How would he somehow be unable to tell if a game is good for black people or gays? If a game is fun, it's going to be fun for everybody. Race, class or sexual orientation has shit to do with video games.

Now if he said something like, "I'm just a casual gamer who only gets and hour of gaming a week..." then it'd be fine.

Secondly, being "white" doesn't give away any kind of description to you as a person. I can't really automatically assume anything about you (unless I'm a dumb mother fucker). Am I supposed to assume you're Joey Gucci Shoes. Driving around in your fancy platinum coated limo? But what about some farmer kid? He's white but he does fit any of that? What about surfer Joe with his golden locks of hair? He doesn't fit the other two guys either. So how the fuck does calling yourself white do anything?

Same with sexual orientation. He's straight, so all that tells me is that he doesn't like dudes boning him in the mouth or butt. Okay?

Gender: He's a male. He's predisposed to mechanics and has higher testosterone than female. At least that gives a tidbit of info that could maybe relate to game. That still doesn't help since different males can be attracted to different things. Especially as they get older and older.

TL:DNR -> Straight.White.Male doesn't give any valid description that could differentiate your ability to tell if a game is fun or not.

#46 Edited by golguin (3849 posts) -

Is this thread really serious? As a Mexican dude I feel I can say that phrases like "a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living" and "Straight White Male" are not meant to be racist by ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION so I don't know how the point is being argued.

It's very clear that your race, nationality, gender, age, religion, and any other factor will naturally paint your opinion on everything. Some factors will have more of an impact than others. Why do you think market research separates consumers by those same factors? It's because it works people.

#47 Edited by JadeGL (766 posts) -

@razielcuts said:

The amount of people in this thread equating 'White person = Narrow point of view' I'm finding really offensive.

I don't think people are doing that. I think people are saying that it is a small sample size and to base people's livelihoods off of that isn't necessarily a good idea when there are better metrics. It's a narrow sample, a slice of the demographics of America that doesn't really reflect the whole accurately.

I see it as similar to how you wouldn't trust a study that focused on one grouping of people when trying to make an argument about most or all people. So I would say you shouldn't say that most or all people give a game a poor review when it's really just a very specific group of people. Perhaps he phrased his idea poorly, but I get what he is saying.

Again, I look at people reviewing games and I don't see myself reflected very often. That's just the facts and someone pointing that out isn't bad in and of itself. I guess I view it as saying politics is an "old boy's club" or something similar. That is a very common phrase I've heard thrown around from time to time on TV and in written pieces. But guess what? It is pretty accurate when stepping back and looking at it from the outside.

Now, is that a bad thing? No. I find people I like who review games in a fun way and listen to them. I don't worry that "this reviewer isn't 30 years old, from the North East, white, lower to middle class, female with a college degree" and throw out what they say because they don't reflect my world view and where I have come from. That's just not who is drawn to online game reviews as a calling, and that's okay. I think it's cool when I see people like me, but it's no deal breaker. However, a reviewer pointing out that reviewers are kind of homogenous isn't something to freak out about. It's just how it is at the moment and it will probably change with time, much like any other profession.

But why base bonuses on the opinions of a small sample of people when you can base it on other, better metrics? I find the reliance on Metacritic a bit frustrating. One bad review could skew a great game into good territory, and the contracts are written to make it be almost perfect reviews or nothing, and I would think that is almost impossible.

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#48 Posted by Nicked (246 posts) -

i think you're overemphasizing. replace his "a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living" with "seemingly homogeneous body of critics" and you get the same meaning. i think the spirit of his words is such that sessler is underscoring how silly metacritic is as a fundamental thing- an attempt at numerical consensus that doesn't accurately represent divergent opinions. come to think of it, it doesn't accurately represent anything at all.

That's also what I got from it, well said.

I also have to wonder if people have ever been denied bonuses based on metacritic rankings even if a game sold better than expected. I know Obsidian had a problem with this but I don't know what their sales were. I feel a little like Sessler's implying that any game with under an 80 (or whatever) on metacritic didn't result in bonuses for people. I wish he had explained and cited his claims more thoroughly, though his points are well taken.

#49 Edited by Bourbon_Warrior (4523 posts) -

Pretty much every known reviewer is a white dude. So I would say yes the industry is "predominately white men", it's like saying the rap industry is predominately black men, it's not racist when it's fact.

#50 Edited by Brodehouse (9649 posts) -

@nicked said:

@mellotronrules said:

i think you're overemphasizing. replace his "a group of predominately white men who play video games for a living" with "seemingly homogeneous body of critics" and you get the same meaning. i think the spirit of his words is such that sessler is underscoring how silly metacritic is as a fundamental thing- an attempt at numerical consensus that doesn't accurately represent divergent opinions. come to think of it, it doesn't accurately represent anything at all.

That's also what I got from it, well said.

I also have to wonder if people have ever been denied bonuses based on metacritic rankings even if a game sold better than expected. I know Obsidian had a problem with this but I don't know what their sales were. I feel a little like Sessler's implying that any game with under an 80 (or whatever) on metacritic didn't result in bonuses for people. I wish he had explained and cited his claims more thoroughly, though his points are well taken.

New Vegas sold very well. But they received an 84 on Metacritic instead of an 85. So they didn't get their bonus and had to cancel whatever 'Project North Carolina' was and fire 30 people. Thank God for Kickstarter.

@bourbon_warrior: Because it's completely irrelevant to his thesis. His thesis is it's not ethically sound for one group (games reviewers) to be inadvertently responsible for a developer's compensation. The only way his inane inclusion of "predominantly white men" would make any sense is if he's attempting to say that it's even more unethical for a group made of predominantly white men to be responsible for that compensation. As if it would be more acceptable provided the group responsible for the developer's compensation were more diverse. If anything, he completely punches his thesis in the gut by saying that it's not the practice of tying compensation to review scores that is the problem, but the review scores not coming from the right races that's the problem.

It's good to know that Adam Sessler doesn't believe that critically he's any different from Jeff Gerstmann, since they are both 'homogenous'. It's also good to know that everyone else agrees that white men are pretty much homogenous, you could interchange any one of us and it wouldn't really make a difference since we're all the fucking same.

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