The problem with gaming "news" channels

This is a topic that I’ve been thinking a bit lately because it’s a topic that a lot of people haven’t talked about and it’s about gaming news channels. Now I’m not talking about big-name gaming news publication sites like IGN, Gamespot, Polygon, etc, I’m talking more about independently run channels like ReviewTechUSA, YongYea, Optimus, LegacyKillaHD etc. Channels that are usually run by one person. These channels while not massive, still gain a lot of views and attraction and occasionally can get a million views. While these channels do report on news, they also give their own insight into the news. But the problem is from what I’ve noticed, is that their insights/opinions often feel like kneejerk, angry, emotional reactions instead of giving more insightful views. They often don’t seem to give a more proper analysis on certain situations and also rely on clickbait-y titles to attract viewers. Some of these channels present themselves in a professional manner that makes themselves look legitimate but since it’s also run by one person, the way they interact with viewers also creates a parasocial relationship. To give an example, look at YongYea’s video on Alien Blackout

YongYea reports on the news at the beginning which gives him credence but when he discusses the game, he doesn’t really analyze what the game might actually be about. Instead, he simply makes assumptions that the game is a FNAF ripoff and a cash-grab despite the fact that we haven’t seen any gameplay.
This can be a bit concerning when some of these YouTubers like RTUSA have some right-wing views and make comments about “SJWs”. To give another example watch Optimus video on why he claims that women in the gaming esports aren’t oppressed

Even though these people aren’t right-wing per se, they still espouse right-wing views. My point I’m trying to make isn’t to attack these YouTubers or people who watch them but to talk about how they have an impact on the gaming community on YouTube and how their words can have an impact on gamers and make them believe in a certain view without taking a more objective stance on the complications. Honestly, I could be blabbering here but what do you think?

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A huge aspect of the modern right is the control of media infrastructure and I see the YouTube gaming news industry as part of that project. By having people’s primary source for in-depth gaming news be tied to a community of libertarian-right leaning youtubers, the gaming-to-alt-right pipeline is fairly streamlined. Just look at your recommendations after watching some YongYea or RTUSA videos. That’s the cynical view anyway.

I personally think that it’s a chicken-egg scenario. The kinds of people who want to watch rants about the gaming industry are the gaming equivalent of Fox News viewers. They want to get angry. They want to have their existing beliefs confirmed, and these creator’s who share those beliefs have risen to prominence.

That’s not to say that this doesn’t start with people like Jim Sterling who is fairly liberal, or Yahtzee who is still a bigot, popularising this kind of indignant criticism of both games and the industry that makes them, and with Old Man Murray before them. Gaming’s caustic reputation was forged in conjunction with the general character of the internet in the early 2000s, so there’s always been a place for misplaced rage in gaming punditry. Like, I wrote angry blog posts about Mass Effect 3 having multilayer. I was that guy. And the audience for that kind of content is only growing while there remains a lack of left-leaning media infrastructure to counteract it.

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I used to be keep abreast of all the gaming news. At one time I did a kind of ‘unpaid freelancing’ for a fledgling game site. It would need daily news items, which would come through a feed that was posted on a google sheet. All the contributers would take one news story and we’d write it up. Basically it was the same news that was shown on Destructoid, Gamespot, IGN or Eurogamer. It all just came to us as a feed. These are the stories of the day, Dead Island collectors edition comes with a bust of a bikini clad corpse, some developer said this about their video game. I really became allergic to it very quickly.

I think the worst thing was attending a convention here in the UK and waiting in line to play the new releases. Suddenly I would be overhearing the other attendees talk about all the news stories surrounding the game prior to release. I think the Tomb Raider reboot had a lot of negative in how one of the developers talked about the player wanting to ‘protect’ Lara. Anyway, it just reinforced this idea that a lot of gamers were on the same news feeds, thinking the same thoughts and not thinking for themselves, it was exactly the narrative that had been written and the same old internet consensus. Which was often problematic in itself. I think the majority of news reporting in games is literally just marketing and PR for the game companies.

Now with the rise of Youtube channels and people making their own content, I would say that the feed still exists but as you say the emotional reaction to it, seems a lot more extreme. I guess in the end somewhere the publisher is still looking at all this buzz as positive whether good or bad.

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God, they all do this. Especially LegacyKillaHD and YongYea. I used to actually like Yong. He seemed more balanced of the ‘gaming news’ youtubers. He was usually a pro-consumer kind of guy, but every so often he brought up an interesting story that I thought needed more traction. He was actually one of the few people I saw talking about the CD Projekt Red Glassdoor reviews, which was what got the ball rolling on the CDPR labor issues.

But then Arena Net happened, and man… I don’t know what the fuck happened to him. It wasn’t just me, but a few others of his fan base started to say, “This isn’t you, Yong. You’re attracting the wrong people here.” But he kept going… And he kept generating those anger-riddled ‘gamer’ stories that makes people like LegacyKillaHD such a piece of shit.

It was weird to see someone you kind of respected actively change into garbage. It must have been like what JonTron fans felt like.

I guess we have to face facts here: YouTube belongs to the right/libertarian crowd, in all circles, but especially in video games. The left is pushing in, trying to make ground, but these type of gamer rage vids appeal to a really large set of ‘gamers’ that I think Yong saw what kind of view count he can get by appealing to those people.

It’s really kind of sad… You see someone with potential just throw it all away for ‘rage gamer’ clicks.

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I don’t think that’s entirely fair because that assumes all these news channels are right leaning. A lot of leftist channels have a similar sort of anger, but usually focus their anger more on business practices that prey on vulnerable people or scummy behavior from publishers or major studio figures. For stories like those, the best bet you often have are those channels because I keep seeing publishing outlets both-siding or downplaying a lot of the worst stuff in these stories, which I feel is almost as damaging as the angry morons screaming about feminism or whatever.

Of course, a big problem here is that there’s huge overlap in people interested in these stories right and left, and right leaning audiences tend to take the wrong message away from these sorts of stories. This is why you get crap like Jim Sterling, who is a open leftist and anti-capitalist, having to ask his audience not to harass people.

A solid comparison would be the situation with Chapo, a very leftist podcast that’s so stylistically similar to right wing media that it has a habit of attracting a toxic audience. Anger is important, but since most personalities on Youtube are primarily amateurs, they don’t know how to channel that anger properly and we get snowballing scenarios where very real and justified worries over loot boxes preying on people with addiction issues (something I know about on a very personal level) gets hijacked by screaming children who think it’s a good idea to try and ruin the lives of people tangentally related to the problem.

We’re in the same sort of problem leftist circles on Tumblr ran into, where the discourse became a confused mess because everyone was mainly arguing with emotion and it didn’t take much for ignorant circles to take existing terminology and twist it to makes absurd points and become angry at anyone who disagrees (I’ve seen actual posts by real people arguing that short and tall people can’t be in a relationship together because it’s inherently toxic, for example).

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I do think there is a quantity difference - for every Jim Sterling there’s 5 right-winger channels on Youtube. It’s part of the fabric of the website now. You’re right, though, that there are overarching issues with how anger is used and nuance gets lost.

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I honestly get frustrated with Jim Sterling as well. He got the ball rolling on that AC: Odyssey story which didn’t deserve ANY of the weird fixation it got. Because of him, people dismissed AC: Odyssey as some sort of predatory game on par with Battlefront 2. It frustrated the hell out of me, because that ‘gamer rage’ could have been placed elsewhere.

I’m glad some people called him out on it at least, like Jason Schreier and his own fellow podcaster, Gavin.

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…but, it is. Like, the game was outright designed and released in a way that encouraged people to pay money for faster progress. It wasn’t Battlefield 2 bad but it was still designed to psychologically beat the player into spending more money. It’s not loot box bad but that doesn’t erase the ultimately scummy way its microtransactions were put in and used. Not being as bad as the cartoonishly evil loot box system doesn’t mean it’s still not bad.

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Eh, I don’t want to get into it, but I didn’t feel like that at all. I feel like his story and his video actually blew it waaay out of proportion. If you wanted to just mainline the game, all you have to do is play the main quests and some of the golden side quests in between. That’s it… When was engaging side content to progress suddenly anti-consumer? I’ve had to do that in RPGs since Arcanum. Hell, the ‘grind’ was the EXACT same in Origins, and no one raised a fuss like they did with this game. I never felt encouraged to spend money. Most people couldn’t even find the DLC menu, and I didn’t find the DLC-trader until like… Level 30? And I had to go look for him because he was in a district I had already played through.

The good news, now, is that they’ve introduced level scaling options with their most recent update. So, people who felt like the game was a grind can set it the way they want, I guess…

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Eh, I don’t want to get into it, but…

Followed by getting into it.

In any case, I don’t think there’s a valid distinction between “right wing” and “not right wing per se but uses the same talking points”. They have the same effect, regardless of whatever they might claim their personal politics to be.

Well, the topic is about problematic ‘news’ gaming youtuber sites. I wanted to challenge that by stating that Jim Sterling stirs that ‘gamer rage’ pot as much as the others, but I didn’t wanna get into my specific reasons behind it save for a post. I’ll drop it.

Also, Jim has the fucking NERVE to go, “Hey guys, don’t threaten individual devs. That’s not cool.”

WELL JIM, I’M SURE GETTING THEM ALL PISSED ABOUT A NON-ISSUE DIDN’T HELP THAT.

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Also, I’m sure he thinks it’s ‘ironic’ but seriously fuck Jim’s nazi on a podium shtick?

I don’t care if he’s commentating on the ‘gamers’ as a whole. He still is presenting himself as a nazi on a podium. Fuck that. It’s like wearing a fake MAGA hat with some innocuous garbage written on it instead of MAGA.

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The thing that annoys me is how I’ve probably hit the “Not Interested” button on YongYea’s channel at least 5 times already, but YouTube keeps throwing his videos into my recommendations (oftentimes on the apps for devices like Apple TV where those dismiss options aren’t available).

A lot of these sources exist just on the fringe of political leaning, at least as far as what gamers would consider apolitical, so they aren’t banished to the niches of outright nationalist voices in games media.

What this means is, as far as gamers who watch YouTube go, there is very little distinction between a YongYea and a Jim Sterling. And that fact allows the former type of person to casually push the Overton Window in games culture further to the right.

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Go into ‘Tell Us Why’ and click, “I don’t like this channel: YongYea”

I think that’s how you get it off your feed permanently.

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The problem with big publications calling out these youtubers is that many fans see this as an attack on youtubers and against gamers that people will make videos claiming about how the big sites are out to attack gamers, that they don’t understand the gamer’s mentality and make people sympathize with youtubers by making it seem that the sites are the attackers and the youtubers as the victims. Thus, people will send hate over to these sites for doing their jobs. So it’s basically like a backfire

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That’s the thing, I’ve done this exact process at least 4 or 5 times now. YouTube doesn’t take that as “never recommend this channel again”, I think all it does is just throw it to the bottom of the recommendation algorithm.

But if you’re someone who still watches a lot of games-related videos, eventually the recommendation “score” on his channel will elevate it back into recommendations, because YouTube is a broken platform designed by idealists with no exposure to real political discourse.

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I think a lot of the problem with YouTube gaming news (apart from easing the pipeline into rightwing radicalization) is that a lot of these people don’t really understand or care to properly engage with what anti-consumer practices are and how to protect against them.

Because of this, a lot of this type of content devolves into “If I’m yelling at a gaming company, I’m doing what I need to do to stand up for the little guy” which in turn leads to devs getting harassed and bizarre controversies like the whole Spider-Man PS4 Raimi suit thing.

I’m not exactly sure how the chicken and egg equation goes on this, but the climate very much does revolve around gamers thinking gaming companies are actively trying to fuck with them in oddly specific ways (see: any time there’s a rumor about a Nintendo Direct) and a weird sense of entitlement that if a product is bad then you’ve been personally wronged.

That’s not to mention the biggest problem: Essentially no one understands how games are made. This problem is aggravated by a general disdain among at least the most vocal and forward facing group of gamers for the type of media that can actually provide some insight into this process, games companies clutching tight to their process to avoid leaks and the tendency for some of the largest media to appease that closed off attitude in order to maintain the access they do have.

All of which culminates in a neglect of the fact that there are actual people within these corporations making these games and attaching their livelihood to these products.

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I still get yt recommending me CleanPrinceGaming, easily the dumbest motherfucker who runs in this circle imo, so I can tell you with confidence that that system don’t work

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I think someone on Facebook posted one of his videos one time and I watched it like a FOOL and now it’s all over my shit.

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True Life: I’m too afraid of what clicking on one of those videos will do to my recommendations to even bother trying to mark that I’m not interested.

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