During a recent late night Dice Masters session with my good buddy, David, I lamented over how several of my most trusted sources for video game reviews had let me down. I know...shocker, right? But what if I told you that their misleading reviews were enough for me to avoid Resident Evil 6 entirely due to speculation regarding the oversexualization/exploitation of the female protagonists?
Where some may blow video games off as inconsequential, they are a big part of my livelihood. Missing the chance to play an amazing game when I actually have the means to play it is akin to claiming that you're a cinema buff and having never once watched Night of the Living Dead.
In essence, much like the poor lout whose eyeballs have never been graced with the brilliance of George Romero, I had no idea what I was missing. Where David showed me a highly polished action-shooter with multiple playable characters and branching paths, other people were complaining about the apparent overt sexuality presented in some of the unlockable (and totally optional) costumes available for the female characters.
In my eyes, these costumes are not offensive at all, let alone enough to warrant the entire shunning of a game that I might actually enjoy. And as for the allegations of exploitation? After watching a couple of hours of gameplay, I have reached the conclusion that the girls kick just as much ass as the boys and are able to more than hold their own in combat.
Despite the Internet's best efforts to dredge up controversy (any controversy) after its release, Resident Evil 6 still has its diehard fans. Since my discussion with David, I've since grown wiser, promised to experience something myself before reaching a final decision, and to help you, the excellent reader, learn how to think for yourself.
Reviews are Inherently Subjective
After the online implosion that was [redacted], video game journalism has come under fire as being "less than truthful". Granted, some practices such as review embargos actively try to invoke false positive reviews which could fool those who don't know better. But guess what? They've always been subjective.
Much like movie reviews, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and since we all interpret "beauty" differently, the whole review industry itself is and always will be inherently subjective, and there's nothing that we can do about it. There was even that time when I avoided watching Transylvania 6-5000 simply because Leonard Maltin extravagantly stated that it "stinks". Guess what, Maltin? Transylvania 6-5000 rules! Screw your opinion!
Throw in the fact that the Internet has made it totally possible to flood a dentist's Yelp page with negative reviews because he had the gall to publicly post a picture of a dead lion, and it makes the whole "review industry" even more shaky. So how do we know when it's alright to consume something? Simple. Find an online or IRL community that shares your interests and have yourself some organic exchanges. Who knew?
For example, I'm your guy if you're into cheesy B-movies and the games that contain similar tropes (Resident Evil 2, anyone?), but you'd be better off talking to someone else if you were looking for a college-level debate regarding the legalities of Fried Green Tomatoes.
If you were a hardcore JRPG fan, would you seek an educated opinion of Dragon Warrior VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past from someone who exclusively plays Call of Duty? Know your audience, and you shall know thyself! Speaking of which...
Share with Those That Matter
The whole point of the Internet is to be able to share information faster than what was previously available. Decades ago, where carrier pigeons once helped win wars, vital decisions are now made on Wall Street that are a mere notification away. The same applies to video games.
Once you know who you share interests with (much like in real life), you can start exchanging information and having in-depth conversations about your favorite things faster than you could imagine!
Whenever I stumble across a fellow nerd with an affinity for old school video games, I attempt to delve further and determine what "subset" they belong to. Do they tend to play a lot of action titles, or are they more into RPGs? Or are they all about survival horror or mildly erotic puzzlers like Catherine? Once a unity has been created, genuine recommendations can then be made that challenge your perception and expand your horizons.
As a member of several online communities, I've noticed that the most engaging ones follow a set of guidelines that can effectively be utilized in real life, as well. In short, what these rules state is that once the ethos of the community are set, positive organic interaction is possible as long as people follow the established guidelines of interaction.
Imagine nerding out with someone else who shares your love of the Clock Tower series and being informed of the existence of the awesome and obscure Haunting Ground? Perhaps a discussion on how to achieve all 13 endings in Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within and what they entail?
Even better, it can all happen faster now, thanks to the Internet. It is up to the moderators to make the community awesome by setting and maintaining the tone.
Say what? Isn't the point of journalism to be as objective as possible? Sadly, no. Even the American Press Institute states that the point of journalism is to "provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives". Nowhere in that rambling sentence does it say that the aim of journalism is be objective.
For example, FOX News has been accused of possessing a conservative lean and of course refuting it, but not so for their other programs. Contrastly, MSNBC seems to have a left-wing bias in their reporting and have been publicly called out for it, as well. As you can clearly see, biased reporting is not merely relegated to the video game industry, but can be experienced every time you turn on your TV, radio or smartphone.
Hey, we're only human. We tend to gravitate towards the communities that share our views the best, and there's nothing wrong with that. Who are you more likely to change your opinion for? Someone who randomly flames you online, or someone who's opinion you value?
Much for the same reason that I avoid Kotaku like the plague, some platforms and its users are just not for us. We're all adults here, and when we post a review online for something we love in a public forum, we're bound to have our dissenters.
However, we're all entitled to our opinion which is very real to us, subjective as it may be. So what if Gamespot said that one of your favorite games is "Mediocre"; you love it, and you're not alone.
And hey, if you happen to change someone's mind while sharing that love, kudos! One thing's for sure: I'll never be fooled by the Internet or media again, and will continue to covet the opinions of those who I respect the most.
For the sake of your sanity, I suggest you do the same, and nerd out the best way that you know how!