By John Keefer
It has been said that the quickest way for civil discourse to deteriorate into bedlam is the introduction of politics or religion into the discussion. Heaven forbid that someone questions another’s convictions or beliefs. We can also add videogames to the mix, where certain topics elicit anarchy in even the earliest stages of conversation.
Cases in point: <i>Halo</i>, <i>Fallout</i>, any game created by Blizzard, the Command & Conquer franchise (as evidenced by my review of C&C4 in the last edition of the magazine) and any Nintendo, PlayStation and Xbox console.
As journalists, it is our job to try to look at topics objectively. Yes, personal bias can come into play, but as long as articles and features try to stick to the facts, bias can be held to a minimum. But in the videogame industry, if you touch on any of these sacred institutions, it doesn’t matter how well-reasoned your discussion is. Vocal fans brand the writers as fanboys or haters no matter what position they take. Opinions are not allowed unless it matches that of the fan. Granted, there are writers who bang out stories just to be confrontational for the sake of page views or magazine sales. But from my experience, those hacks are few and far between.
I think it boils down to whether fans of these games and platforms really want intelligent discussion or just a web site, magazine or writer that agrees with their views 99 percent of the time. Woe to those that cross these blinkered masses for their sexuality will be questioned, their health threatened with arson and security will need to be called to secure the safety of the females in their family.
I’m not always going to agree with your opinion, and I don’t expect you to agree with mine. I think that <i>Fallout 3</i> was a great game in the hands of Bethesda. I think that <i>Halo 3</i> is incredibly derivative of <i>Halo</i> and <i>Halo 2</i> and brings nothing new to the table. I like the art direction of <i>Diablo III</i>. I like <i>World of Warcraft</i>, but can’t stand the leveling process. I liked <i>Total Annihilation</i> much better than <i> StarCraft</i> and I am not looking forward to StarCraft 2. Oh, and for the console crowd, I like my DS better than the PSP, prefer the 360 to the PS3, and actually prefer the PC to all the consoles.
To the fanatics, I’ll say that, in the end, opinions exist that are at times wildly different from your own. Open your mind to the possibilities that there are other ways of thinking and do it quick before you fall off the edge of the earth. If you don’t agree with an opinion, fine, but force yourself to keep the discussion to the merits. Swaying someone to your way of thinking can actually be stimulating – unless you just happen to get your kicks out of being a forum troll.
I think many readers try to keep an open mind. To those that do, congratulations, and I look forward to some thoughtful discussions. For those that think their opinions are the only right ones, I’ll put this in a way you should understand: You’re wrong.