Today is Christmas Day, which means everyone is full of holiday cheer. That's why there's no better time to look back on the reasons I received hate mail for this year. It's one of the most interesting parts of this whole job. I prefer to broadly think of myself as an 'entertainment critic' rather than a 'games journalist', mainly because I write about more than just games and my beat leans into criticism and analysis more than reportage, but also because these trolls remind me how silly gaming can be. Games are art, and people pour love into their craft, but when I see the often ridiculous things people get annoyed about enough to message me, it helps to realise that games journalists are adults whose job is to write about toys. With that out of the way, bring on the hate!
Criticising Sony's Stance On Abortion Rights
Kicking off with a more legitimate one. Abortion is a delicate political issue in the US, so when gaming waded in, it was always going to get a little thorny. In the UK, where myself and Jim Ryan are from, the matter is more settled, with all sides of the political spectrum broadly in favour of abortion rights, making it a little harder for me to give Sony the benefit of the doubt with its (now walked-back) 'don't ask don't tell' policy towards discussion abortion opinions. While the issue might be a legitimate hot button, the email, which advised me to 'shove my face in my ass, if I can figure out which is which', did not exactly present an intelligent argument.
Just Elden Ring's Whole Deal
I didn't care for Elden Ring. I wrote about how I did not find it all that accessible, and pointed out that most of the people saying it were already FromSoft fans and so understood the subtle clues to be louder than ever, while newcomers did not speak the language. However, I was full of praise for the way it moved the foundations of the open world, defended it as more than a regular map with missing markers, and wrote that I was glad it wasn't my ideal game because blockbusters should be challenging and shouldn't try to bring everyone along for the ride. Alas, in the binary minds of trolls everywhere, that just wasn't good enough.
You'd think after the game scored 96 on Metacritic (including a 5/5 from us), fans would be less insecure about a person saying 'I see why this is great, but it's not for me', but alas not. When I described similar sentiments about Breath of the Wild last year in a more concise way, that same thing happened, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Liking Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most popular games around, which is great news for me because it means that even four years after it came out, I still get to write about it semi-regularly. Unfortunately, it appears I like it a little too much. Having replayed the game a few times, I'm always on the lookout to better understand the parts that I didn't care for the first time around. As a result, I have written in defence of the snow, of Guarma, and of simply doing nothing. Unfortunately, when you say that you enjoy something other people don't, you tend to get messages telling you that you suck. Those are quite tame, but don't worry, they're all part of a broader tapestry.
Not Liking Red Dead Redemption 2
That's right, as well as loving Red Dead Redemption 2, it seems I also hate it. That's because, in playing it over and over again, you gain a better appreciation for the wrinkles, like the linear missions that go against the exploratory nature of the wider experience. No dissent will be tolerated, so criticising this structure makes me a stupid cunt.
Listening To Taylor Swift = Racism?
I played Metal: Hellsinger when it came out and had an okay time with it. I mainly relied on the flashing lights on screen rather than the beat, as a lack of internal rhythm or appreciation for metal music meant my timing was off if going by my ears alone. When mods were enabled for the game, I wrote that I wanted 'white girl music' such as Taylor Swift for the rhythmically challenged like myself. Then I was inundated with messages asking why I was 'bringing race' into it, even though I was white, they were white, and the genre the game relies on is historically white. We gave the game a 4.5/5, but I was accused of 'rereviewing' the game because of racism, even though I gave no score, linked to our review, praised the game's mechanics, and still have no idea who I might have been being racist towards.
Uhhh… You Figure It Out
Most of the messages I receive need to be deciphered, but context gives me a hint. Either in the messages themselves or in my own writing over the past day or so, I usually get the idea. However, on one day this year I received a few messages all bunched together, all with fairly generic comments about me being a faggot, me needing to shut the fuck up, suggesting I should kill myself… you know, that whole deal. But the only articles I had written around that time were about missing how Mei played in the original Overwatch, praise for Haru's understated romance in Persona 5, remembering the cartoon Crash Bandicoot segment that was supposed to be included in the original game, and comparing Pokemon's newest features to old horse girl games I played in my childhood. Answers on a postcard please, or possibly a misspelled Twitter DM full of expletives.
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