The Blunders of Filip Miucin and Dean Takahashi: Why Critics Should Be Open to Criticism

In the summer of 2017, I learned of an independently produced video game known as Cuphead. Its art style immediately grabbed my attention. I thought it was fascinating how the creators drew inspiration from the pioneering American animated short films of the 1920s and 1930s, giving it a colorful, fresh coat of paint.  As it wasn’t released until September of that year, one would expect I learned of it through the publicity professional journalists were giving it on the eve of its release. Such an assertion would indeed be the case.

Unfortunately, the exact method by which I learned about Cuphead wasn’t exactly a triumphant moment for video game journalism. Professional journalist Dean Takahashi, writing for a publication called VentureBeat, uploaded footage of himself wherein he demonstrated a complete lack of proficiency playing the game. He missed extremely basic cues and didn’t even clear the first stage. Although he intended for the video to be humorous, it was, in reality, nothing of the sort, being the very definition of the word tedious. I cannot fathom who would want to earnestly watch a commentary-free video wherein someone fails to make any progress in game. As video game journalists had been the subject of ridicule in the years leading up to 2017, the internet erupted. People from all across the world flocked to his video, leaving angry comments and downvoting it en masse until they eclipsed the comparatively few upvotes it received.

This opened up a question that had been thrown around several times over the years. Does a journalist need to be good at games? Personally, I feel the answer to that question is yes. While I don’t expect a journalist to be a master-class gamer who can pull off feats such as clearing Super Mario 64 in fifteen minutes or gliding through Half-Life 2 using physics exploits, they should display some skill with the game. Video games demand a little more out of their audience than films or literature, so professional journalists need to be good enough so that they can give their audience an accurate impression of the work in question.  Therefore, if they’re dying a lot due to poorly balanced gameplay or if certain features aren’t working as intended, the person watching the video gets the message instantly. At the very least, Mr. Takahashi should have provided commentary over his abysmal footage. As it stands, the internet received a context-free, boring video that came from a source claiming to be professional.

In doing so, Mr. Takahashi inadvertently showed a lack of respect for the medium. It’s especially important for journalists to accurately convey the experience independently produced efforts provide, for they often struggle to get a second look. Mr. Takahashi’s footage was too terrible to accept as genuine, but what would’ve happened had his footage been slightly less bad? If he messed up just enough to make it seem as though the developers were more at fault for his failures than he himself was, the game would have likely lost sales. Losing sales a major setback for AAA companies, but it’s absolutely crippling for an indie effort. This seemed especially true in the second half of the 2010s after the scene lost the ego commonly associated with people such as Jonathan Blow or Phil Fish and focused entirely on finding an audience through innovation.

Either way, one doesn’t typically receive this amount of negativity without acknowledging it in some way, so Mr. Takahashi ended up writing a response. Although he did technically apologize in this article, it came across as rather disingenuous – probably because he couldn’t resist the urge to disrespect his dissenters.

“Heh heh, it is funny because my critics can’t read!” [Source]

In the article proper, he claimed the people who criticized his videos were the same ones behind a certain notorious, online incident from 2014. Although I’m not questioning the validity of his claim, I do have to comment that bad people can make good points on occasion. Rather than admit his footage wasn’t professional, Mr. Takahashi ended up doubling down, spending more time calling out his detractors than admitting fault.

Before I continue, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. I absolutely do not think he deserved to be swarmed with death threats or other miscellaneous mean-spirited comments. Anyone who did just that should truly be ashamed of themselves. However, I also have to comment that, despite Mr. Takahashi’s claims of living through a personal Black Mirror episode, absolutely none of those degenerates would have paid him any heed had he not uploaded the footage. It’s not as though said degenerates pirated the game, recorded themselves deliberately playing poorly for twenty-six minutes, hacked the VentureBeat servers, and posted the footage under Mr. Takahashi’s name. It’s not even a case in which this was only obvious in hindsight. He, one of his superiors, or even just a close friend should have taken one look at the footage and concluded that nobody would actually want to watch it. Although the video appears to be entitled “Dean’s Shameful 26 Minutes Of Gameplay”, it was originally uploaded under the name “It’s Not Easy”, which suggests Mr. Takahashi had less self-awareness than he let on. Then again, it’s also possible he changed it to make the joke more obvious.

“Everyone is bad at video games! Including professional g- wait…” [Source]

“None of Mr. Takahashi’s detractors understand that journalists write. QED.” [Source]

Many journalists rushed to Mr. Takahashi’s defense, and a common thread among them was that dissenters didn’t know how gaming journalism works. When taken at face value, these statements would be like if people contracted a severe illness at a restaurant only for the owner and many of their peers to claim that because nobody afflicted understands how food criticism works, they have no right to sue the establishment afterwards. Mistakes can be called out for what they are – it doesn’t matter who does it. Moreover, I would argue such an assertion is secretly a damning commentary on the state of gaming journalism. There is something inherently wrong with a system that allows such unprofessionalism to exist. It’s even worse when you realize a blunder of this kind wasn’t without precedent. A similar scandal had occurred with Polygon a year prior concerning the 2016 edition of Doom.

The second of these articles was quick to point out Mr. Takahashi’s merits, highlighting his decades-spanning career writing about technology. Again, this just raises the question of why he didn’t know any better. I, and I suspect many of his detractors, would have been far more understanding if it turned out he had recently gotten the job. However, somebody who had been covering technology for twenty-five years and video games for eighteen of them shouldn’t be making mistakes like this. This would be akin to a veteran director forgetting to take the lens cap off of the camera before shooting their film’s climax.

To be fair, these articles did provide many good points, but they didn’t quite address the fundamental issue at hand. At the end of the day, Mr. Takahashi’s footage was unwatchable, and attempting to pass it off as piece of legitimate journalism failed to do any justice to the hard work the Moldenhauer brothers put into their game. The only positive result from this debacle is that it likely drummed up a lot of enthusiasm for Cuphead, for a lot of people, myself included, didn’t even know it existed beforehand.

I can empathize with Mr. Takahashi’s plight, for being bombarded by many angry people at once would be mentally exhausting. However, as cold as it may sound, I do have to comment that his reaction along with those of his peers speaks to one of the biggest problems plaguing contemporary critical circles: they themselves cannot take criticism. In his response, Mr. Takahashi made a fatal error in that he profiled his detractors, implicitly declaring them all to be far-right trolls with backwards-looking political views. He didn’t even consider for a second that maybe, just maybe, it was possible to dislike his video without being a terrible person. Instead, he came up with various, tenuous reasons as to why they shouldn’t be taken seriously.

However, when all is said and done, I can believe that Mr. Takahashi’s mistake was an honest one. It was a severe miscalculation on his part, but it thankfully didn’t cause any lasting harm – except perhaps to his own credibility. The same, however, could not be said of another journalistic scandal that would occur almost exactly one year later.

In July of 2018, a critic who went by the e-handle Boomstick Gaming uploaded a review of an indie game known as Dead Cells, which was to be released the following August. The review was well-received and successfully sold many people on the game. On the eve of the game’s release date, a journalist by the name of Filip Miucin, working for the prominent news outlet IGN, uploaded his own take on Dead Cells. The video was seen by tens of thousands of people – one of whom happened to be Boomstick Gaming. However, as he watched the video, he found it to be oddly familiar.

That’s right, Mr. Miucin copied Boomstick Gaming’s review practically word-for-word. Although critics are liable to make similar observations, it was clear that Mr. Miucin had watched the lesser-known video and plagiarized it. Like a smug middle-school student who thinks that by changing a few words around in their research paper, they can fool their teachers, he was called out on it immediately. As a result of his unacceptable behavior, IGN announced that they and Mr. Miucin had parted ways the very next day. Three days after this decision was made, Mr. Miucin created a video in response to his circumstances. This was the prime opportunity to apologize to all of the wronged parties. He never did. For whatever little it’s worth, he did offer words of encouragement to Boomstick Gaming, but he never admitted any fault, claiming the plagiarism was “not at all intentional”. One wonders how he – or anyone else, for that matter – could unintentionally copy somebody else’s work. To make matters worse, Mr. Miucin then proceeded to challenge Jason Schreier of Kotaku, who was investigating his body of work at the time, to find any more instances of plagiarism.

Mr. Schreier proved to be more than up for the task when he uncovered an entire slew of copied reviews. The list includes, but is not limited to, a Bayonetta 2 review lifted from Polygon, a commentary about the Nintendo Switch’s HD rumble taken from NeoGAF, and numerous videos in which he just straight-up read Wikipedia excerpts. He wasn’t even above ripping off the work of his peers at IGN, for he had copied Seth Macy’s review of Octopath Traveler as well.

“Oh, darn”, indeed.

What’s particularly distressing about this scandal is that, unlike the case with Mr. Takahashi, Mr. Miucin was completely and utterly in the wrong. Even so, his choice of words made it sound as though he had some claim to the moral high ground over his detractors. He was under the impression Kotaku took advantage of the situation by attempting to generate clicks off of his name – all while flagging videos discussing his slight to get them taken down. The ludicrous supposition that perhaps this was a serious issue worth discussing apparently eluded him. For bonus points, he, continuing to display no self-awareness, proceeded to monetize his non-apology video, which killed off any remote semblance of earnestness he may have had.

I’m the star of the show! That ad revenue belongs to me, dammit!”

Similar to Mr. Takahashi’s situation, I will point out that Mr. Miucin claimed people were going after his family in their anger. That is the only point I will give him, for a mistake, even one as grave as this, does not warrant getting entirely innocent parties involved. However, the other points against him are entirely valid. As a journalist, he had no right to take the words of a lesser-known critic and post it as his own, and because his slight was not isolated incident, he destroyed his credibility in one fell swoop – and he has absolutely nobody to blame but himself.

Even after the innumerable scandals plaguing gaming journalism, many enthusiasts were left wondering how such a thing could happen. However, I posit that with critics’ inability to handle any kind of criticism, a scandal of this magnitude was inevitable. The situation with Dean Takahashi demonstrated that the critical circle would sooner swallow multiple sharp objects than their pride. As long as even the tiniest shred of plausible deniability exists, they will double down. I say this because when Mr. Miucin’s mistakes were exposed to light, his handling of the backlash was very similar to Mr. Takahashi’s approach. Rather than admit to any kind of fault, he too tried to hide behind his peers. However, while Mr. Takahashi had little trouble gaining supporters, Mr. Miucin realized, too late, that there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. He did issue a true apology in April of 2019, but he attempted to carry on as though nothing happened in the intervening time, which failed to deter his detractors. Because he took so long to acknowledge his mistake, I can’t help but conclude that he only bothered apologizing when he realized he was well and truly out of options. It didn’t help his case that he continued to flag videos discussing the incident despite having not a leg to stand on.

Ultimately, any kind of circle needs to be open to an outsider’s perspective. As it stands, journalists take a very authoritarian, hierarchal approach to their craft. They’re the experts, you’re the readers, and anything you have to say is irrelevant. If you, as the reader, do not worship the ground they walk on, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t like it? Too bad – them’s the breaks. People who subscribe to this line of thinking forget that the common person can instantly hone on problems painstakingly obvious to them, but go unnoticed by the experienced. To allude to a classic tale, it is up to the fool and the child to point out the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Plagiarists such as Filip Miucin are exactly the kind of people who can thrive in an environment that actively dissuades constructive criticism – at least in the short term. These systems need to be open to scrutiny, and if journalists continue to lash out at those who disagree with them, we can expect many more Filip Miucins to follow.

Fortunately, the manner in which IGN handled the scandal was absolutely perfect. They correctly recognized him as a liability to the company and fired him immediately. When one considers their spotty track record, this was highly commendable. If nothing else, it does demonstrate to me that, as flawed as the gaming critical circle is, they do realize the importance of retaining an audience to a greater extent than their film-loving counterparts. We can only hope that journalists of any kind learn from these blunders and strive to improve their damaged relationship with readers.

33 thoughts on “The Blunders of Filip Miucin and Dean Takahashi: Why Critics Should Be Open to Criticism

  1. Your comment on how gaming journalists should be good at, well, playing games, that reminds me of the debates that frequently happen when a critic points out the mechanics of a game are too hard to grasp or that the controls do not work either at all or in certain situations. I am always a bit reluctant to believe in comments such as those, because even though I do know that faulty controls and mechanics are a reality, there is always the chance the person in question just did not have the time, patience, or skill to learn the game.

    Of course, that only happens when I am reading an article or a comment by someone with whom I am not familiar. When it comes to reviewers or players who I know and trust, I usually lean towards believing them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s precisely why I play through bad games in addition to good ones. If all you’re playing are the quality releases, you’re not going to have much of a tolerance towards the game throwing any kind of challenge at you – you’d assume it’s bad gameplay. If you play through enough actual bad games, however, you can learn the difference firsthand between a real challenge and a fake challenge. I don’t think enough journalists do this, or assume that doing so makes you some non-ironic Angry Video Game Nerd.

      Journalism in this medium is much tougher than I think most people give it credit for, which is why I feel the journalists in question need to be open for suggestions for improvement rather than treat the relationship with their fans as a rigid pecking order.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great article! Its an interesting dilemma, of what is more important, journalists’ gaming or writing skills? I guess its not realistic to expect every outlet to have a single person/small group dedicated to certain genres but I’ve always thought that that would be a much better approach when it comes to covering games. If you had ‘experts’ in each genre of gaming, you wouldn’t have to worry about people playing games that they aren’t comfortable with. That way, none of the journalists are forced to play and write about a game that they are terrible at – which no doubt leads to poor content coverage.
    As for plagiarizing, I have no respect for Filip Miucin, and he should never work in games journalism ever again. In my own personal experience, having dealt with a girl in high school who plagiarized everything she touched, those people do not change, nor do they tend to recognize that what they are doing is wrong. Anyone who still supports him or watches his content needs a reality check.

    Liked by 3 people

    • While I like the idea of having experts sometimes having the perspective of someone who isn’t an expert is also valuable.

      I am absolutely terrible at fighting games, but I still enjoy playing them. Because of my lack of skill in this genre I don’t find reviews, or impressions from seasoned fighting game veterans very useful. Instead when someone that is equally bumbling plays and enjoys them I have a stronger sense that I too will enjoy the game.

      I can see the value in having a group of experts cover a subset of genres. You’ll get more insightful, accurate coverage that way. However, an alternative perspective is sometimes required for a subset of the audience and should be readily available.

      From my end I’ve always thought it was most important for individual critics or reviewers to wear their biases on their sleeve. By doing this they can build a relationship with the audience where there is an understanding of what kinds of games the critic/reviewer does and doesn’t respond to. This also allows you as a member of the audience to make your own decision about how much stock you invest in any given review.

      And now I’ve entered rambling territory, so I’ll cut myself off there.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah I totally agree with what you’re saying – I guess by “experts” I meant moreso people who feel competent playing the game/genre LOL. Like in the Dean example above, I believe in an article I had read, he said that he is awful at platforming games. So why have him cover one? I believe this instance was an exception; but for another example, I know Sekiro was a controversial one when it dropped – why have journalists who aren’t confident at this type of game play it and try to write about it? They’ll probably be frustrated (especially if they are in a time crunch) and I don’t believe that kind of negativity wouldn’t reflect in their review at all. Obviously you don’t want the same person to be reviewing every game in certain genre (as that would get stale very quickly) but I think having a fall-back kind of group if a particularly challenging game in a certain genre drops would be beneficial.
        I definitely believe that journalists covering games that aren’t their typical cup of tea has merits, I just feel like having the expectation that ALL journalists should be good at ALL games is a little ridiculous. I wasn’t intending to exclude a certain person’s perspective, or imply that you have to be well-versed in a genre for your opinion to be more valuable… Just think that sometimes journalists are hung out to dry a bit, having to play/review games that they’re obviously not comfortable or interested in.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh I totally got what you were saying, but wanted to provide a devil’s advocate argument haha. An argument can be made either way, and honestly I think have a group of “experts” around for the scenario you described could be incredibly beneficial.

          Plus speaking from experience, reviewing a game that didn’t jive with you at all when it had no chance of jiving with you is the worst. Especially when you got a key for the game because you have to review it at that point. 😐

          Liked by 2 people

          • Sorry I just didn’t want to come across as like elitist or anything? I just feel for Dean a little bit – I’m god awful at platformers, and I would 100% be trash at Cuphead so I feel bad that he was forced to play it on stream for the first time, where people were ripping him apart. Because I would have been equally bad, haha.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Yeah, the idea of somebody being good at every single game out there is a tall order. However, as you say, having Mr. Takahashi cover Cuphead when it has been stated he isn’t good at platforming or run-and-gun games is a bit baffling. This would be like forcing somebody who can’t hear to write a piece of music criticism. But that’s why I tend to review a large variety of games – to avoid repeating myself too often.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I have to admit I didn’t really grow up with many fighting games either. However, I think a skilled critic can recognize good gameplay when they see it – even if it’s not in a genre they enjoy. Either way, yes, I think the non-expert’s opinions can come in handy as well. There have been a few times in which I went against the critical opinion and saw something fans enjoyed and had a really good time with it.

        I do kind of agree in that I wish critics were a little more honest with their personal biases. As it stands, a lot of independent critics try to have their cake and eat it by presenting their biases as 100% objective, incontestable truths. A good piece of criticism should read like a persuasive essay rather than a law book excerpt.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, being a critic in this field is really tough because it requires the writer in question to exercise two skills at once. It’s why, despite my criticism of Dean Takahashi, I don’t have nearly as much contempt for him as I do, say, Owen Gleiberman (Variety’s chief film critic) – I realize that there is just so much more to consider when parsing a game than when parsing a film. Ultimately, the main problem I had with the video wasn’t that Mr. Takahashi didn’t get good, but rather that his video was terrible and he wasn’t willing to admit it.

      Filip Miucin, on the other hand, is worthy of the vitriol thrown his way. I am not going to actively doubt his current apology, but I will say that if he pulls something like this off again, there’s no going back – assuming he gets that opportunity to begin with. I don’t blame you for doubting it though because I myself believe the only reason he apologized was because he well and truly realized he was completely out of options – even doing nothing wasn’t an option for him by that point.

      Also, it sounds like that girl was a rather toxic individual.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I definitely think it’s more of a challenge than a lot of people might think it is. I do find it very odd when (as you pointed out) critics turn on the audience – who they are writing for presumably? – and imply that they are stupid or wrong for their comments/criticisms. In Dean’s case, I’m sure it was more of a defensive move than anything else, as people were calling into question the legitimacy of his (lengthy!) career. I feel like it would have been far less painful if he had just said “Yeah it’s definitely bad, have a good laugh, turrah.” The fact that they tried to spin it as a ‘joke’ after the fact was a little yikes.
        Obviously, as you stated Filip didn’t deserve the death threats etc., but any other consequence of his choices he 100% brought on himself. After his super disingenuous original ‘apology’ and then the months of silence that led up to the second one, it just came across to me as “oh man, really missing that YouTube/writing income! Better go for that last resort and actually own up to my mistakes/apologize!” It just seems desperate, and like he was hoping the heat had died down enough for him to quietly slide back into the scene without facing any more backlash. Would have been a completely different story if he has immediately apologized and admitted that he screwed up. So that’s why I would personally never give him the time of day again, regardless of any behavioral changes he makes.

        It was bad because she was so arrogant about it, and constantly making fun of other people for getting lower marks/saying their work was inferior to hers. When my friends and I found out she plagiarized literally everything (from English papers to art projects) we lost our minds.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “That comment section is for validating my opinions and nothing else!” – A typical modern-day critic.

          As I said, as bad as it was when Mr. Takahashi pulled off the “you guys are idiots for not agreeing with me” shtick, he has nothing on film critics in that field; they are way more prone to toxic gatekeeping than their gaming counterparts – to the point where parodies invariably resemble straight examples. And you’re right; I think he only retroactively declared it a joke. Alternatively, he always intended for it to be a joke and didn’t make it obvious the first time around.

          And I get you, I never heard of Mr. Miucin before the scandal, and I do not intend to begin supporting him now that he has proven to be all kinds of untrustworthy. I just hope for that if only for the sake of his family members, who have been negatively impacted by association, he gets his act together.

          Okay, super-toxic individual. Jeez.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. 🙂 I love your trend of thought.

    It wouldn’t hurt one bit if journalists were good at games (That would be an asset).

    However, in regards to music journalism, being good at games might not be a necessary thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. What, exactly, did you like about my trend of thought?

      And I’d expect a journalist to be an expert in their field. That said, I find the most valuable critics are the ones who can indeed transcend mediums because they have a lot more context with which to base their opinions.

      Like

  4. You might enjoy this from Mark Kermode, the Roger Ebert of England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuBJIn_xiLw. He’s very opinionated, but is receptive to constructive criticism.

    But I do wish GameSpot had thought it through for its 6/10 review for the exceptional DKC: Tropical Freeze. And Slant Magzine…. they operate on a different level. Criticism of any of their contrarian reviews meets with backlash. But it is good fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s nice to see a film critic who isn’t a total stick-in-the-mud like Owen “ritualized celebrations of our inhumanity” Gleiberman.

      As I said, a lot of critics want to have their cake and eat it; they want their readers to accept their opinions without question, so they go off the deep end when they don’t cooperate – it’s a mess.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know Owen “ritualized celebrations of our inhumanity” Gleiberman, I will look him… it? Up. But yes, I recommend Kermode’s reviews they are very insightful. He’s England’s leading film critic. Follow his channel. NOW!

        But excellent piece, I enjoyed it a lot. Cultural criticiism – it needs to be a new uni course in its entirety.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good luck staying awake! If someone asked me to describe a stereotypical hipster, I would just point them in Owen Gleiberman’s direction.

          And thank you. I feel as a critic that being able to take criticism is important. I don’t think I would’ve improved to the extent that I have if I wasn’t regularly interacting with you guys.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that reviewers need to be good at the games they review, or at least decent enough at them to finish them, getting the full experience of the game so they can relate that experience to the reader. Hell, that’s what they’re paid for. Presumably, anyway. I hate the fact that guys like Takahashi can now use the Gamergate movement as a shield against all criticism (which I won’t give any credit to either, insofar as we’re talking about people who mob and threaten other people online and expose their personal info.) And naturally, plagiarism is absolutely wrong.

    The gap between professional game criticism today and the audience seems so wide that I don’t really understand how these sites continue to keep any readers, unless it’s through clickbait article titles and hateclicks. Though that gap may still not be as wide as the one between movie critics and that audience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, that’s about how I feel about it as well. With my argument, I wanted to demonstrate why, from an objective standpoint the video failed (the reason being that what he made is unwatchable). When people say detractors don’t understand how journalism works, my response is “You realize that’s not a point in your favor, right?” If that’s how gaming journalism works, it’s even worse than we’ve been led to believe. And you’re absolutely right; one of the worst things to result from Gamergate is that now journalists have a shorthand way of brushing off criticism of any kind. It likely never occurred to Mr. Takahashi that an unapologetic liberal who believes in the freedom of the press and vehemently opposed Gamergate would dislike his video and call him out on his nonsense (which is to say, me). Before 2014, they cracked down on legitimately corrupt practices; now, they’re liable to keep them alive. When readers complain, journalists admonish them for being against the press. This is exactly the kind of environment frauds like Filip Miucin thrive in, so if they don’t clean up their act, it’s only a matter of time until the next Filip Miucin appears.

      Fortunately, I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. The very fact that the community doesn’t let journalists get away with this kind of stupidity, to me, indicates they will never be as bad as film critics. Whether they like it or not, their audience will reel them in whenever they try to go off the deep end. I think that’s partially because as much contempt as they have for their audience, they realize that developers will go under without their help. Generally speaking, video game flops are far more damaging to their respective developers than box office bombs are to their studios, and I think journalists realize this as well. The film circle, on the other hand, has a luxury their game-loving counterparts don’t have: A24. By specializing in a large number of low-budget indie films, it’s not a crippling loss if one of their works bombs as long as at least one of their works proves profitable. However, what they produce does resonate with critics almost every time, and without the need to get the audience involved, they are more likely to lash out of them for not understanding A24’s masterpieces. This is why I feel there’s a bigger gap between film critics and filmgoers than with video game critics and gamers.

      It’s interesting because before we met, I always wanted video game critics to be like film critics. Now, I absolutely do not want such a reality to come to pass. In fact, recalling what you’ve said in the past, I actually think the medium has benefitted from having a comparatively weak circle. With the rules of what do and don’t work in the medium so ill-defined, it’s a practical free-for-all. It’s not like with contemporary indie films, which are highly risk-adverse in nature. I think gaming critics tried to follow the lead of film critics in the early 2010s when they latched onto the dire walking simulator movement, but it didn’t last, and again, that’s for the better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t thought about that difference between film and game studios. It makes sense that the developers and publishers would try to cultivate good relationships with the main game review sites, though they’d better hope that the community keeps some control over those writers – if they don’t, sites like Kotaku, Polygon, RPS, and the rest could completely lose their credibility instead of just mostly losing it. And as a fellow liberal who doesn’t want to see game journalism go completely to shit, I share your frustration. Don’t want to sound too much like a broken record about it, but I really hate that my views on video games supposedly put me in a political camp, and one that I’m not even actually in or anywhere near. I guess I can’t both be a liberal and want my games to be not censored on their way over from Japan, like that makes a damn bit of sense at all.

        And oh man those walking simulators. There were a couple that did some interesting things, some kind of meta storytelling stuff like The Beginner’s Guide, but I’m happy that the trend has died out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh sorry, I just realized the way I phrased my last comment was a little unclear. While I definitely agree that developers and publishers are a tad uncomfortably close to mainstream critics, I meant to say that gaming journalists and critics, even if they would never, ever admit it out loud, realize the importance of convincing their audience that they should go out and buy the good games. If a game they like flops, that’s it, the end, so they need the audience to support the developers or else they can’t produce any new content. Film critics, on the other hand, are in a position in which they don’t have a pressing need to convince audiences they actually need to see the films they praise – partially due to A24 and partially due to the fact that a box office bomb isn’t quite as damaging, or at least not when it comes to the films they enjoy these days. As a result, they’re kind of decent at writing about why they personally enjoy a film, but not so much when it comes to why the audience should see it. A good critic needs to do both because when left unchecked, it results in a circle that solely wants their opinions reflected back at them and generally lacks conviction in said opinions because they can’t ever be challenged.

          And when it comes to dismissing dissenters by their political views, I think the problem with journalists is that they examine conclusions rather than how their dissenters reached them. Back when Gone Home was released, they couldn’t accept that anyone who disliked it wasn’t anything other than a raging, misogynistic homophobe – it couldn’t possibly be because it’s a pretentious slog that lacks substance. If one were to do that with my reviews of things like First Reformed, Vice, BlacKkKlansman, or Gone Home, it would be easy to come down to the conclusion that I’m a hardcore conservative when that is patently untrue. The premise that maybe I just didn’t think any of those works were particularly good would never cross their minds. It’s not a sign of a healthy medium if creators are essentially forcing critics to give them good reviews lest they be thought of as backwards-looking hicks. I was afraid gaming was heading down that route, but thankfully, they steered clear of that, and it has emerged a medium more mature than films as a result.

          All in all, I too am glad the walking simulator movement has run its course because, by its very nature, it was adverse to innovation. A lack of innovation is pretty bad in other mediums, but a lack of innovation in video games is may as well be a lack of breathable air.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I see what you mean. It seems like while game reviewers rely upon these games doing well, movie reviewers don’t as much because of the different natures of these markets.

            I’ve heard people now say that “if you don’t like x game, you’re obviously an alt-right/homophobe/transphone/misogynist/fill in the blank”. It’s crazy. Instead of paying attention to the context of someone’s opinion, they see that conclusion of “I didn’t like it” and fill in the blanks with whatever makes them happy. This kind of behavior makes more sense to me when it’s the creator of a game getting defensive about bad reviews, but it’s still intellectually dishonest, and no one with half a brain is fooled by it.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Gaming journalists get away with a lot of shady stuff, but plagiarism isn’t one of them. Employers don’t take kindly to learning that they paid someone for something that was copied.

    I can’t blame someone for sucking at Cuphead. I hear that game is tough as nails. Shame that the video had no commentary. People love to laugh at someone who loses their rag when they die a lot in games.

    Reviewers don’t have to be brill at games to do their job. A lot of gamers struggle with hard games so they might appreciate the perspective of a less skilled person. Depends on the game of course. Someone who cannot beat the first boss of Dark Souls, for example, cannot write a fair review of the game as they didn’t experience enough of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s nice to know after the immense hostility they’ve had toward their audience, they at least have *some* standards. I still say they come out ahead of film journalists if for no other reason than because gamers can reel them in when they try to go off the deep end, but they’re still something of a mess.

      I definitely appreciate that writing about games is much more difficult than most people give it credit for and I’ll even admit I’ve pulled off many boneheaded things when playing games, but I realize that A) I’m at fault and B) nobody would want to watch that – especially not entirely devoid of dialogue.

      And no, I don’t expect a journalist to be a professional gamer; just that they know what good gameplay is when they see it. Without context, it’s easy to get the impression Mr. Takahashi concluded he was playing a bad game when anyone could tell he didn’t even seem to grasp what kind of game he was playing, and his eighteen-year career covering games ensured he had even less of a leg to stand on when he attempted to shoot down the criticism.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely think if you’re going to critique a game’s mechanics, you should have knowledge and proficiency with how those mechanics work. It’s why I’ll leave that part open when I review games I’ve only watched, choosing to focus on the narrative instead. I might give some passing info on the mechanics that I’ve looked up, but if I pretended to have direct knowledge, I’d be a fraud. I also think it’s not right to say a game is bad if it’s not a game you’re good at or a genre you play. This is not to say that Cuphead isn’t a difficult game and people are certainly allowed to say that and even critique it, but I also think they should maybe consider their own skill level/proficiency with the controls. Doesn’t sound like this journalist did that, and it’s irritating because games are STILL considered a bastard medium and given less credit than other media.

    Like

    • Yeah, but it’s only considered a lesser medium by the snobs who, while experts at attracting likeminded people, always end up being proven wrong in the long run (not that they’ll admit it). And the problem with what Mr. Takahashi did is that he completely misread his audience. He didn’t have the humility to admit that what he made was unwatchable, so when his audience rebelled, he changed the argument to something completely irrelevant to the issue at hand, knowing he could get supporters if he spun the story the exact right way. Filip Miucin attempted to do something similar, but because his case was far less defensible, his attempt backfired horribly. Turns out even with all of the dubious stuff journalists have pulled off over the years, they draw the line at plagiarism.

      Also, strange as it may sound, I actually feel the medium has benefitted from an artistic standpoint by not having a strong critical circle. When the critical circle is strong, such as it is in films, the medium is held with a greater degree of reverence. It also means that the rules of the medium are far more set in stone. This means even auteurs tend to err on the side of conservatism, lest they violate critical sensibilities. Yeah, it’s annoying that games aren’t treated with as much respect, but with such disparate expectations, creators can do pretty much whatever they want in this medium and get away with it. I still say the average gamer has far more tolerance as to the range of concepts they can accept than the average cinephile. Even if the mainstream isn’t willing to acknowledge it, this is the decade in which gaming took over in terms of innovation and storytelling.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: July 2019 in Summary: Another Arduous Month | Extra Life

  9. Oh, wow! I was unaware about game journalism, but those two should be ashamed of themselves!

    People who review games should be proficient at them. Obviously not like some video game master in the tournaments, but enough to know what they’re doing. Gaming is an active medium instead of a passive one like reviewing movies or TV shows (and this is coming from someone with a film and anime review blog!), so Takahashi should know better.

    Miucin plagiarizing entire reviews? WOW! Just, wow. That is totally unacceptable and nobody should be copying other works so shamelessly. It’s just as shameless and lazy if not more so than Disney ripping off Kimba the White Lion when they made The Lion King (BURN!). It’s also bad when there are writers and journalists who work hard at their craft, but never get to write for notable publications, yet this hack got paid while ripping off someone else’s work. Can’t you tell I feel very strongly about these issues?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still say that gaming journalism isn’t the dumpster fire that film journalism has become if for no other reason than because you can count on gamers to reel journalists in whenever they go off the deep end, but these two really did a disservice to the art.

      And no, I don’t expect a journalist to be a professional gamer who knows how to zip through every game in fifteen minutes by exploiting the game’s programming, but they do need to know what they’re doing – otherwise it’s a blind leading the blind situation. It’s especially baffling that someone who had been discussing games for eighteen years wouldn’t know basic facts about the medium. It would be like talking to someone who called themselves an anime critic only to be confused as to why the work they’re reviewing isn’t live-action.

      And yup, Miucin basically went “ORIGINAL REVIEW. DO NOT STEAL.” with his Dead Cells take. And he thought he was so clever by ripping off someone less famous than he. Give Disney some credit – they at least took inspiration from Hamlet as well, though what you have to say does make me want to check out the manga at some point. And I get your ire – that he got a paycheck despite being a talentless thief is infuriating. Thankfully, IGN proved they have some standards by dumping him posthaste. Now, he’s worse off than if he was a complete nobody because I don’t think anyone would trust him ever again. Must’ve been great for the creators of Dead Cells, though; they got a lot of publicity as a result of his nonsense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • From what you tell me, I can certainly believe that. I certainly trust some film bloggers more than professional film critics. Yeah, that was a real disservice.

        Sure thing, and they don’t need to be some expert gamer. The least they can do is learn how to play the game at first before going in-depth with the review. That’s a shame since someone in his position should really know better especially given his experience on the matter. Good analogy over there.

        Oh yeah, and that is so infuriating to me. That smug arrogance of ripping off someone less famous makes it even more enraging. Maybe I was too harsh on Disney even if they did steal a ton of stuff without giving credit. At least Timon and Pumbaa were the only original characters in that first movie. Hahaha! I prefer the anime over the manga from what I’ve read about the latter since the depiction of the Africans isn’t good. They do improve in the 60s anime and in the Jungle Emperor Leo 1997 film (Disney almost banned that sequel in North America when it was at a film festival in Canada). Okay, back on topic now. Thanks for understanding my frustrations on the matter. Good on IGN for dumping him and for him being shamed for copying. I guess that’s good for Dead Cells.

        By the way, here’s a good link to the aforementioned Kimba issue: https://web.archive.org/web/20170126132424/http://www.kimbawlion.com:80/kimbawlion/rant2.htm

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.