Welcome to the second entry in our Warp Zoned Rewind series, an ongoing look back at the seventh generation of gaming. Today, we’re going to talk about the biggest examples of jackassery in the video game industry from the last eight years… developers, journalists, marketing reps… people from all walks of life proved that gamers are a force to be reckoned with. So sit back and relax, gamers, as we take a look back at those we love to hate.
We’ll get the most obvious one out of the way first. For a group of people who share a universal love for this entertainment medium, we sure are complete dicks to each other. Just go to any gaming site and read the comments – they’re rife with insults, mockery and self-righteousness. As I was writing this entry, I took a break and read one journalist’s opinion on why he’s getting an Xbox One. Here’s just one of the responses directed towards the article’s author:
You’re a fanboy. If you switch Xbox with Playstation 4 right now, I would buy Xbox One over Playstation 4. Brand loyalty is stupid. Xbox fans willing to get screwed and still support MS. I just don’t get it.
And this isn’t just on comments sections and message boards, either. Online gaming is also a problem, with racist comments, blaring background noise, and eight-year-olds whose language would make Andrew Dice Clay cringe. Granted, the respectful gamers do greatly outweigh the jackasses, but it’s still annoying having to deal with these people every day.
Remember this one? Back in 2008, when Mass Effect first came out, Fox News ran a story about the sex scene between Commander Shepard and either Ashley Williams or Liara T’Soni, and for some reason decided to bring on psychiatric specialist Cooper Lawrence on their newscast to discuss the game. On the opposite side was gaming journalist Geoff Keighley. Now, if a national television show asks you to come on to talk about a potentially controversial video game, the first thing you would want to do is to study your subject so you can bring a mature, intelligent argument to the table, right? Well, apparently this didn’t apply to Ms. Lawrence. When Geoff advised that Mass Effect is a game designed for adults (hence the ‘M’ rating), she quickly dismissed it with a statement that only kids and adolescent boys will play video games – with nothing to back it up. When he mentioned that the sex scene was not just a simple choice, but a culmination of making many decisions during a 30+ hour game, she scoffed it off. And when he asked her if she had ever played the game, she laughed at him.
Then gamers got mad, and decided to give her a taste of her own medicine. They took to Amazon and blasted her book with negative reviews, commenting that they are giving her book only one star without actually reading it, much in the way she handled her comments about Mass Effect. The backlash did cause Lawrence to issue a statement apologizing for her comments and advising the sex scene was very tame, so you can at least give her some respect her for that. But it was still a jerk move nonetheless.
I tried to sympathize with Phil Fish, but the more I researched him the more he came off sounding like a pretentious snob. His meltdown in Indie Game: The Movie, followed by his statement that Japanese-developed games suck, and his subsequent Twitter war with journalist Marcus Beer led to him canceling Fez II out of spite and leaving the video game industry forever. I know it’s difficult to maintain composure when you hear anything negative about you, but to say that the person making those comments is an “inconsequential limey fuck” and telling them to “Compare your life to mine and then kill yourself” is not just unprofessional – it’s downright childish. It also blatantly shows the man’s opinion of himself.
Now, Fish’s Fez is a good game. And it has an amazing soundtrack to boot – one of my favorites this gen. But every time I load it up, I can’t help but think about Fish’s actions and I end up shutting off the game. I’ve never had the actions of a game’s creator turn me off from playing the game. It’s sad too: I’m sure the man could have made some amazing titles, and maybe one day he’ll come back. But maybe it’s best at this time for both Fish and the gaming community to stay as far away from each other as possible.
To say that the Xbox One has had a rocky journey would be an understatement. Misinformation and rumors ran rampant. Microsoft didn’t take much effort to quell these, and many felt that this lack of denial was the same as an admission of truth. The most notorious of these rumors was that the Xbox One would have to be constantly connected to the Internet in order to play any games. This naturally upset gamers, as, believe it or not, there are some who are unable to establish an Internet connection. Whether financially or geographically, not everyone has access to the Internet, and to make this connection a requirement? Not a good idea.
Again, Microsoft remained mum on the subject. At this point, Adam Orth, Creative Director at Microsoft Studios, took it upon himself to address the issue by tweeting this little beauty:
Orth didn’t stop there. After being called out on his comment, his arrogant obliviousness to the severity of the situation really came into play. Orth tweeted:
The repercussions were fast and brutal. Gamers everywhere took to social media, slamming Orth for his comment and replying with such tweets as “I guess I’ll buy a PS4 then #dealtwith.” Microsoft immediately went on damage control, and Adam Orth subsequently left the company. Microsoft also released an official statement on the situation:
“We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.”
Well, if there was any way to anger potential customers, this would be it. As a further kick in the teeth, when Microsoft eventually revealed the full scope of the Xbox One’s online requirements, it turned out that Orth was telling the truth, albeit in the most untactful way possible. Hell, it’s probably the worst thing you can say to your customers.
Well, second worst.
Oh man. If you don’t know who this guy is yet, then sit down, grab a bowl of popcorn, and get ready to be astounded.
Paul Christoforo was a public relations – yes, you heard that right – representative for Ocean Marketing, the firm that handled customer service for the Avenger controller add-on. The Avenger controller, for those of you who don’t know, is a device designed to help those with motor disabilities and hand problems play console games. Back in December 2011, one customer was concerned that his pre-order for the Avenger controller wasn’t going to arrive in time for Christmas. He emailed Ocean Marketing, and got a dismissive response from Christoforo. Subsequent replies were met with more condescending replies, including this reply to the customer’s statement that he may cancel his order:
Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself.
Upset by this unfortunate turn of events, the customer included several video game outlets, including Penny Arcade, the organizers of PAX Prime and PAX East, on the emails. What happened next is unbelievable. Christoforo’s responses to Mike Krahulik of PA just shows how egotistical the man is. When Mike said that there’s no way that Cristoforo would get a booth at PAX East, Cristoforo replied with, “I can guarantee I’ll get a booth if I want one money buys a lot and connections go even further.” Is that really the response you want to give to the person who runs the event? At one point, Christoforo realized that this could land him in hot water and tried to calm things down. When Mike wouldn’t budge, Christoforo went back to being a bully and continued to berate Krahulik. You can read the entire conversation here.
Once again, gamers put aside their own differences and went on the attack. And, much like Adam Orth, Paul Christoforo quickly joined the unemployment line.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
These people sure taught us a lot this generation. Most importantly, the lesson learned should be, “Think before you speak.”
That’s all for the “Jackass” segment of the Rewind. Stay tuned for more exciting installments (including “2D Games,” “Scary Games,” and more) in our look back at the seventh generation of gaming. Do you have a particular favorite you want to see us cover? Leave us a comment and let us know.