Objectivity/Impartiality in game reviews, part…3?

I have maybe ten minutes to write this, so I apologize in advance if my thoughts aren’t articulated nearly as well as I might hope. I don’t have a lot of time to write about Gamergate lately, so I have to take whatever opportunities are given to me by my schedule and thought processes.

I’ve discussed this before, here, here, and again tangentially here. This, put succinctly, is the problem:

An example of impartial/objective reviewing: “game X made statement Y about a social issue. I disagree with the statement [a disclosure of bias, by the way], but it was stated clearly, communicated well, and was even persuasive and thought-provoking in its statement, which is a net positive.”

An example of biased, agenda-driven reviewing: “game X made statement Y about a social issue. I disagree with this statement, so I’m giving it a bad review.” [see, Polygon and its review of Tropico 5, despite the fact the reviewer was actually factually incorrect about Latin American history and politics]

Even setting aside allegations of conflict of interest, market-meddling, and incestuous relationships between journalists and devs, what occurs now among established gaming news outlets is almost exclusively the latter, and hardly (if ever) the former. This, relevant to gaming reviews, is the problem. Simply put, the latter isn’t journalism or criticism in any justifiable sense, it’s punditry.

I know I keep going back to Birth of a Nation (see, here and here), but it’s still the best-possible example of which I can think to illustrate the point a work’s content and message, and its technical quality, are two separate entities which must each be judged on their own merits, and qualitative judgment of one should not impact the other.

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