When it comes to covering games, it’s often expected from journalists, critics, streamers, and let’s players that they would have a basic grasp of how most games work. And even when the genre is entirely new to them, you would expect them to be able to work through the tutorial by following instructions. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Dean Takashi from VentureBeat’s gaming division, GamesBeat, who while recording a video of him playing Cuphead at Gamescom 2017, displayed a shocking lack of adeptness in and understanding of basic platforming. Have a look:
What’s even more surprising is that the video was even published on YouTube, which just seems like sloppiness on their part. The internet was quick to point out their incompetence, however, not everyone was selective with their words, and it quickly turned into a cesspool of racist and sexist slurs. Dean was quick to respond to the issue with the following post:
Let’s start with an understatement. You may have heard that I failed miserably in playing a demo of Cuphead, and the video I posted mocking myself has gone viral on the internet. My game crime: I was so bad at playing I was deemed unfit to be a game journalist. My Cuphead gameplay video from Gamescom blew up, inspired rage, and spurred discussions about the death of game journalism across Reddit, YouTube, and Twitter. I unintentionally created my own tweet storm. If you are angry about this video, I apologize to you.
But there are things I will not apologize for. Stand by for more on that, if you’re willing to read more than 140 characters.
Another game journalist (and some say “shitlord”) saw my video. He clipped it to the 2.5 minutes of the most damning inept gameplay, and he posted it to his followers. He used me to condemn all game journalists, raising the smoldering issues around Gamergate and its focus on game journalism ethics. His post was political propaganda for the disenfranchised gamers, the sort who went from Gamergate to the alt-right and elected Donald Trump as president.
Before he got to it, my video had maybe 10,000 views. Afterward, the Gamergaters, or hardline reactionaries — or whatever we would like to call them — believed this narrative fit into their views about game journalists just fine. They called for my head. They said I should fuck myself. I should be fired. I had brain damage. I was retarded. I should kill myself. A couple of comments were racist. I’m not trying to overplay my victimhood, but you get the picture.
Guess what? Unskillful gaming is authentic.
Here’s where my nonapology starts. Gamers need to stop being mean to those who aren’t skillful. They don’t need to put others down to elevate their own subculture. Games have gone viral. They’re more popular than ever, reaching 2 billion people around the world. They have become a $108 billion industry. It’s silly to look down on games.
That industry will grow bigger, and gamers will get better games, if we embrace the new gamers. We don’t need to dumb games down. We can have adjustable difficulty, so that the unskilled and skilled alike can play. We can make tutorials even easier than the one that I failed at so miserably.
No, I’m not blaming the developer for my own shortcomings. I respect the designers, even if I didn’t truly understand at first the games they’ve made. I would just like to make sure that they make their games for people who are new, or noobs, as well as hardcore fans. As Nolan Bushnell, cofounder of Atari, said, games should be easy to learn and hard to master. (Yes, I know Cuphead’s tutorial isn’t that hard to learn).
No, I’m not celebrating mediocrity, like the Antonio Salieri character in Amadeus. I’m arguing that all gamers, casual or hardcore, deserve recognition. We are not all going to be esports stars who rake in millions of dollars. But we’re going to be the masses of unskilled players who make the game companies, including the makers of Cuphead, as rich as they can possibly be.
While Dean does a good job of highlighting issues of toxicity in the video games community, he also makes it sound like that had been his intention all along. Nowhere does he mention simple incompetence, and refusal to re-record the gameplay once he had got a hang of it. Or even edit the video to cut out the silly bits. Or maybe, how bad he was at Cuphead was the joke of the video all along, and no one got it.