We live in a turbulent time as gamers. It is quite possibly the most turbulent time in gaming journalism since small niche gaming magazines surfaced at the birth of the industry. With corruption running rampant and transparency at an all time low, the world of gaming journalism has been flipped on its head. Media outlets are lashing out against the audience that they serve and rely on. It seems counterintuitive, but unfortunately, it is the sad truth we all must bear witness to.
Recently, we got the opportunity to speak with Milo Yiannopoulos and discuss the changing face of video game journalism, and how aspiring video game journalists can set themselves up for success. Milo is the founder of The Kernel, (which he sold to Daily Dot Media earlier this year) as well as a weekly columnist for Breitbart.com and Business Insider. He is also the author of The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley. Milo offers our readers many great insights that can be applied by journalists covering any industry, but are especially relevant in regards to the current state of video game journalism. We take a look at where video game journalism is today and where he sees the industry moving in the next few years.
Read our interview with Milo below:
APGNation: As a journalist you write primarily about technology. What led to your interest in the tech industry, and what parallels can you draw about being a journalist in the tech industry versus being a journalist in the gaming industry?
Milo: Actually the situation is very similar. I’ve been complaining for years about the lack of ethics in tech blogging. A lot of people have been talking about it in the last few years, but some of us were moaning nearly a decade ago! The problem is, very few of these guys have had anything even remotely resembling formal journalistic training. They don’t understand that what they’re doing is wrong and, when it’s pointed out to them, they dissemble and try to cling on to cozy arrangements that have served them very well. For example, prominent tech bloggers get flown all over the world to moderate panels at over-funded tech conferences. It’s rare in any other industry for people with such a flagrant lack of talent and professionalism to be treated so lavishly.
APGNation: While I understand you don’t consider yourself a gamer, are there any games that you enjoy playing?
Milo: Well, as you may know I played my first round of video games recently on Twitch, with the help of some friends. I started off with Portal 2, which I really
Right now I’m playing Faster Than Light and a hilarious parody game called Hatoful Boyfriend. For the more heavy-duty stuff, I’m going to need to get myself set up with a dedicated PC, because my poor little Mac is struggling to cope with the more demanding stuff. I’ve been a bit mean in the past about gaming and gamers, but I’m going to have to eat my words, because some of these titles are really fun. I’m yet to get really engrossed in Depression Quest, but who knows…
APGNation: In light of recent events, what do you feel are the biggest factors playing into the lack of trust in video game journalists by gamers?
Milo: It’s pretty simple. Games journalists, although they have some of the same personality traits as hardened gamers, don’t actually have that much in common with their readers. Their attitudes, politics and priorities are very different. The problem throughout the media at the moment is that no one says what they really feel about social and political issues, because they don’t want to lose their jobs or be called out of one of the dreaded “isms.” It’s a depressing situation. In a way, it’s a surprise gaming escaped this for as long as it did. But then I guess that’s because no one cared too much about an industry full of supposedly lonely men, until they could use them to make unrelated political points. That’s what’s happening now.
APGNation: What has led you to have an interest in #GamerGate? Are there other areas of the media that you feel are going through similar issues, or is this problem unique to video game journalism?
Milo: Yeah, as I said, it’s everywhere and gaming is one of the last industries to get affected by it, in fact. What’s different, though, is I’ve never seen the level of fightback against unfair, inaccurate characterisations as the gaming community has mustered. It’s impressive and they should keep fighting, because they have right on their side.
APGNation: In your opinion, what do you feel is at the root of the problem that brought about #GamerGate? Do you feel it is truly about misogyny within the gaming industry, or do you feel it stems from something else?
Milo: There’s no misogyny problem in the gaming industry. It’s an illusion cooked up by people with axes to grind. In any male-dominated industry, you’re going to find people who don’t always speak about women, or each other, for that matter, with the utmost respect, and you’re going to find games developers catering to male desires by including a bit of female flesh in their games. I don’t understand why that’s a cause for shame or outrage. The blogs that complain about it are perfectly happy to objectify men, but male gamers who enjoy a bit of eye candy are suddenly somehow deviant and in need of re-education? Please. This is natural human desire. What’s unnatural is trying to police it. These feminists are really just the latest authority figures trying to clamp down on human sexuality, like, you might almost say, some churches and politicians before them. There will always be unhappy people trying to police the sexuality of others. But where you see it happening, you should call it out.
APGNation: Do you feel with the rise of new technology, such as Oculus and other immersive devices, the misrepresentation of women and minorities in gaming will shift to a more balanced representation? As the lines between video game worlds and the real world continue to blend, do you think equal representation of women and minorities in games will continue to grow towards a more balanced portrayal of the population?
Milo: I don’t think it’s a technology thing. I think it’s a demographic thing. We’re being told that women now make up 50 percent of gamers. That’s great.
Presumably that means there will be market demand for games aimed at women with lots of big forearms and rippling chests on display. Good, bring it on. What we don’t want is for everyone to be artificially forced into some sanitized, sexless environment where everyone feels safe and no one feels “offended.” Can you imagine anything more boring? I mean, that’s the world we basically live in already. Video games should be an escape from that, where people are free to explore themselves.
APGNation: What do you believe has led to the recent lack of transparency by game companies and the gaming media? How, if at all, do you feel PR and marketing professionals at game development companies are responsible for blurring the lines in regards to the relationships between these companies and media outlets?
Milo: To give games journalists a bit of credit, there are a lot of resources marshaled against objectivity. Money, freebies, and, I don’t know, three or four PR executives per journalist, if it’s anything like the tech world. But it’s their job to say thanks, but no thanks. The responsibility lies entirely with the journalist for acting in a professional, uncompromised way.
APGNation: If trends in video game journalism continue, what changes do you see coming to the gaming news industry? In what ways can new media outlets and citizen journalists take the power back and set a new standard for journalistic integrity within the industry?
Milo: There will definitely be new gaming sites emerging in the next few years, and they won’t give a monkey’s about “political correctness.” They will probably be kept afloat by readers, because advertisers are too vulnerable to campaigns by ideologues. But who knows? It’s exciting for me, as someone who has set up a media company before, to watch it all unfold.
APGNation: On September 11th, 2014, you shared the following Tweet; “San Francisco Police Department has confirmed to me that it received no complaint from Anita Sarkeesian in August, as she claims. #GamerGate” Do you feel that individuals who are playing up the controversy, or creating controversy where there simply isn’t one, are to blame for the issues at hand? Or do you feel that the blame lies with journalists who capitalize on the controversy without following through with proper journalistic processes and fact checking?
Milo: Obviously, it’s both. These campaigners deliberately court controversy and provoke people, then cry foul when they get sent nasty messages. It’s ugly and dishonest. And credulous journalists repackage their manipulative behavior into think pieces about how awful ordinary gamers are. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever even met a video gamer, because from what I’ve experienced so far it’s one of the most friendly communities on the internet – so long as you’re not a professional offence-taker.
APGNation: While the recent controversy may have began with scandals surrounding Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, it has come a long way in the past month and evolved in a number of ways. Do you feel #GamerGate was an inevitable outcome of the boom in digital media over the past few decades? Is this a natural growing pain of the gaming industry, gamers, and the media that will eventually level out? Or is this something that will be always be an issue due to the close relationship that are inherent between all parties involved?
Milo: The gaming industry has grown very quickly, so I suppose it was natural that its media would take a while to catch up. What a pity, though, that they chosen entirely the wrong side of the argument the first time there was a serious growing pain. They’ve alienated their readers, without whom they are nothing. I’d be surprised if the media landscape looked the same in a year or two. I reckon some of these big sites are going to be abandoned by readers and have to start laying off writers.
APGNation: Dialogue between journalists and their readers is vital, especially in the age of digital media. How do you feel communication between these parties can be improved? What is to become of journalists who have come out against #GamerGate and alienated their readers who are in support of the movement?
Milo: There doesn’t seem to be much communication at all, at the moment, or any sign that gaming journalists understand the people they are writing for. Journalists like that are going to see their platforms crumble and new authorities take their place – people who actually care about games, rather than pushing political agendas.
APGNation: The serious conflicts of interest between game developers and media outlets are unforgivable, as they completely violate the relationship between the gaming media and those whom they are creating content for. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of individuals within the gaming community who are fueling the fire by sending threats and hateful speech towards individuals such as Quinn and Sarkeesian. How can gamers who do not take part in this hateful dialogue voice their support of the movement and differentiate themselves from radical members of the community?
Milo: Continue to be polite, persistent, helpful and firm. It will quickly become obvious that the hateful people are a tiny minority.
APGNation: You yourself were caught up in a somewhat unrelated controversy back in 2013 regarding payment of former employees at The Kernel. The Guardian published a piece about the controversy that stated, “… Further, (The Kernel) became just a mouthpiece for Milo Yiannopoulos to write nice things about his friends.” Do you feel that these gaming media outlets are covering favorable views of these individuals simply because they honestly feel that way about their friends’ games? Based on your experiences, should they be taking extra steps to disclose their preexisting relationships when new articles are published? Or is this simply a byproduct of the inevitable relationships that members within the industry share?
Milo: That quote you’ve reproduced was given to the Guardian by someone I had turned down sexually, and it bears no relation to reality. If you’re getting too friendly with a subject, you have no place reviewing anything they produce, except in extreme cases where you make abundantly clear what your personal relationships are. Nor should you drop them, or links to their products, you’re your copy. That’s a rule I’ve always enforced in my writers and it’s a rule the gaming industry would do well to discover.
APGNation: What advice do you have for young journalists out there who are beginning their career in video game journalism?
Milo: Be thorough and accurate, be nice to everyone; tell it like you see it without worrying what people think.
APGNation: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to let our audience know about? What can we expect from you in the future?
Milo: Right now, I’m still learning about this world, getting into a few games myself and writing about what I see happening. I’ve been approached, as I think a lot of people have, about starting a gaming news site, but I’m obviously not the right person to edit such a thing. If I can lend a hand or give some advice to a more appropriate team, though, or to existing sites – some of whom are doing a good job of judging their way through this crisis – you know where to find me. I think the really important thing is to rally round your friends and people who are writing supportively, because the number of people who are willing to give their opinion honestly in public is very small. What’s comforting, I guess, is that so many ordinary people are turning citizen journalist and investigating what they – rightly, I think – consider to be a series of injustices. I’m watching all of that very closely.
APGNation: We would like to thank Milo once again for taking the time to speak with us regarding this topic. There are many changes coming to the industry of games journalism over the next few years, and we are glad to get a look into the industry with someone as experienced as Milo. As gamers, we are in a very turbulent time currently. It is reassuring to know that there are still credible sources out there, and some journalists are taking the correct steps to right the injustices brought upon by outlets and individuals whom do not uphold proper ethical business standards.
Well Nation, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? What changes are you looking forward to most as gaming journalism continues to evolve? Let us know in the comments down below. We’d love to hear from you!
If you want to keep up with Milo, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Nero. Don’t forget to follow APGNation as well to keep up with all of the latest breaking gaming news and reviews. Until next time, Nation!