Gaming, Entitlement, and the Consumerist

Posted by Tim Sheehy on Apr 5, 2012 in Videogames |

The Consumerist and EA

It’s a bit of a hot topic right now, but everyone seems to be up in arms over this “Worst Company in America” poll that recently named Electronic Arts the worst company in America. From what I’ve gathered, over 250,000 people voted to determine the winner of the not-so-prestigious title with Electronic Arts receiving 64% of the votes, with Bank of America trailing at 36%. There’s no question that gamers are passionate about their games, or that Bank of America destroys the lives of countless households on a daily basis with foreclosures, or questionable banking practices, but for whatever reason my twitter feed seems to have exploded with debates backing both sides of the coin, and the tweets aren’t pretty.

Imran Khan wrote an interesting piece condemning gaming professionals and journalists for their rude remarks regarding the results of the poll and gamers in general. It’s well written piece and encourage you all to give it a read, but having a perspective of my own, I decided to reply to his post which you can read below, along with an excerpt from his original musing. I’ve also included his twitter screen caps so you can see where he’s coming from.

EA/Consumerist Tweets

“This has been the newest notch in the “Fucking gamers” belt that gaming journalists and developers have been wearing for the last year.  It is the new hip thing to do to paint with the widest brush possible and be as rude as they can be to draw a clear line between themselves and what they consider the unwashed masses.  Any time that gamers, the audience for gaming journalism and video games in general, feel upset, manipulated, mislead, or taken advantage of, game journalists fall over themselves to use words like “entitled” or “missing the point…”

“Game journalists are eager to prove that they are above their station and do this by meticulously outlining who is below them.  If you agree with them, then you’re smart and reasonable.  If you disagree, then you’re an entitled minority that is simply whining because everything is not all rainbows and sunshine or whatever other strawman one can think of for these purposes.”

“Yes, everyone understands that EA is not actually worse than Bank of America in terms of real-world effects.  Congratulations, you made the correct value judgment that foreclosing on homes is worse than forum bannings being tied to access to games. Neither Bank of America nor EA was suddenly going to see this poll result and change their ways, so for as little as this poll actually mattered, getting upset that the more morally outrageous choice was not picked does little besides provide an excellent example of public grandstanding.  To do this while defending EA’s acts as an actual anti-consumer company is mind-boggling, as if video games themselves needed defense from…people who play video games.

Mass Effect 3 Art

I’ve been giving this subject a lot of thought and while I understand [Khan’s] frustration with industry professionals and gaming journalists, I can’t help but feel its a little misplaced. Of the tweets [he] capped, none of them say anything about gamers in general. They were speaking specifically to select group who went out of their way to vote on the subject.

Some of these journalists actually play games too. Not all of them, which is a sad fact, but once you’ve [worked] in that industry, you’ll know it to be true. That said, those that do consider themselves gamers. Some of them even weighed in on the subject in favor of Electronic Arts. Of course, I say in favor, but in reality, [many have] acknowledged that EA is a shitty company that takes advantage of consumers. Some people just happen to think Bank of America is, by comparison, a far worse entity. It’s their opinion, but they certainly weren’t going to go out of their way to vote about it on a site geared towards general consumers, most of whom probably couldn’t give a shit about microtransactions, or day-one DLC.

Battlefield 3 _ Caspian Border Gameplay - 4

I know what you’re going to say, “obviously they did if EA won.” Well, that might be true, unlikely, but it might be. Sites like Reddit or 4chan’s /v/ board organized as many people as they could, specifically to vote for EA. Some “Retake Mass Effect” groups heard about the [poll], and decided to jump in, but how is that any different than organizing users to review bomb sites like Amazon or Metacritic? How should anyone view that? Should they be entitled to act like that simply because they can? Yeah, I’m not so sure. This is the entitlement they speak of. The people who think its okay to do whatever they think it takes to get their message across, even if it annoys everyone else in the room.

Believe me, I don’t like what EA does either, and I don’t support their practices, but I do the right thing, I don’t buy their products, so as a consumer it will never effect me personally. Unfortunately, Bank of America plays an instrumental role with the world economy, this, regardless of my interactions with their services, effects me, and those I know, on a regular basis. Them pointing it out isn’t self-righteous, it might be annoying, but its their twitter feed, or site, or blog, or whatever. My point being, none of them have uttered the term “fucking gamers,” and from what I’m seeing, I’m not sure how you could even infer that.

[Editor’s Note: Truth be told, I do buy some EA products, however I choose to ignore the vast majority of their offerings on principal. Admittedly, I did want to see the ending of Mass Effect 3, having played the previous entries in the series, and I’m just as disappointed as anyone else by the end result, but I’m not the kind of person who would attempt to sway polls by organizing efforts to fix results, or complain to the BBB because a game just happened to have a portion I found utterly disappointing. I’m sorry, but it just seems silly.]

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