Gaming site MCV got into a bit of trouble today by posting an article crowing about Hitman: Absolution’s positive reviews from around the web while ignoring a slew of lower scores. Commenters were quick to point out that the game has received a mixed reaction, eagerly listing the lower ratings given the latest Hitman by GameSpy, VideoGamer, and PC Gamer, among others. MCV also crapped all over Eurogamer’s negative review for being “grumpy” and bitched that “The internet masses seem to be up in arms that we dared to neglect to mention the reviews” from sites that were less than ecstatic about the game.
And people wonder why games journalism has a less than stellar reputation.
Even if there was no malicious intent here–and I think we’re looking at a case of laziness rather than an instance of astroturfing–what the hell was the point of this article in the first place? Why is a supposed news outlet wasting its time cranking out hundreds of words simply to inform its readers that reviews for a game have been published? Of course reviews are available for Hitman: Absolution, you silly goose! That’s what happens whenever a new game is released! How the hell is this news? It would be news if, like Medal of Honor: Warfighter, multiple sites held back their Hitman reviews pending a day one patch, but that didn’t happen. Nothing out of the ordinary that gamers might be interested in is going on here. Telling gamers that reviews are available for a new game is like telling Vin Diesel that the NOS is going to make his car go faster or reminding a Marlins fan not to get attached to any of the team’s good players.
Silly metaphors aside, though, it’s basically just shitty, shoddy, pointless “journalism.” It serves no purpose. Aggregating review scores to aid gamers in their purchasing decisions is a noble goal, but there are plenty of sites out there that do that job just fine. The MCV article in question? It’s about as useful as a trapdoor on a canoe. Infomercials should be selling it for three easy payments of $19.95 at 3 in the morning. It’s there just to pull in traffic and generate advertising revenue with the help of a new release in an important series without providing the reader any value in return.
I’d like to commend the commenters for stepping in on this one. One of the most important features of the Internet is its capacity for calling bullshit. If someone tries to pass off garbage as news or doesn’t tell the whole story, those of us who know better can step in. Website commenters often get a bad wrap, but in this case they did a very good thing. Kudos also to Penny Arcade and any other site that’s added to the coverage.
MCV’s Hitman coverage is a great example of how gaming journalism often misses the mark. Video games are a big deal; they deserve to be written about properly, with respect and intelligence in a form that conveys information of some legitimate use to the reader. And a few fart jokes would be ok when they’re appropriate, too.