Why IGNs continued success is bad for gamers.
OK, first, everybody expecting and uninformed rant, go somewhere else. This isn’t a twitter account or a facebook blasting, this is a legitimate beef I have with how IGN conducts business, and why I strongly feel their continued popularity is extremely bad for gamers and other games journalists. I’m not going to close this thing by calling for a boycott, or slam people for going to that website, I just want you to consider the reasons I have for no longer supporting IGN like I used to.
Second, this is my personal blog and my personal opinion. I understand that I'm a staff writer for PixlBit, but I have my own feelings and ideas as well, and this is an expression of that. I'm not at all saying PixlBit hates IGN, or even that my opinions match that of the rest of the staff. This is how I feel and this is something that I feel needs to be said. In other words the opinions expressed below are not necessarially the views of PixlBit, and PixlBit as a whole is not calling out IGN.
A couple of years ago, IGN was pretty much the only website I would visit to keep up to speed on what was going on in the world of gaming. Previously, I had surrounded myself by gamer friends and really didn’t need to look up all the latest and greatest news because one of these guys in particular was so into games that he would consistently drop information on us way before others had heard of it. He was even going to a local community college to pursue a career in the industry. Well, as you can imagine, outside of retail there aren’t many careers for gamers in upstate New York and haven’t been since the 80s, so it was only a matter of time before he shipped off to the west coast, leaving me to find any information I needed on my own. IGN became my source.
Since then I’ve discovered other resources including 1up, RPG Fan, and of course PixlBit, and I’ve discovered something else as well, IGN is doing it wrong. Here’s why:
1: Open bias
Did you know IGN has a mission statement? I didn’t until someone pointed it out to me. Here it is, provided in all caps because that’s how it’s displayed on their site (emphasis added): “WE’RE IGN ENTERTAINMENT, A LEADING ONLINE MEDIA & SERVICES COMPANY OBSESSED WITH GAMING, ENTERTAINMENT AND EVERYTHING GUYS ENJOY.”
I bet this was a real eye opener for some of you. They cater specifically to male interest. I wouldn’t say they are positioned against females, but it’s safe to say they aren’t going out of their way at all to attract their attention. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they might even alienate them. Regardless, this is what’s known as a biased source people. You can’t make a website to appeal to only half the population, and then expect people to consider you a reliable resource, yet it happens all the time. People mistake IGN for, and expect it to be an unbiased, open minded, professional hub of information and it is not. They don’t even pretend to be one.
Wordpress had an article on this, calling it outright sexism. While I wouldn’t go that far, I will ‘borrow’ something they pointed out and argue that they are unprofessional.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, “Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (20 percent).
2: Shoddy reporting practices and reviews.
IGN is just plain sloppy when it comes to reporting news. You don’t have to look too far for an example of this. Some time ago I was researching an article and happened across IGN’s coverage of the same issue first, but something seemed very wrong about it, and it took a little more digging to uncover it. Despite whatever appearances, IGN is NOT the primary source of this article, rather WIRED, one of their competitors. Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Honestly, if I had not been investigating this for a news article myself, I would have probably just read it, assumed the IGN reporter actually did the legwork for this, and moved on with my life.
People, this is stealing. Even an amateur writing a research paper in high school knows you are required to credit your source unless you are the source, or the information is common knowledge. That’s not the case here. It’s no small matter either, it’s called plagiarism, and it’s actually illegal.
That’s not just sloppy, that’s dangerous to your employer.
Let’s look at another recent article on the website, their review for the recently released Jak and Daxter Collection. I’ll not bore you with the details, just click the link. As Jesse pointed out to a lot of us in the email that brought this to my attention, it won’t take long to read. It sounds to me like the reviewer actually played through a lot of the game as well, and it was awarded a 9.0 and an Editors’ Choice award. If I hired this guy and paid him to sit down and play this game, and he came to me with this as the result of that investment, he’d be job hunting pretty quickly. That’s an opinion I suppose, but see for yourself if you don’t agree.
3: It indirectly encourages a poor and immature perspective of gamers.
Let’s face it; IGN is the most widely known gaming website, even to non-gamers. Ask someone who has only a passive interest in games to name a popular gaming website and I’d put money on them dropping IGNs name fairly quickly. I’ve even seen IGN’s page or name in a few news stories and on TV before, whereas I have never seen another gaming website referenced. Ever. Why is that bad? Well, as a visitor to that website, that homepage could contain any number of things that could endanger how gamers are perceived. Maybe a visitor will see a video featuring porn stars and the video games they enjoy playing. (I refuse to link to it, but a quick search on their website will bring it, and some other gems up.) Perhaps they will be greeted by a feature on IGNs most recent ‘babe of the day,’ which is usually just a bunch of pictures of some model posing in their underwear. In addition to all this, you will always see a link at the bottom of their home page complete with picture of something related to adult film “actresses.” Always. This may not bother you, but let’s face it, we as gamers already have a PR problem when it comes to how we view and treat women, and this isn’t helping.
Gamers are forced to fight the stereotype that we are anything more than overweight, repressed, single males living alone in our parent’s basements over sexualizing women. IGN’s flagrant objectification of women and blatant fascination with adult entertainment, combined with their popularity, is making it difficult to shake that image. Now it’s true as mentioned above, that IGN’s mission is to appeal to males, and this is certainly a way to do just that, but it isn’t something that any service making an attempt to project an air of professionalism should do.
There are other things IGN does that simply ooze immaturity and tasteless. I just made a quick trip there to see what I could find and it didn’t take long. Under the “what we’re playing” banner on their home page I found a pink haired anime girl jumping up and down, causing parts of her *ahem* female anatomy to bounce ridiculously. The text reads: ShinigamiNeko
I am on the weird section of youtube again oh look it's a cat masturbating [link removed by me]
Now that might not be there on your next visit, but I bet you find something else that makes you roll your eyes a bit.
I’ll be transparent here, with any post like this, there’s a motive. My hope is that as a result of people reading this, one of two things will happen: IGN will change its business practices and be more transparent about who they are and what their mission is (which is unlikely since they are absorbing other gaming websites on an almost yearly basis, like 1up, and making tons of money) or, gamers will wake up and try to spread awareness of other, more professional websites that, frankly, make us look better.
I want the same thing all the other gamers out there want: Respect. I don’t want people hating on my favorite hobby, I don’t want to have people look at me sideways when I pull out my 3DS to entertain myself on a break at work, even though everybody else plays Angry Birds on their tablets or iPhones, and I want people to think of gamers as active, mature, well-adjusted and productive members of society. In my opinion, IGN’s current tactics and practices are making that difficult. Something has to change.