video games

If the 2016 Presidential Candidates Were Video Game Companies

Whenever politicians try and meddle in video games, the result is always awful. However, video games apparently make for some hilarious politicians. So here’s the 2016 presidential candidates… and their uncanny digital entertainment doppelgangers:

<> the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.


Donald Trump: Electronic Arts


I mean, was there any other possible option? A massive, well known corporate entity, they are almost universally reviled by everyone who comes into contact with them professionally, but still inexplicably successfully and popular despite employing some of the worst business practices in their industry.  They don’t have their own platform, piggy-backing on everyone and anyone else’s, making it their own. They haven’t developed anything unique or worthwhile in forever, instead relying on incessantly releasing newer and crappier titles for ideas that have been around for over a decade.

Mindless entertainment, sports, fast cars, and allegations of racism are their bread and butter; the cornerstones to their business models. The irony is that they also tend to pop up the champion of random, surprisingly progressive causes. They have a fetish with buying up as many subsidiaries as possible, slapping their own logo on them, and forcing loyal fans of those franchises to come crawling back and play by their rules if they want to play those titles again. This is second only to their obsession with making other people pay for things, preferably more than once. They’ll try to straight up copy popular client efforts from their competition, but the result just feels creepy, artificial, and super orange. Consistently rated as the “Worst in America,” they still remain an unstoppable juggernaut in their field, and they have enough leverage to completely rewrite the rules as they see fit.


Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio: Sony and Microsoft


Known for their industry leading platforms, they’ve become the benchmark for presentation, as well as continuing to develop and produce ideas of their own. Currently engaged in a massive arms race and rivalry, the deep, dark, secret that their fanboys will never confess is that the two entities have a LOT more similarities than differences. While each one jealously holds on to a few exclusive titles, the vast majority of the stuff they present is available  cross-platform. Not to mention their mutually annoying habit of backtracking or revamping their public statements if the public opinion doesn’t react well to it.
Yeah, their controls are a bit different, and they have generally different personalities and tones to their message, but, at the end of the day, they still wind up feeling like two sides of the same coin. Except for security. They have WILDLY different ideas about security, and it shows.

Pundits spend an uncomfortable amount of time speculating what would happen if the two ever put aside their differences and joined forces, but the only thing more similar that their ideas and platforms is the size of their egos, and unless one of them suffered a sudden, crushing defeat, it’s doubtful we’ll see them team-up anytime soon.

sony-vs-microsoft“TO THE DEATH!!!”

(Which is which? I’d say that Ted Cruz is Sony because he generally has much a much more relaxed and free-wheeling approach to national security and personal privacy… and because of the Trump-ed up rumors that he’s secretly a foreigner plotting to brainwash children with Canadian thoughts. Rubio is Microsoft just because he’s so uptight about privacy, trade, and security issues…and Microsoft is younger than Sony.)


John Kasich: Ubisoft


They will literally never stop reminding you of how open-minded, moderate, and reasonable they are. Ever. (Seriously. The beginning of EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of the Assassin’s Creed games. That splash screen talking about how the development team is so diverse and chill and stuff.) While they were hot stuff about five or ten years ago, now they spend most of their time just releasing mindless sequels to their various franchises and titles, not really developing anything of significance in recent memory. Nevertheless, they waste no effort reminding you of how potentially important they are and how groundbreaking those ideas were way back in the day when they first came up with them. They also have a deep love of rewriting history, sometimes for the sake of entertainment and sometimes for the sake of hiding poor voting decisions.

The irony is that in spite of ceaselessly trying to cultivate an aura of cosmopolitan inclusiveness, they are wracked by accusations of sexism and general hostility towards feminism, even though the reality is probably very different. The accusations are usually fairly petty, but quickly explode to massive proportions, and although both can claim to be generally far ahead of their competitors when it comes to women’s issues, they still get hit the hardest. They desperately want to be number one, but have to be content with being number four.


Ben Carson: Nintendo


A well-known social fixture since the 80s and generally loved by everyone, you just can’t stay mad at them. Their most recent endeavors have pretty much flopped, but that can’t overshadow the massive legacies they’ve built for themselves or their irrepressibly positive outlook on the world and their chances of success in it. No matter how hard they face-planted, they’ve just kept trucking; not so much marching to the beat of their own drum as grooving along to a funk bass-solo that only they can hear.
They don’t take obvious hints to cease doing something, and you always get the impression that they know something you don’t. Sometimes this works out for them, and sometimes it doesn’t.

They’ve definitely produced a few titles and platforms that are widely viewed as “unusual” at best and “downright bizarre” at worst, but that hasn’t stopped them from owning it. Like Trump/EA, they’re often accused to appealing to the lowest common denominator and refusing to play by the rules. However, like Trump/EA, they have enough of a sphere of influence outside the current fracas that they just don’t care.

The BIG difference between the two is that people actually have fond memories of Nintendo.


Jeb Bush: Ensemble Studios (R.I.P.)


This one is actually for the Bush Legacy in general because, let’s be honest, Jeb is chained to his family legacy no matter what he does.
Once an incredibly popular developer, they peaked in the early-to-mid 2000’s and then just faded away. As the developer of the popular Age of Empires franchise, they changed the way we view global strategy and colonialism. While by no means original or revolutionary, they simplified and expedited the process.

In general, their mechanics were good and, with a couple exceptions, they produced solid, if not spectacular titles. Their ideas and releases became a legacy and mainstay in conversations about strategy or gaming in general.  They pretty much defined RTS games/the presidency/Florida-Governors for the entire millennial generation, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, they just couldn’t compete with or adapt to newer, bigger, faster, more aggressive developers and just stopped gaining traction. They were very close with Microsoft/Rubio, but were soon left behind by them as well. In spite of what, in theory, should have been impenetrable money-armor, they refused to delay the inevitable and closed up shop.

As the wannabe successor to his father and brother, maybe it would have been more accurate to compare Jeb to Robot Entertainment… except that Robot Entertainment is still functioning.


Hillary Clinton: 3D Realms


They were HUGE in the 90s and early 2000s and completely squandered their comeback in the late 2000’s, but they just refuse to go away. With an aristocratic pedigree of 90’s hits, it’s hard to deny them what they want, but people are just surprised to find out that they’re still around. They’re famous for proposing groundbreaking titles in the 90s, which tended to be a little controversial, but ultimately couldn’t keep pace with their competition… or even effectively manage their own organization. They made a ton of massive, grand promises during the 90’s, and completely failed to deliver on all of them. They had a brief resurgence in a more minor capacity in the early-to-mid 2000’s, but they still continued to squander their money left and right while constantly relying on their former status to keep opening doors for them.

They had their big chance to come back in the late 2000’s and fulfill the tease they had been putting on for over a decade and it not only fell through completely, but they had to sit on the sidelines and watch a young, fresh-faced rival take it from them and actually make it work, and they had to put on a fake smile and pretend to be happy for them. (In case you’re not picking up on it, we’re talking about Obama and healthcare.)

They’re still around, still kicking, and they still have “all these big plans.” We’ll see.
They are also wracked with women’s issues; mostly negative ones. Spending most of the 90’s trying to make excuses for or cover-up the bedroom abuses and indiscretions of their other half, they are now under fire for presenting a cartoonishly stereotypical “strong female hero” as an apology for victim blaming so many abuse victims twenty years ago. In other words, they aren’t gaining traction with anyone who wasn’t already playing their games in the 90s, but that won’t stop them because  “IT’S THEIR TURN!”


Bernie Sanders: Blizzard Entertainment


They’ve been doing the same thing for decades and they’re extremely popular online and with people under the age of 35. (Most of the people over the age of 35 view them with deep suspicion, convinced they’re ruining the next generation.) Hailed by everyone as presenting bold new ideas and concepts, the reality is that nearly everything they’ve produced is borrowed from somewhere else (like Games Workshop). A gaming juggernaut powered primarily by micro-transactions, it’s notable for being one of the biggest developers in the world, while still acting (and fixing bugs) like an outfit running in someone’s basement. Their followers are extremely dedicated, vocal, somewhat socially awkward, and convinced that everything they produce is literally the best.

While they initially had trouble attracting women and POC to join them, their fans are growing very diverse, if not terribly good with economics or long-term perspective. But that’s ok, because neither is the company, making massively grandiose promises about their plan’s abilities that they can’t keep. However, as long as they are focused on doing one type of thing, with a handful of major titles, and they keep doing it well, their fans will never desert them.

Not to mention that they promise to let you play for free…. up until a certain level, after which your money is what’s paying for everyone else’s free time.


What do you think? Agree? Disagree? If it was up you, who would you pair with who and why? Let me know what you think, and don’t forget to vote in your party’s primary, just to tell your grand-kids that you participated in the Reality Show Election of 2016!

~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA, and, personally, he would rather NOT elect the human embodiment of EA to the highest office in the land. Follow him on Twitter!


“GamerGate” & “NotYourShield:” Why Gamer Culture is Far from Dead

When your primary reading demographic starts asking probing questions about the ethics of your business practices, you don’t get to act surprised and self-righteous after your only response is to slander and malign anyone questioning you.


It’s been less than two days since I wrote my first piece about the #GamerGate movement on Twitter, but there have been a couple developments since then, and I’ve received a LOT of feedback, some of which deserves to be addressed.

(Once again, there will be links and images containing foul language.)

Several people talked to me privately, both politely and not so politely, wanting to know what I’m basing my judgment of Quinn on. More specifically, they think it’s horrific that people are so adamantly convinced that these apparently real claims of harassment are fake, and they are believing what ever major gaming news outlet is telling them: That it’s a sad month to be a “gamer.”

If you want the level-headed, more impartial article, check out my previous one.
THIS article is in response to my frustration at the growing levels of bullying and misinformation being spread by most major gaming outlets.

So let’s get some things straight:

Asking someone to provide proof of harassment or wrongdoing is NOT “Victim blaming.”

Anita Sarkeesian has often vocally claimed that the biggest detriment of modern society is that women are forced to prove they have been harassed, instead of being given the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately for Sarkeesian, that’s not how the real world works… and it’s not even the correct application of the term “victim blaming.”
No one is under any moral or legal obligation to take ANY claim at face value. The justice system is ideally meant to follow a system of “innocent until proven guilty.” While everyone from writers to law enforcement should, and usually do, take claims of harassment seriously, if you’re going to claim harassment or accuse another party of harassing you, then you need to be prepared to demonstrate proof.

Asking someone currently embroiled in an industry-wide scandal to provide evidence to back up their claims is not only reasonable, but advisable. Unfortunately, Quinn, Sarkeesian, and the numerous media outlets lined up behind them have done nothing but demand special standards and place the burden of proof on the readers and skeptics… when they acknowledge that proof is important at all.

The media avoids digging into it, because there is remarkably little hard evidence surrounding Quinn’s claims:

Quinn claims, and provides a screenshot supposedly taken from a forum thread on the website, that the denizens of WizardChan hated her for daring to make a game and be a woman at the same time, sparking a movement threatening her with bodily and financial harm. These are some very serious threats.

This is bizarre because WizardChan is a website for introverted men suffering from chronic depression and suicidal tendencies. While the single comment Quinn shared might be real, the users of WizardChan were appalled that someone who not only threaten Quinn, but that they were getting blamed for it, and assembled a rather poorly organized and emotional, but very contrary version of events.

The second problem I have is the alleged doxxing that occurred… primarily that it doesn’t make sense. Several amateur internet sleuths have raised questions regarding the claims of a doxxing attack made by Zoe Quinn and another indie-game developer, Phil Fish. wasn’t mentioned in the last article, but has been an ardent defender and ally of Quinn.

Both claimed that accounts of theirs had been hacked, and documents released to the public. However, people who ACTUALLY hack things have pointed out the incorrect timelines, and the fact that certain accounts which would had to have been hacked into first, in order to gain access to the ones that were never touched.
Everyone who was blamed for doing it has basically released “If I Did It” posts, explaining that they could never do what was claimed to have been done.

This actually creates a problem for Phil Fish, because if the claims that he staged the incident are true, he could be prosecuted for exposing employee information.

Victim blaming is accusing the victim of having done something to deserve their abuse and/or viciously mocking them for it.
Asking questions isn’t victim blaming.
Demanding answers and clarification for some suspicious claims isn’t victim blaming….

VICTIM BLAMING is victim blaming.

Something Phil Fish should know well:

This is a textbook example of what “victim blaming” is; arguing that the victim deserved it based on their own actions, and then cruelly mocking them for it. It even fits Sarkeesian’s definition.
This behavior is by no means uncommon. However, if Quinn, Sarkeesian, and the overwhelming number of gaming journals are to be believed… this sort of behavior is an anomaly.

These few bad apples or moments of indiscretion don’t represent the whole group, right? In fact, taking the worst things you can find and holding them up as examples of the norm would just be irresponsible, right?

Except that is literally what Sarkeesian has been doing to the entire video industry and culture. She and her supporters defend this by saying that even if they WERE guilty of cherry-picking, the fact that these examples exist to begin with demonstrates a problem. So that makes it OK.

Well, as long as we’re cherry-picking, we might as well cherry-pick from BOTH sides.

Bad behavior, threatening comments, and actual digital assault is by no means limited to any misogynistic outliers in the gaming community. It’s JUST as prevalent among people who have become flippantly known as “Social Justice Warriors.”

How? Well because I’m not just talking about random faces in the crowd doing things like threatening teenage boys with physical violence because they questioned the Sacred Cow nature of the “#YesAllWomen” movement, or of the more recent issue of people not only DEFENDING those death threats, but straight-up saying that the lives of people like Sarkeesian are more important

I’m not even talking about people in Quinn’s crowd of followers doxxing, harassing, and doing EXACTLY to other people what they claim is being done to Quinn.

I’m talking about mainstream figureheads in the movement. Not just random, disgruntled plebes, but JOURNALISTS with more than a thousand followers; making threatening comments, insulting the intelligence and lineage of anyone who disagrees, saying gamers are worse that ISIS… and saying they should be killed:


Are they jokes? Probably. Hopefully. If the roles were reversed, and the gaming community made jokes like these, it would NEVER fly. The people posting would be crucified in the media and… oh wait…

That’s already happening.

But that’s OK, because it’s all done in the name of EQUALITY!

Except it’s not.
Gaming media has presented a disturbingly united front against gamers, against #GamerGate, against anti-Quinn people, and most importantly, against anyone who asks too many questions.

Anyone in the public who disagrees with the approved story is now a misogynist.

Anyone who’s a gamer is being told their hobbies and pastimes are dead or dying; that they should be ashamed.

And any gaming news outlet that doesn’t tow the line is turned out on it’s ear… not always metaphorically. While journalists who are financially linked to the people in question are given top billing for their “objective” stories, TechRaptor, an Australian tech news site, tried to run an article that questioned Quinn’s story… and their host promptly cancelled their service, shutting the site down.

Any reporters who ask questions are boxed out, or, in Kotaku’s case, told to shut up or get fired.

Gaming journalists who have built their entire lives and careers on the industry are now preaching its impending death, apparently convinced that they can kill it with a wave of socially-correct propaganda and censorship.


Unfortunately, it appears that they are DEAD WRONG.

Every major gaming site has spent the last week doing nothing but shaming the gamer culture and talking about how it doesn’t need them anymore.

This graph of the traffic and popularity of some of the biggest names in gaming journalism would indicate otherwise.

This is what happens when you try and put a media blackout on a topic that raises ethical questions about your professional practice: People stop trusting you for information.

They’re confident that they can still coast to victory by taking the moral high-ground; fighting for minorities and defending the defenseless.

Except that’s failing too.

As much as Forbes wants this “minor scuffle” in a “not very exciting” industry to be a domestic dispute between diverse, equality-loving journalists and their homogenous, male, misogynist readers… nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the remarkably diverse citizenry of “gamer culture,” including a huge number of women, are tired of being told that they’re all racists/sexists… and then see themselves exploited by the media outlets they disagree with.

Meet “#NotYourShield.”

Gamers of all stripes and genders are tired of being told that the obviously corrupt gaming journalists are doing all of this for their own good.

So they are telling them, quietly and simply, that they are not a shield for journalists to hide behind:


This is just a TINY sample of what’s going on with #NotYourShield… it’s encouraging and it’s amazing.

If you’re feeling discouraged by the behavior of journalists or depressed by the industry, then just spent some time reading these tweets.

The journalists did get ONE thing right. It IS a rough time to be considered a gamer:

Our indie-developer culture, meant to help newbies and start-ups get their foot in the door… is actually one of the most rigged, corrupt, and exploited areas of the industry.
This exploitation is being covered up under a mask of feminism. NOT real feminism, but a twisted parody.
Gaming journalism, the industry that wouldn’t even exist without gamers, has decided to revile them, censure them, and shame them… as loud and as long as they can. Worst of all, evidence points to it being the most corrupt, inbred system of all.

Apparently in the process of trying to squelch a surprisingly huge subset of people, they forgot how social media works… and they forgot how people themselves work.
Gamers are an incredibly diverse, MASSIVE group of people that are tired of being used as a punching bag by their own media outlets, and web-traffic is indicating that.

Gaming culture isn’t dead, isn’t dying, and it isn’t an exclusive club. Gaming journalism, on the other, could very well be all three.


Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central PA. Follow him on Twitter!