Polygon has a long, sordid, politically motivated history of blaming video games for society’s ills. The outlet is known as an outrage bait manufacturer, latching onto specific politically charged topics and making grossly inaccurate or enraging comments about the topic in order to fuel negative sentiment within the industry.
Recently Polygon author Ben Kuchera penned a piece on February 20th, 2018 lambasting President Trump and other Republican politicians for attacking and blaming video games for the Florida high school shooting. Kuchera attempted to grandstand behind the First Amendment and conciliate gamers by talking about the protections afforded to the creative freedoms of game developers after their works were considered protected by a Supreme Court ruling back in 2011. Kuchera wrote…
“The act of blaming video games for the ills of society has a long, expensive history in the courts. The First Amendment has won every time.”
However, Kuchera’s own colleague, Brian Crecente, penned a piece for Polygon back on June 24th, 2016 putting a spotlight on video game violence following the Orlando shootings, even going as far as to say the exact same thing as Donald Trump, writing…
“Does playing a video game steeped in a cycle of kill-die-kill have an impact on players? Almost certainly. Arguing that an overwhelmingly violent game doesn’t impact its users is akin to arguing that any game with a singular drive or message can’t inspire or evoke change.
“It’s arguing that games for change isn’t a thing and that everyone at this week’s festival, everyone who works to educate, inform, inspire through gaming, is wasting their time.
“Violence in video games, like any other aspect of gaming, most certainly can impact a gamer.”
In fact, there was another article published on July 15th, 2013 where Brian Crecente once again puts the onus on video games to help cure “the country of gun violence”. Crecente writes..
“Gun violence is so pervasive, so deadly an issue in America that it should be treated and researched as a contagious disease, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“And that’s why video games needs to be part of the research that goes into curing this bullet-fueled epidemic. Video games have become so deeply ingrained in modern society, that ignoring their impact would be akin to ignoring the effects of movies, of music or of the daily news on society. And all of those forms of media play an important role in any complete, holistic approach to solving the problem of American gun violence.”
It’s a softly worded tautology of President Trump and other Republican politician talking points. Yet somehow Polygon was okay lumping in video games with violent shooting sprees in the past, even advocating that video games may play a part in the violent acts committed in real life.
Twitter user Mombot even collected many of Polygon’s best hits to compile and contrast them with their recent about face in defending games, showing a clear bias and hypocritical stance from the media publication.
On February 20th @BenKuchera expressed surprise that ‘we are still blaming videogames in 2018’.
I would like to remind Kuchera of how frequently his own publication has blamed video games, either by implying that games cause harm or by uncritically repeating alarmist media. pic.twitter.com/5ySlRpBHYt
— Best Mom Eva (@mombot) February 23, 2018
And even if you want to say “But Kuchera’s editorial is different from Brian Crecente’s articles!” you would have a point if Brian Crecente – now an editor at Rolling Stone’s Glixel – didn’t reproach President Trump via a tweet and then pen an article titled “Blaming Video Games for School Shootings is Misguided, Dangerous”.
— Crecente (@crecenteb) February 23, 2018
Thankfully one of the very first replies to Crecente’s tweet recalls one of his articles he penned for Polygon back in 2013.
— tw (@lvl6otherkin) February 23, 2018
Reddit user B-Volleyball-Ready also compiled a list of Crecente’s pendulous stances on video game violence, mostly targeting the gaming industry in the past but just recently switching his stance to stand against President Trump.
It’s extremely interesting given that in Kuchera’s recent article he somewhat dismisses Crecente’s posturing to lump video game violence into the same conversations with mass shootings, by saying that the court ruling makes it a moot point…
“Blaming video games and the media for violence is just as tiresome now as it was a decade ago, only now we have the benefit of the Supreme Court’s ruling. There’s no excuse for politicians to pretend that this isn’t a settled issue.”
But that doesn’t absolve Polygon of its other crimes of blaming video games for their perceived epidemic of spreading sexism, racism and transphobia, nor does it absolve them of never having censured or chastised the Left for its attacks against the gaming industry over the last six years.
Liberal “culture critics” spread fears that the industry was a breeding ground for sexism and harassment. This is an issue I might add that Polygon championed in an article published on September 25th, 2015 when Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn took their complaints to the U.N., in hopes of getting gaming communities and online networks censored…
“”We need to create an online environment where everyone can participate without fear of intimidation or violence,” [Anita Sarkeesian] told us.
“Finally, the group aims to develop laws and other governance to “enforce compliance and punitive consequences for perpetrators.””
So much for the First Amendment.
Polygon just recently used their platform on February 21st, 2018 as a podium for Xbox executive Phil Spencer to claim that the gaming industry was full of “toxic” behavior, a platitude served up as an offering on the altar for the Intersectional Inquisition. This, however, is something Polygon is no stranger to.
During the rise of Anita Sarkeesian’s claim to power over the media industry (and negatively affecting the gaming industry) Polygon uncritically reiterated and purported the same talking points made by Sarkeesian, which included painting the gaming industry as a sexist, racist, transphobic community.
While many gamers will defend Sarkeesian and Polygon, claiming that they’ve never called for censorship, Polygon did directly support Sarkeesian’s call to censor the way women are portrayed sexually in games, with the Polygon article published on September 28th, 2016 championing a Tropes Vs Women episode, where author Allegra Frank writes…
“For as much as the female form is romanticized, the portrayal of female villains in myths and in games suggests that a sexual women is a monstrous one.
“It’s time for that to change, Sarkeesian says. Games and stories whose female villains are explicitly sexualized are “perpetuating false notions that women are inherently misleading and manipulative, and that female sexuality is something to be shamed, feared and controlled,” she explains.
“Those ideas were harmful 2,800 years ago, and they’re still harmful today.”
An article published on January 31st, 2017 from Allegra Frank also gives an echoing voice to Sarkeesian’s comments about making dark skinned female characters alluring, directly stating that “it’s not okay”…
“Respectful treatment of cultural history and traditions should be the norm, but instead games more often just plunder marginalized cultures with no sense of respect and no concern whatsoever about accurately reflecting the people and traditions they’re appropriating from,” Sarkeesian concludes.
“To put it simply, it’s not okay for games to reduce these cultures to stereotypical costumes and personality traits in an effort to add a bit of exotic flair to their worlds.”
Polygon also hoisted the views of Brianna Wu in an editorial that put a blanket label across the gaming industry as sexist and that games teach gamers to treat women as sex objects, almost identical to the Republican politicians recently claiming that violent imagery teaches gamers to become violent. In a piece published on July 22nd, 2014, Wu wrote…
“The video game industry is particularly egregious at only representing women as sex objects. As such, many gamers are trained to only see women in that context.”
There’s a slew of articles on Polygon that have messages just short of saying that gaming either makes gamers sexist or the industry perpetuates practices that feeds into real life sexism. Is this not the same as blaming video games for leading people to commit real life acts of violence?
I attempted to ask Ben Kuchera about Polygon’s switch in defending games from President Trump after the outlet spent the last four years castigating the gaming audience, but he has me blocked on Twitter.