In a recent episode of Rebel FM, co-host Arthur Gies discussed how he has anxiety every single time he posts a review. Knowing the consequences of his actions if he should be found wanting. This was all couched in the further ludicrous notion that his employer, Polygon, pays him to essentially live on social media and have to contend, daily, with the slings and arrows of trolls and haters. Because he also uses social media to keep in contact with friends and colleagues, he literally has not other choice.
To which I say: Good. The anxiety part. I don’t really care that Mr. Gies has an addiction to being triggered on social media over the stupid things he writers.
One of the great things to happen in the gaming community over the recent years is the audience not falling line and doing as told when it comes to the games press. I love that there is now push-back to stupid notions that wander in to a review or preview that have no real place there. That games punditry, for good for ill, is taking hold with more and more games press standing up and speaking for themselves, not hiding behind some authoritarian “we” nonsense.
With all of that newfound freedom, should also be a generous dose of fear of a mass audience rejecting opinions and notions laid bare before it. Mr. Gies has long been a profiteer of click bait reviews with slip sliding scores, hamfisted editorials, and a ridiculous Twitter feed full of hyperbolic nonsense that has to be seen to be believed.
It’s been a while since I’ve covered “consumer advocate” Jim Sterling, mostly because I don’t want to turn in to a Jim Sterling type: doggedly covering the same four topics repeatedly, ad nauseum with an occasional “controversy” being stirred up so he can get attention. You’d think with all of his lawsuit shenanigans he’d learn to take a break from all the attention whoring, but a girls got to eat I suppose.
You notice I didn’t say “clicks” because Jim Sterling loves to state that he is a pure “consumer advocate” and doesn’t make any money from ads on YouTube or his website! Which is true, and all well and good, but that’s not the real point here. He does LOVE the attention and it sure as shit didn’t hurt his Patreon numbers, garnering him a lot more donation money for his continued “advocacy”.
If the giving Breath of the Wild a 7 and inducing nerd rage sounds a bit stale and familiar you’re not wrong. Something similar happened when Jim Sterling reviewed No Man’s Sky last year and pretty much the same thing happened. Except, No Man’s Sky was indeed an average game deserving of it’s 5/10, in a review that read like a game that was a 5/10.
Breath of the Wild, well, not so much. Unlike a fair amount of Nintendo fanboys that raged so hard at Jim Sterling, I in fact read the review to see what all the fuss was about. That proved to be a bit of a problem as his website had been toppled by a pure Zelda nerd hate fueled rampage. Nevertheless, with time, I was able to read it and really look to see if the text matched the score, as you’re wont to do in these situations.
Because far be it to notice that the review was coming in close to two weeks after the game was released. Before the dark times wrought by the 7/10, Breath of the Wild’s Metacritic score was a glorious 98 and all was well with the world with near universal acclaim. This was predominantly because he didn’t have a copy of the game to review, Nintendo having stopped working with him long ago due to his constant need to badger and provoke Nintendo fanboys. More probably, because he’s Jim Sterling…why would anyone work with him?
But whom are we kidding here; this is what Jim Sterling really does for a living: he trolls gamers and video game culture for clicks and views. The only differentiating factor between him and your run-of-the-mill YouTube whore is that he has a foot in a games press past. However, he has always behaved this way. Drumming up “controversy” and driving traffic to whatever website decided to avail his “consumer advocate” services in the past.
Now, I don’t expect readers to be familiar with the Sterlingverse, but on his podcast, the gag inducing titled “Podquisition”, it was readily apparent in the wake of Breath of the Wild’s release that he was leaning on whatever his co-host Laura K was saying about the game and immediately had a visceral reaction to the weapon degradation elements. This is on top of his open derision to anything open world related, with the Ubisoftification of open world games being a prime target. Already, things weren’t looking good for Breath of the Wild getting a stellar review from Jim Sterling.
The thing is, the world would’ve have kept turning had Jim Sterling not even bothered to review the game. Nothing in his review would lead anyone to believe he played enough of it to fully form an opinion outside of the one he had long before ever getting his hands on it. In fact, the review reads more like a firm 8/10. The review takes a turn at the end as if he, or someone helping him edit the review, noticed that it didn’t read like a 7/10 or more sinisterly, that an 8/10 wouldn’t lower the Metacritic score, but a 7/10 would.
So insert a bunch of paragraphs knocking the game for nonsense that Jim Sterling personally doesn’t care for, but aren’t actually issues with the game proper and some facsimile of a 7/10 review score appears. Additionally, what glorious trolling it would be to lambaste this most perfect Zelda game ever created? The Nintendo fanboys would lose their fucking minds! And up went the review.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to even bother defending Nintendo fanboys and legitimize what they said and did in the wake of Jim Sterling’s review. Those people are monsters of the first order, something even I wouldn’t have believed until a few months ago.
In the lead up to the Nintendo Switch launch, I found myself watching videos on YouTube by some of the most ardent Nintendo fans lavishing love and adulation for the company and everything they did. I had heard legend of these fanboys, and how voracious they could be. In fact, to this day they are still giving Jeff Gerstmann shit for his review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, awarding it with an “8.8”. Yeah, that’s not a bad score at all. Yet Nintendo fanboys are still up his ass about it over a decade later!
Jim Sterling is no stranger to this Nintendo fanboy rage either, yet he seems to keep drawing their ire. To the point of wondering why someone would keep fucking a beehive then complain about being stung? He’s gleefully done this for clicks and attention for years, yet he expects they will just grouse on social media and forums and leave him be?
There is no sympathy to be found for Jim Sterling because he knew what he was doing. He knew that giving Breath of the Wild a 7/10 was going to enrage Nintendo fanboys and that they were going to come for him. Now, is this mob attack mentality gross? Of course, it is, but as will all things The Interents, there is a teachable moment to the people who use to make a living. You don’t stick your dick in a beehive.
As the video games culture grows and moves ever more mainstream, the hope is that these self-appointed pundits will actually have something of value to offer new gamers. The sad old whoring days of purposely giving a stellar game a low score for attention should be derided for the pathetic gesture it is. Regardless of fanboy malfeasance, gamers must move past those of the games press that hold on to a antiquated view of gaming culture and lack due respect for their audience and their intelligence. No matter how lacking it may appear at times.