An article that examines the popularity of “angry” game commentators on YouTube fails to address what has made them popular.
If you’re like me who enjoys watching the many video game commentaries on YouTube, then you have become aware of an article written by Ian Sherr of CNET that has become the talk of the community.
“Meet the angry gaming YouTubers who turn outrage into views” looks into how the most popular video game commentators have build their success with negativity and anger. The article shines a light on several channels while also noting the key points from several interviews. The article ends with a look at how YouTube’s algorithm and human behavior make these videos so popular.
Following its publication, the article has been denounced by the YouTube gaming community as a hit piece. Everyone who was interviewed or was the subject of the article has denounced it in some way. Other game commentators (who were not mentioned) have come to the defense of these commentators with the support of the overall gaming community.
The response to the article is justified because despite the months of research and countless interviews, it failed to understand why “angry” commentators are so popular. To his credit, Sherr has written some great works about the tech and the gaming but his expertise is more with what is going on with the industry and not the community.
Why these commentators are popular comes down to the unethical practices and questionable actions of the gaming industry along with most major media outlets failing to hold them accountable. Because of this, the trust that gamers have had for the major media outlets has been eroding for sometime due to what is perceived as a dereliction of journalistic responsibility.
The epidemic of crunch time along with psychological abuse and the lack of job security has been plaguing the industry. This has resulted in dedicated creators being exploited till they are burned out and have left the industry for good. Yet, major media would hardly talk about this. On the consumer side, AAA publishers began to incorporate predatory microtransaction along with pay-to-win mechanics in iconic franchises. Adding to problem was titles being released either broken or incomplete titles. When gamers would speak up against these actions, the response from the media was “don’t be entitled“.
When journalists failed to hold the industry accountable and protect the consumer, commentators like Jim Sterling took up this responsibility. They channeled the the frustration the community felt. These commentators shinned a light on the problems in the industry, called out publishers for their dishonest tactics and warned about the consequences of their unchecked greed.
The distrust in traditional media, the industries unchecked greed and the rise of YouTube commentators created a powder keg in the community. The spark that set everything off happened in November when Diablo Immortal was announced. Fans were disappointed and were concerned about the future of Blizzard. However; several journalists started branding the fanbase as “entitled” resulting in a new host of problems. As a result; a line in the sand was drawn and one was either pro-quality story driven games or pro-microtransaction + freemuim + exploitation+ loot boxes.
Commentators like YoungYea and Jim Sterling along with journalists like Jason Schreier were clearly on the side of gamers. Meanwhile you had the likes of Adam Rosenberg and Kellen Beck of Mashable who were clearly pro-microtransaction and exploitation. The list is too long to make but it has become obvious on what side of the line those in the media stand on.
From that point, every major controversy or debate in gaming has had a “your with us or against us” cloud. If you think Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice should have an easy mode, then obviously you’re a casual who supports microtransactions. If you oppose the loot box ban, then clearly you are in favor of predatory marketing practices. Meanwhile, articles about abuse and exploitation reported by Schreier and Sterling have given the community more of a reason to be outraged.
So how did Sherr address the issues that game commentators have been speaking up against in his article? He doesn’t, instead he ignores it all and instead brands every commentator as being anti-feminist or blaming SJW’s for all the problems in gaming. During my fourth reading of the article, the topic of microtransactions is only mentioned once while at no point is crunch culture or predatory tactics ever mentioned. Every commentator who has responded to the article has even mentioned the absence of why they are angry.
By failing to actually address why these commentators are angry at the industry, Sherr has only added fuel to the idea that major media outlets are not really connected with their readers. Also branding them all as being “angry” is also a poor generalization as they all have released positive videos from time to time. At the same time, commentators like YongYea, and Richard Masucci have found success by being critical without the “anger”.
Disclaimer: This topic can be very divisive and its understandably that people are gonna get emotional. That being said, under no circumstance is it acceptable to threaten anyone with harm for having a different opinion.