The Top 7… hated habits of the mainstream media

To non-gamers, videogames must seem like an impossibly dense hobby. Never mind the complicated controllers or the difficulty of navigating 3D space; there are reams of information to learn, from the histories of hundreds of popular franchises to the particulars of each console’s online services. Approaching modern games with expectations shaped by Pac-Man or Pong is like trying to catch up with superhero comics when all you know is “Spider-Man’s costume is red.”

Above: Who knows what hidden dangers could be lurking here? Better act all crazy until we know for sure

To journalists in the mainstream media – whose job is to essentially become experts on new subjects every day, often with no more than a few hours’ preparation – games must seem especially daunting. Especially for the many reporters who see them as frivolous children’s toys and, therefore, not meriting research, respect or understanding. As a result, many otherwise respectable news outlets suddenly become judgmental, uninformed and outright sensationalistic when asked to cover games. Especially controversial ones.

Of course, some of their habits are more infuriating than others. What follows are the worst offenders.

(Special thanks to GamePolitics (opens in new tab), which provided the sources for most of the research done for this article)

"The two had been shot numerous times in the head and chest with two different weapons. The gunman, or gunmen, never even needed to get out of the vehicle to complete the murders. … You get extra points for that, right?" – Deanna Watson,Wichita Falls Times Record News (opens in new tab)

“[Grand Theft Auto IV] awards points creating as much as [sic] crime and destruction as possible in a city.” The Daily Mail (opens in new tab)

This is one we’ve heard over and over again, particularly in reference to Grand Theft Auto: videogames reward you with “points” for doing horrible things, like beating up hookers, killing cops and running over pedestrians. Not only is this untrue, but the thinking behind it is outrageously insulting. To condemn a game for awarding points is to assume that gamers – and particularly children - do things for the infantile thrill of seeing little numbers add up in some remote corner of the screen. The logical extension of this thinking is that, because gamers’ reptile brains are so wildly turned on by math, we would then wander out into the real world, ready to do harm for some imagined numerical reward.

The truth, of course, is that GTA doesn’t award points for doing anything. Neither do most modern games. The action and story are their own rewards, pedestrians are run over purely for the perverse thrill of doing something bad (or out of clumsiness) and archaic concepts like “points” are relegated to more simple action games and the minds of people who last played a videogame in 1982.

Seriously, how long has it been since points mattered to anybo-

Oh, right.

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.