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When You Defy the Media and the Mob

The mainstream media is definitely a corrupt institution with roots that travel so deep that they become part of the body politic, and it would appear that no matter what kind of subject you look to, the media covering that specific thing has some sort of horrific activist slant.

There is definitely no exception when it comes to the games media. For years now, the mainstream games press has devolved into a festering pool of social-justice-obsessed journalists who seem more concerned with destroying anyone they don’t like and elevating their friends than actually reporting on whether or not a game is fun.

But after years of abuse, one man spoke out against them while on a very large platform, and I can tell you it’s like finally breathing a breath of cool, fresh mountain air after being locked up in a stifling, cramped room.

Richard Lewis is an eSports journalist who covers competitive gaming, and he’s not happy with the state of game journalism either.

Lewis won eSports Journalist of the Year on Saturday at the eSports Awards 2019, and when he got up on the stage to take his award and give his speech, he used his time to talk about the industry. What he did was something that I consider beyond brave and much, much needed.

The Journalist of the Year immediately launched into Polygon, Kotaku, and others. He didn’t even hint at who these players were. He straight-up called them out for their cronyism:

“So anyway, what I wanted to talk about is why this award’s important- not my award that I won, ‘cuz that’d be narcissistic- all our awards. ‘Cuz we have to look after ourselves. ‘Cuz there’s these external media companies that are looking at esports, and they want to write the history, and they want to tell the stories.

And you know who I’m talking about: Polygon, people like that. Waypoint. The Kotaku’s. Right? And their approach to writing about our thing is two-fold. They’ve consistently embarrassed themselves writing pieces that expose their complete ignorance about our scene, lack of sources, and unoriginal opinions on topics we have talked [about] to death for 20 years.

The second has been to write hit-piece and smears, mostly propagated on half-truths or out-and-out lies, and it’s about some of you in this room. Give ’em hell. And they write about it because they think if they get one or two or twelve of you out of the way, they can get their friends in, they can get their cronies in, takeover and gate-keep our industry.”

Lewis proceeded to list some of the wrongdoing done by the mainstream game press, highlighting just how horrid they’ve been:

“Let’s have a look at some of their greatest hits, from the mainstream game’s press. Well, outside of Cecilia’s work, it’s not great. There were the lies they printed about a CSGo Major event being a Trump Rally because the journalist mis-read a sign. Great work. What about the time they all rallied around to stop abuse of a female Overwatch player that didn’t exist. Which they would have found if they did a cursory fact-check. And of course there’s the annual hit-piece they write, trying to cancel any one of you. Or what about that interview they did with the world’s most popular streamer- outside of a toilet. One throw-away quote, still haunting him today. It’s an outrage.

So anyway, despite this I want to welcome good journalists from a non e-sports background to the scene, ‘cuz there are hundreds of stories every year that must be told, to make our industry better. I stuck it out for 15 years ‘cuz I care, I care about this industry, I care about everyone in this room, and I care about everyone at home; and that’s why I want to make it as best as it can be. Thanks so much for this award, I love you all dearly. Thank you.”

As a gamer who has come to resent the mainstream gaming press as it is, this was enough to make me grin like the Cheshire Cat. I think I’ve watched this speech at least 4 times now and I can’t ever get enough of it.

It sucks that I think that, but I think that because mainstream press sucks. The whole point of being a journalist is serving the people information, but mainstream journalists by and large only seem to be interested in serving themselves or those close to them. It’s why people are tuning out by the boatload. It’s why Kotaku is in such dire financial straights.

It’s why GamerGate happened.

(READ: The New York Times Is Trying to Redefine #GamerGate, but Here’s the Real Story)

Lewis later took to his keyboard and wrote an article for Dexerto about his speech. He told how as he sat there before they called him up to accept his award, he couldn’t stop thinking about how the mainstream press had treated colleagues of his. This includes John ‘Totalbiscuit’ Bain, a legendary game reviewer that we lost to cancer in 2018, whose reviews I would watch nearly religiously.

As he did, Lewis said he realized that he didn’t really have an option, and he had to use his time to call the mainstream press out.

“There was no way I could get up on that stage and receive an award for journalism and not speak out on this disgusting behavior from a cabal of people who have lost sight of the ethical standards that they are supposed to uphold,” he wrote.

He continued explaining that his march up to accept an award was heavy, but he knew what he had to do:

The pettiness of some games journalists when it comes to leveraging their platforms to settle scores is only rivaled by politicians. The walk to that stage, which should have been a moment of celebration for me, felt more like a march to the gallows.

Still, there was no getting away from it, I couldn’t not say it because I knew that if I didn’t no one else would. So I trudged out there, pulled out that smudged piece of paper, and with my ulcer in overdrive read words I was sure would not only lead to a bunch of negative reprisals but would fall flat, injecting a needlessly serious tone into a night designed for fun.

Lewis expected the worst. What he got was a standing ovation. The crowd erupted in applause, and anyone subsequently watching his speech later did, too. I know that because I did that and I’m not alone. I know I’m not alone because Lewis was greeted enthusiastically by appreciative people who were there:

Then the strangest of things. As I walked back for the rest of the proceedings, wondering how much trouble I was really in, people started coming up to me and shaking my hand, saying the speech was great. Each person who came to congratulate me seemed to have an anecdote about a time a games publication published something false, or out of context, or betrayed a confidence of some sort… The prevailing sentiment was a thankful one. These stories continued long into the night.

What does this have to do with politics?

Everything.

The games press is Mos Eisley spaceport without a shadow of a doubt. It’s a hive of scum and villainy. The mainstream press, in general, is just like this only greater in size and intensity.

I wanted to point out what Lewis did because what he did may garner him an untold amount of negative press in the future and cause him more trouble with the mob than you can imagine. However, I wanted to point out the appreciation that, not only do I feel, but everyone else seems to. I appreciate it because it takes all kinds of voices, and the most powerful ones come from places that have the most to lose.

As Lewis said later in an interview, what we have is a culture of silence. People aren’t speaking out enough and talking about the wrongdoing because it is, in fact, dangerous in various ways. Sure, we at RedState do it. Talking heads have made a job out of it, it’s not enough.

We’re dealing with a stupendously corrupt institution that can only be uprooted when it’s brought into the light. The best way to do that is to communicate and speak bravely about it. You’re going to get dumped on, and possibly some life-altering punishments may come your way. I should know.

(READ: My Long Struggle Against the Cultural Persecution of Conservatives)

But it needs to be done. You can’t cut out cancer without going under a knife.

Personally, I’d love to thank Lewis for his bravery. I hope that we see this inspire more people to do exactly what he did.