Every so often, you hear the word "credibility" come up on a website. For whatever reason, people seem to forget what it means, and when it's called into question, people get awfully uppity about it. The problem is, credibility is subjective. And how to defend credibility is up to the speaker.
Let's get one thing straight here. Credibility refers to the capacity for belief in one's word. Basically, if I trust you and your point of view, you'll have lots of credibility with me. I know that, as a critic, I strive to have as much credibility as possible. Without it, there's no point to you reading anything I have to say. It's my best tool, and my greatest liability.
So imagine my surprise when I found Joystiq's Top 10 Games of the Year list today, and saw that Fable II was its top pick. There were games that were missing that I felt should be on there, and vice versa. But to pick Fable II above every other game that came out in 2008 came as a huge surprise. So, like any good web citizen, I wrote in that I felt that the choice of Fable II for the top spot was a bit controversial, and the list was not a particularly good one. Basically, the site lost credibility with me.
Christopher Grant, the editor-in-chief, decided to reply by pointing out that Fable II's inclusion was not controversial. The way he phrased it, though, was to frame it with sarcasm and condescention. His main rebuttal? To point to Metacritic as the bolster to that argument.
Readers of Gamecritics know that we don't particularly care about where we stand in Metacritic. We've praised games that the rest of the world hates, and called out games that seem to be liked by everyone else.
Metacritic has little credibility with me.
When I went on to disseminate his entire argument as to why he felt Fable II was worth the top spot, his only replies were "that's your opinion." Of course it is, Chris. That's what gives your site credibility. In my opinion, prior to this list, I had the opinion that your opinion was one I could look to and believe in.
Another Joystiq staff member, Ross Miller, then replied with sarcasm that obviously I was accusing the site of some sort of bias. I want to state for the record that I never accused Joystiq of being biased towards or against anything. I simply stated that I disagreed strongly with the list, and gave reasons why, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that their opinions no longer held the weight they had. I even replied to Mr. Miller's false accusations directly.
I was not the one who wrote with a sarcastic tone. The initial animosity was from Christopher Grant.
What surprised me the most, though, is how the staff of the site reacted so poorly to someone who stated that their words lost credibility. Believe me, I have been accused of being paid off by one of the Big Three at some point or another (still waiting for those cheques, guys!). I'm no stranger to this. What surprised me is the site's villification of someone who dissented with cogent, clear argument. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given that this is the internet, but still. They are one of the world's largest videogame blogs. Surely that weight must mean something.
So how did all this play out? After replying to each and every criticism that the Joystiq staff tried to pin on me, all of my posts have been deleted. It also appears that I cannot post anything further from my IP.
Again, for the record, I did not call any of them names. I did not sling any real mud. I did not actively antagonize. I called their credibility with me into question with clear, concise words. And for this, I got banned.
So as we move forward into 2009, and gaming continues to evolve, it is important that you always actively question the opinions of others. Without dissent, how would our culture be so thriving, vibrant and interesting? More importantly, how can criticism continue to evolve if we all shared the same view?
But when someone disagrees with you and your opinion suddenly means less to them, your job is to either let them slide off into the ether, or directly (but politely) address their concerns. Joystiq's actions today have shown their true colors. I have removed them from my RSS feed, and will no longer link to any of their stories. It is a shame that such a large site can be so easily broken down, and their only defense is censorship.
Hope you believe me on this one.