I’ve never felt compelled to comment on the ‘video game journalists should be good at video games’ debate, because most of the time, I see a bunch of internet trolls doing what they do best (er, worst): lampooning a person who’s alright at games, just not one of the elite. You don’t have to write like Mozart to be a composer, you don’t need to make films like Spielberg to be a filmmaker, nor do you need to be the best gamer in the world to write about video games. That said, if you ARE writing about games, you should, at the very least, be a gamer.
But Dean Takahashi, a journalist with VentureBeat, doesn’t seem like one. His time with the Cuphead demo at Gamescom 2017 is the most cringe-inducing thing I’ve seen all year.
No, seriously. Cuphead is already notorious for being difficult, but Dean wasn’t playing some mid-game thumb-buster of a level. No, he was playing the tutorial. Badly. The first minute alone made me wonder if this guy had ever played a platformer before. The game walks you through some basics, such as jumping and the ability to jump and dash at the same time. It took Dean over two minutes to grasp this concept. He was supposed to reach a ledge too high off the ground, and he’d accomplish this, obviously, by jumping on the short platform behind him and then executing the ‘jump and dash’ move. He stayed on the ground though, jumping against a wall time and time again. Common sense should have dictated, “Hey, this isn’t working out for me. What am I doing wrong? That ledge is obviously too high from where I’m standing, so what can I do to gain some ground?” My 7 year old would crush this – you know, because he has common sense – but Dean, for some reason, just couldn’t figure it out. His justification for this?
Twitter: “It didn’t say, “Stand on rock, which is farther away, because dash will take you higher and farther than you can jump.””
If I didn’t know better, I’d say we were in The Twilight Zone… but this is reality. A very, very sad one, at that.
I don’t ask much from people who provide game footage to the masses, but Dean’s job is to write about video games. If he can’t pull off basic moves using mechanics which have been around since the Nintendo Entertainment System… I’m sorry, but that absolutely means his credibility deserves to be flushed down the toilet. His footage gives the impression that his experience with games is minimal at best, and if that’s true, nearly everything he writes is meaningless. While it isn’t important as a member of the gaming press to be a great gamer, what a writer in this industry absolutely MUST be is a SEASONED gamer. You know, someone who’s seen and played a wide range of titles and can, at the very least, understand and perform the basics. Dean, however, comes off looking like he’s never played a game before. I usually never advocate for someone in this industry to lose their job over their level of skill, but this seems like a fireable offense.
You could argue that because this footage was taken at Gamescom, Dean was probably distracted and also a little nervous because the devs were undoubtedly watching his every move. In return, I’d merely say you probably haven’t watched the video. Please do so. All of it. I’ve only talked about the first minute thus far, but in the rest he’s constantly running straight into enemies, leaping to his death, and even has trouble with aiming the spray gun (think Contra) the main character’s using.
You know what? Did I say this video was cringe-worthy? Let me rescind that. It’s the most hilarious unintentionally funny video of the year.
And the Twitter hilarity doesn’t end there, by the way. Dean Takahashi is also challenging people who are criticizing him to do better:
“spoken by someone who hasn’t played yet. Do me a favor and capture your first honest 26 minutes.”
I’ll tell you what, Dean. When I get my Xbox One X later this year, I’ll do just that. I’ll stream my first 26 minutes and I guarantee I’ll take way less time to beat the tutorial than you did.
But hold on gamers, I’m not done yet. I have to point the finger at you a moment.
While Dean has basically exposed himself to be full of crap with every key he strikes, one thing his video does not prove is that video game press as a whole is terrible at games. Unfortunately, a lot of gamers are condemning video game journalism as a whole due to this guy’s inability to leap on a platform and press two buttons. That’s like saying every director in Hollywood is a talentless hack just because you didn’t like Michael Bay.
One user on Twitter writes:
“Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they’re qualified to write about games?”
How can this be a serious question? Where does this idea come from, that all game journalists are incredibly bad at video games? The gaming community can, and should, do better than this. Say whatever you want about Dean Takahashi or that yahoo from Polygon that couldn’t play Doom that well, but jumping to extreme of labeling every journalist as ‘bad at games’ is a stretch that instantly illegitimates your comments. If you want your voice to be heard, throwing the ‘general’ blanket over everything isn’t going to get it done.