Can you believe this Blue Lightning preview? It comes straight from Electronic Gaming Monthly's 59th issue and is a blurry, incomprehensible mess. They even noted that "the graphics are unbelievable," but that's impossible to tell from this crummy screenshot. Is this the worst video game preview of all time?
Of course it's not, that's just hyperbolic nonsense. Sure, the screenshot is comically hard to make out and it's funny to see a magazine call the graphics in any Jaguar game "unbelievable," but there's no way this is the worst video game preview of all time. While the write-up is certainly vague, all the words are spelled correctly and the information is factual. That's already better than some of the terrible articles I've written.
A lot of websites use this kind of hyperbolic question to lure readers and generate more clicks. This is something I've tried to avoid at Defunct Games, perhaps to the detriment of my own success. In this socially-connected world where people have information bombarding them from all sides, it's tempting to want to make everything as extreme as possible in order to stand out from the crowd.
There's just one problem; everybody is doing it. Suddenly everything is either the best thing ever or an epic fail. In 2014, I can't simply point out how funny and blurry that Jaguar preview is, because nobody will actually notice or care. In order to get my point across, I need to go overboard and accuse this perfectly fine Electronic Gaming Monthly preview of being the worst ever.
This is unhealthy for a lot of reasons, and not just because the real world isn't only one of two extremes. Because we live in such a hyperbolic moment in time, it's natural for people to always have their defenses up. Online snark is sometimes misconstrued as a personal attack, largely because we're all so used to people making outrageous comments.
This has affected me personally. I'm the kind of person who enjoys poking fun at games journalism, both new and old. When I run across that blurry picture of Blue Lightning, I immediately want to bring it to the attention of everybody else. Not because I think Electronic Gaming Monthly is a terrible magazine or that the uncredited writer is a hack, but rather because I think it's funny. I love old issues of EGM and think it's fun to look back at the goofier moments.
Not everybody agrees. It's common for me to receive pushback every time I make fun of Quartermann or give a low score to a Nintendo Power cover. It seems that people want you to
either love everything unconditionally or hate the things common wisdom agrees on. People want to get into a fight, even if it's over a twenty year old issue of GamePro.
In the case of Blue Lightning, it's probably unfair to make fun without noting how difficult it was to take screenshots back in the day. Often times you were shooting motion straight from the TV screen, which is not the easiest thing to do in the best of scenarios. It's not like today, where companies release screenshots to build hype. And unlike the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, taking screenshots wasn't as easy as pushing a button. I'm sure EGM would have preferred to run a better picture. Hell, the preview of Brutal Sports Football on the same page looks much more impressive.
Unfortunately, the context is boring. It's much more interesting to wag my finger at the Blue Lightning write-up and label it the worst thing ever. How many people are going to read an article titled, "Electronic Gaming Monthly Uses Blurry Image to Promote Blue Lightning"? Not many, and I have the numbers to back that up.
If you feel I am attacking you or your favorite magazine, then you are completely missing the point of Defunct Games. I joke around because I love, not out of hate. And if you've read any of the articles I wrote back in 2001, you already know that I'm the last person who should be throwing stones in this glass house. Also, why did I decide to buy a glass house?