Video Game Misinformation—Is it a Problem?
In our age of social media proliferation, aspects of it are becoming more and more integrated with our daily lives, for better or for worse. The variety of platforms available, and the manner in which information is shared on those platforms, allows for a great deal of engagement with people in distant locations. It could be family members talking among themselves, friends catching up and making plans, or people with something interesting to say putting thoughts out into the void for their fanbase to mull over.
I want to talk about the fanbase interaction today, and as you’ve no doubt gathered by the title of this piece, I want to talk about the spread of misinformation in the social media space in regards to the video game community.
I’m not going to name any names, or point to particular people in the course of this (hopefully) not drawn out article, but I’m confident that some of you will have had a similar encounter online at some point. I raise this point as a conversation starter. Something for you to think about.
It’s a commonly held thought that those who engage in conversation are more likely to have something worth saying. It’s also a commonly held thought that those who speak, purely to hear their own voice, have nothing of importance to say. When the latter of the two gathers a fanbase, it often only reaches the immediate followers or fans of that particular person. Thus, it’s typically met with agreement and praise. Or in social media terms, Likes and Retweets.
However, this represents a problem with a distinct knock-on effect. One that I personally take issue with. The spread of misinformation.
Recently, while scrolling through my Twitter feed, I happened across a tweet from a fairly successful gaming YouTuber. He has 514K subscribers on YouTube, 39K followers on Twitter, makes just under 2K from Patreon, and has a merch brand. Suffice it to say, they’re doing well for themselves and have understandably grown a loyal fanbase. And therein lies the problem.
Broadly speaking, loyal fans are quick to promote the sentiments of creators they enjoy. For some reason, rational thinking goes out the window as they race to leave witty sentiments and reaction pictures in the comments section of social media posts. It is, in some ways, a self-validating echo chamber. The creators views, even if they are factually inaccurate, are often given validation by the audience they cater to.
I’ll give you an example.
Recently, the aforementioned YouTuber released a Devil May Cry 5 video, and tweeted that in the comments section of this video they saw two comments frequently pop up. The first being, “LOL he called DMC a prequel, it’s a REBOOT!” – that will have loads of likes” and the second being, “HAHA! He called DMC a reboot! It’s a Prequel NOOB!” – That will also have likes.”
He followed up by saying, “…It’s both. (laughing emoji)”
And this was then commented on by another well known YouTuber with their own substantial following.
The problem is, in the context of Devil May Cry 5’s existence, it’s not both a prequel and a reboot. And that’s simply a cold, hard fact.
For those that don’t know, DMC in the Devil May Cry community specifically refers to the 2013 Devil May Cry reboot from Ninja Theory. We know it’s a reboot, because canonically it has no possible crossover with the main line Devil May Cry canon.
In DMC, Dante and Vergil are Nephilim—the children of an Angel mother, and a Demon father.
In Devil May Cry, Dante and Vergil are Half Breeds—children of a human mother and a Demon father.
This is an irrefutable fact, even characters in the games make these clear distinctions.
“Actually, what happened was that Capcom Japan came to Capcom America and said, ‘We want you to explore a new direction for Devil May Cry.’ They didn’t give us any mandate as to whether it had to be a sequel or something else, and we had people in our office who had had previous positive experience working with the guys at Ninja Theory.”
“When we say rebirth, part of our goal is to go back to the roots, dig deeper, and try to expand upon those ideas to make the series accessible to a wider audience. We want to give the series a fresh, new standard – a literal rebirth.”
Released in 2013, the game was considered a financial failure. As of June 2018, the game has sold 2.4 million copies, however. The DMC brand was dropped, DMC acted as a prequel to nothing, and Devil May Cry 5 was developed, where it jumped to the top of the charts almost immediately.
So, what’s the big problem, you ask? Someone said something that wasn’t accurate, hardly worthy of harsh criticism, right?
Well, yes and no.
Content creators who have a large audience and a platform to speak from, owe it to their community to speak in measured terms any time they choose to relay information that they claim is a fact.
The tweet mentioned above was seen by the YouTuber’s large audience and retweeted nine times, with each retweet summing a total follower count of 6704. So when a small factual error is relayed as fact, you can see how this information can spread quickly, and the truth becomes lost, simply because people chose to lend support to a creator instead of thinking for themselves.
This has happened time and time again in the video game space, common knowledge among gamers becomes a matter of opinion according to some, like when people were convinced Spartan IV’s are better than Spartan III’s because they ignored the nuance of the conversation, or when Mass Effect: Andromeda was considered to be a Mass Effect prequel according to some because they didn’t understand how the timeline of the series works.
What do you think about the spread of misinformation in the video game space? Should creators and fans do their best to make the facts known? Should people with large followings be held to a higher standard than those with smaller followings? Do you grow tired of seeing your comment ignored, even though you know for a fact you’re correct?
Personally, I believe the facts matter, that nuance matters and that context matters. Do you?
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