Game Journalists Need to Stop Being Horrible at Video Games

A recent gameplay preview of Studio MDHR’s upcoming Cuphead has some people scratching their regular human heads. Dean Takahashi is a writer for VentureBeat, and if his name rings a bell you may remember him giving the original Mass Effect a terrible review 10 years ago because he forgot he was playing an RPG and went through the majority of the game without levelling up any of his characters. He called it “Mass Defect.” This man is a pioneer in his field.

Well, he’s at it again. A video of his first blind run of the tutorial and first level was released onto the VentureBeat Youtube channel  and it’s a trial to watch. It takes him one and half minutes to follow simple, on-screen instructions trying desperately to teach him how to air dash (the music is perfect for this, by the way) and when he finally gets into the game proper he is mercilessly destroyed by the enemies of the first level for 20 odd minutes before he manages to make any tangible progress. Truly, Cuphead is the Dark Souls of 2D Disney renaissance inspired retro platformers.

It hurts.

This is not long after Polygon released a video of one of their hapless interns fumbling at playing DOOM last year. The footage is like watching your dementia-stricken grandmother try and navigate Windows 10 while having the stroke that kills her. In Polygon’s case the video just helped lend itself to their image of “normies” falling into a job in video game journalism. I can only imagine the look on the poor saps face when, instead of going to his 6pm wine tasting, he finds a controller in his hands and a camera thrust in his face.


No, really, how does this happen? I feel like we need to make a PSA for journalists begging them not to let themselves be filmed playing a game if they aren’t any fucking good at it. I’m really trying not to be too harsh here; I know everybody has to start somewhere, but I think a person working in VIDEO GAMES journalism needs to be at least slightly competent at playing them in order to actually… You know… Write about them. This is very important because critical feedback changes the development of future games. In the developer commentary for Half Life 2 Episode 2 one of the developers Greg Coomber said they greatly dumbed down a maze-like chase section because one of the testers got lost running in a circle for half an hour.  Who knows how many other games have had to be simplified just because some chimp with a controller can’t turn left?

These are not people you need to be catering to, developers. These are people who need to be removed from the gene pool. These are people who should leave the more complex electronic entertainment to the market demographic they’re aimed at (kids and friendless manchildren like myself) and be kept in a padded room with a set of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I leave you with a challenge – The Takahashi Run. Dean Takahashi challenged anyone else to do better than him in their first blind 26 minutes of Cuphead. I want you to do WORSE. I want you to fail as many times as possible on the first level of Cuphead. Points will be awarded for creativity and how much pity I feel for you. The winner will… I dunno. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.