MMO Journalism Jumps the Shark

MMO journalism jumps the sharkMMO  journalism is in a sorry state these days. Faced with a lack of new information to report MMO news websites must resort to creating news to keep their readers coming back. For evidence, we only have to look at a recent article where popular MMO site Allakazam took the time to interview e-porn celebrity Mia Rose at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Strangely enough, despite the sycophantic interviewer all of the questions directed at her in the interview were about World of Warcraft and not her “career”. It’s fairly obvious that if Mia Rose were a 300 pound WoW gamer meter maid from Philadelphia and not an aspiring adult film star it’s very unlikely anyone would care about her opinion on the state of raiding in WoW.

Perhaps this is part of a trend these days as even mainstream media personalities like Bill O’Reilly routinely indulge in having a constant parade of bimbos as interview subjects on their TV news shows. Sex sells.

Still, I have to wonder what Mia Rose was doing at CES in the first place. Don’t you need industry credentials to gain admittance? I also have to wonder what Allakazam was doing there if this interview was the best they could come up with in the 3 days of the show. And for the record: Activision/Blizzard was not an exhibitor at the CES. But wait, the news team at Allakazam can’t be called slackers as they managed to  conduct yet another hard-hitting interview at yet another trade show with some of the most intelligent people you’ll ever meet.

A Female Gamer’s Perspective

I would have missed this Pulitzer Prize piece of investigative journalism if it not were the intrepid efforts of one of the readers to this site named Rebecca who brought this to my attention. Although I wrestled with the fact doing an article about this interview would have the unintended effect of publicizing this woman even further, I felt that it was necessary to publish an alternative opinion. Rebecca’s a female MMO gamer who has some strong opinions on this story.

Here’s what she has to say about the interview:

This past week WoW insider promoted an Allakazham interview with e-porn star Mia Rose. For those of you that lived under the proverbial “e-rock” Mia starred in the e-porn serial Whorecraft which Blizzard objected to via their attorneys and which resulted in the title being changed to something less similar to Warcraft. You just can’t make this stuff up folks.

Since her “big debut” Mia has been banned from World of Warcraft for allegedly linking her porn site in the Trade channel. She told several news sites that she was banned for no reason and got plenty of sympathy and demands for her reinstatement. Apparently she has had her porn site shutdown by her ISP (she claims it was hacked but her provider says otherwise). She now spends her free time showing up to gamer events like Blizzcon and E3 doing goodness knows what for her fans.

I can’t say that I’m surprised Allakazham would waste digital memory on this interview. This once solid MMO news source seems to be in a state of steady decline. Still I’m more than a bit disappointed. How in the world can someone of these dubious credentials and questionable moral standards actually have a voice in our hobby? To the people at Allakazam’s I’d like to ask: what happened to reporting real gamer news, as opposed to this obviously salacious piece you just did with Mia?  You do remember what real MMO news gathering is — the days before the venerable Kazham was sold off? Aren’t there enough other venues in this world that give attention to certain females who exist only to show off their attributes to legions of slobbering men?

Am I dwelling too much on what Mia does as opposed to what Mia is saying? Well lets examine it. We can completely forget the fact that Mia is an e-porn star in desperate need of “augmentation” and some time on a AB-Machine, lets forget that her opinion and $3.75 will buy you a venti café latte at Starbucks. Lets even put aside that she has been allegedly banned from WoW for promoting inappropriate activities to players and then has complained to the press that the very same evil hacker kids are somehow responsible.

Regardless, it’s still is truly despicable of Allakazham to use this WoW “D-list” celebrity as a platform to gain stred cred with hardcore gamers by decrying Blizzard’s new easy mode end game philosophy. Mia plays her part well and basically comes right out and tells us that the reason she doesn’t like the new raid content is because “…like anyone can do it.”  At best it proves she belongs in that bratty contingent of raiders who can’t seem to enjoy the game unless other players are deprived of the content they’re experiencing. At worst was perhaps she was paying attention to what the creepy basement dwellers was telling her while she was “performing” at aforementioned gamer events.

Slut factor aside, players like Mia (male or female) are ridiculous and just plain bad for our hobby. First off, she played shadowbolt spam warlock and complained that “It was so hard to get into Black Temple!” and then goes on how Warlocks got nerfed because they “actually have to do….like stuff and junk”. Note to the Allakazahm staff: next time you want to conduct a serious interview on the problems of class balance and casual vs. hardcore within WoW please at least find someone qualified to discuss the subject.

As a long-time female MMO gamer, I have always pulled my own weight in groups and raids. Playing a hunter has taught me patience and to learn to live without epics. Allakazham does a great disservice to all of us but especially to the female gamer community by giving people like Mia a platform to spew their nonsense. She makes it incredibly hard for those females that want to be solid gamers free from the stereotypical notion of the temptress who will perform certain favors just to get ahead. Because of  Mia’s questionable ethics and her shameless self-promotion, it is not unreasonable to speculate that she will be awarded good gear regardless of her skill. She can play the “Oh, I’m just a girl, I don’t even know how I got here, give me something pretty and I might cyber with you!” card throughout the entire expansion. I pity her guild, but no less than I pity what’s become of our trusted MMO news sources who will seemingly do anything to promote their agenda.

While I have never put much faith in attempts at MMO journalism when practiced by the likes of major gaming sites like Allakazam, Rebecca makes some good points that have not been heard amidst the publicity of the Mia Rose interview. I find her opinions a refreshing counterpoint to those gamers who cheer on the validation of MMO gaming by an actress in the adult film industry who just happens to play WoW too. The fact that the MMO journalists like those at Allakazam have no sense of propriety and are cheering on the blurring of the lines of gaming and the pornography industry is cause for concern. We need to call the interview for what it is: a shameless gimmick designed to increase readership among males.

I suspect the problem is the mass appeal of WoW and it’s subsequent acceptance into the psyche of  popular culture. When this happens you always end up with attention starved people on the fringes trying to steal some of its spotlight. A bright light always attracts bugs. However mass appeal is a double edged sword. Not everyone who enjoys MMO’s like WoW has sunk to the lowest common denominator. There are actually people who play that are decent and have a moral compass. We love MMOs too. So please forgive us for not wanting to see MMO culture fall completely into the gutter.

The Men’s Magazine Paradigm

Allakazam’s didn’t invent what is going on. It’s been done before. Instead of interviewing someone with some actual insight like a video game designer or producer they have chosen to behave like a soft-core mens magazine when they run a story like this. Those kinds of magazines routinely find some hot young actress and conduct an  “interview” with them which serves only as an excuse to feature a scantily clad lady in their magazine.  The equation is simple: the magazine sells more copies and the actress gets free promotion. The interviewer in this case is doing the same.

Here’s a quote from Tamat who basically admits to this ploy as he introduces the video interview:

We had the opportunity to meet up with her at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) earlier in the month to get an idea as to just how big a gamer she really is. What we uncovered in the interview, might surprise you, excite you, and possibly even make you fall in love. If you thought Mia Rose was hot before, wait until you see her talk about World of Warcraft.

Is appealing to the prurient interests of some males what MMO journalism has been reduced to? Apparently so. But I should not be surprised, just open the pages of any issue of PC Gamer and you’ll rarely find an ad without a voluptuous scantily clad female on the cover of the latest video game. Using sex to sell video games and pretty much anything has become par for the course in Western culture. This marketing mindset is so pervasive that even the cappuccino stands here in the Seattle area have resorted to having their female baristas dress in bikini’s — just to attract more customers and sell more coffee.

Conclusion

Using sex as a marketing strategy has been going on for thousands of years. It’s just unfortunate that it’s now part of the the media culture and sadly MMO culture as well. This tabloid interview was definitely not Allakazam’s finest moment but I’m sure it got more hits for their website then any previous article. As a person who loves MMOs and has followed them for years, the continual dumbing-down of MMO culture has caused me to ponder almost daily my continual involvement in this hobby.

After forcing myself to watch the video, I was suddenly struck at how the implications of Andrew Keen’s book  The Cult of the Amateur are coming to fruition in our brave new participatory Web 2.0 world. Here we have an amateur reporter interviewing an amateur adult film star with the result being one of the most mindless wastes of time ever committed to video. Sadly the people today who live on a steady diet of YouTube videos tolerate this kind of garbage and probably don’t know any better. Expect to see standards get lower and lower as the speeding MMO train keeps rolling down the track and goes even more mainstream.

-Wolfshead

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