Nobody Can Drive: A Tribute to Kotaku

In a storyline far more absurd than any pay-per-view Vince McMahon production, Hulk Hogan’s greatest victory has come outside of the wrestling ring. A calm and reserved Terry Bollea, once the hero of many American teens growing up during the height of professional wrestling’s popularity, has managed to destroy an entire media empire by channeling the same values which once propelled his character to the status of an international role model. As someone who admittedly didn’t care all that much about professional wrestling, and only knew of Hulk Hogan through the WCW’s sponsorship deal with the Bigfoot Monster Truck Racing Team in the late 1990’s, I couldn’t be happier with what this man has accomplished over the past month.

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If you’ve seen the flurry of headlines but declined to inform yourself about the case regarding Gawker Media and Terry Bollea, we here at PRC.net have sifted through the raunchy details of the trial in order to give you a bite-sized version that can instantly bring you up to speed.

Bollea, who is better known under his stage name of Hulk Hogan, was caught on hidden camera footage fucking a friend’s wife – a practice known to males lacking self-esteem as cuckoldry. Yes, we’re at that point in society where it’s a thing to willingly let your wife fuck other dudes. The private act was filmed without Hogan’s knowledge or consent; the husband of the adulterous wife intended to sell the sex tape off to a tabloid blog in exchange for a nice financial payday – extremely similar to the circumstances surrounding the Erin Andrews stalker lawsuit. Tabloid media giant Gawker – a site notorious for controversial and uninformed articles bought the tape, and immediately published the footage. Bollea predictably lost his shit and brought the situation before a judge, who promptly issued a court order demanding Gawker to take down the footage and shut up about the ordeal altogether. Already, the media giant was in hot water.

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Gawker didn’t budge. In fact, after publishing several articles shaming anyone who dared to look at the nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities released upon the internet in 2014, Gawker editors mocked the court order regarding Hogan’s sex tape in the largest display of hypocrisy ever seen on the internet. Basically, the site went out of their way to defend the star of Silver Linings Playbook and The Hunger Games after private photos of her were leaked, but had no problem openly violating a court order when the exact same situation occurred with a male television actor. Now obviously there are pages upon pages of articles where Bollea goes into great detail about the emotional trauma both the sex tape leak and subsequent trial had caused him, but from a third party standpoint, Hogan’s lawsuit was a guaranteed victory based on the above image alone. You are looking at such a lopsided court case, it makes a Cleveland Browns game appear exciting.

Jurors eventually awarded Bollea a total of $140,000,000 in damages, which will most likely destroy Gawker Media.

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What this means for the video game community, and more importantly for sim racing, is that a whole host of websites under Gawker’s control will also cease to exist. News outlets such as Deadspin (sports), Jalopnik (cars), Fleshbot (porn), Jezebel (feminism), Gizmodo (technology), and Kotaku (video games) are essentially counting down the days until the doorswill be closed for good. Many of these sites are not held in high regard by the public for one reason or another, and as PRC.net is a website serving up video game news, obviously news about Kotaku potentially shutting down – a video game news blog – is a great day for us.

Let me explain. We’re going on a bit of a ride here.

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Exploding in popularity thanks to bite-sized articles which occasionally stumbled upon breaking news and other quirky details within the industry, Kotaku rose to prominence in the late 2000’s and became a trusted source of unbiased video game information. However, as political correctness and online social activism grew into much more than just grassroots Tumblr movements, Kotaku took a radically left-wing approach to their site and fully adopted this new ideology, proceeding to push their new agenda on a group of readers who really weren’t interested in this stuff. The end result saw genuine video game news articles placed firmly in the back seat, in favor of increasingly bizarre opinion pieces that barely had anything to do with video games in the first place. Contributors such as Patricia Hernandez were brought in to help push this agenda, who promptly used their new platform to force males in their early twenties to ask themselves why there weren’t enough female presenters at marketing events. In short, a popular video game news blog became this weird feminist propaganda outlet.

And of course, anyone who said anything about this weird shift in direction was publicly shamed. They were labelled sexists, misogynists, serial harassers, and stalkers for daring to suggest that Kotaku had went a bit overboard with their social justice rhetoric. As the negative comments piled up, Kotaku put the feminist fury into overdrive and claimed these posts constituted as genuine harassment; supporting individuals who were caught fabricating death threats against themselves and literally starting a multi-site crusade against their own audience.

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The combination of a blatant change in ideology, mixed with a host of new contributors who were more concerned with pushing their own social agenda, led to a predictable stream of disastrous results when these writers were tasked with actually sitting down to review a video game. You basically had people who admittedly didn’t play video games – or in some cases outright sucked at them – stumbling their way through titles they weren’t even interested in. This only served to piss people off even further, as a whole bunch of Kotaku readers ignored the long-running #Gamergate fiasco and continued to consult the site for honest reviews.

I can assure you they certainly weren’t getting any kind of honest reviews.

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We obviously don’t get blessed with a whole bunch of racing games compared to other genres, as first person shooters and online strategy games eclipse hardcore racing simulators by an infinite margin in popularity.

However, the racing sims that do come out each year are  much too difficult for the average gaming journalist to review in a correct fashion. The only people possessing the level of skill required to get any enjoyment out of these games at all are either amateur/professional race car drivers, or guys who have been watching some form of auto racing since they were old enough to operate a television without mom’s help. The creation of websites such as TeamVVV, InsideSimRacing, TheSimPit, RaceDepartment, VirtualR, and BSimRacing have served to fill the void left by incompetent mainstream gaming journalists who cannot get a car around a track for more than a few laps without crashing. As most people will never drive faster than 10 mph over the speed limit, it comes as a shock to many that big rubber tires don’t generate infinite grip at maximum attack – leading to every inexperienced gamer flying totally out of control when booting up a racing simulator. You don’t want these people reviewing a racing simulator.

Unfortunately, when Kotaku temporarily silence their feminist agenda in favor of reviewing a title featuring beefy V8 engines and speeds eclipsing 200 mph, all hell breaks loose. I can sit here for hours and explain why the new social justice crusade is a pointless endeavor for Kotaku, but nothing displays how woefully incompetent the staff are at video game journalism than what happens when Kotaku editors try to discuss various racing simulators. As an Easter Weekend present, we here at PRC.net are counting down the five worst racing game articles the folks at Kotaku have ever published.

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#5 – Learning to Drive Stick with Video Games

Out of all the articles on this list, Mike Fahey’s had the most potential. As someone who has obtained a NASCAR competition license (and will be putting it to use this year) solely by warming up on an old Papyrus racing simulator, video games can indeed teach you essential driving skills. Aside from G-Forces, smells, and certain vibrations you only get from your ass being strapped into the seat of a real car, there’s no difference between controlling a car on the computer, and controlling a car in real life. In both situations, all you’ve really got is a steering wheel in your hands, and a set of pedals for your feet to operate. With stuff like rFactor’s Grinding Tranny mod floating around for public consumption, if you want to learn how to drive a standard transmission vehicle from the comfort of your own home, you easily can. Fahey’s article starts off with the best of intentions, a rarity for Kotaku.

Until he admits he doesn’t even know how to configure the $400 toy steering wheel Logitech had sent him as a gift.This is actually pretty integral to the success of the article. It is a necessary requirement to understand all of the options and sliders inside the controller configuration menu, as all steering wheels ship with notoriously poor default configurations. If you buy a wheel – any wheel – for either the console or PC, it’s basically a requirement to spend the first hour farting around in the options menu of each individual game you intend to play.

Fahey admits he has no idea what any of it means, and spends a large portion of the article talking about how shit he was.

The accompanying video compilation, which I’ve posted above, consists of him helplessly smashing into barriers and failing to stay in the center of the road on the junior circuit of Monza. About halfway into the two minute video, Fahey shifts from third gear to sixth gear, panics, and drives into a wall while on the track’s longest stretch. Basically, a guy who lacks the necessary knowledge to configure his wheel and drive in a straight line wrote an article where he brags about smashing into a bunch of shit in an effort to learn to drive manual transmission vehicles. Utterly pointless dribble.

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#4 – Inside Line Still Finds a Hard Left in NASCAR Country

Daytona International Speedway, located in Daytona Beach, Florida, is one of NASCAR’s longest tracks. With over thirty degrees of banking, and restrictor plates placed on each car’s engine to limit horsepower as a safety precaution, Daytona is a stop on the schedule that many diehard NASCAR fans aren’t particularly fond of. Due to the simplicity of the track – an entire lap can be turned with the accelerator jammed to the floor – the track has produced a string of fluke winners. Trevor Bayne, Aric Almirola, and even Derrike Cope have found success at Daytona despite professional stock car careers that have fallen well short of expectations. Yes, it may host the Daytona 500, and the layout produces spectacular multi-car pileups when bad decisions have been made, but those who understand Stock Car Racing on a technical level know that Daytona doesn’t take any sort of talent to drive. It is a tutorial track unto itself.

In Owen Good‘s pseudo-review of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line, the Kotaku writer admits he could not complete a tutorial level at Daytona without repeatedly smashing into the wall. This is a track where you literally do not need to touch the brakes, you do not need to lift off the accelerator, and the car is sucked to the track from the mammoth amount of downforce it generates. Owen spends the rest of the article explaining how hard Inside Line is to drive, when objectively the game actually shipped with an enormous amount of bugs that demanded much more attention.

Good concludes the mini-review by stating that Inside Linedeserves praise for how true it is to a motorsport whose challenges and demands are commonly minimized or misunderstood.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Eutechnyx line of games have been universally trashed by all NASCAR fans due to the sheer amount of bugs and glitches found in the title, with glitch compilations outnumbering genuine gameplay videos on YouTube, and scathing reviews blasting the European company for not giving a shit and wasting the exclusive rights to the NASCAR license, year after year. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but Good’s opinion of the title can be demonstrably proven wrong.

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#3 – F1 2012: The Kotaku Review

Again, our boy Owen Good opens a review admitting he sucks at racing games to begin with, and is even worse when given a somewhat demanding title such as F1 2012. To fill in the blanks for some of the non-sim racers we have visiting here every once in a while, the Codemasters Formula One titles are designed for mass market appeal. They aren’t very difficult to drive, they can be played with a controller, and there are a plethora of driving aids to ensure your car is glued to the track. Handling-wise, they’re comparable to some of the faster cars in the old Project Gotham Racing series. Sometimes they’re a bit buggy, and sometimes Codemasters will remove features for a year or two in an effort to pretend like new content has been added, but overall these games aren’t too difficult. If we’re speaking solely about console games, Gran Turismo and Forza offer a demonstrably greater challenge.

Owen Good calls F1 2012 the most demanding racer he’s ever played, and spends a majority of the review merely listing the modes and features available in the game. You can get the same amount of info Owen shares with the readers simply by reading the back of the game’s box, or consulting the official Codemasters press release from a few years ago. When he comments on the actual racing experience, Good offers such gems as “I turned on realistic course rulings and was flagged several times for illegal blocking even though I thought I did nothing wrong”, and F1 2012 frightens and confuses me.”

So basically, you have a guy who is a nuisance on the track, unfamiliar with Formula One, and unable to keep his car under control for more than a few turns, trying to review a game built for hardcore Formula One fans.

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#2 – Kotaku Writes the Same Article About Project CARS Sixteen Times

Prior to the release of Slightly Mad Studios controversial crowdfunded racing simulator Project CARS, Kotaku pushed out an absurd amount of articles regarding the multi-platform title over the span of about a year. As I’m not a frequent reader of Kotaku, I didn’t catch on to this blatant viral marketing campaign until I got a genuine sense of deja vu from my Facebook news feed. At one point, Kotaku messed up and ran similar articles about Project CARS close enough together for me to be snapped out of my early morning trance, and I did some quick investigating by merely typing in “Project CARS” into the site’s search feature.

What I found was absolutely pathetic. Multiple authors, including Andras Neltz, Evan Narcisse, Luke Plunkett and the aforementioned Patricia Hernandez writers who have absolutely no interest in racing simulatorshad written several versions of the exact same article about Project CARS, praising the upcoming title’s graphics while offering no additional information of value about the upcoming title. This is not news. This is a thinly-disguised viral marketing campaign.

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#1 – Project CARS is a Lot of Fun

Luke Plunkett, who had spent the entire year assisting a Project CARS viral marketing campaign on Kotaku, provides us with the absolute perfect example of why nobody at this God forsaken website has any idea of what they hell they’re doing. This is precisely what happens when the majority of your staff consists of left-leaning males with low self-esteem, who have been instructed to push various agendas rather than give detailed feedback about brand new video games.

To set the backstory for this game, Project CARS was a crowdfunding project led by a studio who had pushed out a notoriously bad string of racing games over the previous five years. Need for Speed Shift, Shift 2 Unleashed, and Ferrari Racing Legends all received woefully bad scores over at Metacritic. Users participating in the crowdfunding campaign were given access to developer forms under the guise of being able to provide critical feedback regarding bugs and game design, but instead they were instructed to act as viral marketing soldiers on various video game websites. It got ugly when the game shipped in a buggy mess, and it was later revealed that the game received no Quality Assurance testing on consoles.

Plunkett begins his pseudo-review outright admitting that he can’t really review the game at all, because he’s in over his head. The game is too complicated for him. So he’s just going to babble for a bit.

I was going to review Project CARS. Ten minutes into staring at the car setup screen, googling terms that I—even as a guy with a casual interest in cars—had never heard of, I thought maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Instead, then, here are some thoughts on Project CARS.

Plunkett resorts to praising the games admittedly sharp graphical quality, something he had already spent the past year doing in various viral marketing pieces for Slightly Mad Studios. Another paragraph is spent praising the fact that the game wasn’t a console exclusive – something that doesn’t matter at all. When it comes time to dive into what Project CARS has to offer, Luke makes a point of taking screenshots of the game’s extensive car setup options, claiming that they confuse the ever-loving shit out of him, but their inclusion is awesome.

Project CARS is powered isiMotor technology, a popular engine used in virtually all major racing sims over the past decade. No less than twenty racing simulators feature a near-identical and equally confusing car setup screen – and there are games actually missing from the list I’ve linked. For example, below is a shot of NASCAR Sim Racing’s garage menu, a title that came out all the way back in 2005. Plunkett is spending a portion of the review losing his shit over a feature that’s been a genre standard since its inception in the mid 1990’s.

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But we’re not done yet. Plunkett leaves an incredibly hilarious comment about the game’s artificial intelligence, though I’m not sure even he understands why this quote will cause many to laugh out loud in the first place.

The AI is unpredictable, which means the AI is great. Some competitors will just float around a track oblivious to you even being there, while others will violently cut across the track to block a pass attempt. I also saw a few times where the AI got bunched up, a few crashes occurred, and the rest of the pack slowed down and avoided it all, which was pretty impressive.

Plunkett praises the game’s artificial intelligence on the basis that they’re unpredictable, occasionally act like massive cunts to you, and cause huge pileups. This guy has no idea that he’s actually experiencing a game-breaking issue that Slightly Mad Studios still haven’t completely rectified. The artificial intelligence in this game was listed as one of the worst aspects of Project CARS, for reasons clearly outlined in the video below.

The guy tasked with reviewing Project CARS for Kotaku openly admitted he had no idea how to review a game he’d been aggressively marketing for, due to his total unfamiliarity with the genre itself. He then goes on to praise an aspect of the title most owners of Project CARS regarded as a game-breaking problem.

What in the fuck? These people are getting paid for this?

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The Hulk Hogan clusterfuck was almost a blessing in disguise, and thanks to the work of soft-spoken Terry Bollea, this madness will soon be put to an end. Several gamers around the internet have attempted to explain why Kotaku is no longer a relevant source of video game news, but far too many resort to arguments relating to the #Gamergate movement itself – and not everyone has stayed up-to-date on that fiasco. The reality is, it’s entirely possible to venture past the controversial scandal surrounding certain unethical conduct altogether, and solely analyze the subject matter of the articles themselves.

When doing so, Kotaku have demonstrated on at least five occasions relating to racing simulators alone, that they have no idea what the fuck they’re doing. In one article, an author states he can’t pass the tutorial level before going on to praise the game’s authenticity. In another article, a different author admits he couldn’t even configure his hardware correctly because he didn’t know how. In a review for a game the site had been actively promoting for over a year, an author who contributed to the viral marketing campaign for the title claimed he was confused by an options menu that is standard across all racing simulators. Kotaku is essentially assigning random people to review video games that they would otherwise never purchase for themselves, and then crying harassment when readers point out their articles are pointless dribble.

It is fantastic news to learn this will all be put to an end.

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32 thoughts on “Nobody Can Drive: A Tribute to Kotaku

  1. Ah yes, I remember the extreme annoyance brought on from reading the pcars ‘review’.

    They really did a shitty job consistently (as you’ve outlined) and instead of addressing their own clear ignorance, they just had a laugh about it and gave up.

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  2. Look, I’m not a fan of the Gawker network (except Jalopnik, which actually posts good stuff) but just so you know, that massive dollar amount Hogan got awarded is probably going to get substantially reduced, if not completely eliminated on appeal. Maybe it will still be enough to put them under, I have no idea. These reviews are utter shit though. I get that no one plays these games, but if you can’t get someone competent to do a write-up, don’t bother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jalopnik is a refugee camp for wankers who brags all day long that they’re “car guys”.
      Just like all those other wankers over at Car Throttle.

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    2. The truth is that Gawker isn’t likely to be able to afford the appeal. There is a $50M bond which must be placed on the appeal of an award this large against a corporation. That’s to prevent corps which lose cases from burying all their money during the appeals process and then claiming they can’t pay later.

      Well, they just don’t have that kind of liquid cash, period. Last I heard, they were hoping for a massive investment from a Russian oligarch, which is the only place such a sum would be likely to arise from.

      Also, the consistent claim from Gawker’s defenders that they won’t really have to pay that much is simply wishful thinking. A reduction would be entirely possible, but not a given, and that in large part because the judges who would make the call during an appeal would have to look at Gawker’s behavior towards the court as well as their declarations of intent while under oath.

      Such as: refusing a court order to take the video down, and stating that they would post the sex tapes of a pre-teen so long as they weren’t under three.

      Defenders claim that last part was mere flippancy, but standard court doctrine doesn’t care if you thought it was supposed to be funny. It cares that it was testimony given under oath. Absent any formal walkbacks (and there were none), the court has to treat that as a totally honest statement of intent. Meaning the “joke” alone could cost Gawker during an actual appeal, if the court said the judgment should stand in order to prevent future acts of child pornography.

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  3. it’s a similar story on all mainstream game websites. It actually got me to thinking, I know how absolutely atrocious reviews of racing games are because I’m experienced and intimately familiar with them… but for other genres where I don’t have the expertise, are the reviews just as useless but I just don’t realise it because I don’t know enough about them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The short answer is yes. Back in the days of game magazines most games got a pretty fair shake by a fan of the genre but for the last decade we just get “JRPGs are dead” kind of useless bullshit.

      It’s clear very little if any of the mainstream press in 2016 has even the slightest clue how to play a fighting game and I doubt they’re any more useful at other competitive genres besides maybe CoD clones.

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    1. AMS is still in beta; if it ships as completed and the AI are still fucked, complain then. Some of you ‘fans’ take autism to levels rarely seen outside a funny farm.

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      1. AMS’s AI isn’t beta though, it’s rFactor’s AI code from 11 years ago, with some small Reiza tweaks that apparently broke it.

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  4. “As someone who has obtained a NASCAR competition license (and will be putting it to use this year) ”

    Will you be recording any of it? Would like to see that 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s the same story across much of the mainstream gaming media. People casually writing reviews with no interest or knowledge of the subject at hand. It’s not just a racing game thing either; you see this kind of clueless reviewing in mainstream genres like sports games too.

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  6. What was the point of this? You start off talking about a Hulk Hogan sex scandal then about how Daytona has one hit wonders. Cliff notes please?

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  7. I’m so conflicted. On one hand, this is the absolute best article I’ve read on the subject of Gawker/Hulk Hogan, but on the other hand, you are the Gawker of sim racing.

    Semi-OT, my favorite Gawker hypocrisy: Posting diversity statistics for various tech companies and shaming them for being too white male (and conveniently lumping Asian men in as white), then having their own statistics posted and having them mirror these companies. I think they posted some bullshit about “we’re working to improve it.” That doesn’t seem good enough. Can’t they just fire a bunch of white males and bring in minorities, it’s that easy when it is another company that they are judging, apparently.

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  8. Jalopnik is alright but it took a hard hit when the snowflakes at Gawker ate it up and spit it back out.

    Gawker fucked it up like everything else and now it’s a car site for latte sipping neckbeards.

    They had a nice Scout sitting in a field and made a “Here’s what you do with your barnfind” instructional video. Being a hobby restorer myself I thought this would be great, but after a compression test where all cylinders had no compression except one, they declared it needed a full engine rebuild and walked away.

    They didn’t bother taking off the valve covers and inspecting for stuck valved on a car that has been sitting there for decades.

    Even if the engine was actually fucked, they should’ve AT LEAST explained how to check for sticking valves since that’s what the video was about in the first place.

    Like

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