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Tuesday September 4, 2007 2:52 pm

Time Magazine’s Cover Feature on Halo 3 Draws Fire

Time Magazine Cover With Halo 3Time Magazine has on their cover this week but the feature inside the magazine, written by Lev Grossman, has raised the hackles on the necks of several game writers. Dan Zuccarelli from Bits, Bytes, Pixels and Sprites takes Grossman to task for what he feels is an ill-researched piece. It’s not hard to see where Zuccarelli is coming from. In the third paragraph the Time article calls an exclusive and the inset graphic (reprinted on BBPS) shows a fan mod Xbox 360 featuring Halo 3 artwork rather than the actual Halo 3 Special Edition Xbox 360, not to mention mis-labeling the Heroclix Scarab as merely a “sculpture.”

What really has some people frothing though is Grossman’s obvious bias against gamers that seeps from nearly every paragraph as he repeatedly refers to them as antisocial, unhealthy, unpopular and even twice refers to gamers as residing in a ghetto. It’s not clear whether he refers to a literal ghetto or if he’s being metaphorical, but either way it doesn’t seem particularly balanced or neutral in tone.

Read More | Time via The Bits, Bytes, Pixels and Sprites


Forum Discussion

After reading the Halo 3 article the guy doesn't seem bias at all to me. I mean, he says that it's a [i]cliche[/i] to claim gamers are antisocial. Then when he goes on to mention gaming to be, "an unhealthy amusement for children", the full quote is; "The Bungie bring a grinding, jeweler's meticulousness to what [i]most people consider[/i] an unhealthy amusement for children." I couldn't deny any part of this sentence unless I was under the delusion that gaming is a full-fledged, mainstream form of entertainment or if I believed that Bungie doesn't care about their product. When he describes the game I think he goes a little overboard giving the section a little flair of the grandiose, but it only sets me up to think that the author has a subtle sense of humor and a love of the game. Over and over again he comes off as a Halo fan who's trying to tell an audience, who he believes don't know what Halo consists of, what the wonder of it is. Take this quote, "Halo takes itself seriously as, if not art, certainly a spectacle. But art seems more apt." combine it with the second-to-last paragraph where Grossman is bringing up as many points as he can about how Halo, and by extension gaming, is becoming more mainstream and "acceptable". These both seem very contradictory to the whining that's going on about the article he wrote. Feel free to ignore his emotion on the matter, quote things out of context and call me an idiot; but, to me, I think this was an excellent article and great journalism. On the other hand, I find both the articles on the BBPS and Aeropause to be ill conceived and poorly reported and edging on despicable. The same author of this article may have his hand in the "Harry Potter is a travesty to God" stuff, but that's not what [b]this[/b] article is about. Quite frankly I don't think one bad opinion negates [i]all[/i] of a persons opinions, especially when you can keep them well separated. Oh, but it does make for good dirt for slinging.

Well, I don't think you can safely call it great journalism since it has some factual errors. As far as bias goes, I read it again with your perspective in mind and I can sort of see where you're coming from and at least concede that it is perhaps not "the most biased thing evar" as I originally said. Still, it seems very curious that someone who played games and loved Halo would spend a whole article referencing, if not necessarily reinforcing, gaming stereotypes. Maybe I've been sipping the Kool-Aid too much, but I stopped thinking of gaming as some niche pastime around the time Madden started appearing on ESPN and Halo 2 sold $125 million on the first day. I don't feel particularly isolated and I think of people who still view gaming as a children's hobby as quaint and out of touch. But I'm willing to concede that perhaps Mr. Grossman doesn't completely disagree. To me, it just sounded like someone who got stuck covering some stupid game they didn't want to write about in the first place.

This article is well written except for a cople of points. Lonely?! I'm f*cking married a*shole! Geek sub culture?! Not every body that plays Halo is a geek, or apart of some sub culture that separates them selves from the rest of society. I think other then that it was a good article.

The only factual errors that I'm aware of (I'm not denying there could be more, I just don't have the Halo technical knowledge to identify them) were the ones highlighted by the BBPS site: displaying an incorrect Halo 3 XBox and apparently mislabeling a model as a sculpture. The latter being, in my opinion, an argument of semantics. As well the imaging, I would assume, is handled by a different department. I believe most magazines have different people who write the articles than they do who work on the layouts. Personally I don't find it odd that someone who loves video games could, in turn, bring up the negative stereotypes of gaming. However, whether or not you consider his wording reflective or reinforcing of that stereotype would be a matter of personal opinion. Although I think bringing up a stereotype perpetuates its existence I don't think Grossman deserves to be verbally chastised for merely noting that there [i]is[/i] a stereotype. I whole-heartedly agree that gaming isn't a niche, though I think that it doesn't have quite the mass appeal or market saturation of other forms of media such as TV or books yet. In that sense I do see it as a smaller market, though not one that is as small as meriting being called an "invisible subculture" like Grossman said. (One of the few bits of the article I see being incorrect or offensive) I think it is safe to say that there are still a fair amount of people who still don't see gaming as a legitimate medium, and I think that he believes those are the people who read the Times. Honestly I just can't see this article as [i]trying[/i] to negatively illuminate anything game related. He could have chose his words better, but that's about all I can see an issue with. Either way its interpretation is up to that of the interpreter and I believe on this point we are two different people. Two people which, I assume, are fairly steadfast in their interpretation.

As I conceded before, the article could be taken either way. The most glaring factual error to me is the part where he refers to Halo 2 as an Xbox [i]360[/i] exclusive. It's definitely a minor quibble because Halo 2 certainly plays on the 360 and it is an overall Xbox exclusive. But it's a mistake I don't think any gamer is likely to make, it reads like something someone reporting on a scene for the first time would say. If you start there, then read with the assumption the author isn't part of the subculture as he calls it then you have to wonder why he spends so very much time referencing the negative gamer stereotype. I'm not saying he believes one thing or another because you can't be sure, but it just seems curious. I talk and write about games a lot because I play them a lot and yet I hardly ever think of gamers as antisocial or whatever the stereotype is, and I certainly don't pepper my descriptions or writings with references to those stereotypes even when talking to non-gamers. But that, like my interpretation of the Time article, is just me.

As previously suggested, it looks like Lev Grossman is actually a [url=http://time-blog.com/nerd_world/2007/08/now_in_papervision.html]gamer[/url], or at least he plays Bungie games. He also says he wrote the piece in the print magazine specifically for non-gamers, which was pretty clear. I suppose from those two things the only reasonable conclusion is that he was trying to dispel the myths it sort of sounded like he was perpetuating. I'd be interested to see what a non-gamer took from the article in terms of their perspective on Halo fans or video game enthusiasts in general, because a lot of gamers reacted negatively, myself included. You'd think we were just a little touchy about that sort of thing.

[quote author="Paul Hamilton" date="1189035863"]The most glaring factual error to me is the part where he refers to Halo 2 as an Xbox [i]360[/i] exclusive. ... But it's a mistake I don't think any gamer is likely to make, it reads like something someone reporting on a scene for the first time would say.[/quote] Hah, I didn't catch that one. Given that I would agree that he doesn't seem like a gamer in the sense that you or I know one. I imagine he plays games like I play board games. If it looks fun I'll play it, but I don't get into the latest board-game news. If such a thing really exists (at least in large quantity)... [quote author="Paul Hamilton" date="1189035863"]I talk and write about games a lot ... and I certainly don't pepper my descriptions or writings with references to those stereotypes even when talking to non-gamers.[/quote] That's a good point. Looking at it like that I would say he went quite overboard in his reference's to the stereotype. Bringing it up once casually I could see, but having referenced it so many times... I see where you're coming from now. Y'know I'd have to say I'd like to see how non-gamers viewed the article as well. It's too bad we can't get someone to share their opinion on here who read it. I assume (though I don't want to make the same, poor assumption as Grossman) that Gear Live readers are versed well enough in games that they would take a similar opinion as one of us on the matter.

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@WalkingSnake: Fair enough. Image changed to the cover of the issue carrying the story.


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