Since then, I've been thinking about it a lot. I've watched more of Jim Sterling's videos, read the contents of DH's lawsuit, and digested comments on here and on Twitter.
If anything, rather than be swayed by any of the arguments, my position has hardened. I wanted to try and explain why, because when I think about it I get so incensed.
As with most of these personal opinion pieces, this is me feeling the way with the issue - a chance to work it out by writing it down... like showing you the arithmetic that went into the answer on a maths test. An attempt to find out why it matters to me. Hopefully, by the end of this article I'll have gotten there.
See, when I first started paying attention to Jim Sterling - over a year ago - I told myself that he was a knowledgable and respected pundit. He had a personal style that - as many people defending him have pointed out to me - is clearly some degree of adopted persona. He's deliberately abrasive, some of what he says is evidently meant to be tongue-in-cheek... and yet something about his attitude bothered me.
In part, that whole "It's an act" thing never sits quite well with me. It's the Ricky Gervais defence. Oh, sure, Ricky - it's fine to use the word "mong", because that's your bigoted comedy alter-ego speaking. This is an extreme comparison, but do you think Hitler could've gotten away with it, if he'd turned around in 1945 and gone: "It's okay, everyone - I was only joking; it was my 'persona'!"? Probably not.
See, here's the thing. As Sterling points out in this video, Digital Homicide's games are put together from elements they've bought on the Unity Asset Store.
Basically, they're Frankenstein's Monster-type games, stitched together with minimal coding; characters, environments, special effects, music... are all lifted wholesale from elsewhere, and the end result is sold as an original product.
Which, in the eyes of Jim Sterling, would appear to be the crime of the century, and makes the game's creators a justifiable target at which to direct his ire for the benefit of his hundreds of thousands of fans.
However, we're living in an age where almost anyone can make a "game", and then put that game on sale. People can buy it, and they then have every right on earth to be disappointed if that game is terrible, or has seemingly been put together from odds and ends. Of course, the role of the reviewer is to tell people whether games are worth buying.
Some see DH's lawsuit as an attempt at censorship, or trying to clamp down on free speech, and could result in restricting what games journalists might be able to say in the future. I doubt it, but maybe... yet that's another issue, and utterly missing the point of why the lawsuit exists. In my eyes, Sterling's coverage frequently crosses a line that makes me feel angry - albeit not at his targets, but at him.
How many people would've bothered even looking at something like The Slaughtering Grounds, if Sterling hadn't drawn attention to it? By his own admission, he trawls the bowels of Steam deliberately seeking bad games. He has 'reviewed' every Digital Homicide game to date, despite hating the first one. It makes for good YouTube, I guess.
Yet if anyone can sell a game now, there's no way we, as games critics, pundits, reviewers - or whatever you want to call us - can know who that person is. When we're picking apart an Assassin's Creed game, the target is wider, more broad-shouldered. It's a company. It's hundreds of people working on a commercial, blockbuster game. Individuals - in most cases, unless we're talking Peter Molyneux - are rarely singled out for criticism.
Yet Sterling and his ilk seek out small games, created by small teams or individuals, in order to flag them up for public ridicule and scorn. In the specific case of games that have been put together by bought elements from the Unity Asset Store, he dismisses their creators as "Motherfucking vampiric pricks".
So edgy! Yet so lacking in empathy, humanity, and personal responsibility.
I'm slightly loath to write this next bit - I don't want to be one of those games writers we have nowadays, who wrings every last drop of sentiment out of their personal life - but one of my daughters is autistic.
She's wonderful, and creative, and loves video games, and can name every single Pokemon. In fact, she's someone who I could imagine creating a game and selling it on Steam for 79p - maybe having used Unity assets to help her.
Yet the risk of doing that is being told by somebody such as Jim Sterling that she's a "motherfucking vampiric prick", and her efforts are "pathetic" and "pitiful", and then experiencing a braying mob of his fans echoing those sentiments across social media.
And that - I've realised - is why I'm SO angry about this, and why I'm experiencing Jim Sterling in particular as such a disgusting, reprehensible individual. If anyone spoke about any of my kids like that, but especially a daughter who I could imagine creating a game for sale on Steam, and who is vulnerable and brilliant, I'd want to rip out his tongue so that nobody would ever have to hear that patronising, hectoring, arrogant voice again.
Thing is, if there really is an issue here, as Jim Sterling would love us to believe, then the responsibility doesn't rest with the creators anyway.
Reading the Digital Homicide lawsuit... well... if anything, I just felt for them even more. There's a reason why people should never represent themselves in legal matters, and their court papers prove why - it's basically an emotional tirade, which is short on specific actionable issues and facts, and big on emotional language. Their hurt and frustration bleeds through. Whatever you think of their games, the Romine brothers didn't think they were doing anything wrong.
Are they making a bigger issue of it than they should? It doesn't matter. Never in these situations does anybody - least of all Jim Sterling - stop to ask why. What started this? Who started this? Why are they so upset and hurt enough that they would launch a $10 million lawsuit?
It has happened because Jim Sterling decided to pick on the smallest imaginable target time and time again, using the most aggressive language imaginable, without restraint. Digital Homicide - two brothers - are outnumbered and outgunned, and rightly or wrongly feel that Sterling has "ruined" their lives.
He underestimated the level of damage he might do with his words, and what he might potentially reap - because he clearly never stops to think who he might be targeting. He's so busy being "Jim Sterling" in his quest to be controversial, and stoke up more views and hits and keep his brand alive, that all empathy and basic human decency goes out of the window.
Besides, the responsibility for bad games going on sale on Steam lies with the delivery medium, not the creators. It's Steam who put on sale the sort of games that Sterling takes such issue with. There's no real quality control going on. But, really... for 79p, as The Slaughtering Grounds is now priced... is it worth even looking at the high horse, least of all getting on it?
Unless, y'know... it's pure showmanship.
In the infamous podcast showdown between Jim Sterling and Digital Homicide's Robert Romine - which begins with Sterling pretending to be surprised that he's talking to an adult, rather than a child - the latter defends himself by stating that many of the games Sterling bashed were his first, formative attempts at game development.
Indeed, it's interesting that the company's latest game - Dungeons of Kragmor - actually has mostly positive reviews on Steam. By all accounts, Digital Homicide got better. They, like me, did their working out in public.
And that's the problem in a nutshell: you've got Sterling raging about games that were created by somebody who was still learning how to create games, and you've got a platform which is open enough that those games can be put on sale. And on top of that, for all Sterling knew, Robert Romine was a child. Yet by that point, Jim Sterling had already called him "a motherfucking vampiric prick".
What happens when Sterling - or any of the countless other big name YouTube pundits - launches that sort of venom and mockery at somebody who really can't take it? Or somebody who really doesn't deserve it, such as an actual child? Will Sterling and his fans still be able to make the defence that it's just Sterling's in-yer-face persona, when somebody vulnerable is hit by one of his attacks?
And if he's a persona, if he's playing an angry, vulgar, outraged character, then why should anybody give him the time of day? What does any of what he says matter, if we can just dismiss it as a "character"? Nobody pays any attention to the opinions of, say, Basil Fawlty or Alan Partridge.
Oh wait - they pay attention because it's "entertaining", apparently. Yes... but at the expense of someone else. If you find that entertaining, and revel in the inevitable mob frenzy, and aren't at least slightly appalled by it, then - sorry - but you need to ask some questions of yourself.
Y'know... years ago I used to tell myself that about Mr Biffo. I kind of funnelled responsibility for treating people with respect into that. I was never quite a Jim Sterling, I don't think, but if I was rude about someone, or behaved like an arsehole, I could just tell myself: "Oh, I'm just being Mr Biffo - it's not really me".
It doesn't wash. It was me. It was the me back then, an angry, wounded me, admittedly... just as Jim Sterling - even if that's not his real name - is Jim Sterling. It's too easy to absolve oneself of responsibility that way, but if those things are coming out of your brain and your mouth, then you have total and absolute responsibility for them.
Furthermore, turning around and saying that if people can't handle abuse then they shouldn't release games, doesn't wash either; because some people don't know they can't handle it.
Some people don't get the world. They aren't equipped with that awareness.
Some people are vulnerable emotionally, and we have a responsibility to them, and to ourselves, not to make that worse. I'm not saying that's Digital Homicide specifically, but it could be. That's the point. It's too easy to put out a game nowadays. Anybody can do it - literally anybody.
It's impossible to get through life without offending somebody sooner or later, but that doesn't mean we can't at least apply a degree of objectivity and relative perspective to our actions, especially those of us fortunate enough to have something of a public platform.
If somebody - a troll, a games critic, a Men's Rights Activist, or whoever - hurts someone by being wilfully hurtful or careless, where is the logic in saying that the fault lies with the victim (as some have suggested with regard to Digital Homicide)?
The responsibility has to rest with the abuser. It's like blaming somebody for marrying an abusive spouse: "Well, if you weren't prepared to be smacked around and belittled, you shouldn't have gotten into a relationship."
Plus, if Jim Sterling is just a character, a persona, why that
character? It baffles me that somebody wouldn't ever strive to be the best version of themselves, to try and become somebody that someone would want to be. Why would anyone settle for presenting himself as a volcano of bullshit rage and aggression, that's inevitably going to be surrounded by a hive-mind swarm of disease-ridden "Yes" flies?
Is that really the best that modern games journalism has to offer?