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Editor's Corner: Gaming Journalism Is... a Series of Tubes

Posted on Tuesday, August 19 @ 18:00:00 Eastern by
[For more on Depression Quest, click here for a manifesto by Jessica Vazquez.]

Reader Commiebot sent in a question "On the Integrity of Gaming Journalism" asking about a story that I haven't heard of involving a developer and various members of both development and journalism communities.

Commiebot kind of asks about covering that situation though unfortunately I'm not interested. Indie developers are talented people with technical and artistic skills. We give movie stars and musicians incredible levels of attention, fame, money, branding opportunities, and ultimately game development turns into one of the most diehard and artistic endeavors you could undergo in this day and age.

For one, game development requires a lot of different moving pieces. I like art as much as anyone else, but I really admire the kind of team work it takes to leverage projects from as small as one-man to thousands located internationally. The results are frequently more astounding than anything you'll see in the movie theaters given you get to enjoy games at home, with your friends and family, or even on your way to work.

Gaming journalism, if you can call coverage of this medium "journalism", offers little in the way of thought. Why you'd put indie developers in front of cameras and video tape a sideshow development personality explosion flies above my head. Obviously some people thought it would be this awesome idea to show off tattoos no one cares about. I want to play a game. I want to learn about development and I want to understand the artist's underlying themes. I just don't need to see if they can cook or spin plates in between character models.

Let's consider for a second that gaming rests somewhere in a gray area. We speak about platforms, consoles, software, development, publishing, and even resolution and frame rate in such abstract terms that only those well-versed in everything can keep up.

Let's also consider for a second that video games themselves bring dozens of different opportunities for issues to arise at home, should they not have the kind of supervision I benefited from as a kid. Gaming needs to be understood in slightly more natural terms, like "what exactly is this ​Pokémon game?"

GameRevolution serves a rock-hard core of gamers that venture from far and wide to bitch about a lot of the same stuff. There's no doubt that we could do more to cover indie games or dig deeper for exclusive news, but the criticism does more to advance both the medium and the way we think about it.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. This is one of the bigger problems surrounding video gaming and the applications in a world that accepts many competing views of science and religion, because thinking about killing others in a virtual environment does upset some of those ideas.
  • And indie game developer makes a game about ATV racing where the point is to go off of these huge jumps and fly as far as you can down the race track, turn around, do it again, do a flip. Whatever.
  • The independent developer goes to a publisher or meets with one at an event and shows them a demo. The demo looks good, but who the hell is this for? What platforms are you aiming for?
  • Great, now the indie developer is crying. What is this, a TV reality show about indie game development? Who's idea was this?
See what I'm talking about? Don't call me a journalist. Don't call anyone who reviews video games a journalist. This is a hobby. It is a beautiful, incredible hobby where you can play a ton of different games. I like to think of it as someone telling you that you won't just live one live, you will live many lives.

How do you cover that objectively? How do you tell someone who loves the medium that they should not care about something they have to play?

That doesn't make sense and it doesn't make sense for the community to attack developers, PR, or anyone that exists on social media and leaves the door open for visitors they don't want. Why do we all hate each other so much?

To more directly answer Commiebot's question, yes, absolutely. Events in this industry often feel like in-crowd clique gatherings of known faces that more often than not have a longer established relationship with PR than you could ever dream. Issues surrounding indie game development often feel like bogus jokes, especially given the ridiculous nature of some of the "controversy" as it's unfolded over the past two years.

If people are eating and drinking, I guess they're finding ways to make something out of nothing.
Tags:   Editor's Corner

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