What Is the Future of Video Game Journalism?

StreamerDarkly

Disciple of Trevor Philips
Jan 15, 2015
193
0
0
The "game reviews are inherently subjective" line is fast becoming something critics trot out whenever gamers explain to them exactly why their professional opinion is utter dogshit. Those who can't maintain a proper balance between "is this a good game" from a mechanics and fun standpoint vs "what politically incorrect trivialities can i dredge up" to stir controversy will continue to be called out.

Some critics want so desperately to be viewed as progressive philosophers that they just can't help themselves. Is there any room for politics in video game reviews? Maybe a little, but it requires a heck of a lot more finesse than the hacks at Kotaku and Polygon are capable of.
 

Travis Fischer

New member
Feb 1, 2012
126
0
0
Shamus Young said:
But in games that line just doesn't exist. The centerpiece of games journalism - the reviewing of games for consumers - is unavoidably subjective. You can't very well review a game without giving your opinion.
But you can separate your opinion from the facts.
The first job of the game reviewer is to determine what the developer was trying to achieve and then assess whether or not they achieved it. These are pretty objective things. Do the mechanics work? Is the game polished? Is this something the intended audience would enjoy?

The core of any professional review, and this is true when reviewing anything from microwaves to movies, is a simple matter of "Does this product do what it is supposed to do?"

The problem we've been getting into with reviews lately is that instead of determining if the product does what it's supposed to do, they're making a judgment on what the product is supposed to be doing. That's a subjective review.

The only time subjectivity should really enter a game review is when the intended audience is there for the reviewer, not the game. Zero Punctuation is pretty much the epitome of this. He has things he likes and doesn't like, but he generally is able to separate the things he doesn't like in a game from the things that the game simply does wrong.


Shamus Young said:
This makes gaming journalism inherently weird. There's no clear line between factual reporting and opinion reporting.
Yeah there is. It's a very clear line. One is professional journalism. The other is hack writing by fanboys playing pretend.


Shamus Young said:
It's all one big soup of information, all mixed together. The same people do both jobs, at the same time, and often in the same space.
As somebody who has spent the bulk of his adult life working at one of those vanishing newspapers, I promise you that I wear more hats than anybody on your staff. That doesn't change the fact that news is news and opinion is opinion.

A while back my city's mayor started a debate over whether or not to continue adding fluoride to the water supply. I wrote a story explaining the facts of how the city's water system works, how fluoride is distributed, what the local dentists had to say, what the city council members had to say, and what the mayor had to say. Objective reporting.

In my column that week, I laid out my personal opinion on the matter.

News on one page. Opinion on the other. It really is that simple.


Shamus Young said:
More importantly, gaming journalism is more intimate and connected with the audience. In the newspaper, it's rare to care or even notice who wrote any particular article. They seem to come from some unfeeling computer at the heart of the printing press.
That's called being a professional and doing your job right.

Shamus Young said:
But in gaming, it's completely normal to see bits of personality injected into an otherwise straightforward news items. An author might end an article on a studio closing by saying, "Hopefully these developers land on their feet. Best of luck to everyone who lost their jobs, and let's hope the layoffs end here." That would sound crazy in a newspaper, but in gaming it's more or less expected.
It's expected because of the already low expectations. Not because it's right.

The biggest issue in Gaming Journalism is that the journalists have very rapidly had to grow up. We are long past the days where it's acceptable to give the games media a pass because they're just writing about video games for ten year olds.

Games journalism didn't originate with professional reporters. It originated with fanboys that could string together a coherent paragraph or two. None of these guys knew better when they started injecting opinion into regular news coverage.

And that was fine when the editor-in-chief of your publication went by "Scary Larry" or you pretended to have a ninja on your writing staff, but those days are gone. Gaming is now the world's largest entertainment market. It's a multi-billion dollar industry. It's time for the games media to grow up because this isn't a joke anymore.
 

cpukill

New member
Feb 26, 2011
28
0
0
Starker said:
IceForce said:
You used the word "dead" in double quotes, which means you're directly quoting it from somewhere.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scare_quotes
For the google impaired [https://archive.today/i928J]

Considering all the "quotes" used in most of those articles, I figured it was all good. Obviously all you aGGro's get all pissy at that.
 

Verlander

New member
Apr 22, 2010
2,449
0
0
This comparison only works in the US. For instance, in the UK papers are still big business, and more partisan than ever. We still have faced the same changes - the internet, for instance - but the papers adapted by heading in a more obviously political direction. I believe it's just as likely that games sites that openly fly their respective flags are able to attract a meaningful audience - people like to have their opinions echoed towards them.

In Scotland, a pro-independence paper is being launched. Given that a key complaint of the independence campaign was media bias, surely embracing anything other than totally impartial news source would be the definition of hypocrisy? But it doesn't actually matter, because their complaint wasn't that the news isn't dealing with reporting in a fair manner, it was that the news wasn't showing their side of the story.

The same goes for gamergate (I know, I know, groan). The calls for impartiality come from the side of the community that want objectivity in their reporting, but what that really means is that they don't want to hear about social issues and the cultural impact of games in their news media. Personally I think that's a head-in-the-sand kind of attitude, but if there's an audience for it, then someone should cater for that (capitalism!). Instead, games journalism, American sources in particular, have decided that they can no longer compete in a world where they can't have 100% of the audience and do things 100% their way. This is, frankly, a ridiculous attitude, and I have no sympathy for any site that chooses to simply give up rather than change.

I despise UK newspapers - they spread lies and misinformation, sewing seeds to hatred and bias in order to net their latest payday - but I have more respect for them than I do US mainstream media, because they're prepared to fly their own flag. There is no pretending that they are impartial, and there's no attempt to balance the discussion. You know what you're getting with these publications, and I wish that sites like The Escapist had the guts to fly their colours too.
 

Jhereg42

New member
Apr 11, 2008
329
0
0
Travis Fischer said:
But you can separate your opinion from the facts.
The first job of the game reviewer is to determine what the developer was trying to achieve and then assess whether or not they achieved it. These are pretty objective things. Do the mechanics work? Is the game polished? Is this something the intended audience would enjoy?

The core of any professional review, and this is true when reviewing anything from microwaves to movies, is a simple matter of "Does this product do what it is supposed to do?"
But the answers to the questions you presented are opinions. One critic may think they achieved their goal and the mechanics are fine. another might think the mechanics are poor. There is no simple yes or no answer in a review.

The trick is not to find a "correct" reviewer. The trick is finding a reviewer who's opinions tend to run in a similar pattern to your own. This idea that a review should only present the facts is hogwash, because all of the "facts" are colored by the perception of the reviewer. These answers have no objective basis.
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
Legacy
Jun 30, 2014
5,231
241
68
Travis Fischer said:
Gaming is now the world's largest entertainment market.
Do you have something to support that statement? Or did you forget something called "movies"?
 

FredTheUndead

New member
Aug 13, 2010
303
0
0
Gerstmann and Company figured out that games journalism's hope was in entertainment even before the great Gamespottening of 2007 gave birth to Giant Bomb.
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
Legacy
Jun 30, 2014
5,231
241
68
StreamerDarkly said:
The "game reviews are inherently subjective" line is fast becoming something critics trot out whenever gamers explain to them exactly why their professional opinion is utter dogshit. Those who can't maintain a proper balance between "is this a good game" from a mechanics and fun standpoint vs "what politically incorrect trivialities can i dredge up" to stir controversy will continue to be called out.

Some critics want so desperately to be viewed as progressive philosophers that they just can't help themselves. Is there any room for politics in video game reviews? Maybe a little, but it requires a heck of a lot more finesse than the hacks at Kotaku and Polygon are capable of.
So, which critics should be supported? Do you have any names?
 

hermes

New member
Mar 2, 2009
3,865
0
0
The problem with that discussion, in a nutshell, is that you are comparing games journalism with more "serious" journalism, and that is semantically poor. It is like comparing comics to "higher" art. It doesn't apply because it was never meant to apply. Games journalism is in the same category of other entertainment journalism, like movies journalism or music journalism. As such, people feel like they should be doing "real journalism" to earn the title(discovering Watergate or something like that), but that is a fallacy, like thinking only real MD are those that do "real medicine", like brain surgery or discovering the cure for something.

In the broadest term, a journalist is someone that works to keep other people in the community informed. In that sense, an article titled "new Borderlands game in the work" is a piece of journalism the same as something like "Robert Downey Jr signs for more Marvel movies". And if the people in Variety has no problem with being considered journalists, I don't see an issue with gamespot employees having the same title.
 

hermes

New member
Mar 2, 2009
3,865
0
0
Morganan said:
Why have I made sure "journalist/journalism" is always in quotes in my response here? Simple, because "gaming journalism" doesn't exist today, because the "journalists" always print supposition as fact. Writing an article doesn't make one a "journalist", any schlub can do that as evidenced by the plethora of blogs out there today. What makes one a "journalist" is asking tough questions and getting answers and doing the research required to ensure those answers are verifiable facts before they are printed. If such a "journalist" exists in the gaming scene today, please point me to him/her, as I haven't seen one yet.
One would argue that most people that work in newspapers and news stations don't qualify as journalists either, since 90% of the news are not the result of "tough questions", instead taking declarations of other people.
I think many people have a romantic idea of "journalists" as people that put their lives in the line to research and inform the public, the same as they have a romantic idea of "scientists" as people that work relentlessly to push the boundaries of human knowledge, when the fact is a relatively low percentage of them do, and a Watergate or a Big Bang theory only happens once in several years. The rest of the "real journalists" write things like "Graceland Is Taking Its Show on the Road" (NY Times) which, on my mind, is not much different in process than "Dark Souls II Patch Reveals New Secrets For An Old Game" (Kotaku), other than the subject. One could argue, which one is asking though questions? and which one is the real journalist?
 

Morganan

New member
Nov 5, 2009
14
0
0
hermes200 said:
Morganan said:
Why have I made sure "journalist/journalism" is always in quotes in my response here? Simple, because "gaming journalism" doesn't exist today, because the "journalists" always print supposition as fact. Writing an article doesn't make one a "journalist", any schlub can do that as evidenced by the plethora of blogs out there today. What makes one a "journalist" is asking tough questions and getting answers and doing the research required to ensure those answers are verifiable facts before they are printed. If such a "journalist" exists in the gaming scene today, please point me to him/her, as I haven't seen one yet.
One would argue that most people that work in newspapers and news stations don't qualify as journalists either, since 90% of the news are not the result of "tough questions", instead taking declarations of other people.
I think many people have a romantic idea of "journalists" as people that put their lives in the line to research and inform the public, the same as they have a romantic idea of "scientists" as people that work relentlessly to push the boundaries of human knowledge, when the fact is a relatively low percentage of them do, and a Watergate or a Big Bang theory only happens once in several years. The rest of the "real journalists" write things like "Graceland Is Taking Its Show on the Road" (NY Times) which, on my mind, is not much different in process than "Dark Souls II Patch Reveals New Secrets For An Old Game" (Kotaku), other than the subject. One could argue, which one is asking though questions? and which one is the real journalist?
Fair point, but at least there we have 10% "journalists", here we have 0%.
 

Aerotrain

New member
Sep 7, 2014
67
0
0
>But in games that line just doesn't exist. The centerpiece of games journalism - the reviewing of games for consumers - is unavoidably subjective.
It's a shame that the line isn't there. Commenting on the news means you're an analyst, opinion-maker, expert, etc. and reporting the news means you're a journalist. A review isn't reporting the news, a man who reviews a game is doing so as a critic and is therefore expected to be subjective.

If he's reporting news about a game (it's gonna be a sandbox type deal instead of on-rails, for example) he should just report the facts in an objective manner and invite the reader to have his own opinion about them ("The game is now sandbox. Is that good? Is that bad? You tell us! Sound off in the comments below."). If he's giving his opinion then he is an analyst, opinion-maker, expert, pundit, so, following the report by the journalist, he'll tell us all about what he thinks of the news.

Problem is, many times in gaming websites those jobs mix up so it's even more important that the lines are clear both to the person writing the articles and to the audience. If necessary, mark your content as one or the other. Lead with the news and then follow with a clearly marked "In my opinion" addendum if need be. And for god's sake, keep your reviews well away from your purely factual reporting.

A gaming website can have a person who does a bit of everything (we can call him a journalist in broad sense here if we consider that the man who purely reports the news is a newsman, if you will) if he just makes sure to wear the right hat while he's doing each job as not to confuse the audience and, perhaps even more importantly, himself.
 

StreamerDarkly

Disciple of Trevor Philips
Jan 15, 2015
193
0
0
CaitSeith said:
So, which critics should be supported? Do you have any names?
The ones that actually write about games. Not phallic lighthouses, being traumatized by Bayonetta, black women learning to drive in GTA, or why killing players in video games should be considered rape. It does not require much reading to figure out there's less SJW bullshit at say, Gamespot, Game Informer, Giant Bomb or even IGN than Kotaku and Polygon. Ars Technica is similarly awful because Orland and Machkovech, when they aren't acting as PR agents for Quinn and Sarkeesian, are dull writers that leave you wondering whether they even played beyond the first level. Erik Kain is decent and can at least be counted on to remain rational.

Here's a reasonable reality check for a video game journalist - if you think it's a major part of your duty to steer the industry in a certain direction, particularly with regards to social issues, sexism and gender portrayal, violence, etc., you're probably an arrogant fart sniffer who'd be better off finding a different career path trying to push your special moral code onto everyone else. It's amazing how many of these critics think the industry is far better off because of them, like they're doing God's work or something. That's right, they're trying to elevate gaming to a lofty art worthy of serious critique, and the filthy FPS neckbeards are holding it back. It's actually pretty frightening that people like Kuchera, Gies, Sarkeesian and Leigh Alexander have any influence over game developers at all. Best not to let that influence increase, I think.

FredTheUndead said:
Gerstmann and Company figured out that games journalism's hope was in entertainment even before the great Gamespottening of 2007 gave birth to Giant Bomb.
Why is Gerstmann still celebrated because he showed a spine 7 years ago? He can currently be found letting Maya Kramer write top 10 lists for his website that contain games she is a paid PR agent for.
 

Darkness665

New member
Dec 21, 2010
193
0
0
Good article, Shamus. The proper comparison from the newsprint and some of the broadcast journalism to game journalism would be the Movie Review/Critic features. There one expects to find the reviewer to be a particular person, with an established history and a somewhat personal history with. The history being that they have read several movie reviews by this person and indeed many have read them for years. The critic is a special variant of that in they also establish their professional opinion based on some level of education or knowledge of the business. All in all, not really different than game reviewers and critics.

YouTube may well be a game changer, but it is more fraught with problems than the traditional game review sites. They are only now finding out that some of the personalities are given not only games but cash to provide reviews, and positive ones at that. Plus trusting a YouTube personality that is paid by clicked advertising on the review is less honest than even the most egregious affronts to decency by any journalist of any media type in this century or the last. Each click drives the trust further away. Why? Because being accurate, fair or honest doesn't matter when clicks pay the rent. Younger viewers have no concept of honesty or trust. They go for popular, hot and trendy. Almost all of which are simply manipulations of perception and nothing of substance.

Maybe having J-school credentials would reduce some of the issues that game sites have bumped into. Although Fox News is the counter-example to every good piece of journalism out there regardless of the media type.
 

Darkness665

New member
Dec 21, 2010
193
0
0
Sleekit said:
the reviews "issue"...was always a red herring...lept on by some and forced into the narrative because they know review contents have been and will forever be a bone of contention...in terms of recent events the problem that people were actually concerned about can be solved in a single word: disclosure.
Your UK centric viewpoint is entertaining in that you present partial information while assuming non-UK readers know what you are talking about. BBC-N has no relevance to us (US).

What I know about the UK press is they are sensationalistic, rumor-mongering, bombastic and bold liars of epic proportions. An article from the UK is never something I would trust without verifying it elsewhere. Possibly because I view all BCC-N the same as well and everything on paper being identical in pure ad revenue reporting. Basically click bait for paper.

YouTube is filled with ads. And with ads comes ad revenue. If a YouTube game reviewer or play it gamer has ads then they are not trust worthy. They are nothing more than click bait with video. If anything the one thing you know for a fact is that YouTube reviews have less to do with honestly or 'discloser' than anything else in the gaming journalism industry. They have to do with clicks, likes and subscriptions. Nothing else really matters, you are welcome to them. They definitely fit within the context of UK press ethics. Although antics might be a more accurate description of them.
 

SecondPrize

New member
Mar 12, 2012
1,436
0
0
I usually love you for actually knowing what you talk about, but sadly enough you don't seem to know journalism all that well. Look, you're a journalist. Why? Because you do journalism. I don't know how you got the idea that journalism is just straight news stories or news features, and all that opinion stuff is some other discipline which is why they're separated but you didn't get it from J-School and you didn't get it from doing journalism at a reputable publication, because anyone who's done either of those things would never say that. Opinion Journalism is still Journalism. They are separated to make it abundantly clear to the audience to whom you already write at a fifth-grade level which is being published as news and written to the standards of news writing and which is opinion and is not subject to those standards.

That you work for a trade press in no way means that when you aren't doing reviews that the news stuff shouldn't be written to standard because you sometimes write subjective critiques. I mean, come on, how can you even write that and not feel a little shame? You think anyone has ever read a game review on the escapist and not known they were in the review section? They all have review in the title. You can't miss it. Subjective pieces and news are as clearly isolated in their own sections on your publication as they are in any newspaper.

When you write something for publication in the press, be it your high school paper, the Herald Tribune or the Escapist, you are doing journalism. Giant Bomb likes to call themselves bloggers, but when you're getting your stuff published by a major brand name with a healthy market share in its trade press, you're doing motherfuckin' journalism and you need to be held to the standards of journalism.

The future of gaming press is pretty grim, from a journalistic standpoint. People with actual education or experience doing good journalism will continue to do it elsewhere, where they get paid better. People who can't list even three of the requirements for something to be newsworthy or begin to explain the standards for attribution in a news story or feature will continue to populate the gaming press. Ads will continue to be dangerous to your machine at worst and annoyingly intrusive at best, and will continue to be blocked so the money will continue to dry up. You don't start low and get better with less funding, but just because you don't see much good journalism doesn't mean what you see isn't journalism.
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
Legacy
Jun 30, 2014
5,231
241
68
StreamerDarkly said:
CaitSeith said:
So, which critics should be supported? Do you have any names?
The ones that actually write about games. Not phallic lighthouses, being traumatized by Bayonetta, black women learning to drive in GTA, or why killing players in video games should be considered rape. It does not require much reading to figure out there's less SJW bullshit at say, Gamespot, Game Informer, Giant Bomb or even IGN than Kotaku and Polygon. Ars Technica is similarly awful because Orland and Machkovech, when they aren't acting as PR agents for Quinn and Sarkeesian, are dull writers that leave you wondering whether they even played beyond the first level. Erik Kain is decent and can at least be counted on to remain rational.

Here's a reasonable reality check for a video game journalist - if you think it's a major part of your duty to steer the industry in a certain direction, particularly with regards to social issues, sexism and gender portrayal, violence, etc., you're probably an arrogant fart sniffer who'd be better off finding a different career path trying to push your special moral code onto everyone else. It's amazing how many of these critics think the industry is far better off because of them, like they're doing God's work or something. That's right, they're trying to elevate gaming to a lofty art worthy of serious critique, and the filthy FPS neckbeards are holding it back. It's actually pretty frightening that people like Kuchera, Gies, Sarkeesian and Leigh Alexander have any influence over game developers at all. Best not to let that influence increase, I think.
tl;dr "Erik Kain".

Thank you.
 

FredTheUndead

New member
Aug 13, 2010
303
0
0
StreamerDarkly said:
Because Giant Bomb is primarily an entertainment website, is entertaining, and nobody gives a shit about the top ten lists of the staff much less the guests. The only time the rankings actually matter to users is the GOTY awards and that's just because the GOTYcasts are hours and hours of the staff audibly sharpening their knives.