Games journalism is broken. Mainly because it’s not all written by automatons.
I read this article this morning with great interest, just as I tend to do every time anyone pops up with an opinion that games journalism is fundamentally broken. It’s my job, after all, so I’m often interested to see why what I’m doing is so utterly terrible and why every word I write may as well be a passage from a book called “I think Hitler was right and I hate the gays”.
The piece makes some valid points and does raise some genuine issues – especially concerning publishers controlling the flow of information. But I couldn’t concentrate on them because my fury gland was too busy being tickled. You see, it seems that – according to the author – all games coverage is supposed to come under one nice, neat and tidy, catch-all standard. It’s all supposed to be intelligent, deep and thoughtful. Lists are bad. Any talk of anything remotely sexual – heaven forbid the admiration of the male or female form – is utterly forbidden. Everything has to be one hundred per cent serious at all times. There is no room for jokes. Video games are serious business. Homogenise for mass consumption. BZZT. Journo-robot has spoken.
I have a few questions about this stance:
Who gave you the divine right to dictate what it is and what it isn’t we, as individuals, can choose to read? Who gave you the right to decide entire swathes of the gaming public are irrelevant? Don’t deserve to be catered to? Who gave you the right to decide that one method of coverage is preferable over all others? Who said it’s up to you what these sites – which are nothing to do with you – cover?
No one. That’s who.
One thing that really irritated me about the piece, though, was the assertion that too much news is simply re-written press releases. I’m not saying this isn’t true, as a lot of news is press release-based. But a couple of points: one, that’s how a lot of real, actual news works. If this surprises you, your brain would probably melt at the realisation of how much ‘proper’ journalism is based off the back of press releases, especially when it comes to scientific/medical news. Second, how can you complain that too much of the news is effectively the same, coming from press releases as it does, before then going on to claim there’s too much editorialising? Pick one. Please. I’ll still disagree with you, but at least your position won’t seem so wanton in its ridiculousness.
I’m well aware that gaming coverage is all over the place, coverage-wise, but that’s exactly the point – it’s all over the place. Yes, at times it’s not constrained by boundaries of taste, decorum or what some people deem ‘acceptable’. But you know what? I like that fact. I like the fact I can go to Gamasutra and read something intelligent, well-thought out and with depth, then I can come to Play-Mag to read something easily-digestible and irreverent by one of my team mates, then I can go to Kotaku and get annoyed at how much nonsense is on there.
Just because something is done differently to how you want it to be done does not mean it is ‘wrong’. It does not mean it is ‘unacceptable’ or ‘stupid’. Just because a particular section of an audience don’t appreciate what is being written doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’ writing, and just because another section does doesn’t mean it’s ‘good’.
And for the love of Zombie Jeebus, can you people try to highlight the positives in games journalism for once. If you want to help us grow, improve and become a more coherent, credible form of writing, try praising the coverage you like instead of spitting bile. It’s far too easy to be destructive – challenge yourself to have a good thing to say about something for once.
[image carefully stolen from Laurynomaly, as I have no integrity]