What can change to make Games Journalism better?
If you’re like me you’re crazy for games, hell sometimes I spend more time on gaming sites reading about games than I do playing them (at least until that damn psoneclassics support comes to the Vita). But also, you might have noticed like me that there are a few things that disappoint you about the state of games journalism today. There are some great writers out there that deserve support, but the amount of junk you have to wade through to get there, is a little too thick. Here are a few things that could change to make gaming journalism a bit better.
Most gaming outlets make an incredibly small amount of original content (outside of reviews). Most of the remaining articles are posted almost to the letter from other sites. If you just get yourself an e-mail subscription to GamesIndustry International, Andriasang and a few other decent sites you’ll get 80% of all important interviews and news in the industry, and you’ll have finished reading them by the time they’re posted letter for letter on some of the bigger “gaming news” sites. Getting on the press lists of any major games companies will further inform you about the new update to your favourite game’s menus before gaming sites will display that information. Having every website re-report everything almost word for word (with some joke added in to make it seem “original”) makes gaming sites a sea of sameness.
Of course this happens in regular news, but because it’s a lot slower than cut and paste, this is way more prevalent in the games journalism sphere. What ends up happening is the same story is recycled over and over instead of any time spent on looking for new information. Which is a shame.
Industry “Support” (see blatant sell outs)
Most journalistic outlets in the world wouldn’t accept sponsorships straight from the industry it was reporting on. For instance The New York Times wouldn’t accept sponsorships right from Exxon Mobile if they were supposed to be reporting on them, and even if they do advertise they do it through separate channels completely, with no contact with the writers. But take a look at Destructoid’s latest sponsored article. With support from their new sponsor Intel.
If you actually read this article it’s evident that there was no actual research done. I don’t know what Intel paid Destructoid for this, and it’s a gross conflict of interest. Many people’s comments were quite interesting on this topic, you can check out those colouful comments and the full article on their site.
What’s even better is Allistair Pinsof’s reply, even though Intel wanted to sponsor an article about Sleeping Dogs specifically, writing this article about Sleeping Dogs was all his idea! What a fortunate coincidence. Luckily he really thinks this game is good, or he would have turned down the idea that came from his head, but also Intel’s…
Companies like to build a lot of buzz around their game. They do this by inviting industry journalists to press events, some of the big press events are E3 or the Tokyo Game Show. But when they want a favourable review score they throw a “Review Event”. These are places where they pamper the games journalists to receive a more favourable review score. Michael McWhertor did a great write up on this over on Kotaku before he left to Gametrailers. You can check his write up of it here where it goes into detail about the swanky hotels and great entertainment systems that are made available to reviewers.
These events should be boycotted by gaming journalists, it is a serious conflict of interest in the industry. The fact that you can only find one article on this phenomenon through a Google search is a great display of the ineffectiveness of the gaming journalism. Every site should have a published position, it’s hard to stay objective about a game when the publisher is feeding you shrimp in your five star hotel they rented for you.
Sometimes you have journalists that jump the gun, and get a little zealous. So in times like these they push a few of the facts out of the way to make a more convincing and popular story. I posted an article about a year ago about Luke Plunkett, a Kotaku writer that decided to make up a few facts, and not only did he fabricate them, he covered them up. Banning those who told him he was wrong.
There was no apology by Plunkett for making up this story, no editorial review, and the story was edited by Plunkett to cover his tracks. These types of things go unnoticed by most people, and they’re never reported on by other gaming media. Print newspapers report when other news sources blatantly lie to their readers. This doesn’t happen in the game journalism world, despite the fact that this exposé made it to the front page of Reddit and over one hundred thousand people clicked on the article in 24 hours, there was not one mention from any professional games journalist, it seems if everyone keeps their mouths shut, the problem seems to go away.
Hiding behind the “Blogger” moniker.
Whenever someone calls a games journalist out on faking a story, or acting in a way unbecoming of a journalist (like those you can read above). Always people say, well what do you expect? He’s a blogger! You can’t take anything they say seriously!
This needs to stop.
If someone makes their living by reporting on games news, they are not bloggers. Bloggers are part-timers, and amateurs (like myself). A Journalist is someone who makes a salary. Saying they’re just bloggers cheapens gaming, and also lets them get away with the things they pull. But then again bloggers should be held to a higher standard than they are anyway, if they’re reporting the news, they should be prepared to acknowledge when they’re wrong, apologize if need be, and try to live up to a higher standard.
We need more women reporting gaming news
This is probably no surprise but there are barely any women in the gaming journalism sphere. About half of gamers at large are women, so why is games journalism such a boys club?
For instance of the 81 Metacritic Reviews for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (only 63 of which are not written by “anonymous” or still exist, which should show you how useless Metacritic is) not one review is female. One would think that even though COD is a very male directed franchise there should be at least ONE professional games site that would have a woman writer to review the game.
So when someone like Anita Sarkeesian is attacked by hundreds of misogynist gamers it’s hardly a surprise because they’re not getting any of their gaming news from women, so her campaign to expose stereotypes in gaming is seen as an attack by these poor sheltered men (many of which deserve to be arrested for their incredibly violent and uncalled for threats).
Not only would female game journalists give a different view of games from the review perspective, they would also help the games industry grow up, and be a little bit more inclusive of half of their audience.
What do you think?
You’ve seen what I think should change in gaming journalism, what do you think? Should there be more information about Review events? Maybe more journalistic consequences for when a story is made up? (Considering those made up stories are never reported upon by other gaming news sites). A discussion must be had about gaming journalism, because in the end, they’re the ones who promote games to us. If the journalists covering an industry stay an all boys club who makes up stories, how will the medium be pushed forward?