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Reader Comments (74)

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:10PM mfresen said

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F***ing aye. I'm so glad that this article was written; it's absolutely true.

Game journalism is a JOKE. It's more like an exercise in PR and Marketing, where the vessel refuses to get paid for what they're really doing: promoting a product, while suffering under the delusion that they're actually reporting on something.

That's what happens when you let fanboys write articles and cheap out on paying real writers to do real legwork and hold their subjects accountable.

Posted: Jan 12th 2011 9:38PM (Unverified) said

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@mfresen

I think you had me at collecting and editing news.

What passes for games journalism is writing accompanying pieces to press releases.

No collection or editing of news ;-)
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:18PM Lateris said

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Darn good article.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:19PM darthinfamous said

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I'm in agreement. The word journalism carries with it a certain aspect of investigation, but there is hardly anything to investigate within the game industry. Maybe its my personal bias, but using the word blogger just sounds so lowly and demeaning. Maybe news reporter, or editorialist?

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:24PM Russell Clarke said

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I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone in the mainstream media that I would consider a real 'journalist' by the definition you gave. Somewhat worrying.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:33PM Brianna Royce said

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I think the problem is that journalism in general has been romanticized right on out of reality. *Most* non-game-journalists aren't writing amazing in-depth investigative reports on scandals vital to the people. They're rephrasing Dull Things That Happened, writing fluff pieces, and skewing crime and science for the evening news. Investigative reporting is too expensive for most news outlets let alone bloggers. And the risk involved... well, war correspondents take on a lot of risk, but they're not taken seriously for the same reason game journalists aren't -- their access to content is limited intentionally.

No matter how much we may want to, we can't get blood from a stone. If the industry doesn't want to talk to us, it won't. That doesn't mean we should do nothing. We counter dry news posts with in-depth columns, opinion pieces, features, and editorials like this one; we criticize the games we play and write about. Sometimes that even provokes a response we couldn't have gotten with honey alone. Just because MMO companies won't give us the info we want doesn't mean we have to let them down easy. On the whole, I don't think we do.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:37PM LizardSF said

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Not much, if anything, has changed in the "game journalism" profession in the 12 or so years since I wrote this: http://mrlizard.com/OldSite/girlgames.html . I'd go further and say that a tremendous amount of "computer journalism" is simply reposting press releases. I know this because I do software reviews, and I actually test to see if the program WORKS, and sometimes it doesn't, but I can find plenty of "reviews" that are just the publisher's press release surrounded by google ads.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:40PM BigAndShiny said

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You know what the problem is:
The websites that publish beta leaks, or insiders reports [ealouse]
are either shut down, or ridiculed. And the fact is, websites don't want to loose advertising, or exclusive trailers, or interviews, so they don't publish leaks, investigate scandals, or anything like that. The industry doesn't let them. As Brianna said above, you don't have to let them down easy. But somehow, if i ran an mmo news website, i wouldn't want million dollar ea lawyers coming down on me because i published a leaked Battlefield 3 clp or SW:ToR raid footage.
In other industries, that could turn legal about freedom of speech etc., but in videogames,, you are a slave to the publisher

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:42PM BigAndShiny said

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And working conditions. If massively came out with an article about how x company was forcing people to work 12 hours a day, treating them like crap or firing them, that would be interesting, but massively NEEDS the company, for interviews etc.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:48PM Wisdomandlore said

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There's very little real journalism in the gaming industry. EGM began doing some several years before they were canceled (I have no idea what the resurrected EGM is like), and they made several enemies because of it. Part of the problem is that gaming magazines and sites have often been owned wholesale by gaming companies. Look at Nintendo Power, Xbox Magazine, or PS Magazine. Even the biggest gaming magazine right now, Game Informer, is owned by GameStop. GameStop has no interest in shaking up the industry or making enemies. They want to increase sales. And Game Informer's previews and features largely read like fluff pieces for the industry. When a game's weakness is brought up in a preview, GI steps up to defend it. And while there reviews aren't too bad, I have yet to see them make a controversial review, which nearly every other gaming publication/website has.

The other problem, of course, is that magazine sales and website traffic are driven by good stories. The best stories are unveiling a new game. The traditional thinking for game journalists and developers is, you rub my back, I'll rub yours.

The rise of gaming news blogs has only made things worse. I've run a blog before, and the pressure to supply content is high. Game developers know this, and they know blogs will publish their press release more or less unedited. While you guys and gals at Massively continuously improve, there are many days when a huge chunk of your content is coming straight from developers' marketing departments. Your stance against giving "reviews" doesn't help anything, although you're much more honest when giving impressions of games than you were even just a year ago.

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:57PM BigAndShiny said

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@Wisdomandlore
yes. you know what, if the pieces were clearly marked as opinion by a certain author rather than massively as a whole, then i would welcome graded/scored reviews. no bs just opinion
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:18PM Brianna Royce said

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@BigAndShiny Just fref, all of our opinion pieces are flagged under an opinion category right at the top of the post. Some will stress their editorial nature even further in the text just in case.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:55PM Beau Hindman said

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I love calling myself a paid blogger. That means I get paid to give my *opinion*. Slogging around through mountains of paperwork to "bust" my subject is not something I want to do. Also, I do not have a degree in journalism. I don't call myself a doctor for the same reason.

When I get an interview, I remember that the developer or industry person is going to only give me so much information. One of the best skills to have (it seems to me) is the ability to listen. Within moments, a good listener can tell when or if an interviewee is going to open up about the *same* "hard" question that he has been asked for the last 6 months. Does any game writer really think that his "hard-nosed" style is going to get him more answers than just making the developer comfortable?

In fact, I chuckle when people suggest that some writers are not tough enough on their subject, as though we are discussing life-threatening situations here. Yes, there is money involved and yes, there are some sneaky things going on here. Perspective is needed, though.

We're talking *video games*. I take it more seriously than anyone I know, but I never forget what I am talking about. I would rather grill a developer about the creative process than poke at him in the hopes that I might get yet another canned answer about a botched patch.

Sorry, I know there are a ton of readers that enjoy "drama" more than anything, but to me that seems a little nuts, especially considering the subject.

Beau

Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:20PM SocksForYou said

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@Beau Hindman

Maybe it's misdirected anger? lol

What I mean is, plenty of us have been playing MMOs for a while and I think we've fallen victim at one time or another to the MMO hype machine.

There's so much smoke and mirrors in the promotion of many new games -- which are ultimately released in disastorous shape and never reach their potential because players leave in droves.

After a while it's hard not to get jaded and be unimpressed when someone is talking about the lofty visions for their game.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 4:38PM Beau Hindman said

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@SocksForYou Which is exactly why I cover indie games. :)

Beau
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 6:54PM Wisdomandlore said

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@Beau Hindman

I don't think anyone really cares if you go out and ask a developer hard hitting questions. Any MMO player is familiar with the typical dev-speak/marketing-ninja nonsense developers tend to give out. What most gamers want is simply an honest opinion of a game. We don't want a writer playing apologist for all the flaws in a game he or she is reporting on.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 7:34PM Beau Hindman said

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@Wisdomandlore Of course, none of us want what you are essentially describing: a liar. The issue here is that we are only human, like anyone else. We are prone to nerd drooling just like anyone else. Once in a while, we get really excited about a game, or a release, or meeting someone who we thought was a cool person, and that might be reflected in our writing. I would be a liar if I said that I never said something that was influenced by the awesome nerdiness of it all (one of the perks of the job!) *That's* honest.

The problems arise when we are covering up obvious issues -- but of course we try not to do that at all. For example, a lot of people think that we might be lying or covering up something because we got special press access or a preview account. But those things *do* effect, sometimes, how we might feel a bout a game at that moment. It's the same as playing with family members or close friends -- you can be playing a crappy game that is less crappy because of the specific situation. Hopefully, though, we filter out most of that influence.

Remember, we are not the enemy here, but neither are developers. You simply have to have trust in one, the other, or both or you'll end up thinking that the entire thing is crap. Also remember that if you don't like the particular game, there are a TON of them out there. Trust me, I play them ALL.

Beau
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 9:48PM Jef Reahard said

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@Beau Hindman

It's not really about drama at all. For me personally, I just take the work seriously, as I do all work that I'm involved in. Sure they're video games, but there is room for improvement on multiple levels.

As far as toughening up on dev interviews, that's a lost cause until publications band together and realize that they have the power to dictate terms to developers as opposed to the way it is now.

I don't see that happening, and you can see a few reasons why right here in this thread. People just don't feel it's worth the effort or they downplay any attempt at taking things related to gaming seriously.

In any event, it's an interesting discussion.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 10:15PM Skyydragonn said

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@Beau Hindman

I'm just curious as to why then in your estimation actors/actresses movie producers etc are held accountable for bad roles, films, poor judgement then, after all their just making movies right? Entertainment media is entertainment media. using the "its just a game" label comes off as a cheap exscuse to not evaluate the real answers.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2011 3:58PM Temploiter said

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Preach on, brother. I agree with you that there is no 'journalism' yet in the gaming industry. I think the industry will be much the better without what amounts to an echo chamber for feedback. Maybe we'll stop seeing clone upon clone and sequel upon sequel.

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