Kotaku’s Florian Eckhardt has an extended write-up of his Leipzig sit-down with Ensemble’s Bruce Shelley. Given a chance to see Age of Empires III: The Warchiefs put through its paces by one of the most important strategy game developers ever, Eckhardt devotes much of the article describing how bored he is. Eckhardt doesn’t like RTS games, doesn’t seem to know much about them and doesn’t pretend to care much about the expansion at all.
Who is this article for? If gives Eckhardt a chance to laugh at himself, but it isn’t such an amusing tale that many readers would find it hilarious. Anyone looking for information about the expansion will be sorely disappointed. And, given an opportunity – as a non-RTS player – to ask questions about why things are done the way they are in AoE3, he shuffles his feet, makes some wisecracks about the crappy notes he is taking and draws zero useful conclusions.
Is Kotaku at fault for sending this guy to cover a play session with Shelley? Not necessarily. Though some familiarity with the genre would have been useful, this in itself need not be a barrier to a good preview interview. And sometimes games journalists take themselves a little too seriously.
But I got the sense that Eckhardt wasn’t taking the job seriously, and that’s another matter.
I’m not saying don’t have fun, or don’t mock things that deserve to be mocked. But pay attention when you are given a chance to watch a master at work. Open your mind to the possibility that you might be wrong about RTS. And don’t waste an opportunity to communicate something interesting to the reader.
And for most readers, the writer is the least interesting part.