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The New Rules of Game Journalism?

December 16th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Game Daily’s Media Coverage column has the usual Christmas theme this week, and, even though it misspells Mr. Claus, it is mostly a splash of the usual complaints about games journalism. Forget TV coverage, he says, it’s pointless even to try because it’s not interactive enough for gamers. (Not sure what this means for print.) We need a moratorium on “best of lists” – maybe we can make a list of the best lists, instead.

The last part of the column outlines what he thinks are some of the “new rules” in games journalism. The media has changed a lot in the last two years, so the new rules have to be kept in mind.

Here are some of the rules that I take a little issue with. (You can assume that I most agree with those I don’t comment on.)

1) “Individual reviews, even really good ones, don’t really matter any more.” – By this, I assume that Media Coverage is recognizing that the aggregators have won, that collective wisdom has trumped the power of an individual review even though this collective wisdom is made from individual reviews. As a reviewer, I naturally find this a repulsive notion, but I think that there’s more than self-preservation behind my doubt. There are still prestige outlets whose opinions matter more than others. Readers get more upset when Gamespot or 1UP gets a review “wrong” than they do when Xtreme Gamer does. Some venues mean more than others, therefore their individual reviews matter more than others.

2) “Previews, no matter how comprehensive, are only a small pixel in a greater picture.” – I have no idea what this means. Previews aren’t the full story? Of course not. That’s why we have reviews. And interviews. And post mortems. I don’t see how this is even a “new rule” since this has been the case for as long as I can remember.

3) ““Authoritative” is a term of the past.” – Once again, no clue what this is about. That there is no single “authoritative” voice on gaming? There hasn’t been since the mid nineties, when the explosion of gaming websites challenged the print monopoly. And there was USENet before that. For each individual, though, there are “authoritative” voices for some things. I want to know about sports games, I go to Bill Abner, for example. Other people (poor lost souls…) always go by whatever IGN says. And, despite the change, Games For Windows has the long legacy of CGW that makes it the Gray Lady of computer gaming journalism. Authoritative, no. Significant, yes.

4) “Being published is pointless – my grandma has a blog.” – Yeah, but your grandma might not have any readers. This plus the “reviews are dead” and “authority is dead” posts lead me to think that Mr. Media Coverage doesn’t have a lot of regard for the professionalism of a lot of people who cover the hobby. If being published were pointless – if people were perfectly happy just reading blog after blog – I would be pulling in more than the meagre 3000 hits a month I’m getting. And a lot of those hits are because I *am* published. Blogging is not synonymous with publication; it’s often just vanity press. Publication is when other people want to invest their time and money in printing your words. There’s a certain credibility that comes with that, even when your work isn’t that good.

The sneak preview of next week’s post reveals that Mr. Media Coverage is packing up and moving on. Farewell, MC.


3 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce

    This is an interesting assertion, since in the Gamasutra round table you linked earlier, the discussion implies that the perceptions of the aggregators’ influence doesn’t match one quantitative metric of their influence. Tom Kim says,

    “Like, who does Game Rankings actually service? Because, Greg Kasavin, you brought up a good point that it’s not very trafficked.”

    If that’s true, then it seems like the aggregators have won over the writers more than the readers. Maybe it’s just demoralizing to see your review reduced to a score just below Cheat Code Central.

  • Troy

    I had the same thought, actually. Individual reviews only become insignificant if people are drawing purchasing conclusions from aggregates. If, as the Gamasutra discussion suggests, Gamerankings viewers are a small percentage of, say, IGN readers, then clearly an individual review on a single site can achieve significance, if only in a minor way.

  • Krupo

    All I have to say is, “what the heck is ‘gamerankings'”? :)