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Gaming’s Top 50 Journalists?

October 18th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

VGMWatch‘s Kyle Orland has compiled a list of gaming’s top 50 journalists for Next Gen. And, naturally, there is stuff wrong with the list. Any list that reaches 50 will inevitably lead to hair-splitting and other disagreements. So here are a few of mine.

1) The Penny Arcade guys get a single entry, but Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb – best known for being a team – are separated.
2) It’s mostly editors-in-chief, even of the woefully edited Gamedaily. This makes sense since editors are the gatekeepers, for good or for ill. But it does make the list more of a “who’s who” than an evaluation of importance. Unless importance means having an office.
3) Some obvious names were left off. Where’s Tom Chick? Andrew Bub aka Gamerdad? Even the annoying Wagner James Au is important enough to make a list like this. (Hey, the article isn’t “best”.) All three are significant opinion shapers.


5 Comments so far ↓

  • Matt Peckham

    I dunno Troy, when you look beyond the super-ultra-niche crowd that hangs out on QT3, which isn’t even in, like, the top 100 (maybe 1000) video game sites the average gamer visits, and when you consider how many people are writing in the biz, I don’t know that either of those two you mention belong. Even if you just scrap the dubious “best” qualifier and go with “most influential,” as you say.

    Bub way before Chick, obviously, just because of the whole kid-safe thing, and Tom’s mostly just another reviewer who dabbles in the occasional anything-else kind of writing, otherwise this industry has, what, thousands of reviewers now (paid or unpaid)? But hell, I’ve been having my stuff slashdotted for awhile (without trumpeting it on a personal website or pimping my reviews every time I write one), and I wouldn’t even think of calling myself remotely influential. It’s anathema to everything I stand for as a writer. Best thing to do is ignore this list, and every other, whether it has one’s pals on it or not. I’d be more embarrassed to make a list like this than to be left off. Watch and see what I do if some knucklehead ever does (put me on one).

  • Troy

    If influence is purely measured in who decides who gets published, sure. But then you just have a list of editors, which is neither interesting nor useful. I am hoping that Orland wanted to do more than compile a registry of editors, even if that is how it ended up.

    Bub’s Gamerdad project doesn’t get near the attention it deserves, I think. It has mainstream cred, though it’s still a niche audience. He’s always been a good writer, but now he has a mission.

    Qt3 blinders notwithstanding, Tom is kind of in a different planet in some respects. He has columns in two PC gaming magazines (TvB and 3 Finger Salute) and is highly sought after as a writer. The list of publications he has written for is probably longer than most freelancers’. I think his consistent record of quality and steady production certainly puts him in the league with Gillen, another freelancer of high quality.

    There are other names left off. Where’s Russell Carroll, THE voice in independent games journalism? Chris Kohler? I think you can legitimately put Au on the list of “important” journalists, despite the controversy.

    There is probably no way to do a list like this and make it both interesting and “objective”. Kyle might have been better off making the list shorter rather than longer, because once you get to 50, you end up either putting in everyone’s EIC and then you have no room left for the writers who shape opinion even if it is only in the echo chamber of gaming journalism (which I’m not sure is the case).

    I’d be embarrassed to be on such a list, too. Besides, you know that *I* love most of your stuff, right? ;)

  • Matt Peckham

    I agree about Bub’s Gamerdad without qualification. As for Tom, well, the problem is that CGW and CGM’s circulation numbers are pretty low compared to the really-really mainstream mags like Game Informer and EGM, or the online sites that pile up the hits every day. I think the problem is that the audience that reads games tends to skip straight to reviews, then muddles through previews, maybe scans a few of the goofy games/in-jokes and letters, and passes right by the columns (I suspect most gamers’ idea of a column is the opening warm-up editorial, sadly).

    I’m not a fan of Gillen’s writing, though I have nothing against him personally, and grant that–for good or ill–all the sites who trumpeted his NGJ “manifesto” certainly awarded him the name and tag. Again, I don’t want to come off sounding snotty there. I admire what he was trying to do (questioning the biz’s dullness), I just didn’t care much for his particular answer.

    But what you said about Carroll and Kohler, and more besides.

    And about the kind words, right back atcha Troy. You’re one of the few academics-who’s-also-a-writer that I know in the biz, and I’m tickled you’re into stuff like EU3. That’s my favorite strategy game (and Paradox, my fav strategy designer) all around.

    (Oh, and by “most” I assume the other stuff you’re referring to is some of my silly tongue-twister stuff? Yeah, that’s painful to look at. I was trying to sound like someone else, and in the absolutely wrong medium to boot!)

  • Troy

    I don’t know what to think about readers and what they read. My forte is reviewing, so if they want to read only that stuff, fine by me.

    But this list isn’t really for the average reader. I mean, it has the Escapist editor – a great choice, but no more average-gamer friendly than, say, the Jenkins/Squires column in CGM – probably less accessible. Any influence of The Escapist is not on Johnny Xbox.

  • Justin Fletcher

    Wellllllll, since Orland’s rule of thumb seems to be:

    “Top” = “Most Influence and Reach” = “Most Read”

    …I’d say *most* of the list is for the average reader. There are exceptions, but Orland admits that some are included “simply because we like them.” I’m betting that this accounts for the few chosen that aren’t in megastream media. Otherwise, the criterion seems to be primarily circulation/page hits.