Thursday, February 02, 2006

Video Games Journalists Hold Breath, Get Blue in the Face

In yet another case of Gaming Journalistic giants collision, Kyle Orland from the VGMwatch comments on a comment made by 1UP's John Davison.
In a column with a dozen or so 2006 predictions, Davison writes 'Games journalists will stop writing "the thing that's wrong with games journalism" musings, and start actually fucking doing something about it.' To which Orland replies '... But just because you’re yelling at the wind doesn’t mean you aren’t, on some level, yelling at yourself at the same time ... I think anyone who complains about game journalism has to reflect, at some point, on how their own writing measures up to the ideals they’re espousing.'

And to which I say: Stop splashing in your pond and call it a tsunami.
Why is it that I don't see movie critics release article after article about "state of Movie Journalism", even though a huge percentage of written material about movies is based on, or is promotional releases? We've seen those "interviews" which made of dozens of reporters waiting in line to get 15 minutes out of a half-asleep actor/director/whatever, then blowing it up to a full, three pages, front page article. So what, goes the communal opinion, we all know the rules of the game.

The movie "reports" are almost entirely PR in disguise, the interviews are mostly fake, and the gossip/rumours is at the bottom of the yellow barrel, but the movie reviews are mostly independent, free of commercial dictation, and true to the opinion of the critic. It might not be a fair tradeoff, but nobody really cares. In fact, of the whole loop, those receiving the short end of the stick are the critics, probably for not taking place in the whole charade. Not surprising, as movies are supposed to entertain. So we get an entertaining total package of marketing bliss, occasionally marred by the odd spoil-sport critic. These are the rules of the game.

The same could be said about the music journalistic world, while acknowledging the differences, not in favour of objectivity, or commercial free reporting, as music reporters exist almost solely on record-company-paid trips to live shows and events, music critics are bombarded with free material and are often over-saturated with new releases, the radio playlists are almost exclusively dominated by but commercially promoted material, you get the drift. It's all a huge festival centred on one common trait: create hype for your latest release and shove it into music buyers' pockets.

But that's the whole point isn't it?
Getting all high and mighty about Video Games Journalism is just ignoring the fact that this is a commercial media, not a philanthropic one. Everyone's out to make money, a fact no New Gaming Journalism manifesto can change. It's time to get on with the show, the way you do with every other popular media. Find the writers you like, ignore those you dislike, etc. It gets us more glittering events coverage and better "Hollywood" chic, but it means almost everything you see is free advertising. Sort of like politics.


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