Gaming Culture and Changing Norms

I’m not sure if you have ever witnessed what has passed for journalism within the gaming industry...

I’m not sure if you have ever witnessed what has passed for journalism within the gaming industry, or even if you would call it journalism at all. Due to the online nature of gaming culture it has become the norm for gaming news stories to be written in a blog style, infected with sarcasm and bias. The focus of video game journalism has been to entertain first, whilst informing second. Journalists within this industry have sub-consciously thought their audience comprises solely of thirteen year old boys with short attention spans so they write short, ”fun” and bias articles to please them.

Now days, this could not be further from the truth. The average age of a gamer is now 33 years old (as is shown here). It is because of this the game journalism industry must mature as well.

Gamers love games. To an extent I’ve never seen with any other area of interest. They hold them close to the very centre of their being. So much so, that an attack on a beloved game or on games themselves is a personal attack. This could be for many reasons. One could be that when we play a game we are almost always having a different experience to someone else who has played the same game. This is never the case with any other form of entertainment (or art). Although movies, literature and music can be interpreted in many ways the consumer is always having exactly the same experience as the next person. Not so for video games. This personalizes games for the player in a unique way. What do we do with uniquely enjoyable experiences? We cherish them.

I’m writing because video game journalism is crying out for help. It’s a poor little baby left in the supermarket, a lost dog, a grandparent collapsed on the bathroom floor. This is not news. Game journalism’s immaturity has been analyzed by many people in the industry. Chris Buffa’s first attempt to determine what is wrong with game journalism was titled simply “Why Videogame Journalism sucks”. The crux of his problem with game journalism was that it doesn’t attract the best writers. Why would a talented up and coming journalist write for IGN when he/she could write for The Times, Sports Illustrated or Variety? A good point, but would like to determine what it is exactly that makes the current batch of video game news publications and “journalists” so biased and opinionated.

Gaming culture is full of opinion, which is fantastic. Nothing is better for a gamer than arguing their point of view on a particular game or industry development. It is the reason for the popularity of the blog format. However it is for this reason that game journalists are so biased. Their passionate opinions seep through the cracks and into their writing. It is our very love for video games that is damaging the way in which they are reported. Yet the readers love it, they feed off the sarcasm, the wit. It’s entertaining, yet misleading. Do we see The Times forcing their point of view on the reader? No, they respect their readership, allowing them to make up their own mind. I’ve been an avid gamer for most of my life and I have rarely seen this type of reporting in the game media. “Opinion pieces” also known as “feature articles” are passing for news reporting. Game journalism needs to evolve.