ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Tim

What's Wrong With Games Journalism

1st July 2005

I was reading the interweb a few months ago in the midst of the New Games Journalism ‘revolution’. (an event which involved an American residing in Japan inserting Mario key chains into his rectum...or so I hear) when I came across an article that was gaining some notoriety. Now this particular article was a list of things wrong with the current state of video games journalism. It was a good list with many points I agreed with: scores, editorial bribing, EA games etc, and criticising something is always healthy (although criticising this article may be bad for your health, Janet).

However, it missed the biggest problem of them all, the sole reason that Games Journalism has landed in a big stale pool of cuss (allegedly). A problem so obvious only self-proclaimed “Video Games Journalists” could miss it and, methinks, they ignore it on purpose for they know the truth.

The problem with video games journalism is that it’s written by Video games Journalists.

Yeah, that’s right, the problem with video games journalism lies with the people that write it. It’s not too ridiculous an idea is it?

Y’see, back in the days when you could load a cassette tape into your console of choice, go downstairs, have your tea and come back up half an hour later to find that the “fucking thing’s crashed when it’s supposed to have loaded fucking Batman!!” video games journalist had a simple job: recommend either game A B or C to their loyal, over zealous readers. It was cushty. They’d play the game, love it and tell you how much so in the form of a percentile, knowing full well the readers’ needs when it came to gaming. You’d then buy game C, load it up and then spend the weekend trying to get out of the fucking Batcave. Brilliant.

Now fast forward some 15 years and games have evolved. We have celebrity endorsed sport sims; MMORPGS that require you to quit your job to fully enjoy them; racing games that are designed for 20 minute bursts before going out; post modernism in the form of WarioWare and Viewtiful Joe; and works of art such as Ico. But, (shock horror!) that same old review strategy just doesn’t seem to work anymore, yet...hang on…why do we still get it forced down our throats?

I’ll tell you why, because it’s not for us, the people with every console they can fit under the TV; the people who use words like generic, first, person and shooter in the same sentence; the people know what a polygon or teraflop is and who scoff when EA announce the revolutionary ‘first touch system’ on the “new” FIFA “game”. It’s for people who think that the new FIFA game is swell, and the only choice they feel they need to make each month is out of the new FIFA, Burnout or NFSU instalments and fair play to them.

So what do we the more enlightened (although these days, if you ask me, ignorance is bliss) gamer have in the way of gaming coverage? We have the damn internet! And we should be glad. What better way to get recommendations on games than in the form of forums, blogs and fansites full of fat, sweaty, similar minded people? People who share a similar lifestyle to you and who have the same amount of time to play games.

Now, admittedly, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff but, hell, you like games right? You like them enough to import ‘Over The Top Generic Japanese RPG Densetsu’ from overseas for more money than it’s worth and in a language you don't understand right? Then surely this should be a simple task for you. Hell, if you’re a forum regular anywhere games-related than congratulations: your work is done.

So what’s my point after this rant? If you’re the sort of guy that complains that XPlay magazine gave ‘Jimbo Fucks Up 4: The Search For Humiliation’ eight stars out of ten instead of the clearly deserved seven or, hell, even complain that XPlay magazine shouldn't even use stars and should use a percent system or EVEN that they shouldn’t even have scores then, sorry, but you care too much. So much so that this magazine is not for you.

So leave games journalists and games journalism alone. For the work they do is not meant for you. Those poor bastards don't have the time to obsess over games as much as you and if they do they certainly don't have the time to write about it in as much detail. You spoilt fat geek, have your (our) internet and be gone.

Chances are you don't agree with this article, if so great, I’ll see you on the forum where I can tell you you’re wrong.