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Untitled Rant About Game Journalism

pauljeremiah

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Jun 7, 2007
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Will anyone read this thread? (It has too many words and not enough pictures). Does anyone read video game magazines anymore? (Every article in them wants and tries to be a meal, not a McNugget). Is anyone reading video game journalism these days? (It lacks the punch, the clips, the thumbs). Can anyone still read? (These days, it's more fun and less work just to watch.)

I've started to notice over the past while that video game reviews are becoming less and less important unless it's a positive one where the publisher can slap a quote on the box.

When I was growing up the late '80s, and early 90's all we had been magazines for all our gaming information. We would love seeing a new issue of CVG, Offical Nintendo Monthly, Arcade, ACE or Zzap! hit the shelves so that we could take one home and devour all the information that lay within.

From reading previews and reviews of games that I would probably never own, due to my young age and lack of income at the time. There was something in there that I find hard to put my finger on. Maybe it was just a lack of options at the time, and since we had such a limited source of information, we ate up what we could and as much as we could.

With the advent of the online gaming community, we got instant information. Breaking news as it happened, podcasts, online exclusive previews and reviews. It felt like the door to the sweet shop had been opened, and everyone was invited in.

My first significant experience with a gaming community was at 1UP.com. I wrote a blog there, and for about four years was pretty active on the site. I made friends with a lot of the staff and users of the site and remain in touch with most of them. It was like a mini family outside my family.

I love podcasts; I just love it when people sit around and talk about games the way people would discuss art, literature, plays, movies and music. To me, it gave my hobby a form of respect and legitimacy. I learned how to talk about and discuss games from listening to podcasts. Yet when I would speak to friends who didn't listen to them about games, the conversation would rarely go past a superficial level. From saying the graphics look great, or it plays well and not much else.

When I would ask them what sites or magazines they would read they would list off the usual names of websites like Gamespot, IGN, Game Trailers etc and they would always quote what the game scored, and not much else. "The game got a 9 on IGN so it must be good!" I remember a friend saying to me about a game I wasn't too interested in.

When did the long-form review die? Did it even exist in the first place? Now it's all copy and paste paragraph topics, one about the graphics, one about the sound, one about the online, one about the setting/story and then a score at the end. Which is all anyone looks at or cares about? I remember when CGW back in the day got rid of the scores on their reviews and people wrote in to complain and that they should bring them back. I'm an avid reader of the film magazine Sight & Sound, and they don't use review score, and I find that it makes you read the review and take it in more.

I would love to see a day when review scores are a thing of the past. The vast majority of people already know if they're going to buy a game or not before they read a review. Or do people use review scores just to justify their gaming pre-orders?

I would love to see a website do a post mortem on games, four to six weeks after a game is released and all the hype is gone. We could have an in-depth discussion and review of the game. But then again, who would ever read this? Would people already be on to the next big game? Maybe podcasts could be the answer. Have an in-depth critical discussion on a game as a whole after it comes out? Would be interesting to try, but I not too sure if many websites would see the point in doing this. I think Giantbomb used to do it, but I'm not sure if they do anymore.

Maybe I'm looking too far back with rose-tinted glasses and wish for better days in video game journalism then watching instant reaction YouTubers play a game, and see them add nothing to the conversation or community.

Apologies for this rant, but I just don't fast food journalism to be the only option at the dinner table.

Thoughts?
 

Zefah

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Jan 7, 2007
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It's an industry that has basically become obsolete by Internet communities and YouTube/Twitch.

From reading previews and reviews of games that I would probably never own, due to my young age and lack of income at the time. There was something in there that I find hard to put my finger on. Maybe it was just a lack of options at the time, and since we had such a limited source of information, we ate up what we could and as much as we could.

It's precisely because you had no other options that you valued it so much. Access media is only valuable to its audience if access is restricted. Access is wide open in 2020 and has been for about a decade now. Many companies do a far better job showing off their products to potentially interested consumers than smug manchild "journalists" who always try to take a negative angle to differentiate themselves or signal their virtue to other sad people who also hate their lives and are looking for someone to blame.

If you want more information, you can always turn to YouTube or forums and you will find someone doing deep dives on whatever niche you may be interested in for free. It may not be polished, but it's likely to be better information than anything you'll get from a professional outlet. You can also just turn to Twitch or some other streaming site and see people playing it live, and even ask them questions, or watch archived videos to get a feel for it.

Professional games journalism is just unnecessary and pointless. It's why every site basically turned to more personality-driven stuff and basically became "influencers" in order to attempt to survive.
 
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godhandiscen

There are millions of whiny 5-year olds on Earth, and I AM THEIR KING.
Mar 15, 2007
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I never enjoyed game reviews for anything beyond the informative aspect of them. At a time when video play throughs and technical analyzes are abundant, reviews have become worthless to me.
Over the years, I realized that a reviewer’s experience with a game is seldom representative of my experience with said game, therefore, I started consuming less content with opinions on the game and more objective content such as video play through and technical analysis to make my own decisions. Also, platforms like game pass have been a godsend in this regard. Now I get to try the games before I purchase them if I need to. If I really need a review to convince myself to pick up a game on day one, perhaps I don’t want the game badly enough.

I enjoy discussions about the game industry, technology, design trends and the business aspects, which is why I visit GAF. However, the reviews could cease to exist and I wouldn’t notice.
 
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Vyse1800

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Jul 4, 2020
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I smelled something bad reading a eurogamer review about five years ago. Ever since then I gave up. A couple of minutes of a youtube review is all I bother with for the most part.
 

Bartski

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Jan 15, 2020
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game reviews will never go away because a large number of people have no ability to formulate their own opinions without feedback and simply have no idea if they like something or not until someone they trust explains to them how they should feel about something.
 
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-Arcadia-

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Aug 20, 2019
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Unfortunately, intellectualism in entertainment or media is dying, or being killed. I should say culture, actually.

I know exactly what you mean, and yearn for those days where reading a wonderful review or piece about the game, was almost as entertaining as the game itself.

Sadly, you're most likely to read it from an unemployed fan doing it for fun these days, or people that do long-form awesome stuff on YouTube (Check out Game Maker's Tool Kit), and it's not easy to find.
 
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bender

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I would love to see a website do a post mortem on games, four to six weeks after a game is released and all the hype is gone. We could have an in-depth discussion and review of the game. But then again, who would ever read this? Would people already be on to the next big game? Maybe podcasts could be the answer. Have an in-depth critical discussion on a game as a whole after it comes out? Would be interesting to try, but I not too sure if many websites would see the point in doing this. I think Giantbomb used to do it, but I'm not sure if they do anymore.

I always thought this was an interesting idea but clicks rule the business and I know sites of dabbled with this, so I'm guessing the lack of prominence means there was no ad revenue to be found. There are also a shit ton of new games coming out every week and staff resources are limited, so you are always going to go with new releases over games that are a year old. I still think it's a fun idea to look back at something after all the patches are in place. Think about Days Gone at launch versus the state of the game now. Where this is really interesting to me is for a group like Digital Foundry. They've covered some games post pre-release/launch (Doom on Switch, Witcher 3) but boy do I wish they had the resources for even more of this type of coverage. With Far Cry 3 on sale for $2.99 recently, I checked out their video and read comments. I know the game has been patched a few time since then and it's hard to get a grasp of the state of the game as it sits today.

The prominence of independent content creators and the rise of video coverage has really sapped my interest in traditional outlet written coverage or podcasts. It's just easier to see a random person playing a game and hearing their thoughts on it and drawing conclusion from that, rather than reading an article or scrubbing through a podcast for things that interest you. It also has the knock-on benefit of being able to see how the player is performing. *insert Gamespot SpongeBob reference here*.
 
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Shai-Tan

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There used to be in the 2000s more serious, philosophical critiques of games and what games could be imitating some of the more thoughtful film criticism but none of that sells anymore unless it's punched up into a YouTube format with jokes and whatnot (some of it is good). When social media became popular blogs died for similar reasons.
 
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BDubsLegend

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Sep 20, 2017
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Nah I ain't reading all that shit with your "Iamverysmart" intro. But whatever you're blabbing about could probably be solved by reading reviews from many sources and doing research. The days of reading reviews from once source and getting the full picture never existed. You were just too naive to realize it. Also a game review (purchase decision) and a critique (how successful the game is at it's goals) are two different things and take different amounts of time and analysis. Ex more text,longer videos to do proper.
 

ZehDon

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Jun 13, 2013
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The OP is less about "games journalism" and more about "damn the 90s were cool, eh?".

Anyway, let's see where this goes:

The people who are in the games journalism arena writing about video games are typically the ones who have to settle for parroting PR statements and asking soft-ball questions to which ever publisher has paid for advertising space on their site.

Look around - the people who have real insight, real understanding, and real passion for Video Games don't work for Polygon, IGN, Kotaku, or Eurogamer. Anyone who shows a sliver of talent for those publications eventually leaves and forms their own content channel somewhere else. And, frankly, why wouldn't they? They're off making money for themselves on YouTube, Patreon, and other platforms, where they can control what they say and how they said it. They're putting their talents to work themselves.
In this regard, video games are ahead of other mediums by a good margin. The result of this exodus of talent is that the "cultural gatekeepers" for this medium are just the ones who can't stand on their own talents by themselves. They're the second string - the B team. This results in there being not one professional working for a video game publication whose critiques, analysis', or think pieces can match Noah Caldwell-Gervais or Matthew Matosis. Period. And I'll take virtually any YouTuber's review over a professional review, because the person who made that YouTube review has a higher chance of being more honest, less pretentious, more insightful, and simply better able to communicate their view point in comparison.

The best written, most thoughtful, and most relevant reviews aren't included in the Metacritic score. The best long form critiques aren't published by professional publications. The most meaningful insight into this medium and its future aren't going to come from those who have to tell you how deep a game is in one article, and then put out a "Top 10 [Meaningless filler content]" video and another "Social Outrage" story that same day.

The talent left games journalism to make names for themselves. What's left are just those who can't open the door out.
 
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