When’s the last time you read Game Informer? Have you gone onto IGN lately to read current reviews or follow the current gaming news? If you actually have done one of those things recently, I have to wonder why. I’m not a big proponent of social media, but why not just go on Twitter and search the game you’re wondering about and see what people think? Of course it could be nothing but memes1, so why not use YouTube in that case? People have made entire careers out of recording themselves reviewing video games; it’s much easier for you to interact with the creators this way as well, or at the very least, in the comments section with other random people who may have just randomly stumbled across the video.
Video game journalism, as an industry, has long been plagued with conflicts of interest and a plethora of questionable ethical decisions. It’s why we’ve gotten to the point where Screen Rant and CBR has basically become WatchMojo; quantity over quality. Independent video creators and meme threads on Twitter provide so much more entertainment to people while sometimes offering a differing perspective as well. This is in stark contrast to the band of journalists who essentially waged war against a majority of video game fans by labeling them as sexist, racist, etc., while also stating it consisted primarily of alt-right white men. The reality is, most people don’t really care about looking into the personal politics of the people who develop video games, they’re usually just playing a game for the sake of playing a video game. Wikipedia itself denigrates gamers on its own page on video game journalism2, implying that someone who runs a blog with a passion and understanding of an intellectual property is somehow less valuable then someone who finds a way to use a large company to inject ideas garnered from their social and political thought classes.
However, Wikipedia also has a link3 to an article written in 2003 about the shady business ethics involved in video game journalism. I do wonder how surprised casual gamers would be if they could see a decade in the future and discover not only have these issues intensified but have split off into warring against politically motivated journalists as well. Dean Takahashi’s controversial struggle during the Cuphead tutorial was a lightbulb moment for many who were told for years that gaming journalists were usually not talented in the actual medium, and YouTubers have made many a video4 about how many modern game journalists haven’t finished a game before posting a biased review. Never mind even finishing it, some of them go into a game and specifically look for political issues to be upset about, and then criticize said game for not providing a way around the issues, which is usually something that can’t be separated from the game, like the main plot. This is a stark contrast to the 2003 article that only once mentions how companies used to hire outside journalists so that their own writers wouldn’t criticize a game too harshly, and I doubt those writers a decade ago were complaining about anything other than core gameplay issues and their own subjective opinions on them.
Becoming someone who gets paid to talk about or play video games is a reality in today’s tech-based climate. It’s a dream many kids had growing up, myself included, and to see the industry steer into a direction where people slowly start tuning out the companies who cover these games; honestly, it’s a thrill. It’s almost as if the gaming community had to go back to the early days when word-of-mouth was the sole marketer of a game’s quality. Of course, that means a more in-depth and engaging experience today with live streams and game playthroughs on YouTube instead of reading a fan magazine, but it’s still something made for video game fans, created by video game fans. I haven’t read an IGN article or asked my friends what critics thought of the newest game we’re playing in a long time, and that’s a good thing.
- Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing
- It may be taken down eventually, but under the independent subsection of the history section on Wikipedia’s video game journalism page, they had the sentence, “While many independent sites take the form of blogs (the vast majority in fact, depending on how low down the ladder you look), the ‘user-submitted’ model, where readers write stories that are moderated by an editorial team, is also popular.” Make of that what you will.
- USC Annenburg – 4/10/2003 – Ethics in Video Game Journalism
- Youtube/Weaponized Nerd Rage – 2/5/2019 – Game Journalism At Its Worst