onsdag 7. mars 2012

Game journalism

I am so behind on myself I might as well bury myself in concrete. 

So game journalism. 

I’ve never cared much about games journalism. There wasn’t much of it available when I was younger, or maybe it was but I didn’t have acces to it. The only instance I can remember is receiving a copy of the Nintendo magazine, being handed out in the local Burger King as a sort of marketing campaign I suppose. I’ve probably read more game journalism in the past year than the entire rest of my life.

Along with gaming becoming more and more normal and accepted as part of our lives and cultures, it is not unusual to see game journalism in the regular newspapers. In the Norwegian net newspaper I read daily, dagbladet.no, I could find three video-game related news on the front page today. Even in the middle of massively important events as the court case against the Utoya-murderer, the newspaper finds it relevant to write about Sim City, Mass Effect, and Molyneux leaving Lionhead. Maybe because people need to think about other things.

Mostly you see game reviews, sometimes developer interviews, and less frequently, news about the industry’s hardware developers and the working conditions in their factories. It’s not just an issue within the games industry, really, but workers in cheap-labour countries live in such hideous conditions that they feel they have to use such drastic measures as mass suicide to threaten their employers into treating their workers like actual human beings, as this example from a Microsoft factory. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/11/world/asia/china-microsoft-factory/index.html This, to me, is important, meaningful news.

Any opinionated prat can sit down and write a game review and have it published, so I am sceptical about letting a review guide my opinion on a game that I haven’t played myself. I’d rather judge the game from watching game play videos than read a game review about it before deciding to purchase it or not.

Game reviewers are subjective, and they have to be, really. What you like and why you like it is very subjective. A good game reviewer, I think, is someone who can understand the demographic of a game and try to perceive the game from their point of view. Like if I was going to write a game review about a game like Viva Pinata I would try to view the game keeping in mind that it’s a game that should be suitable for young children. The tone of the game and the non-existing difficulty-level of the game is grating on me, but for a child it is probably a good thing.

Sometimes game reviewers are extremely subjective and offensive for the sake of entertainment, such as that guy who does those yellow stick man videos while talking super fast. I don’t like him, I can’t understand what he says.

So I’m not such a big fan of game reviews. But I absolutely love reading interviews with developers. I follow my favourite studios on facebook, and sometimes they’ll link to interviews in news sites or just interviews they’ve done themselves. Now such journalism isn’t critical journalism but more a self-advertisement sort of thing, but it is still interesting to read about actual game developers and what they think and do and say. Irrational games, for example, do a Featured Employee ocassionally, with mini interviews with their workers. I like these, it’s very cool to read about the very different roles people have in the game industry. http://irrationalgames.com/studio/featured-employees/ Though I probably wouldn’t read them if I weren’t already a fan of their games, like I wouldn’t be very interested in reading interviews with the people who developed, say, any generic FPS game. 

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