The Dark Side of Video Game “Journalism”

16 Nov

I think I’ve made it quite clear in past blog entries that I enjoy playing video games, and I enjoy writing about video games equally as much. In fact, I would love nothing more than to make a career out of writing for a video game news outlet like IGN, Gamespy, or Gamasutra, among others. However, there are some aspects about gaming “journalism” that absolutely terrify me. For a little more clarity on what I’m talking about, I highly suggest reading this article (as well as the uncensored version).

What makes things even scarier is that this article, this brutally honest portrayal of the games media business, got its writer fired. Yes, Rab Florence was fired from Eurogamer for shedding some much needed light on an increasingly prevalent issue. The issue in question here refers to how advertising interferes with the need to remain objective in games “journalism.” I keep using quotes there because I can’t help but wonder whether this is really journalism or just another way to promote a product.

Students attending Stout’s Writing for the Media course will at some point read about the communications that occur between journalists and public relations specialists. They may work in similar fields, but they have very different goals in mind: journalists need to get the news out in an objective manner (at least in some cases), while the PR peeps need to advertise an upcoming event or product. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood things here, but is this not a potentially destructive conflict waiting to happen? I feel as though it already has happened for many video game publications.

The major problem with the business is that these gaming news outlets have to maintain healthy relationships with developers and publishers in order to have access to the latest games and console releases. Sometimes this results in publishers paying gaming sites to publish positive previews and reviews of their games, which strikes me as a bit of a sleazy practice.

I understand that we’re just talking about video games here. I know that in the grand scheme of things, these games don’t really matter that much. However, the gaming journalism business is supposed to be made up of writers who are truly passionate about games and who really want to keep their fans informed in an honest manner. It’s important to note that video games and their respective consoles are a very expensive investment, and if gamers are being convinced to buy lackluster products that really aren’t worth the money, then that’s cause for concern.

I also want to make it clear that I still want to pursue a career in video game journalism. I just hope I end up with a job that doesn’t interfere with my ability to share my genuine, honest opinion of video games.

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2 Responses to “The Dark Side of Video Game “Journalism””

  1. barberm0548 November 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Actually, it’s not just about video games, its about many people who spend many months, or even years, creating these. In addition, the advertising business is the livelihood of many very talented people. Don’t ever belittle yourself because people don’t understand why; furthermore, the video gaming market is BIG business, and with the talent, interest and know-how, you have the ability to be very successful!

  2. jaajohnson November 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Kind of a bummer to hear because I know many people base their buying decisions based off reviews release by video game journals/magazines. I no longer receive GameInformer, but for a long time I read reviews in the magazine to determine what titles I wanted to play. I guess I can always still look up user reviews!! …but they are probably fabricated too.

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