Game journalists – we have a job (or side-job) that many other people would kill for, but some of us are still very immature about it all. What can be said and done about all of this? Read on!
So I was going to make this a personal blog post, but then I remembered, this is my website! I’ll post about whatever, and hey, it is game related.
If you aren’t involved in the industry, let’s break it down. We fall into two categories: an established site filled with editors who are full-time and freelancers, and independent sites who run it all on the side with actual real-life jobs. Either way, in the wide spectrum, we are all reviewing video games. Let’s break it down more though. Within all of these sites are people who either: receive 99% of their games from companies to review, receive no games to review and have to buy their games, or have a mixed assortment. In case you’re curious, this site is a mixed assortment.
Now, in terms of people, there’s bound to be jealousy, it’s just something that happens. Some sites cannot get nearly enough hits to get a game to review. On top of that, you may receive a game to review, but you may be under an embargo that another website, mainly a site like IGN, doesn’t have to abide by because of exclusivity of the review.
[THIS REVIEW SUCKS!!]
We wrapped up all of that, let’s move to the problems. If you’ve been around the block as a gamer on the internet, you know all about the fanboy-ism. How some people are bias against a website or a console, and as a result they will go out of their way to whine and complain about said bias. The issue here though, lies within the journalists, since they have a bias also. We, as journalists, have an image to uphold. We are here to give our opinion and talk to the followers about our ideas of the game industry. We are not here to be constantly at ends.
To be honest, this is a competitive industry. Let’s go off on a tangent, though. While a bunch of us independent sites struggle to get a leg up on an article or what-not, the bigger companies can get it with a blink of an eye. An example can be found on YouTube. People like RoosterTeeth who have monopolized the achievement videos on YouTube have made it incredibly hard for anyone else to even post their help video. Another example is iJustine’s new video game channel. She has one introduction video posted not long ago, yet, she had partnership before even making that video. Whereas I can’t even get approved for partnership, so in order for me to get a video to be seen to the masses, I have to literally be the first to post it. I have it easy too, let’s take in my Limbo walkthrough. I got the game a few days early to produce a review for it, I took it as an opportunity to make it more than that. So I posted my walkthrough the morning the game was out, the first video being posted about 5 AM Pacific Time (I was under embargo for review, so of course I couldn’t go any earlier). My video edged out the second video by an hour. After a day, I was the number one most watched walkthrough. If you also haven’t noticed, a guides editor at IGN, asked if it was cool if they could use it and give me credit, I said sure, I like IGN, why not? So that it is even up there as seen here. What happens though? MahaloVideoGames comes in and get their video featured a day later and nearly kicks me off the chart. What the hell? I went through all this work to try to get up to the top, but still Mahalo was able to get their video to show up on top of mine on the search list. Remember what I said though, I still had the game early, so what does that mean for a person not as lucky as me? They’re worse off.
[How I looked after I wasn't number one on YouTube.]
That problems lies on YouTube’s side, but also on the monopolization of big sites. As a result any kid who wants to do his thing and post his thoughts, these sites take up everyone. I can’t argue though, it’s business. It’d be stupid to not take that opportunity. What does this lead to? Well, what we started off with, a split in how journalists feel. If you made the review that knocked off a fellow journalist off YouTube’s list, it’ll be hard to start a conversation with him outside of the job, naturally.
Personally, of course if I could work for a bigger site I would take that chance up in an instant. I like IGN, I was a part of GameSpot’s forums back in the day. We’re all people and they are just doing their job that keeps them alive. Though, I find some people, like RoosterTeeth annoying for that point. I like their guides, they are made with great quality. I still check them out time to time, but it’s hard for anyone to get their voice heard.
[I feel like this button is actually on the keyboard.]
This trouble really gets stupid with immature people picking apart other people’s work. Going on right now is an image of Greg Miller’s (PS3 editor at IGN) Dead Space 2 review. IGN had the exclusive review, which already has red flags all over it in terms of jealousy, but let’s move along. I’m not going to post the image, since it’s really disrespectful in my eyes to write over someone’s work like you are their professor, even though they already graduated from college and obviously have the skills to actually be employed as an editor. Regardless of how you feel about the site, it’s out of line. I’ll describe it though; it has red marks all over, picking apart the review sentence by sentence. There are definitely problems with it. I find errors on a ton of reviews. Everyone makes them and a lot of people let them slide. Miller admitted to making mistakes on it, which should be fine, you get what you get out of the review. Which, side note, half the people whining never actually read reviews, they just go to score and move on. But anyway, the person correcting the review starts pointing out unnecessary changes. Such as saying “original” is not good enough, apparently when you say that you think the alpha version of the sequel. Miller’s use of “pimped-out weapon” at the end is pointed out also, which here it is, phrases like that are an attempt to make the review sound human. If he were to say “super weapon” or “big weapon,” there’s no personality. The person heading this correction is obviously in the industry and more so, possibly just at ends with IGN for their exclusive review.
These people continue with investigation. Some readers will go as far as to dig in the reviewers achievements to see how they progressed through the game. Here’s the deal, first, it’s totally possible to see how the game will end up in the first hour. Second, if you don’t trust the reviewer, don’t read their review. Remember, no site is ever bias. Every site is compiled with people with different tastes. Go to a different site and read their review. Hell, go on YouTube, type in “God of War 3 review” and go back a page or two and listen to that person give their view. No site is bias. Anyone who thinks IGN is bias for the 360 obviously never heard Podcast Beyond, or heard about the ex-head Xbox editor going with the PS3 as their main console, or heard how everyone on there shrugs off Halo: Reach as “just another Halo.”
In essence, game journalism hasn’t really progressed passed the followers that read the content. While a lot of work needs to be put in to make the game world less focused on bigger websites, a lot of journalists need to keep their mind in check. If you listen to various podcasts, you’ll see a lot of editors are exactly like you. Some do like to gloat about their site’s progress, which can be disheartening, but it happens so rarely that it’s easy to shrug off. We need to get over our grudges, and do what we set out to do, review and inform about games to our fans. Since it’s all very embarrassing to the rest of us who want to actually do this without getting laughed at by reviewers in other forms of media. If you’re a follower and will continue to pick and pry the game journalism world, then quit wasting time whining about big sites and go promote a smaller reviewer on YouTube. Who knows? Maybe they could just be the next editor at Kotaku, giving you something worth reading about.
A - Top notch and stellar. This game accomplished everything that it set out to do and then some.
B - Great! A game worthy of a B means it is a requirement for any gamer to get. Only slight set backs seem to hit a game like this.
C - Games that get a C rating are good. They may not be great. They may not be fantastic. They are fun, interesting, and worthy of a play-through.
D - Average. Sometimes games play it too safe, sometimes they don't step out of their bubble, and sometimes they have too many problems. But they are playable and you may still find fun. Those games deserve a D.
F - Don't play this. The game failed in what it was trying to do. It's not fun and it's not compelling. The game may or may not be playable, regardless, if it has an F, it's probably safe to say you shouldn't play it.