Games Journalism is Quietly Improving
Journalism in video games hasn’t had much to write home about the past few years (pun intended). Gaming outlets, for the longest time, only seemed to focus on what’s big and what’s trendy, foregoing the smaller more intimate stories the industry has to offer. When a new game releases, it’s not uncommon to see a major gaming outlet’s front page literally covered in stories about that game. Of course, that’s all in the name of gathering as much traffic as you can from Search Engine Optimization.
The major outlets are doing their job, of course. They’re offering you all the coverage you could ever want or need on the games you play the most. But, it’s not exactly what I’d define as journalism in the games industry.
When working at OnlySP, we were pretty much spoon-fed the news that we needed to cover. Publishers and PR firms would send us press releases about upcoming games and we’d paraphrase and post it up as news. We’d sift through Twitter looking for little details about games you might find interesting. But it wasn’t journalism, and most sites do the same things we did.
That’s not to mention all of the graphics comparisons, console or game X is better than console or game Y, and all of the other junk that you can plainly see was written/produced just for hits. This content seemingly drowned out anything of real value, and it’s a big part of the reason I decided to move on from OnlySP.
Interestingly enough, not long after leaving OnlySP some glimmers of hope started to show up in the industry. A couple sites that I have regularly started to follow thanks to some great work they’ve been producing is Glixel, Waypoint and, of course, Danny O’Dwyer’s new start-up, NoClip.
These projects are a far cry from what we’ve come to expect in regards to games journalism. They’re much more focused on providing regular features and interviews over focusing on the smaller news stories in the industry that most gamers can now get through their Twitter feeds, NeoGAF, Reddit or the publishers themselves. That’s not to say they don’t cover news or produce other content like listicles and opinion pieces, but it’s much less the focus and more supplemental to their content.
These newer sites that are springing up seem to be the next generation of gaming outlets. Following the closure of many well-known sites like Computer and Video Games (folded into GamesRadar), Joystiq, 1UP…the list goes on, it seems the industry has finally realized you need to differentiate yourself to survive, especially in the written space.
Not to mention the fact that people do want real journalism within the games industry. Danny O’Dwyer’s NoClip is what really drove this home for me. O’Dwyer is making over $20,000 a month to go out and tell people’s stories from within the gaming industry. He’s living the dream of a games journalist and if my team and I have taken notice, you can bet your ass that others have taken notice as well.
They’ve taken notice that people want to hear and see these stories. They’ve taken notice that it’s financially viable to spend the time producing real journalism from our industry. They’ve taken notice that you don’t have to write or produce complete bullshit to survive.
It’s not the standard yet, but if this trend continues…it just might be a few years down the road from now and I couldn’t be more excited about that.
Two great stories you should read from Waypoint and Glixel – The 63-Year-Old Retiree Who Broke A Game Looking for The End of the World | What It’s Like To Be An Iranian Game Creator in Trump’s America