Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Games Journalism

A new game is coming out in two weeks and I’m a student who’s practically broke but wants to play a new game. How do I justify buying a new game..?

Well usually people resort to a vast collection of text, reviews, commentary and video on games to decide whether or not a game is good to buy. Over the past few years, games have become a massive entertainment industry resulting in many people interested from different backgrounds. I remember when I was young and people considered me to be either geeky or a nerd for playing video games. Today it’s not so much since many people from famous to a kid in a basement are playing them. You can therefore imagine how much media can be churned around the very topic of games. Games journalism has become as popular as music and film journalism.

Who writes game journalism and why?
Well to put it bluntly, everyone can write games journalism but for different reasons. Magazine companies and websites are the main body of people who seem to contribute the most to journalism on games. As mentioned before, people don’t rely on the front cover and back brief on a game. For me, the front cover will only make me want to find out more about the game before I buy it. Where do I look? Well the Internet is one of the main places to find reviews for games since many websites are dedicated to presenting correct information about a game. Some websites do however exaggerate the overall perspective of a game just to make the game sell, but then again these are only a few sites that are mainly written by the general public who are usually fans of the game they are writing for. What I have noticed in the past is that games magazines tend to try and sell the games they are writing about where as magazines for teenagers and entertainment tend to give an overall review on the game without trying to over sell. The only problem with entertainment magazines other than the small section for game reviews, is that they mainly write about games that have reached media attention e.g. Gears of War, Call of Duty, Fallout, Brain Training, Nintendogs, Wii Sports and Halo. These games captured media attention and were displayed on bus stops, bill boards, buses, taxis, magazine pages, newspapers, websites and some even had a TV commercial. It’s very difficult to find a good single source for reviews since they will always portray an individuals singular opinion. I find it better to find other sources that are usually readily availible over the internet.

The New Games Journalism concept is a good concept when it comes to entertainment. Generally they make good reading material but don’t often sell the game or affect the overall outcome of the game. The content is loosly based on games and deviates onto other topics. Certain examples of journalism have proved to be effective for getting more people to play the game in topic but there are too few of them. Other forms such as Zero Punctuation from “Yahtzee” for the Escapist Magazine, break the boundary between selling games and just entertainment based journalism. Zero Punctuation release a short video on the latest game and review the good points and mainly bad points of the game. It’s done in a harsh way but often the points made are relevant to gameplay, visuals and storyline. This can affect wether or not you buy the game. Over all the best form of journalism for me is video jounalsim, similar to zero punctuation but also including interviews with gamers and design teams, demos and gameplay footage.

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