Edtiorial: Why Video Game Blogs Suck
This isn't a direct attack on any one gaming blog, nor do I intend to insult anyone who works hard at such sites. This is more of a logical observation and realization: the blog format just plain sucks for an information and content-based website.
Arnold and I were talking about this a little while ago, not long after some readers mistook PSX Extreme for a "blog." This is one of our biggest pet peeves because we are most certainly not a blog and we never will be. And after researching sources for several years in the industry, I've come to the conclusion that I absolutely despise looking for info on video game blogs. They're just awful. It's not the content or the writing (although both can be suspect in certain cases), but it's the layout; the structure that fails to deliver what anyone would call a "browser-friendly" experience. Let's face it: despite the insane popularity of the blog, what we all know - deep down - is that it's the poor man's version of a legitimate website. Any dope with a keyboard can have a blog, and that should be a clue right there... And yes, while there are more professional blogs out there now, they all still hold a similar style and it really, really, sucks.
Now, I have nothing against people writing about their own opinions, nor am I about to insult those who work diligently every day as an entertainment journalist to provide readers with what they desire. This remains true whether the venue is a blog or a website. However, can anybody honestly tell me a site like ours (or any other gaming website) is more difficult to peruse than a blog? I find that downright impossible. You can't find anything on a blog. Where exactly are the videos? ...do you have any? What about reviews or previews or features or editorials or whatever? Even if you do have them, they can oftentimes be extraordinarily difficult to find. I'm willing to bet that new visitors will simply give up after a few minutes of scrolling down...and scrolling down...and scrolling down...and finding very little. Post a picture, a snippet of an article, a link to the source, and bam, you have a blog. I'm not in the least bit impressed.
It's a particularly bad format for the world of video games. There are more than a few different pieces of content that gamers are looking for on a daily basis, and without a standard website format, they're going to go wanting. It's not just about news or other quick pieces of content tossed up there in a linear fashion, one after the other like they're lining 'em up for a firing squad. It's about providing your readers with as much as they could want in one place, without having to bounce around to other sites. This is - or should be - the purpose of a successful website, and I know we go out of our way to keep things diverse and fleshed-out. Sure, we lack in a few areas here and there; I'm perfectly willing to admit our shortcomings, especially when no game site is perfect. We can all improve in a variety of different areas, but in my opinion, there's only one way to improve a gaming blog: overhaul the whole damn thing, step out of the trendy but impractical, and rejoin the rest of the functioning, useful Internet in regular website land.
Lastly, I think it's very difficult to be in the least bit professional on a video game blog. The articles are rarely full pieces, there's a whole lot of subjectivity and bias injected into the updates, and the entire format just looks low-rent. I completely understand the idea of creating a good community, and many would argue that blogs allow the readers to become more intimately acquainted with the writers and with other viewers. I actually used to believe this until we started to create a great community here with our Comments section. We know many of our avid readers and they know us, and that's probably more than most any gaming blog can claim. So in the end, I fail to see any benefit of the blog format whatsoever; all I see are negatives and downsides. The bottom line is that I find them to be a waste of a reader's time. Again, no offense to those who frequent the gaming blogs out there, but come on...what is the attraction?
11/5/2008 Ben Dutka