Gaming Journalism Mirroring Internet Stupidity
In many ways, the Internet has been the death of intelligent, informed reporting and civilized reader interaction. It's hardly akin to a few intellectuals discussing the New York Times Book Review on a Sunday (and yes, I'm aware the Times is online). The point is, we've admitted in the past that online gaming "journalism," such at is, doesn't really qualify as pure news reporting because there's almost always some semblance of opinion infused into the articles. And this is because most sites are trying to build an interactive community and readership, which is quite different from the old-fashioned form of reporting in newspapers.
So we admit that. But something else appears to be happening. We all know about the rampant idiocy typically found in many a gaming forum online, and while most members will say it's "all in good fun" and "doesn't mean anything," there's just something wrong in the fact that you can't post in certain places for more than two minutes without seeing some insecure, socially useless individual calling someone else a fanboy or a flat-out idiot. It has gotten to the point where most such "communities" are uninhabitable for fun-loving gamers who don't have a vendetta against the world because they freeze up around girls in real life. Now, it appears as if many so-called "journalists" and gaming websites are mirroring this behavior; there seems to be an influx of "shock-jock" reporters and random hostile gamers writing over-the-top pieces of worthless trash for the express purpose of attention and traffic.
The latter fact is, obviously, yet another negative facet of the online reporting world. It's sad that such articles get any attention whatsoever but when you see the type of adolescent whining, posturing and insulting going on everywhere online, it isn't difficult to understand. But where will it end? Perhaps the bigger sites like GameSpot and IGN are now immune to this - they won't hire such people and they won't publish such pieces - but there are hundreds of other sites, and many seem to be microcosms of the aforementioned Internet stupidity. I hate to admit it, but I'm more than a little embarrassed to tell journalists I used to work with what I do...because I'm afraid they'll go online and see what "gaming journalism" is, and unfortunately, has become. The writing quality is at an all-time low, too. But I suppose nobody cares.
I would've hoped that as the industry aged and gamers aged, the journalism would conform and age as well. And I'm not saying there aren't quality, adult reporters out there; I'm merely saying they're being overrun by the smaller and medium sites, all vying for valuable traffic by trying to run an even more ridiculous article with a more eye-catching title. The "eye-catching" part wouldn't be so bad if so many gamers online didn't let their eye be caught by junk. What, you think we don't know that "PlayStation 3 Rules and You Suck" articles wouldn't get us more traffic? Sure, you'd get a lot of haters (and rightfully so) but as Gene Simmons said, there's no such thing as bad publicity. And we've done attention-getting articles in the past. But the result is highly disagreeable to us and to our community of unusually intelligent people.
Looking at it from afar, it's a little depressing. There are plenty of civil gamers out there, and plenty of capable journalists who could simply do their jobs. Opinion and thoughts of one's own may be necessary to keep an interactive readership alive, so that will indeed differ from that of traditional reporting. But beyond that, as "articles" start to look more and more like the usual forumite ranting, the less chance we have of any other journalist for any other industry taking us seriously.
7/23/2010 Ben Dutka