: How Can Video Game Journalism Get Better?

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How Can Video Game Journalism Get Better?

Two things I know to be true:

Firstly, after having produced for the newspapers, and being an avid reader of great print publications, I know video game journalism is still well behind on the quality curve. Secondly, I also know that game journalists have come a long way since the days of Nintendo Power and simple blogging.

But it remains a fact that most journalists in other industries consider game journalists to be second-class citizens in the world of writing and publishing. I understand that many of these individuals are simply behind the times, and they still think all video game journalists are teenagers just playing at journalism while living in their parents' basements. If the mainstream media is any indication, journalists who cover other venues are hopelessly clueless about this industry.

Still, we're definitely behind. So, in your estimation, what must we do to get better? I have plenty of ideas but this is more about the gamers, the readers, those who visit websites and read articles all the time. What most needs improving? How can we mature? Does it make sense to adopt strict AP-style policies, even when attempting to engage and manage a community? Does the Internet change things so drastically that "journalism" actually takes on a whole new meaning in the digital space? What do you find off-putting or disreputable in a journalist? What sites do you avoid, and which sites do you trust for your news, reviews, etc?

I have may own theories but I want to know what everyone else thinks.

9/27/2013 Ben Dutka

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Comments (27 posts)

Knightzane
Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 10:31:29 PM
Reply

Everyone should be honest about things. Like you Ben, someone who doesn't take bribes or gives a great review for a bad game just because everyone else is or something. If GTAV ended up being bad, I would have expected to see your review as one of the few telling the truth about it. No one else would dare say its bad because of the negative publicity. Its the main reason why I visit this site exclusively. I can actually count on your reviews being legit and honest.

So to answer the question, honesty and not being apart of the clique of angry gamers. Someone gives TLOU a 5, and is completely honest about the reasons why they would, and explained why its a 5 without being an obvious ploy for more views or being a fanboy of another system, than they shouldn't have to suffer raging gamers from all over.

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jjlive168
Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 11:09:50 PM

I agree someone who will give their opinion and not worry about the others if it SUCK's i want the person to bash it if that's how they feel(feel being the key word) i like honesty and i appreciate honesty let's be real the only way to succeed is to fail as you said how some journalist are paid for positive reviews if we had those people who will no matter what put a sorry game in its place because it SUCK'S we would definitely see improvements. realistically how can these developers improve on things if they don't know what their doing wrong? (so who benefits?)

I think that a person who would be out in the open voice their opinion without the restrictions that plague journalism now it would be so much more than what it is all these articles are nothing more then facts and opinions with an exception to rumors and speculation but some/most don't(dare I say all) include their "negative" opinion. why do i say that you ask? because i feel a lot of journalist fear the repercussions or the negative connotations that come from the readers but i feel if you keep it 100 people will respect you for your honesty and know that your not bias or paid up thus bringing up the quality and integrity that the journalism lacks

in short...if it is straight garbage say its garbage but back it up. if its a masterpiece say why oh and just get rid of scores all together those things are monotonous. just want to hear the opinions scores mean nothing

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Sol
Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 10:57:28 PM
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Honestly, I'd say to collaborate more in terms of the information you produce. Team up with the people you work with more and pool together your efforts. Discussions, debates, journalism is news, so BE the news, don't simply write about it. Break down the subjects you cover to allow an even deeper understanding! We have the technology, we can rebuild him!

I forgot where I was going with this...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 11:00:17 PM
Reply

The good ones who know what is going on and have their finger on the pulse of the gaming world need to be elevated to the mainstream publications.

The game journalism in newspapers and magazines that are considered "legitimate" and don't specialize in gaming is clueless most of the time about what is going on. I just read an article that completely misunderstood GTA and another that said Heavy Rain was not successful.

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Sol
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 12:00:35 AM

That's the problem though World. Can you truly call the sources of those publications valid? If anything there should be a layout.

What's new in the industry?

What is popular?

What isn't popular, but is still pretty good (the underrated)?

What is legitimately bad?

"In other news..." (Where gaming is featured in other mainstream media news, etc... (kinda like things along the line of gaming being blamed for violence, accolades and rewards involving gaming/ VGAs/ GotY, SOPA returning, anything really...)

Major industry related events (E3, TGS, VGA, Tourneys, etc...), news, and highlights.

Reviews...

Previews...

Personal Opinions and expectations...

Public Opinion and Feedback.

Also, hardcore gamers, or people you consider true,legitimate gamers being on the frontlines of your media network producing your material always helps. Unbiased opinions, and a willingness to cover EVERY game for materials... Even the bad ones, and stuff I usually wouldn't play, like sports gamez...

Last edited by Sol on 9/28/2013 12:03:48 AM

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bigrailer19
Friday, September 27, 2013 @ 11:57:20 PM
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Start focusing on the games and not the publicity. When news becomes news again and not opionionated re-hashed, and turned around stories then it will be taken more seriously.

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xenris
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 12:28:58 AM
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I think there needs to be a better way of reviewing games. A standardized system.

I just see a lot of double standards in game reviews that it starts to bug me and is what makes me check out several review sites and then look at user reviews before I make a decision, on a game I'm unsure of.

There is an element of subjectivity in reviews and in a standardized system that would be addressed properly.

For example someone who HATES RTS games, how do they accurately review an RTS? Do they review how they felt while playing it, or do they review the objective components and then just say its an 8/10 but not for me or anyone who doesn't like RTS games?

Also the mountain dew and dorito endorsements need to go away lol.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 1:32:00 AM
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One thing that I'd really like to see is a clear division in the themes being covered. What I mean by that is that rather than everything being jumbled together, the site would be laid out with consumer/entertainment-focussed news in one section, business-focussed news in another, philosophical discussions in another, and also a more clearly defined review structure. The way it is here at PSXE is actually really well done in how it always goes through the motions of graphics, sound, gameplay, control and a little bit of the story, but there a lot of sources out there that just throw the game into a pot and pick out pieces to review without giving you an idea of the whole picture.

I'd also like to see a lot less fluff. I mean, half the stuff posted on IGN or N4G is hardly news-worthy at all. Stop taking comments out of context and trying to make big news out of the most minor things and stop the flamebaiting too, it's proper ridiculous.
News should be informative and designed to make people think about the goings on in a mature way - not make them act like schoolkids because of divisiveness.

Above all else, it just needs to be remembered what journalism is, and that isn't self-aggrandisement.

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Kiryu
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 3:49:47 AM
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Start Talking about all Japanese Video Games instead of just Final Fantasy and i'll accept you as journalists

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PlatformGamerNZ
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 7:25:29 AM
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i think this site wud be one of the top along with ign and gamespot and can't say inside gaming daily and machinima are the best even if i enjoy it but yea i think auenticity like not speak with out credibility or solid sources wud be a gud start but theres room to work and improve for sure to get the main stream medias acceptance.

happy gaming =)

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Beamboom
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 9:07:53 AM
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A good start would be to begin to do actual journalism in the first place. To cite press releases and quote others texts has nothing to do with journalism, that's being a text monkey.

To quote a lecturer in journalism I had some years ago: "Journalism is about publishing something someone don't want published. Everything else is advertising."


Last edited by Beamboom on 9/28/2013 9:10:48 AM

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Underdog15
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 9:58:26 AM

I don't really like that quote. Most things aren't wanting to be punlished by everyone.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 11:08:21 AM

That's an incredibly cynical quote. And I think it's also wrong. Journalism is about bringing the news and events of the world to the people, and that of course includes reporting on press releases.

What do you think the term "press release" means, anyway?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 11:18:55 AM

That's hooey, investigative journalism that cracks open the seedy underbelly of what is going on in the world is one very small facet of the job and most journalists go their whole lives without doing that kind of reporting. We're dealing with the daily news from tightly controlled corporations and industry trends, not espionage and conspiracy. If all they did was report what people didn't want to read there'd be almost nothing to read.

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Beamboom
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 11:40:48 AM

One may call that quote cynical, but the point behind it is really very good.

A press release is a promotional text on a topic they want to media to write about, written by marketeers. It's what they want to be written about them. It is basically advertisements.

There's no principal difference between a press release and a flyer or leaflet you receive in your mail from a store in your neighbourhood.

I know this is not what those who fiddles with gaming "journalism" want to hear but I'm serious here: If video game journalists wants to be taken more seriously they gotta start being more serious themselves and stop being microphone stands. That is the answer to the question raised.



Last edited by Beamboom on 9/28/2013 1:46:36 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 12:09:47 PM

I'm sorry Beamboom, but you don't seem to understand journalism at all.

Press releases are very serious business. They exist in all venues and markets; press releases are what companies give to the press to report on news. They are only promotional by default because getting the word out can be argued as "promotion." They are NOT written as promotional or marketing material. They hold only the facts and nothing more.

And no real journalist is "cutting and pasting" that press release. They're writing an article and creating a headline based upon it.

Your lecturer sound to me like someone who isn't interested in real journalism. They're interested in editorializing and sensationalizing for the sake of attention. That is not journalism. Journalism is not entertainment. The reason the press contacts are the "least interesting" is because they aren't allowed to have an opinion; they're only divulging the facts. That's boring but it's journalism. The cardinal sin in all journalism, as anyone will tell you, is for reporters to have an opinion. They are not allowed to interpret the facts; that's up to the reader.

I have no idea why you think I or any other journalist is copying and pasting press releases. I can't imagine what would give you that idea. And I worry that journalism in your neck of the words is even worse than it is here...

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/28/2013 12:10:42 PM

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Underdog15
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 8:08:01 PM

I've done many, MANY press releases (not as a journalist, as the person making the release and giving it the journalists). I do them because we wish for the community to know what we've been up to, how a recent event went, or... get this... news on how a person connected with us might have done something newsworthy. And many other reasons, too.

It's only promotional in the sense that we want people to know that we are involved in the community or how we are involved. And sometimes, it has nothing to do with our services at all. (I work in the not-for-profit world, by the way. Not business.)

I also used to, in my last job, prepare and send out promotional material. The purposes and desired results for each were completely different. And the releases were more often than not, news the community wants to know about and otherwise would not know about due to confidentiality issues with people we support.

Besides... most press releases would be something our competition or threats don't wish to be published... soooo...... by that definition, perhaps you agree with us afterall.

Lastly, press releases are wonderful ways to ensure that the facts come from primary sources. It also gives journalists a starting point for their questions, many times. It works in everyone's best interests because journalists have a story and something to ask questions about, and the company releasing information can control when their information is released. Your method would see press releases as cheating... and a real journalist would dig to leak the info prior to a press release... even if that hurts the company's business. I don't think that's good journalism. I think that's lacking in integrity for self interest.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 9/28/2013 8:14:21 PM

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Beamboom
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 3:01:22 AM

@Ben:
Of course press releases are serious business - are you saying advertising is not?
I have worked in the media for a good share of my adult years, both in radio, TV and as journalist and later editor-in-chief for a nightlife/clubbing magazine for a full decade. You'll find me on LinkedIn if you are curious about the details. So believe you me when I say I know only too well what a press release is.

Press releases are written the way they are to appeal as much as possible to the target audience - the journalists. Just like any other advertisement is. They try to pitch the idea of an article based on their spin on that story.
Press releases are for many companies one of the most important MARKETING activities they do.

So to base an article only on a press release is - per definition - to be a microphone stand for the sender of that promotional material.

I am of the impression that you are taking this a bit too personal here, Ben. I'm not talking about this site in particular. You guys are my buddies, this is not about you. And with your working conditions on this site is basically *impossible* to do more than what you already do.

But if we lift our perspective up from this site and look at the gaming press in general, I'd characterize "gaming journalists" of today like this: A bunch of amateurs with decent writing skills.
You know I'm right.

If you want to be a "gaming journalist" today, all you have to do is ask. Even the larger gaming sites are looking for people *constantly*. And you may be offered a *paid* job without any education and very little experience, if only you can prove that you can write. In many ways it reminds me of how one hired programmers back in the 90s.

And this is the problem with gaming journalism today. They are a bunch of amateurs. They are far too easy bait for professional marketeers. And the end result is that what we find on gaming sites today are essentially the same as what we find at the respective companies own home pages. That's a huge warning sign, right there.

When did we last read anything that were based on journalistic work and not just a rephrasing of a press release (or a colleagues work)? Has any gaming journalist *ever* brought a story of some significance, revealed something noteworthy or discover anything that took some more than just reading a few sources to discover?

Not even during the turbulence around the developers of Amalur did we see *anything* but quoting of public statements! Spineless! That's the first word that pops up in my head. Utterly spineless.

And you ask how it can get better?

Last edited by Beamboom on 9/29/2013 3:56:45 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 9:17:24 PM

First of all, it is extraordinarily difficult to find PAID writing jobs in journalism. If you'd like, feel free to check the big sites and see if they have any positions open for editorial. Ten to one, they absolutely do not. The most I've seen is Associate Editor at IGN and that's about it. Right now, most sites are only hiring for technical people right now. 99% of all open writing positions for gaming journalism is still voluntary. That's a fact.

You're also missing the point. You really do seem to think that journalism is about making some sort of statement. It's about making no statement whatsoever. It's about reporting the news and nothing more. If the press releases over where you are are even remotely like marketing material, I'm sorry, but that's wrong. It shouldn't be done that way.

Furthermore, the idea that all journalists only report on press releases in this industry is beyond false. Visit Polygon, for instance. Visit GamesIndustry.biz. Visit GamePolitics. It seems to me that you're just not looking. And bear in mind that a lot of stuff these days is delivered via video content and not articles (unfortunately), which is where you find a TON of investigative journalism as members of the press interview all sorts of developers and designers.

I'm not taking this personally and I know we have a long way to go. But to imply that all game journalists are just a bunch of amateurs with decent writing skills is not only insulting, but incredibly inaccurate in this day and age. I have no idea what sites you're frequenting but they must really, really suck when it comes to actual journalism.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/29/2013 9:19:29 PM

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Brighat
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 9:26:06 AM
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Video game journalism can see marked improvement if they actually hired people who graduated in journalism when they went to college.

When video games were in their infancy, excellent journalism was featured in their video game magazines such as Electronic Games, Electronic Fun, EGM and Video Games & Computer Entertainment. Over the years, it has been degraded and now we just have people who lucked out in getting a job in San Francisco or dozens of sites with editorials taking the place of real news stories.

I have a feeling in Japan or France, video game journalism is much better than what we see in the U.S., the U.K. or Canada.

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Beamboom
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 4:01:35 AM

This is exactly it. More professionalism, get writers that actually have a journalistic education, that's an important first step.

Gaming "journalism" (and I insist on using quotes) here in Norway is not in any way better than elsewhere. It's amateurs with not even a basic education or understanding of journalism, you can get a job as a "journalist" just by asking, really.

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bigrailer19
Saturday, September 28, 2013 @ 1:10:06 PM
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After reading most of the comments here I think its clear what needs to happen. Most people are saying the same things. We need less opinions and more news. The focus needs to be on informing gamers not dilutting the news with opinions.

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Beamboom
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 4:32:28 AM

Gaming is entertainment. Let's just accept that right away. So gaming journalism is entertainment journalism. And as such, opinions are much of what entertainment "journalism" is made of. Comments on the dresses worn on the red carpet and so forth. Easily digestible fun for the masses. We need that stuff. It's fun!

But yes you are right - gaming journalism should be *more* than just that. We need to read more than stuff based on tightly controlled promotional material.

For example, I'd love to see some articles about what goes on behind the gaming scene. A lot of speculation is found everywhere, but has anyone really done any serious effort to find out what exactly goes on in;

- The timed exclusive deals with Microsoft: What exactly are those deals? What's in it for whom?

- The outing of PSN: When exactly did Sony know this would take longer than the public array of "one more week"/"one more weekend" estimates?

- Multiplat development: What was the challenges with the PS3/Cell this generation? What exactly was it that caused developer frustration? Is it possible to write such an article to be readable also for non-techies? A good journalist could!

- How is it working for a developer under the EA umbrella? They got a bad reputation - but is it really that bad, or are there other reasons for this reputation?

I mean... It's not hard to come up with ideas for really interesting, fact-based and potentially revealing articles. They are everywhere. But the best stories are *not* found in press releases!


Last edited by Beamboom on 9/29/2013 4:33:26 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 9:18:23 PM

Beamboom, entertainment journalism doesn't suddenly mean reporters are allowed to have opinion. Again, you're really getting the concepts confused here. There are NO OPINIONS IN ANY JOURNALISM, whether it's entertainment or not.

If you want to talk op-ed skills, fine. But that's an entirely different subject altogether.

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Lunar_Miyuki
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 12:41:41 PM
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now thats some of the stuff i want to see yes game reviews are nice when their not being Paid off by the Devs to give the game a good review
but you guys are usually limited to reviews E3 tokyo gameshow

we need more stuff out in the public especially in NA/EU because ill give you something you should also go into MMO journalism not the reviews or what do you think of the game but the actual support of the MMOS the companys give to the MMO compared to the Asian support the MMO gets i use the Word Asian because Korea and Japan are constantly making MMOS

im sure you guys have heard of Peefect world international but did you know it was made in Korea not japan and for quite awhile it was the Biggest F2P MMO out in the Market

though the articles id like to see or would of liked to see was Phantasy star universe receives terrible support in NA/EU and receives great support in JP

or Aeria games says the bug in Dynasty warriors online is an easy fix 1 year later the bug still isn't Fixed

or Aeria games forum Feedback poll for their support has a scale 1 to 5 1 being the worst 5 being the best and for the past few years they have received straight ones meaning terrible support for many years in a row

Nexon games keeps all their MMOS Region Locked

Sony is shutting down WKC2 servers in JP after 6 months of D3 shutting down WKC2 servers in NA/EU

but what do i know im "just considered to be just someone who want to divert traffic to other pages. So I am sorry, you are not welcome on this forum." watch me get banned for this but isn't Journalism about the facts?

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VictorDeLeon
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 12:53:16 PM
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1) journalism in general has to re-start from scratch ; everytime/where I see "journalists" talking about atrocities in the world 5000 kilometers away, it's sad for these people, but it won't affect us in any way. This is sensationalism to make people talk about anything but what's important : what's happening in our own country, there's vital information not shared and that makes us lose incredible time, how administration works, what are our rights, how we can help each other ...
2) video gaming - reviews in particular - need to re-start from scratch too. Game companies offer "gifts" to reviewers hoping for a good score for their game, sometimes even money ... And that's not the bottom of it. Game reviewers are so influenced by the biggest franchises or references, they' don't have any more fun playing. A new atmosphere, new ideas of gameplay, there are many things not related to the big frachises that can do a good game. FFXIII getting all 8+ scores? Any Call of duty scoring around 9? This is a bad joke.

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tusunami
Sunday, September 29, 2013 @ 1:29:42 PM
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It seriously needs to because these so called journalist, review games but what they say about it is very questionable. Like when just the single player is reviewed, the multiplayer doesn't count why because they don't play multiplayer. That makes no sense if a game has multiplayer that should be apart of that review.

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