Why Gaming Journalists Will Never Be Taken Seriously
See this picture? This an inside look at the mentality of so-called adults masquerading as gaming journalists on the Internet these days.
If we want to make any sort of headway whatsoever; if journalists in this industry want to earn even the tiniest sliver of respect from journalists in other entertainment venues, things need to change. Rapidly. A bunch of kids - or 30-year-olds acting like children - running their own blogs and playing pretend, are not journalists, and yet, they get more attention than the real professionals. ...why? The spectacle of it? There are plenty of fine, ethical, talented journalists in this industry; I'm absolutely positive of it, and they work for all sorts of places, ranging from GameSpot to IGN. But they're all being overshadowed by those who bring us all down, day by day, bit by bit. As some of our readers know, my roots actually lie in music and comedy journalism for newspapers, which means I was among the group that would often look down on gaming journalism. At the time, it always irritated me...until I became Editor-in-Chief here and saw, with a heavy heart, why we are the subject of much derision and mockery at places like the New York Times.
It's because the level of immaturity is through the roof. It's because nobody actually reads a single solitary word outside of the headline. It's because those who follow the news are only interested in generating petty, adolescent arguments in forums, all for the sake of maintaining and enhancing an all-encompassing superiority complex the size of Wisconsin. Everyone has to prove they are the lone voice of reason, and they are the definitive voice on any given subject. Eventually, it all subsides into name-calling and other ridiculous behavior, which is another reason why gamers and fans are often stereotyped as childlike. But those within the industry can't really help that; what they can help is how they conduct themselves on a daily basis. If you consider yourself a legitimate journalist and you consider your publication a legitimate source, words like "fanboy" absolutely cannot be in your repertoire. This leads me to the most frustrating aspect of this business.
When I was writing for the papers, I'd do features that included interviews with musicians and comedians and the like. In the feature, I would put forth what was said, and why readers might be interested in buying a ticket to the show. ...not once did I ever receive any feedback from any reader in circulations of hundreds of thousands that said something like, "oh, you told me to go tot he Anthrax concert. You must be an Antrhax fanboy." At no point did they look at the name of the newspaper I wrote for and say, "yeah, no wonder you would say that. You write for 'such and such.'" This never happened. I was dealing with adults. Now, I write something about how the PlayStation 3 has left a lot of the hate behind due to its more positive image thanks to an influx of software and a better Network, and the snap assumptions begin to flood. I'm being addressed and countered by people who haven't the slightest clue who I am or what this site stands for. This isn't the schoolyard, fellow so-called "journalists."
It matters not that I took the job at PSXE as a gig, which has nothing to do with my personal gaming preferences. I shouldn't have to explain that in a quarter-century of gaming, I've only played games I've wanted to play on whatever console they ended up being on. I shouldn't have to say I've owned both the Xbox and the Xbox 360, or that my favorite system of all time is the SNES. Nor should I have to continually defend the name of PSX Extreme as a legitimate news site. The content should speak for itself...but this is exactly the point. In a normal print publication, the content would speak for itself. People would actually read what's in it. You could search this site until you're blue in the face. You'll find editorials of me taking Sony to task on a number of different issues, how I think the PS3/360 may be the best gaming combo ever, and more literary pieces involving complex topics like the storyline of MGS4. You'll see us bash the bad games and praise the good ones and our news is news; both bad and good, regardless of the situation.
I'm a journalist and a writer. That's it. I'm really sick of having to deal with people who live their lives vicariously through a virtual wasteland of infantile arguments and rampant hostile negativity. If you have a legitimate gripe, I'll gladly give an ear. We do serve the reading public, after all. But when those who are supposed to be "colleagues" behave no better than the kids who bash on everything they can find, the industry suffers. The problem? I suppose it's this- far too many of those who say they're "game journalists" actually have zero experience or training in the field. Nothing whatsoever. They're just gamers with access to a computer. And that's why we won't ever be taken seriously. It's just depressing.
P.S. Many props to the readers here at PSXE, who are both informed and civil. We've worked hard to keep the community this way, and I really can't thank them all enough. It's cheesy, but we really do feel like a family around here now; I don't mind talking about my own life in public editorials, either. And like I said, there are indeed plenty of great gaming journalists out there. But my point remains.
5/7/2009 Ben Dutka