As the years move on games and gaming is becoming more popular, especially with the introduction of the Nintendo Wii, bringing gaming to the masses, making more people turn to the internet and gaming magazines to find out the latest news. With this spike of gaming popularity the last few years more and more games are being produced, and for every game out there, there is at least 1 review/preview for it. Major AAA titles will see many interviews,hands on, previews and reviews over their development cycle.
So what does this mean for gaming journalists out there?
Work, work and more work. More work to do in less time before they move onto the next AAA title to review, or that first hands on which everyone is looking forward too.
The average gaming magazine today consist of 150 pages of gaming related news. Sound like a lot doesnt it? Well it is, plus they only have 20 days to throw it all together, then do it all again for he next month. So how do they ease the load? They can hire more staff, but that means more money going out of their coffers, which wouldn’t be so bad if we wasn’t in this recession.
So to get more money rolling in they talk about all the little games out there, cutting deals with game publishes to advertise their latest AAA game. Maybe they’ll give it a perfect score if enough money is being passed under the table *wink wink*.
Back in 2007 the gaming website Gamespot.com laid off their editorial director, Jeff Gerstmann. Rumours circulated on the net that he was laid off because he gave the game Kane & Lynch a fairly poor score (which it deserved). While this was going on Eidos Interactive were investing a lot of money into marketing their game on Gamespots website, who received a cut for advertising it. Things didn’t go down well for Jeff after the poor review was released. Since this incident its become difficult for some people to take game reviews seriously, as more people think journalists are getting paid off to 'bump up' a review scores.
From what i've seen the last few years I personally prefer and objective view for anything, I like to hear the truth/facts about games and not to have things sugar coated or glaring mistakes missed out. But I feel there isn’t a place for this view in mainstream game journalism. It seems reviews have to be sugar coated to keep the publisher happy, higher review scores = more sales.
New Game Journalism (NGJ) represent a new way of reviewing games. Kieron Gillen (The author of NGJ) makes a major point that the way journalist would review games would be to list the points of the game design, production, plot, sound and graphics. The writing would not come across as that personal, thus not connecting with the reader/gamer. NGJ changes that. Journalist make sure the writing connects with reader. Making the reader understand what its like to play it, to feel it.
Although in recent years this has backfired. Any average joe can set up a blog, and most of these aren’t competent writers. They seem to mix up personal writing with being strongly opinionated, which does the exactly the opposite of connecting with the player.